By Nico Strydom
Appointing a person to work in your home or on your property is not a decision to be taken lightly.
According to Charnel Hattingh, head of marketing and communication at Fidelity ADT, it is of great concern that so many home-owners allow strangers into their homes or on to their property without knowing anything about them.
“Most households need help – whether it be an au pair, nanny, domestic help, care-giver or gardener. Often, being desperate to appoint someone overshadows the necessity to do background checks on these people,” says Hattingh.
“The end result can be disastrous if you should discover you have a thief or kidnapper under your roof. It is foolish to not make sure who you are employing to care for your loved ones, pets and home.”
One way of ensuring proper screening, is to appoint personnel through a reliable agency. “Unfortunately, nowadays even referrals from family or friends aren’t enough. It has also been our experience that domestic workers with a criminal history depend on the fact that many employers don’t practise proper control.”
There is basic information that you need to obtain about a person before employing him or her to work inside or outside your home, says Hattingh. This includes the person’s full names, nick names, residential address, ID or passport number, references and certified copies of all identity documents. You can obtain additional information such as an ID photo, family details, information about next of kin, medical history and police clearance.
Domestic workers are now also entitled to compensation for injuries and illnesses they incur on duty. This came about after the Constitutional Court ruled that sections of the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act (COIDA) was unconstitutional.
According to Albert van der Merwe, assistant head secretary of the National Employers Labour Association (Nela), the amendment to the act is retrospective, which means that cases dating back to 2004 will come into consideration. The definition of “domestic worker” includes gardeners, nannies, care-givers and chauffeurs who work in private homes.
Hattingh is of the opinion that the amendment to the Act requires a new perspective regarding home safety.
“All of us should prioritise safety as a personal responsibility when it comes to domestic staff. This entails that proper background checks need to be done before an appointment is made and to make sure that domestic workers are safe while performing their duties and get the help they need in case of an emergency.”
Fidelity ADT: https://adt.co.za/