6 Steps to Finding (and Keeping) a Great Nanny
“I am extremely cautious about hiring Househelps,” says 36-year-old mum of two Maureen Wanjiru.
Maureen suffered the scary experience of kidnapping by a trusted Nanny. “She took my last born, then two, to her rural home and locked him in her father’s house. To cut a very long story short, it took police intervention for me to get my son back from that house.” Now with her kids aged 8 and 4, Maureen is still struggling with finding a nanny whom she deems suitable for this very delicate role. Because all mums need the help not just a working mum but even a stay at home mum.
Step 1: Start with your network. To find a nanny in Kenya especially one that you can trust with your kids can be hard but you can… Begin your search with referrals from friends, family or colleagues. A domestic hire who has referrals from two or three different moms gives you a wider view of the individual as there will be a common thread about her strengths and weaknesses. Employment bureaus should be a last option since they are so highly unregulated. In the event you must use one visit the bureau and have a feel of it.
Seek to establish their vetting process, any training they claim to give- even attend one unannounced.
Step 2: Ask the right questions. When finding a nanny, hold the interviews in a public and neutral place. Avoid having it in your home for security reasons and/ or sending bus fare to potential and even confirmed hires. Request for all formal identification from the individual, at the bare minimum being the national ID. Make copies of all these official documents and open a file for them. Check our MumsVillage Info Center guides for a comprehensive list of sample Nanny interview questions.
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Step 3: Put it in writing. Once you have settled on someone, it is important to have a binding contract that fulfills all the legalities set down by law including stipulated periods of leave, working overtime and over public holidays; and mandatory deductions of NHIF and NSSF. Clearly state expected duties and roles, bonuses and perks, off days, remuneration, disciplinary action and summary dismissal, and other expectations.
Do not make assumptions and leave out what you think might be obvious – write it all down.
Step 4: Pay her what she deserves. The Law stipulates minimum wage requirements, so it is illegal to pay less than these amounts. Depending on your location, it is currently (2015) KSh 8, 580 in cities, KSh 7, 916 in municipalities and KSh 4, 577 in other areas. If you are unable to meet this requirement, negotiate for a fair starting salary and compensate her in other non-monetary ways to make up for the balance.
Some mothers do this by including the Nanny’s items in their monthly shopping, and providing bus fare during days off, and paying for their mobile phone airtime. Ensure the Nanny always signs to acknowledge receipt of pay- including any loans, extra deductions, and bonuses. Have the receipt include full names, amount received, date received and signature. Money transfer or bank deposits are an even better form of payment.
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Step 5: Treat her as you would like to be treated. Remember that this individual is not an ‘unwelcome burden’ but rather someone with whom you will be assisting each other to meet your individual and combined goals. A Mum who is quarrelsome, mean and abusive, more often than not, can expect similar treatment to be meted out on their child.
“Communication is essential for the union to work as is setting boundaries. I also advise moms to choose their battles wisely, which may mean turning a blind eye to small misdemeanors,” says 54-year-old Mercy Muraya.
Her Nannies each stayed with her an average eight years when she was still dependent on their service. She cautions however that this does not mean having a hands-off approach, “Mothers should really tune in and trust their sixth sense. It is always right. If your gut signals danger, act on it immediately.”
Step 6: Help your Nanny to Grow. Finding a nanny means also finding ways to empower them through further training and encourage them to realize their life’s purpose. Basic courses like First Aid are vital, and where possible send her for short Nanny trainings, Cooking classes and Workshops. Some mothers find that when the children are in school leading to a reduced workload, they have been able to take their Nannies to longer courses and even driving school. Be considerate and kind and keep a positive attitude. You likely prefer commendation from your own employer rather than criticism.
It is good to make conversation with your Nanny, but over-familiarity can lead to conflict. Be polite but maintain your boundaries to keep the relationship on a respectful footing. If you have a balanced, positive attitude, this is likely to motivate diligent employees to loyally fulfil their duties in your home. See our InfoCentre Guides for a downloadable copy of a sample Nanny Contract
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Helpful link: www.labour.go.ke