Domestic help in Delhi

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For most people considering moving to Delhi, the idea of having domestic staff is very appealing. The very thought of no longer having to make beds, cook, dust, wash dishes and do laundry sounds like heaven. For those with children, if one adds to all these things the possibility of affordable, on-tap childcare it becomes irresistible. If one makes a mental list of all the things they could do with their extra time and new-found freedom, the idea of domestic help is excellent. Finally, this extra help allows expats to have more time to take up new hobbies or enjoy leisure activities.

From the moment of arrival in Delhi, expats will be given advice on household staff. Unemployed workers will come to an expat's door with dog-eared letters of recommendation from long-departed (but still well-loved) families in their past. The estate agent, moving company, telephone engineer and more or less everyone an expat meets will all “know just the perfect girl”. It is a confusing start to a new country.

Tips for finding and managing domestic staff in Delhi

Define the needs

  • Consider the size of your home and the size of your family.

  • Consider if you want one helper who is an all-rounder or if you need a cook and an ayah and a cleaner

  • Consider your lifestyle: Will yours or your partner’s job require entertaining? Do you foresee being out a lot during the day or in the evening? Will your company/embassy allow you to drive yourself on weekends or is this not allowed?

  • Think about where you live and how the working members of your family will get to work. How far is the children’s school? Will you be allowed to drive by your organisation or will you need a driver seven days a week? 

Finding staff

  • Local Agencies – these tend to be illegally operated and will usually only be able to provide Hindi speaking staff. Most are highly exploitative and unscrupulous.

  • Domesteq – Delhi’s only responsible domestic staff agency specifically designed for the expat community.

  • International groups – they often have lists of available staff to share with members.

  • Schools – some international schools have community bulletin boards where departing families can posts details about their staff.

  • Door to Door – many unemployed workers will stop by your home when you are newly arrived. Do not take on these people without thorough checks.

Do full reference checks

Do check all references on any potential workers just as you would in any major city anywhere in the world. Regard anyone simply coming to your door with the same due caution that you would in any major city. Going door to door is the hardest way to find a job and a usually a last ditch effort for those who have found the doors of the community closed against them for previous behaviour.

Furthermore, many of the letters handed to you will not represent the entire story of their time with the family. Some will be forgeries so do not take these references at face value. Contact the former employer yourself, every single time for a full and candid reference. Domesteq’s candidates, for example, all have verified references - they go to the former employer independently to check that the contents of the letter reflect accurately what transpired.

Domesteq also holds a blacklist which is updated regularly with information from the embassies and international groups. Please check all staff with us before you hire. This service is free to anyone and you do not have to be a client to check whether your potential domestic worker is on the black list.  

Market norms

There is no government regulation for the domestic staff sector. The “norms” listed below reflect what is the usual scenario in the expat community in Delhi.

  • Salaries range from INR 7,000 – INR 20,000 per month, depending on past experience.

  • Most domestic staff prefer to live in quarters (attached to your apartment or home) and many will expect you to cover all living costs as well as pay them a full salary.

  • Leave - this is up to each individual family and we suggest it is negotiated at the outset of the relationship. 

Manage household staff

  • Throw out the guilt – remember you are providing much-needed employment at fair rates and excellent working conditions.

  • Be clear about duties and expectations – consider creating a contract complete with salary, benefits, time off, duties etc. Set objectives and expectations and monitor their ability to do as required.

  • Create personnel files on all staff members including photo, full name, residential address and mobile number.

  • Have all domestic staff registered by the police.

  • All domestic staff should have full medical check-ups prior to being confirmed for full-time employment. Contact Domesteq for a list of recommended clinics.

  • Learn the market rates for items being purchased by staff – check accounts regularly.

  • Treat your staff as professionals – do not get over-friendly or get too involved in their family matters.

  • For staff living on the premises – set boundaries and be clear how you want them to conduct themselves. Consider drawing up a code of conduct.

Take nothing for granted – even if you are lucky enough to have English speaking staff with experience in other expat homes, never assume they know what you mean. Always show them exactly how you want things done. Domestic workers will always answer “yes” to any question that begins with “do you know how to...” It is in their nature; they are not being deliberately duplicitous but only want to please you. Despite confirmation from them that they “know how” do take time to train them and give them constructive feedback so they have a good chance of meeting your expectations.

The domestic staff industry is currently completely unregulated in India. The responsibility for your domestic staff falls to you. We are always happy to help our clients throughout their time in India. Do get in touch with us directly if you have any questions at all.