The Nigerian domestic work industry is unique and steadily evolving in the sense that, most workers who work in this sector are citizens of this country, thus in the event that there is a fallout between the worker and employer, the work relationship abruptly comes to an end, and there is ample opportunity for finding another worker or employment almost immediately.
Unlike abroad, in Nigeria, most middle class and high class families employ a lot of domestic workers, sometimes between 1 -5 workers per household, depending on their combined income bracket.
Also of note is the fact that this is not a high paying sector, as most workers earn on the average between N35,000 ($100:00) – N350,000 ($1000:00) monthly, depending on their category, years of experience and level of expertise.
Some of these work relationships do not last more than a few months, and this is puzzling as employers are always on the lookout for workers and workers, vice versa, are always on the lookout for jobs.
Let’s see why some of these relationships tend not to last.
( From the standpoint of the Employers)
- So many workers do not follow instructions / are not detailed.
Employers have complained that some workers tend to import their old ways of doing things into their new work environments, (from their previous employer’s homes and their personal experiences ), that no matter how many times these workers are corrected by employers, workers still subconsciously fall back to their old ways of doing chores/tasks.
We believe that if you are a domestic worker that wants to be taken seriously, and be seen as a professional, you will need to understand that different employers have different personalities and preferences as to how they want their tables set, their rooms arranged, their beds or pillows arranged, their toiletries and cleaning products stacked/arranged and so on.
As a professional domestic worker, you will need to come on board with your experience, but be open to adapting to the preferences of your new employer. Every time you get employed by a new employer, be open to their ways. You might have previously worked for someone before who is not so detailed, and whose standard is not so high, and probably got away with minimal cleaning or minimal ways of performing your tasks. If your new employer has a keen eye, you will need to bring your full game on, you must not see it as this new employer is being bothersome or plain difficult, their standards are different, simple.
You will need to understand that people’s ways of doing things vary from person to person. You can only claim to be truly professional if you can modify your experience and performance to suit the new oga/madam. If you tend to get confused as to how to cope with a new employers’ ways, you can write some things down on a notepad to remember during your first to second week of employment. Employers tend to dislike being asked the same thing over and over again, but instead of making mistakes/ or misunderstanding laid down instructions, please politely ask for more clarifications.
Another thing is, ensure your instructions come from the employer direct to avoid ambiguous interpretations. If Madam/Oga directs you to your co-worker who already knows about the workings of that house/facility, then follow the advice of that co-worker, if not wait for the Madam/Oga’s direct explicit instructions. Except when instructed otherwise, if you follow your new co-worker’s advice blindly, you might end up sacking your self, as your Madam/Oga might just be managing that co-worker whose advice you are following, and he/she is just bidding time, seeking for when to sack that one.
In a nutshell, follow your employers instructions, “remember these instructions”, and be ready to adapt to your new employers ways, that is when you can claim to be truly professional and versatile.
2. Employers say some Nigerian domestic workers are not Mentally ready for the job.
Employers have reported several times of workers who say they are interested in working, but are not “really” ready to work.
They complained that from some workers body language, behaviour etc, when employed, shows that some domestic workers just jump at the thought of a steady monthly salary income, but do not really want to work.
They do not mentally grasp what is expected of them( this is mostly with regards to new workers).
Domestic work involves a lot of household chores. If you have made up your mind to work and be paid in this regard, you must be ready to put in the required effort ( This is not to opine that workers can be worked tirelessly) no, but domestic workers should be ready to put in reasonable effort and mental commitment to ease their employer of that stress for which he/she is paying for.
3. Nigerian Domestic workers who lack integrity or show signs of criminal tendencies.
Nigerian Domestic workers might ask, how does one show criminal tendencies?
We will paint some scenarios below. 1. You are a driver who is tasked with refueling all vehicles and buying diesel to power the generator back home, you always buy short of what is given to you , and constantly “falsify” receipts, until you start confusing yourself. You are always conniving with the mechanics to “repair bad parts” every month in the vehicles in your care. Your employer starts picking up on your schemes day after another, until one day he is fed up and sacks you.
2. Chefs/Housekeepers/maids who go for grocery shopping and the prices/quantity you always buy ,differs from what the employer buys when he/she buys directly. After a while, that employer will notice you have an integrity issue, and would stop trusting you and your words, ultimately he/ she will end up sacking you.
There are several instances that constitutes red flags for domestic workers.
Workers who lie a lot, workers who live above their means, workers who are always seen with expensive gadgets, clothes and other accessories above their income levels, workers who have no laid out plans/ambitions or directions that they are committedly following, for their future. Employers are advised to stay away from such workers.
4. Domestic workers who lack professionalism.
Some employers have complained of workers who do not understand what professionalism means. They complained that:
a. Some domestic workers invite their personal visitors to their work environment, without the permission of their employers ,(this is totally wrong,).
b. Some domestic workers will not make out time to google online to understand how to be better at their jobs, but will complain that they find it difficult to satisfy the employer , no matter what they do.
Our take is, If you want to be a professional domestic worker, form the habit of going to google to find out International standards/benchmarks, and ways of performing your chores optimally.
Learn how to professionally clean, sanitize your environment/surfaces, follow proper laundry procedures and other things. This will limit the problems and issues you routinely encounter with your employer.
c. Some domestic workers have no understanding of what personal grooming and hygiene entails. Employers complained that some workers tend to not take care of themselves while working. That their rooms and environment give out sweaty odour whenever their domestic staff is done tidying up their rooms. ( this is very wrong), workers are advised to take their baths and make use of basic body grooming products like roll-on, body splash, body spray and so on, so as to control sweaty smells in rooms/facilities where they work daily.
If you work as a driver, this is very important as well, or the employer will be unable to keep you on if you continue emitting offensive sweaty smell inside the car, whenever you are driving him/her.
d. Some domestic workers do not understand the difference between their work environments and their home environment where they are coming from. Employers have complained of workers who talk in languages or use words they do not want being spoken near their children, Workers need to understand that voice tone, pitch and body composure at the work environment is different from what is displayed at their homes. All domestic work homes/locations/environments are professional spaces for a domestic worker, and must be treated as such.
You must be professional at all times, from your dressing, body composure, your speech and manner of approach to your employers, and must always exhibit all other aspects of ethics and professionalism required to work in this industry.
No foul language, swearing, loud gisting and banter is allowed. Even the use of phones must be regulated by the worker, use your phones during unofficial hours, not juggling your official duties with your personal phone calls with friends and family, getting distracted every minute by your phone, instead of concentrating on your tasks.
( Workers should take note of all these please)
So, we have listed out some of the reasons why employers sack some of their domestic workers in Nigeria. Below are some of the reasons why some Nigerian domestic workers, tend to resign abruptly from their employers.
( From the workers standpoint)
- Some workers have claimed that employers tend to deviate from initially agreed terms of employment without notice to the workers, most times. Top on this list is, deviation from the initial agreed salary rate, late/none payment of salaries , deviation from general agreed terms & conditions of employment. And of importance ,is deviation from agreed number of work hours per day (even for live in Nigerian Domestic workers).
- A lot of employment in the Nigerian domestic work industry is informal, as such, some employers tend to take advantage of this to victimize workers. They hire them, refuse to pay their salaries on time , the worker resigns, the employer goes out and hires another, thus the cycle goes on. This is terrible, some workers have come across their fair share of employers who treated them in this manner. Some employers will also illegally hold on to some months of their workers salaries, will keep on dehumanizing them, and hold the workers hostage using these unpaid salaries as leverage. Again, this is terrible , and a lot of workers have been victims to employers such as these.
3. Piling of several Job functions on one worker.
Workers have complained of being hired for one role and end up working 3 roles or more simultaneously, on the same salary! Example, housekeeper gets hired as a live in housekeeping staff, but ends up working as the general nanny to 4 children and cook for the entire household, while at the same time is fully in charge of housekeeping and some other errands.
Our take is, employers should please be upfront about what roles their workers will be expected to fill during interviews, if that candidate wants to go ahead, then he/she will know what he/she is getting into. It is ” fraudulent”, to tell a worker that there isn’t “much work” in your house, and then he/she comes in and ends up struggling and juggling several roles same time. This is usually bad for the mental state of the worker. Employers are implored to be upfront about job roles and salaries from the get go.
4. Abuse and violation of the basic rights of Nigerian Domestic workers
Nigerian Domestic workers have complained of being treated as less human by some employers.
They complain of being employed and made to sleep/live in unsanitary spaces, not allowed to have time off for themselves( off periods), not having access to their phones to speak to their family members( even after work hours), being beaten and assaulted severally, being taken for prayer sessions ( to cast out demons from them ), being mentally berated that they can never amount to anything in life, being told by employers that its a privilege to work in their mansions and duplexes and so much that we do not want to get into.
This is wrong on so many levels, a domestic employment is a job, the worker is rendering a service for which the employer is paying for. The workers personal rights and space must be respected.
It is petty to tell your domestic worker to be grateful for your mansion/ house she gets to work in / view daily.
Workers might serve employers, but are not servants. They are providing a paid service and should be respected for engaging in legal work.
In conclusion, workers must understand that they need employers in order to survive and must be ready to put in the required commitment and efforts to do their best in their jobs. Employers must also understand that Nigerian domestic workers are providing a service, and as such must be respected while carrying about their duties.
Thank you for taking your time to read through, if you have any contribution or opposing views, please contribute in the comments section, we will be happy to read from you.
With Love ❤️,
From Coral Executive Agency.
UPDATE ON THIS POST:
So, two of our clients got back to us privately, one from Maitama Abuja, and the other from Lekki, Lagos State.
- The first client from Lekki, is of the opinion that workers should enroll in proper training schools to be professionally trained before signing up for these roles:
Our Take: It costs about N150,000 to N250,000 for a 3 months intensive training course, in all areas of hospitality/homecare training, for workers to be duly certified in Nigeria.
So we ask ,are employers ready and willing to pay the new wage rate workers might request for?. Can Nigerians pay N80,000 – N150,000 monthly to their maids / other categories of their domestic workers? Multiply this by 2-5 workers per month. Some employers might be open to paying this, but how many on the average will be able to sustain and commit to these rates?
The solution: For now, until we are able to provide free large scale trainings, we will continue to use our platform to educate Nigerian domestic workers on best practices, and direct them to YouTube for some free training videos. They can research further to expand their knowledge afterwards.
- The second client, a Very, Very Important Personality (VVIP) in Abuja, was of the opinion that we are not in the best position to be this forthright to employers, else we might run the risk of losing our clientele. We respectfully told her that “WE ARE THE RIGHT CHANNELS” to pass these messages to both workers and employers alike, as employers need domestic workers as much as the workers need them too, for survival. We need this work relationships to continue, it’s good for our society and the economy. So, we pass these messages to the highest levels of our clients and workers. This has become important because some employers cannot continue treating workers terribly, and would want not to be told that they are wrong, or be told the plain truth about why they keep changing workers every one or two months.
- ( We will also not needlessly, condone wrong doing from workers. Workers “MUST” put in the required mental and physical commitment, loyalty and more to their employers. If employers give terrible reviews about you as a worker, we will blacklist you straight out. If this is not the type of work for you as a worker, you can try other jobs, period!)
- Now, if you are an employer who runs a political home, you cannot keep your 2 domestic workers up till 1 or 2 am because of late night meetings. Then refuse rotation so that one worker attends to visitors by late night while the other worker sleeps. And then still expect both workers to be up by 5:30 am the next morning to begin the daily chores. Then, complain that the workers are lazy and sluggish during the day. And then keep sacking and requesting for new workers every 2 months. No, these are human beings, not sheep.
We are a social enterprise, as such we will continue to work hard and use our platform to ensure that the “Right workers” continue to locate/work for the “Right employers”.
( The horrible workers and employers can locate each other)
If you are still unclear about our stand , please check out our “About Us ” page, that’s where we stand.