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Going away for 6 weeks - what to do with helper?

  1. #1
    nicolejoy's Avatar
    nicolejoy is offline Registered User
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    Going away for 6 weeks - what to do with helper?

    Our family is going away for six weeks coming up and we are still deciding what to do with our helper while we are gone.

    Some of my thoughts are:
    a) ask if she wants to take her annual leave and she can go back home for a couple of weeks and in the remaining time ask her to do some larger jobs around the house. She can also collect the mail, inform us of any bills that are due, and just be here so that the place doesn't get so stuffy. As she eats with us, if we do this I'd need to get her a food allowance for the month.

    b) ask her if she wants to take leave without pay so that perhaps she could go back for most of that six weeks and we can ask a family friend to collect the mail etc instead (is leave without pay even an option for them??)

    c) leave it up to her and see what SHE offers instead of offering the above two options

    Anyway - this is the first time we've gone away for more than a weekend since we hired her so I'm a bit clueless as to what to do and how to do it... any thoughts? I'm sure a bunch of you have had this kind of situation before...

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    charade is offline Registered User
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    Nicole, my understanding is that most of them would not want to take leave without pay and go home. On the contrary, they seem to need extra cash when going home - my helper just asked for an advance before going home and said if we would rather not pay an advacne, then she would prefer to stay in Hong Kong.

    It might work out cheaper for you (considering the food allowance if she stays back) to just let her take the six or five weeks off, stay in her home country and get a breather.

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    zyxwv is offline Registered User
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    Agree with charade on this. Unless you have things that you really need done while you are away, I just don't understand NOT giving her paid vacation too. They spend enough of their lives away from their families as it is. We sent our helper home last summer for over 5 weeks and I think it goes a long way toward building goodwill, etc.

    Also, can you imagine what you would think if your/your husband's employer asked you to take 6 weeks unpaid because they wouldn't have enough work during that period?! I would call that a layoff and be looking for a new job. It's also probably not legal to require that she do it and I think it is unfair to put her in the position of being forced to -- which she would be if you asked given how hard it would be for her to find a new employer without having an unpaid gap.
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    nicolejoy's Avatar
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    Oh I wouldn't FORCE her to take leave without pay, I thought of offering it as an option if she DID want to go back for the whole time. If she didn't want to, I would personally prefer having someone in our house at least half of the time and getting the mail etc, even if she didn't have a huge amount of work to do. Although if she DID want to go back for the whole time, I was wondering if leave without pay was an option. I don't want to pay her and then also have to arrange for someone else to watch our place for us as well... I don't have an abundance of people who I could ask...

    (our helper doesn't have a husband/kids back in the Philippines, she's a single older lady and has many relatives here in Hong Kong. I think it would be different if she had kids back there...)

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    zyxwv is offline Registered User
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    Sorry if this sounds harsh, I guess I just don't see why you wouldn't give her paid time in the Philippines if what you hD here for her was "make work". If you have little enough for her to do that you are fine for her to go home, but you just don't want to pay her, it doesn't seem quite right. If there are things you actually needed to have done here and so need her to stay and work, that is another story.
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    sea princess is offline Registered User
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    If you are not home, then it makes sense to me to ask her to have her annual leave when you are away. That will cover some of the time, the other time she could 'mind' the apartment and do a spring clean.

    It's always lovely coming home to everything refreshed. Why not get your helper to tidy the wardrobes, sounds silly, but I just love everything folded nicely and ordered and it's a good time to do it while you're away? Also things like bleaching tiles (too fumey when kids are in the home) in the bathroom or kitchen area, washing walls down properly (kids sticky finger stains!), window washing etc. All those things that are done infrequently due to time constraints during an average week.

    I think they appreciate some of the 'down time' too when you're away. Some employers are also happy for their helpers to get some part time work during that period, so they can save a bit more.

    good luck with your decisions.

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    I think some of you are being a bit harsh - I'm a fair employer who gives my helper more than her required time off already. She usually gets the entire weekend off. In addition, she has already asked to go back to the Philippines once in the time that she has been with us (less than a year) and we gave her additional days off to do so without counting any of that extra time as "annual leave".

    I personally don't like the idea of having an empty house for six weeks, for a few reasons. 1 - we will have bills that will come that most likely will be overdue by the time we get back. How do we deal with that issue except for having someone collect and open the mail and pass that information on to us? 2 - it is more likely for the house to get a bit mildewy over here, particularly at this time of year. We moved in right on a year ago and this place had a BAD mildew infestation that took a lot of work to get rid of. My husband is asthmatic, my older daughter is looking like she may be mildly asthmatic too, and my baby has respiratory issues. How do we avoid that issue if the house will be vacant at this time of year for six weeks? 3- the "safety issue", maybe not so relevant in Hong Kong, but if people KNOW that you are away, your house becomes more of a target for robberies etc.

    Maybe there are other ways around these issues, if there are please help me to figure out another alternative.

    I am not going to "make up" ridiculous work for my helper to do. When I said asking her to do "larger" jobs, I meant things like cleaning under the beds etc - stuff that NEEDS to be done on a less frequent basis than all the day-to-day stuff that she does.

    To me, having her stay here as opposed to going home for the entire time is preferable because it provides a solution to the issues I mentioned earlier. If anyone has any HELPFUL ideas as to how to deal with these issues instead of berating me for being a horrid employer, I would love to hear them!

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    lesliefu is offline Registered User
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    i'd ask your helper if she wanted to go back and for how long and then you can negotiate. it's nice having someone around to do the "big" jobs like you say - but since you'll be gone for 6weeks - i really don't think she needs to be away for that long...1 mth would be my max to be honest. i'd pay what i need to pay and the rest would be no pay - she can take it or leave it, not trying to be harsh, but i'd go with the contract and then make adjustments as necessary. you might be surprised - when i offered to send my helper back last summer - she blatantly rejected me (even with a son, daughter and husband back in the philippines!) saying she wanted to SAVE money instead of SPEND money which is inevitable. so, what i learnt was never assume anything...talk things through to see what you're dealing with and then do what is workable for your family - every family is different!

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