Tips for Employing Household Workers in Indonesia

In Indonesian culture, it is common practice for households to hire help. This may be new to expats and a luxury in their home countries, but it is usually done locally to ensure that the household runs smoothly. Here are a few things expats need to consider when getting household help.

Different Functions of Household Help

The first thing that you should take note of is how big your household is and what the daily tasks are that you need to delegate. One household help will be enough if you are living alone or if you’re a family of four. In any case, here are some basic positions that can be filled in your household staff:

  • driver or sopir
  • cook or juru masak or koki
  • cleaner/helper or pembantu
  • babysitter/nanny or pengasuh anak or suster
  • night guard or penaga malam
  • day guard/gardener or penjaga or tukang kebun
  • uniformed trained guard or satpam

Schedules or Shifts

In Indonesia, you will also have at least two choices with regards to your household help’s schedule. A ‘live-in’ helper would be living with you (in most cases, in their own quarters) and eating in your home. This kind of system will ensure that you have help anytime of the day or night and when needed. For this, it is advised to set hours for resting and working.

Another system you can try is the ‘live-out’ system. In this case, the helper would be coming to work in the day and getting off work in the afternoon or evening (similar to office hours). In this case, the household help would not be eating breakfast and supper in your home, but will be expected to finish daily tasks before he or she leaves.

Where to Look for Household Help

You may want to start looking for help by asking one of your friends’ household employees for referrals. This could be a reliable choice as your friend’s household help could vouch for his or her referral.

If you already have one or two household help but want to add another employee, you could also ask referrals from them. This will ensure a smooth working relationship among your household employees as they would most probably be friends or relatives with the people they will recommend.

Another way to look for household help is to look online. Bantu Help has an online  database that has household help profiles. If you want someone who can do helper-specific tasks and lives in a particular area, this website can be helpful. They also post their available schedules so you may know when they can start working for you.

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See: Indonesia’s Migrant Maids: A President’s Shame, A Country’s Dilemma

Interviewing Your Prospective Staff

When meeting your prospects, you should search out some important details about each prospect. Most Indonesians have the KTP identity card, so you can ask them to show you this proof of identification. You may also ask details about their family and their local village.

Work experience is another useful information that your prospect can give you. This can be stated in a referral letter from a former employee. Other details like familiarity with preparing foreign food or familiarity on foreign Western conventions may be asked.

It would also help to inform them of the ground rules of your household in the interview, so that the prospect can tell you if he or she can handle them.

If you are hiring a babysitter or nanny, highlight your expectations, rules and your philosophy with regards to raising your children. Coincidentally, Indonesians like having kids around, so a prospect is usually happy to apply as a nanny.

Another important thing to inform them about is whether you have a pet in the house and if the prospect is expected to care for it. Most locals are Muslims and touching animals is prohibited by their religion. Still, there are some Indonesians who wouldn’t mind having a pet around.

Lastly, your expected compensation for a household help should be clearly communicated to the prospect. Aside from that, let him or her know the benefits of staying and how to obtain tenure. Here is a helpful guide about local salary types and benefits.

What to Expect

Indonesians are likely to have a different culture and upbringing from foreigners. With regards to job satisfaction, salary is not the only factor. His or her family and friend would usually have an opinion on the type of work that your helper is doing. The work environment also determines job satisfaction. In addition, your helper’s long-term goals will determine his or her happiness with the job.

When it comes to financials, the local helper would be more used to traditional markets wherein the storekeeper wouldn’t give a receipt and prices are fluctuating.

It is also commonplace for helpers to go on leave without prior notice. Since locals live in a large society, sometimes an incident or emergency in their extended family would require them to take off from work. Also expect them to re-apply in the future.

Skill and Trust Issues

You might be undecided whether you should wait for your helper to learn your home’s system or extensively train them. It is best to settle in between and play it by ear.  And if it helps to make you feel secure having strangers around the house, especially when you have kids and you’re out of the house most of the time, installing a security camera or nanny cam is a smart option.

Image credits: CNN InAmerica, Four Seasons

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