How to Effectively Engage Domestic Staff ( UAE)

Aug 23, 2015

Terms and Conditions for an employment contact: ( Article #102)

It the easiest thing in the world, to be over grateful and zealous either as a sponsor or a new Housemaid/Housekeeper, and all too often, both sides enter into an unknown agreement.

In the 16 years of recruiting, training and sponsoring Housekeeping Staff and domestic staff, we have learnt many things, and the most common mistake most people make is to over pay for staff, who are unqualified, unwilling, and most probably entering into a home which has no Housekeeping plan for her to follow……..


Terms and conditions. #1- Salary Entitlement and Bonus

If you have no proper test/skill set evaluation for the incoming Housemaid/Housekeeper, as a rough rule of thumb you should not be offering a live-in salary exceeding AED1,500- per month.

If she has been properly skill-set tested and evaluated, we recommend the following weighted allowances per month (on top of her basic salary)



Setting goals and weekly jobs sheets to be completed by the new employee (Housekeeper/Nanny/Maid)  and evaluated and used as feedback from the sponsor, can also act as a valuable weekly meeting conversational tool….and this is very important in taking time to do so…and acts also as a motivational tool for thee, and information on whats been completed for the sponsor.


For the sponsor, its important to act as “Head Housekeeper” and go around the home checking on the duties you have asked her to perform…even the ironing, and putting away of clothes should be checked…..its the small details that always leave the niggling annoyance …for example showing your new Housekeeper how to hang ironed shirts properly on hangers, is something most of us don’t do…..however its worth it to avoid extra annoyance….check to see if she has put the clothes in the correct closet ( e.g.:mens work shirts-casual shirts-sports clothing)

 NO additional “overtime” should really ever be paid…this is the expected duty of a good all round housekeeper…HOWEVER!……at the interview stage, and as part of negotiating the contract, the sponsor should “reserve the rights to 4 nights baby sitting a month” as part of the engagement…if you don’t use these nights, then fine, but you have negotiated, and its generally understood that the employer has 4 nights a month baby sitting, without extra “overtime “ being expected.


Terms and conditions. #2 Working Hours and Conditions (Article #103)

All staff ( Housekeepers/Maids, Nannies) have busy/quiet times, and are not on their feet 100% of their working day….

For a new start its best to start at the MAX hours/requirements initially (rather than trying to “up” it later after you think she has settled in well!!!)

Domestic staff usually starts work at 6am, and finishes 8/9pm with several hours rest period over the lunch time period.

Every family likes assistance at the busiest times, which usually involve breakfast, and dinner times.

Its important to have written time and schedule clearly defined for both sides


If you want your staff to start working 6am….state clearly on your contract/housekeeping plan …

”You must be Washed-Daily shower-washing of hair, drying and tying back of hair. Wear deodorant, clean uniform, and strictly no make-up, in kitchen ready at 6am”…

this means you expect her to be up most probably at 530am to start getting herself ready…explain this to her very clearly, and that her punctuality is vital to how the family navigates its way to work/school etc…..lateness is a point against her bonus system, as is dirty uniform, or dirty, unkempt hair.


With new Housekeeper/Maid/Nanny, for the first week, you will also have to be in the kitchen allocating and supervising her duties, and showing her how to deal efficiently with your children, and what to give them for breakfast-lunch box..etc etc…..she is not a miracle worker, and will not “get it” first time…you need to show her the ways of your culture and nationality, but remember you are the “Head Housekeeper” and not her best friend.

Part of being a good employer is administering tough guidelines, and boundaries, along with positive re-iteration, and motivation for jobs well done.


Your new a live-in staff is  looking for guidelines, not a best friend…so make all your rules and how you like things done very clear…there is nothing apologetic or embarrassing about stating how you like things to be presented, served, cleaned, time managed.

Staff work best from 6am-1230 noon

Break from 1230-3pm

Afternoon shift 3-8pm


If you require staff to babysit until 12 midnight, you should delay her start next day by 2 working hours, and let her have a short morning, then rest, then back to work as normal 3-8pm.


Conditions :

1.should be as if you are working in the home yourself…for example if the weather is hot, and you would usually have the A/C units running, then it is appropriate to have the same for your staff/employee.

2.Cold drinking water available at all times.

3.Her living quarters-Room should be separate from the main family living, and have a minimum of a single bed, wardrobe, or good hanging rail, and  a small TV with “appropriate channels” ( she dosnt require premier league football, or BBC Prime…she only needs PINOY, or just the free to view channels.) Its important she has an attached bathroom.

4. Swimming Pools- never allow or permit any domestic employees to walk around in a bathing suit/casual attire, and or to use your pool either during your time at home, and especially forbid this to happen in your absence……

5. Never permit your domestic employees to drink alcohol, and smoking should be banned at all times

6. Food should be same as what you /kids are cooking (with the exception of “Gourmet Food”…she can take hers after your family has been served, and relax in her room undisturbed.)

7. Respect her privacy time, and if you have given her rest time, do not disturb her “ just for a quick request”. Or “its only a 5 minute job”…..Unless its an emergency…….

8. Its common sense, but we have to say it…

Your Housekeeper/Nanny/Maid should not be involved in any bathing of male children over the age of 7.

She should not be left alone when there only male visitors/family members.

Make it very clear you are the employer, and to take instructions from you, and not to discuss or negotiate with your husband.

It is not advisable to start to give your housemaid clothes, make-up, handbags, unless she agrees to send them back to home country immediately…..your housemaid should not start to look like to lady of the house!

9. Keep communicating-use the points bonus system for when you are disappointed in her work, but also use this as a valuable reward tool for her bonus-Document this in the Housekeeping Manual….this is your reviewing platform, and recording of all information.

10. Do Not advance salary, unless of course you receive advance salary yourself!!!!……


Your discipline, and routine has a direct influence on how any domestic staff settles and performs in your home.


Advice to the Sponsor-

You are the CEO of your own home—act like one!,

Only one person (usually the wife/lady of the home) should administer rules and regulations, and all family members should comprehend NOT to change or make exceptions to the rules.

Children should be respectful, and not act like “brats” giving orders.

If the Staff is acting as Nanny, you have to let your kids know that when the Nanny is requesting something to be done, they have to respect that this is coming from you, and any bad behavior will be reported back.

Once home rules and regulations are established, the home runs well, and you will notice happier employee, and better relationship between the domestic staff and family members.

Time invested in your employee is continuous, you are training her to be your 2nd in command inside the home.

Over paying a large salary does not in our experience, ever equate to staff performing any better.

The performance of the staff is reflective on the amount of quality training, support, guidelines, and discipline   (following up constructively on areas /jobs to be performed better), and getting the parameters right from the beginning.



Points and Bonus System: (Article# 104)

In accordance to a regular monthly salary, we find the greatest reward and motivational tool is a quarterly bonus, based on performance.

If Sponsors are overpaying their domestic they have high expectation for that employee to getting it right.

Good Salary structure works best if you have agreed upon performance related bonus scheme…


Now the list on the Bonus and Reward scheme can be limited, or endless………..moreover instead of constantly complaining about how our domestic employee forgot to do this or didn’t do that properly…The sponsor should sit down and give positive and constructive feedback on a regular basis, this should be noted and kept on file, ideally in a Housekeeping Manual 


We recommend that each and every day you use the daily worksheet, and give 15 minutes to “handing over”….and whilst you are the acting CEO of your family, you become the head-housekeeper and go and inspect the jobs you have asked her to do……this may seem tedious, and believe me, the last thing you will like doing after a long and perhaps stressful day, is doing any kind of handover……however the rewards are greater, so persevere.


In order to receive a quarterly bonus

You start with a point system, and you mark this in your Housekeeping Manual

List 2 columns:

1.Points awarded

List the duties you will award points for, and you can add as you go along ( for instance if she surprises you with an act of kindness, or special treatment when you had extra guests, she organized your closet unexpectedly/she did something “extra” and you noticed, then place this under the POINTS AWARDED COLUMNS

2.Points deductible, …easy to list..!!!

All the things we find irritating, BUT if she wants to learn the system in your house, it must be done a specific way. 
For instance, if after 2 explanations of how to do something, and she says she understands, and then doesn’t do it, it must be noted, and placed under deductible.

If she has willfully/without using care done damage to clothes through bad ironing technique/damaged clothes in the washing.

If she has broken something, and you have discovered this at a later date, this is definitely a deductible….its important she shows her accidents and mistakes promptly ( same time/day) so that you may take appropriate action to replace or repair….mistakes after all do happen, that’s what household insurance if for.

Small things for deductibles may include:

Wearing make-up on duty, her clothes not ironed, she is not washed and presentable on a daily basis, talking constantly on phone on duty , ignoring your request/not completing her jobs , not participating in improvement.


The lists are endless, and can seriously be the best tool in evaluation, and being able to discuss topics without seeming negative, or de-motivational.

If at the end of the quarter, her awarded points are positive (outweigh her Points deductible) then pay her bonus, and start a new quarter…if they are in the negative, then do NOT pay bouns, and be clear with the evaluation, and go through the reasons for not paying bonus this quarter, however explain to her you are looking forward to giving her a bonus next quarter, and look forward to an increase in her performance.


Guidelines in how much to pay as bonus?

For the basic Housekeeper/Housemaid we recommend no more than AED300 , payable cumulatively each quarter ( that’s the equivalent to giving her a couple of phone card top-ups each month)

If however she has advance skills sets, ( nursing degree, and years of practical/experience, or she is a qualified cook though years of working experience, if she can sew buttons onto shirts, mend clothes, or has advanced English language skills we can suggest you pay her the equivalent of AED300 per month but not payable until the quarterly review, which would mean AED900 payable as bonus every quarter.

So a qualified “Nurse” or “COOK”, who applys to you for a job as a “MAID”…should be means tested through practice on the job.

Agree to paying her salary of AED AED1,800 HOWEVER, this is payable as follows:

On contract its AED1,500, and each quarter she will receive a performance bonus of up to AED900..which means her monthly salary is AED1,800 in real terms.

This is a strong motivational tool, and is accountable from both sides. Utilized correctly you will have stronger communication between the staff and employer, and things that are written down in the Housekeeping Manual for review, are there in black and white for all to see and learn from.

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