At the time of writing this feature, Gauteng province was the COVID-19 epicentre in the country, with infections on an alarmingly continuous spike. This resulted in wearing a mask becoming compulsory by law. Now, with domestic workers having been allowed back at work from 1 June, everyone has the responsibility to make some changes.
Thembi Hama owns Domestic Guardians, a Johannesburg-based domestic worker training and placement agency successful in placing housekeepers and nannies. With the staffing process involving interviewing prospective candidates before placement, she says telephonic interviews have replaced face-to-face ones. Employers also pay for their chosen helper to do the COVID-19 test before they can begin working.
“They then have to quarantine them while waiting for the results. We have had to reduce our fees to cater for the employer having to pay R850 for the test, to help meet them halfway so that the process becomes affordable. About 90% of the domestic workers we have placed have done the tests,” Hama says. She adds, “Our training now includes COVID-19 safety guidelines for domestic workers – social distancing, sanitising, wearing of masks and care for cloth ones, symptoms to look out for and what to do when experiencing them.”
The option for month-to-month contracts is on the rise as some employers are unsure of the prospects of their employment, and as some domestic workers, scared for their safety, would rather be home. Hama works with the Department of Labour Domestic Worker contract that gives provisions for sick leave, among other clauses. This contract leaves space for other issues such as medical aid or pension schemes to be negotiated between the parties.
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