Considerations when hiring domestic help

It is common practice for households in Nairobi to have two or more domestic workers, depending on the size of the family, age of the children, and size of the house and garden. Domestic help can be obtained very easily, although it is strongly recommended that you only hire people with verifiable references and initially hire them only on a trial basis (making this clear to each staff member). The Diplomatic Police Unit (DPU) suggests that the following precautions be taken when hiring residential staff, gardeners and drivers, as there have been a number of thefts from households where the suspect cannot be properly identified, but could be a domestic staff member (or could have been assisted by a domestic staff member).

Request that prospective employees be checked by the Jurisdictional Police or directly by the CID Criminal Records Office. This entails the subject providing fingerprints and a personal history to the police. The cost for a Criminal Records Check is KSH 1,000. Once notified that the Criminal Records Check has been completed, the document should be collected by the employer. If the prospective employee is permitted to collect his or her Criminal Records Check, a forgery can easily be obtained and the original destroyed.

  • Obtain a photocopy of the front and back pages of the domestic worker’s Kenya Identity Card for future reference, as well as his or her physical address and mobile telephone number. Store in a secure location.

  • Take a clear photograph of the employee to be stored with the Identity Card.

  • Always demand reference letters. Ensure that the person who provided the reference is personally contacted to verify the information given. References and recommendations are often forged.

  • Do not leave money, bank cheques, credit and debit cards, and attractive items such as jewelry out in the open. Large sums of money should not be kept in the residence, as it provides a temptation that may result in theft.

  • Guests should be advised not to leave valuable and attractive items in plain sight or in drawers/cabinets, as the maid, when conducting housework, could be tempted to steal.

  • Do not give keys for external and internal doors to the household staff, especially when absent from the residence overnight or for longer periods.

  • Instruct security guards that no one is permitted to enter the residential compound without the permission of the homeowner/tenant, even if they claim to represent a government department. If the visitor is insistent and the owner/tenant is absent, the guard is to contact the owner/tenant immediately and sound the panic alarm to have a Security Mobile Response Team come to the location.

  • When absent from the residence for any period of time, contact the security provider to increase patrols in the location and to check with the residential security guards for any unusual activity in the immediate area.


Domestic Labor Rights

The labor rights of domestic workers are covered by law. This includes minimum wage, taxes, contributions to the National Health Insurance Fund and National Social Security Fund, different types of allowances, etc. UNKLESA can help you with information on hiring domestic staff.

  • There are service providers that can help you with any bureaucratic procedures. UNKLESA has contact information for several providers that you can pick from.