Finding a maid in Kuwait can be a time-consuming and difficult operation. There are a million questions to ask – do you help her, do she move in or out, what is the wage to be paid and what is the true experience? There are hundreds of maid agencies and you can either ‘hire’ a maid from overseas, or select one in the country already. Here are a few tips on how to recruit a volunteer.
- Live in or live out: This matters for several reasons. First is privacy, space and need. Do you have the room in your home or flat for a maid? Do you mind having someone living with you that is not part of your family? What about need? Do you need someone available full time, evenings and weekends?
- What you provide: If you choose live in, be prepared to provide all the basic necessities including furniture for the room, access to a bathroom, toiletries, food, clothes (uniform?) and calls home and/or internet access. We give our maid a phone and buy her phone credit so that we can call her when we’re out and she’s babysitting the children. Some Kuwait moms track their maids’ phone usage but this in my view is an invasion of privacy and erodes trust and cooperation between you as the employer and your employee. Instead lay some ground rules that you can both agree to. Your maid is a grown woman, not a child.
- Will you sponsor the maid? You can find several maid agencies in Hawally – search for maid or manpower agencies in Kuwait on Google. [Be prepared if no one answers the phones. Numbers change all the time. Here are some agencies where I got an answer as of June 2015: Safiya Ruwayih 6677-2217; Office of Sara Al-Shimeri 2265-0633; Al-Khalaf 9955-1556] You can also place an ad in the Kuwait Times classifieds or KT weekly Filipino newspaper, Panoram or in local classified circular Al Waseet. You can also ask neighbours’ maids for recommendations or check local moms groups or Just Landed Kuwait classifieds, IndiansinKuwait.com or other local sites/groups. If you sponsor, be prepared to cover the costs of visa, health insurance, plane ticket home every two years as well as recruitment agency and embassy charges.
- Live out: Live out maids pay for their sponsorship, rent, food, transport and as a result will typically take higher salaries. You can negotiate and some moms pay transport for maids who live far away. It is also common practice to provide lunch, tea and even a snack for live out maids if they work the whole day in your home.
- Salaries: Salaries for live in and live out can range from KD 80 to KD 180 depending upon the maid’s experience, duties, previous employers and other various factors. Part time maids typically now ask for KD 2 per hour.)
- Notice: If you hire a live out, you will need to consider what happens if she quits unexpectedly. Often maids under another sponsor may not give notice when they quit. This can cause huge headaches for working moms. Protect yourself by working out some arrangement with live out maids beforehand re resignation, notice, holiday pay and final salary.
- Recommendations: Always ask for recommendations from maids you are hiring locally. Whether you’ve found someone through a friend, a friend’s maid or a newspaper ad, most maids that have been in Kuwait for some time know the ins and out and will have a recommendation or two from previous employers. If they have worked here a long time and don’t offer any recommendations – think twice.
- Consider experience: If you want someone to look after small children, make sure the maid has some experience or be prepared to spend a few weeks showing her what you need. Do you need her to cook? What about washing clothes, ironing, taking care of pets? If you speak with a previous employer, be sure to ask about reliability and trustworthiness.
- Checklists: It’s best to make a checklist (you can use clipart from word if she doesn’t read English or Arabic) for daily and weekly chores. Just create a weekly chart, list the chores (by name or photo) and then make sure she follows it daily. Some maids need little to no direction and others will require an enormous amount of training – especially ones recently brought from abroad.
- Childcare: Maids often do double duty and serve as nannies and child minders. Pay them accordingly. Regarding babysitting, provide the maid/nanny with a list of activities to do with your children. Buy the resources – playdough, crafts, colors, fingerpaint, etc. – and teach her how to interact/play with your child. Offer her lists of ideas for at home activities. Some maids will do this naturally, others will focus only on cleaning and leave your younger non-school age children sitting in front of the TV all day. Take charge of the situation by giving her specific times/ tasks for playing with and teaching your children.
Maids will alleviate the strain of housework and support the younger children tremendously. But note, this is a job for them and they’re hoping to be paid in full and on time. They are not slaves and should be treated with courtesy and respect. If you are coming home late, let them know. Maids usually take off once every two years on Fridays and on a month-long holiday. It’s also good on holidays like Eid / New Year’s to give them annual bonuses / raises and money or clothes gifts.