During the first lockdown, many urban Indian households struggled with the lack of domestic help. Since people couldn’t step out, perhaps, drivers weren’t missed much. However, the absence of maids, cooks, gardeners, etc. was felt a lot. Especially in nuclear families where the couple both were working, a lot of juggleries had to be done to manage the online classes of kids, and their work from home.
This was also the case for many senior households who relied on domestic help for everyday work. As time progressed, people realized that they had to learn to manage domestic help through Covid. This would mean a big relief to both the parties, as otherwise, the domestic help would suffer too. A lot of them were without work and pay for quite some time. What would make it easier to get the house help safely back home is to remember that they too are equally vulnerable. Hence, if you feel the need, you could get your domestic help back with some care and caveats.
We may feel that everyone around knows about Corona and will take the necessary care. However, that is not enough. You need to have an explicit chat with your help about what is acceptable and what is not. Take them through the issues, the possible waves and peaks, symptoms, and the need to report these and get tested, extra hygiene, vaccination, etc.
You may also need to educate them on the need to cooperate with any of your apartment/community entry rules like temperature checks, wearing masks, sanitising hands, etc. This may include periodic Covid tests, in case, that is also part of the process. Trust and open communication along with some help from you, can ensure that they cooperate and follow the requisite protocols.
Protocols at home
Here are some protocols you need to follow at home without fail, with your domestic help.
- Ensure that they are vaccinated. If not, help them get vaccinated. This makes them less vulnerable and you, safer.
- Check the temperature if not already checked at the entry of the apartment/complex/community.
- Use of sanitiser or soap and water immediately after entry.
- Provide them with fresh surgical masks every day that need to be discarded after use. This is the safest and most preferred option as they may be going to multiple houses. You don’t want them carrying the virus into your house from other homes. If not, you would have to wash the masks and replace them every day. However, they need to wear masks supplied by you in your house.
- It is preferred if you can also provide them disposable surgical gloves every day, especially if they are working in the kitchen.
- All of you must also wear masks while the domestic help is working in the house.
- Maintain 6 ft distance as much as possible even to provide instructions. Ideally, you try to be in another room when they are cleaning one room, etc.
- Ensure that common surfaces are cleaned every day.
- If you have any symptoms, inform your help not to come in. And make it clear they are to do the same if they have symptoms. If they have symptoms encourage them to get tested. If they or anyone in their homes are sick, then ensure that they follow necessary quarantine rules and produce a negative certificate before they resume work.
- If they travel, then too, insist on a test before they resume work.
- Teach them how to handle couriers, post or any deliveries.
- Keep the Government Covid helplines ready just so you can help them with free testing, vaccination, and hospitalization, if need be.
- If it’s possible, please check out if you can get them Covid insurance at nominal costs. Some options like you bearing the partial costs etc. may be explored. They may also be educated about the Ayushman Bharat scheme.
- It’s best to avoid providing them food and drinks in-house and you could pack it for them to eat later if required. This is only to avoid them being without masks inside the house.
- Tell them about the safe use of lifts like not touching the buttons etc.
- If they use public transport to travel, tell them how they can do so safely. However, ideally, this is not desirable and it may be better to look for domestic help closer to home.
- If they also do shopping for you, then make them aware of steps to be followed in stores, provide correct change or work out a digital payment mode with the store by calling in the order beforehand. Teach them to sanitize the stuff, and put it away once it’s brought home.
Make sure they are aware that the rules are for a safe life for everyone including them. Even you should follow the rules, and they will realize it’s a done thing and neither would they want to lose their earnings. So, overall, with guided assertive communication with your domestic help, it is possible to keep your help to ease things around the house.