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Helper Food Allowance while we're on holiday

  1. #1
    MamaTucker is offline Registered User
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    Helper Food Allowance while we're on holiday

    Hi, We've just been away for 10 days and because my helper was here on her own I gave her $500 to spend on groceries. Normally, I give her a set amount each week and she returns the receipts and change to me to buy groceries for the whole family. (NB The fridge, freezer and pantry were and still are fully stocked).

    Today, she returned $200 receipts and told me she spent the rest on Filipina food. Therefore $300 unaccounted.

    This is a new situation to me, so I just wanted to ask how much people usually give their helper for food on a weekly basis while they are away, and do you let them spend it how they want.

    Should I ask for receipts or just give her a set amount and let her spend it how she sees fit.

    I wasn't that happy to come home and the place hadn't been cleaned thoroughly, nor ironing completed as we had asked.

    We are going away again soon for 3 weeks, so I'd like to know how to handle this in the future.

    Appreciate, your advices!

  2. #2
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    carang is offline Registered User
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    we give each of our helpers $250/week for their own food. they use our rice/oil/condiments.

    yes, if you are not providing food, then the food allowance is to be spent how they like (on food). if they do most shopping at the market, then receipts are not the norm.

    as for not having the house clean and ironing done. there is no excuse, short of being in the hospital.
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    MamaTucker is offline Registered User
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    Thanks Carang, that really helps. Yes, I agree short of being in hospital, no excuse.
    No need to ask for receipts then, and I feel like I gauged the right amount to give her on a weekly basis while we are away.

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    mummymoo is offline Registered User
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    Carang gives the helpers about the same amount as we do when we go away. I do however insist upon on receipts, our helpers shop in the wet market and always provide receipts, usually it's a scrap of paper with a chinese character and a dollar amount. The reason why insist upon the receipts is that I want my helpers to eat well and not to save the money and send it home, whilst subsisting on instant noodles every meal. I gave my helpers a health check last year and one of my helpers who is not yet 40 had very, very calcified arteries, it was pretty frightening for us both, and she really didn't have an understanding of good nutrition until I explained it to her. Thankfully she's lost a bit of weight now and does more aerobic exercise.
    The other reason for the receipts, is I feel as an employer you have to do you own due diligence and audit appropriately. Many times friends have complained to me about helpers stealing the grocery money ect, but unless you audit appropriately, firstly you don't know for sure and secondly, you're just tempting people who have much lesser means than yourself. Anyway as I have pointed out on a previosu threads, the first helper I ever hired when I arrived in HK who had a 'very honest' demeanour was skimming the grocery bills to the tune of $600 per month. Since I've been auditing, not a single problem.
    In terms of your helper not doing the tasks you left for her whilst you were away, that is unacceptable. Next trip list it all out and ask her to check it off as she does them, reminding her the jobs need to be done before you all arrive home. Make it clear to her you were not happy with what has just recently happened.
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    carang is offline Registered User
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    as the only thing we provide is the rice and oil, with these two helpers, i simply give them their money every sunday and then i'm done with it. i've told them that in order to do their jobs properly, they need to eat properly. after that, it's none of my business.

    we do give their money to them weekly as we figure it would be less tempting to save and get by on less than if we gave them an extra $1000 with their salary.

  6. #6
    MamaTucker is offline Registered User
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    I agree with Mummymoo and do audit the weekly grocery money. I am not happy when presented with receipts and money that don't add up to the amount given at the start of the week. Hand written amounts and descriptions (by her) written on paper didn't even add up to the given amount before we went on holiday. And as you say, it is important to keep a tight check on it to avoid any 'skimming', the wet market will give a receipt everytime, so there is no excuse for non-receipt.
    As a previous banker, I feel helpers should be accountable for the entire amount of amount, no different than working in a retail shop, etc.
    Thanks for help!

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    carang is offline Registered User
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    ok, there IS a difference between giving them a food allowance (it is THEIRS to do with as they please) and talking about household grocery money.

    household grocery money= audit, not a problem. i agree it is YOUR money.
    food allowance= no audit, it is THEIR money.
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    nicolejoy is offline Registered User
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    I agree with Carang - if it's for their food allowance, that is their own personal money and none of my business what they spend it on. Yes, I can encourage her to eat well, but I can't force her to, or make her show receipts. I always give food allowance when we are away - other days, she eats with us.
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