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How responsible are you for your helper's health?

  1. #1
    Gracey is offline Registered User
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    How responsible are you for your helper's health?

    Our live-in helper started in July. (We have long had a wonderful live-out, but thought we should add another, since I now have a newborn and toddler.)

    It is very awkward having this person around 24/7 -- the reason we went with a live-out the first time. It's like having an employee and a new roommate, without much privacy, given space constraints.

    She's welcome to all the food in the house, where there is plenty of fruit, veg, meat, rice, grains, dairy, etc. She can add anything she wants to our grocery cart, or take money out of the "petty cash wallet" to buy food.

    But she eats terribly. She will only eat our leftovers after we're done - and sometimes not even that. Her diet is cheap white bread, instant coffee, plain rice, instant ramen, cookies, sweets. Occasionally, she will have spam or take-out fatty pork. Gentle reminders -- or offers of healthier food -- have gone unheeded. Even if I say, "Hey, I made this nice fruit salad and it's too much. Want half?" she'll say no.

    I worry about her, and it impacts her work. She is very overweight and huffs and puffs doing even non-strenuous work. Her weight means she's too slow to catch our fast toddler. She also goes to the bathroom an alarming amount. I'm not denying her bathroom breaks -- but she wakes many times a night to go, and is often in the toilet when I need her. (I know this can be a sign of diabetes).

    She is also very reluctant to go outside -- even to the local mall or park -- unless we tell her to. And then she'd rather take our daughter to an indoor playroom than go outside. I wonder if this is because she's physically clumsy.

    My question is: Is it my right to say anything? After all, she is a grown adult.
    natz likes this.

  2. #2
    charade is offline Registered User
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    I think you can't say anything about her food or her weight. You can comment on her job performance which seems to be unsatisfactory.

    I remember the first time my helper seemed to be getting a sore sthriat And I could tell... I kept trying to give her suggestions to help prevent it and was non plussed that she seemed uniniterested. Thankfully she is well able to tAke care of herself, better thane in fact. But mainly what that experience taught me is that she is am adult and anxious and concerned as I am I can't her what to do.

  3. #3
    ngnhk is offline Registered User
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    I agree with Charade - if it impacts her job performance, then her health becomes your problem. Otherwise, it's really not your concern what she eats or doesn't eat, etc. She's an adult and an employee - not a family member you approach out of loving concern.

    But if she is not performing well, and you think her weight etc. is part of the reason, you need to have a sit-down with her and discuss it. A helper's job is a physical one, and if she is unable to perform the tasks assigned to her (or unable to perform them well), then it is entirely appropriate for you to bring that up. Honestly, it doesn't sound like she is the best fit for your family,

  4. #4
    Gracey is offline Registered User
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    Hi guys,
    Thanks for the great advice. It really cleared things up for me.
    You're right that she is an adult and an employee. My boss does not comment on whether I eat a healthy lunch or gained too much weight during pregnancy - so it's none of my business if my helper wants to eat badly.

    I am torn on what to do with her, because she means well. She is honest, hard-working and seems to care for the children. But - aside from being slow and weak physically - there are many things that she does not seem to "get." Compared to my wonderful live-out helper, she is not very efficient.

    I don't want to be one of those employers who fire at the drop of a hat. I will fire someone who is lying, stealing, abusive, negligent, etc. But I don't want to fire someone because she is fat and naturally not so quick. I think I should give her a second chance. And I will not mention her diet or health.

    Thanks again!

  5. #5
    charade is offline Registered User
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    Gracey, if it's any help, I hired a second one and she definitely wasn't as good and physically active as our first helper. But in our case, our first helper is really superb and we figured too much to hold anyone else to thAt standard. As long as her work is acceptable and the main thing she's good with my daughter, it's fine. But if you're not happy with your helper's work then you need to consider that on its own. As you said, we wouldn't like our boss's interfering our food.

  6. #6
    ngnhk is offline Registered User
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    It's definitely true that your boss wouldn't (and couldn't) comment on your weight, etc., but I'm guessing you'd have an office job or something where your weight wouldn't matter. Her job is physical - she needs to be able to carry groceries, chase your child in the park, run errands, etc. Her health and diet are not your problem unless they impact her job performance, but it seems they are having some impact. If she can't keep up with your child, in my book, that could be a safety issue. For example, what if your daughter runs into a potentially dangerous situation and the helper is physically unable to rush in and pick her up? (I'm not sure how unfit she really is - just a scenario as food for thought.)

  7. #7
    charade is offline Registered User
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    One could argue that anyone's health and fitness affects their performance even in sedentary jobs though maybe less so than a helper. I myself have been falling ill a lot lately... I would not appreciate it my boss called me on for a talk on my diet. A friendly suggestion is fine but more than once and coming from a boss is sticky. In fact, I had a boss who used to pressure everyone in the office to go on a run after work. Luckily it was before I joined. In all these cases I feel it's better to address performance than what we presume to be the underlying causes of underperformance.

  8. #8
    ngnhk is offline Registered User
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    I agree it is a tricky situation, but I would still try to find a way to bring up her not being able to keep up with the little one. It's part of her job description, after all. Maybe it's best to avoid discussing the weight and talk about how the helper needs to be more willing to go outside with the little girl, play with her, etc. There must be a roundabout way of addressing this if you don't want to approach the weight head-on.

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