The concept of domestic help seems to have an eternal life in India. Every urban household above a certain level of income or wealth is bound to have some or the other form of domestic help â€“ servant, maid, nanny, cook, housekeeping, guard, gardener, cleaner or similar. Behavioural analysts and sociologists may debate whether the penchant for domestic help is due to our colonial heritage, history of caste based work allocation, or just a desire to display social status. The rest of us continue enjoying the fruits of labour of our domestic help providers, without much contemplation as they indeed make our lives so much more comfortable.
Time and again, we hear a story where the domestic help turns into â€˜domestic criminalâ€™, we gasp and feel shocked, but then resume our lives thinking that this cannot happen to us. With increasingly mobile population landing in newer locations, search for suitable, â€˜safe and reliableâ€™ domestic help continues to gain prominence. Many have taken recourse to domestic help placement agencies. Even these are not without their pitfalls as this story in Hindustan Times illustrates.
Here are five top tips for domestic help verification:
1. If your town police offer domestic help verification service, submit the application form at your local police station. This is by far the best thing you can do.
2. Verify the current and permanent address and ID proofs of your domestic help and retain a photocopy for your records.
3. Visit the current address and confirm the residence. Ask the local neighbours too.
4. Ask for previous employer references even if the domestic help is coming through word of mouth referral or through a domestic help agency. Call the previous employers and ask questions to confirm and learn more.
5. Retain a current photograph of the domestic help.
These steps cover the basic domestic help verification and also present partial deterrence against any future criminal intentions. These have to be backed up with regular monitoring and alertness.