Household Staff

Q: Does everyone have domestic staff?

A: The majority of Oyibos do keep some kind of domestic work force and also a driver. The numbers can vary depending on the size of your house and the number of members in your family.

Their roles will vary depending on how much responsibility you want them to take. They will undertake everything from doing your shopping to washing your underwear.  Many are also accomplished cooks and with a little coaching – can reproduce some tastes from home.

The poor air quality and flying sand does make for a lot of sweeping and floor washing here so it is normal to have someone to keep on top of that.

Q: What kind of salary and benefits am I expected to provide?

A: This is really kind of a grey area. Salary levels vary widely from as little as $50 per month up into the hundreds. Ask around and gauge your pay offer on what your fellow Oyibos are paying.

Almost all houses in Nigeria come with staff accommodation built in. These are locally known as Boys Quarters.

It is at your discretion whether you offer housing as part of the deal. It can be a good idea to offer one to your driver. He will usually be working longer and later hours that your other members of staff. Do stipulate from the outset how many people you are allowing to live in your B.Q.‘s. It is not uncommon for staff to move in their entire extended family.

Q: Is it safe to leave my children with the nanny?

A: We will leave this one up to your own discretion. If you don’t feel comfortable doing it then don’t. Trust your own instincts on this one. Do ask for references when employing anyone and make sure you do check them out if possible.

Good staff tend to be passed on by departing employers. Again word of mouth is the best test here, so do ask around.

Q: Am I responsible for the medical care of my staff?

A: This will really depend on what kind of contract your company or yourself has agreed with the employee. Most of us do help out with medical costs when it is necessary and some companies do offer membership to some kind of clinic for their people.

We would recommend sending your staff, particularly those responsible for food preparation and child care, for some kind of medical check up before letting them loose in your kitchen or leaving them unattended with your children.

Do you really want someone with untreated TB coughing all over your steak or someone with undiagnosed HIV or Hepatitis tossing your salad? No? We didn’t think so either. If you know – then their duties can be allocated accordingly.

If your company does not cover the cost of this then you will have to.

Q: Do I really need outdoor security staff?

A: Your outdoor staff do more than scare the bad guys away. Most of them double up in some form or other. Your security guard will usually double up as the gardener and most people make him responsible for the generators too. He will open and close the gates for you and your visitors.

Unless you want to get up in the middle of the night to make sure there is power to your air conditioners or dash out madly every time someone comes to your gate, we would suggest having someone around at all times. A day shift and a night shift is norm.

Q: My steward has asked me for a loan. Am I obligated to give it?

A: Again, this is something for you to decide. It is common here to lend money to staff for all kinds of things. Financial assistance will normally be asked to aid with burial costs of family members, weddings, children’s school fees or house rents.

If you do decide to lend money, agree in advance the repayment schedule.

Make sure they understand whether they are receiving an advance on their salary or a loan.

Q: I have decided to let my steward go. What is the normal severance package?

A: If your steward is living in your Boys Quarter’s it is only fair to give them at least 1 months notice of your intentions.

Most people will give departing staff at least 1 months salary plus 1 additional month.

If you are firing them for theft or some other security breach however, we would recommend you have them vacate your property as soon as possible. You don’t really want to give them any more opportunity to help themselves to your valuables after all.

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