Many households in Solomon Islands have staff, such as guards, a haus mere or two, and a gardener. They can be incredibly helpful around the house and as these people are in your home most days, they can become part of the family. This is particularly the case for families with kiddies.
With this in mind, it’s important to make sure you hire the right people and also that you take good care of them when they’re on board. Below are a few things to think about when hiring staff.
1.Find the Right People
While the skills associated with guarding and gardening are generally of the same standard, the skills of a haus mere can widely vary. This is partly due to there being little formal training available. Some haus meres focus primarily on cleaning the house and doing the washing, while more experienced haus meres can prepare food, help with the shopping, and babysit the kids. When hiring help, it’s important to outline exactly what the jobs are that you need help with.
Staff are found in numerous unofficial ways. Sometimes there isn’t a lot of choice for you as staff can come attached to the house you are renting or to the job that you’ve taken up. On the plus side, this means you have help straight away as you move into your new place. It also means that they know the house inside out and how to take care of it. On the downside, it does mean communicating with your landlord if you’re not happy with how the relationship is going.
If you are starting from scratch to staff a house, word of mouth is probably the best way to find help. When expats leave, they generally ask around their networks to see if anyone will take on their staff. You can also ask your friends/work colleague’s staff if they can suggest anyone for you to hire. Most people will have a relative they can recommend for you.
If you’re unsure how many days you would like to have a haus mere then perhaps try two or three days at first, instead of five or six. It’s much easier to extend the employment to more days rather than have a difficult conversation about cutting back on days if you feel it’s too much. Some people love having a haus mere everyday but others prefer to have their personal space.
2. Get Workers Compensation Insurance
Just incase anyone is injured at work, it’s always good to have Workers Compensation Insurance. This will protect your staff financially if injury happens, and save you from potential difficult and costly situations. I purchased insurance that covers both my haus mere and gardener and it cost me roughly 250SBD for the year. QBE Insurance and Tower Insurance are both located at Panatina Plaza.
3. Start NPF Payments
NPF, which stands for National Provident Fund, is the superannuation scheme in Solomon Islands. As an employer, you need to pay a contribution into your staff’s account.
Your staff will most likely have an existing NPF account and number. To make the contributions, visit the NPF office and ask for the forms. Before you can make the payments, you will need to register yourself with NPF. The helpful staff can assist with this. NPF is located in the NPF Building on Mendana Avenue. You can call them on 21659.
Your staff will receive a yearly statement from NPF that lists all the contributions. Ask if you can check it against your own records so you can ensure that all your payments have ended up in the right place.
4. Provide Food
As it’s hard (or impossible) for staff to duck out at lunchtime, it’s a general rule that you will provide a meal for them during their shift. At our house, this is:
- 1 cup of rice
- 1 can of tuna
- 1 pack of noodles
- 1 coffee mix (2 coffee mix for night shifts)
Our staff have their own rice cooker, jug and microwave so there is no need for us to do the preparation too. As we have a room for the guards, we provide their food one week at a time. Some employers however provide it daily as there is nowhere for it to be stored.
If I am home when my haus mere is working, I also make her cups of tea and we have biscuits or cakes if I have any. If it’s a really hot day, I will get some cold soda waters or soft drinks from the shops to share.
Other things to provide to staff are toilet paper, perhaps a few books or magazines, and plates/bowls/mugs/cutlery.
5. Host a Christmas party
Every work place enjoys a Christmas party and your home should be no exception! Invite your staff and their immediate families over for a BBQ, a few Solbrews and a relax. It’s a great way to get to know your staff a little better and thank them for the year past. Hot tip is to cater for more than you expect as people love to take food home as well!