Domestic Help in Kenya

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Domestic Help

Domestic Help

How necessary is it to have Professional Domestic Help in Kenya? The modern woman no longer belongs in the kitchen. She moved to office jobs and other businesses. At times she keeps very late hours or works during the weekends. This has necessitated the need to acquire Domestic Help or a house assistant to take care of the children and the homes. Very crucial job this one, but is this common hhhheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeelllllllllllllpppppppppppp, when you here this, you may be responding to nothing and everything, read more on

Stunts Domestic Help in Kenya Pull

Unfortunately, this has not been as smooth sailing as it may sound. Domestic Help in Kenya are notorious for resigning without notice. It may be in the morning when you are preparing to go to work when she stops you and says, ‘Mama John, sitaki kazi na nataka kuenda nyumbani (Mama John, I don’t feel like working anymore and would like to leave for home). Lini?’ (When?) Mama John (John’s Mother; so and sos’ mother is the term mostly used in Kenyan homes) asks numbly, trying to remember what could have triggered this kind of announcement.

She cannot come up with a logical reason and this time her brain is working overtime trying to figure out her next course of action. Mama John knows it’s futile to try and convince the Domestic Help to stay because from experience she has learned that when a Domestic Help in Kenya want to resign they do it regardless of the responsibilities placed on them.

Sometimes they may even leave infants alone in the house. Poor Mama John! She does not know where to begin with the unexpected news. Does she call her boss to ask for indefinite off days? Does she carry her child with her? Does she go to the bureau in search of other Domestic Help? She even wonders why she is never prepared for such incidents. Sometimes the Domestic Help has stayed for up to two years others two days. It’s therefore never easy to predict their time of exit.

Domestic Help in Kenya’s employment is mainly informal. The employer only gets to take their ID (identity Card) as security and contract of work is verbal. On rare occasions the Domestic Help in Kenya actually give notice for their employers to have time to search for other help.

At the mercy of a Domestic Help in Kenya

Some cases are amusing while others are quite outrageous. Domestic Help in Kenya will try on the employers’ clothes when she is not around, invite strange people to the house, leave the baby alone and go visiting ‘friends’, overcook food and throw it away, sleep with the husband, the list is endless.

The one that shocked me was the Domestic Help who was telling us her experience about how badly she was treated by her former employer who even forbade her from eating the ‘special’ foods (e.g. meat, chicken, pizzas, fruits, cereals, milk etc). She was desperate for her job, so she got the satisfaction of urinating on the water used to make breakfast tea every morning.

She was not allowed to take tea with milk, so her tea was separate. Imagine the shock of the lady of the house on waking up earlier than usual one morning only to find the Domestic Help comfortably seated on the pan full of milk and water and urinating inside. As she was fuming with rage the Domestic Help calmly informed her that she had been doing the same thing for over a month regardless of the days she was menstruating. Needless to say there was drama and she lost her job, but did not regret her outrageous behavior.

The employer was yelling all over the place and her family rushed into the kitchen to see what the commotion was all about. It was funny only no one was laughing, she actually bundled the whole family into the car to go for a medical checkup. I hope the offended lady learned her lesson and treated her other Domestic Help better.

Payment for Domestic Help in Kenya

As important as the Domestic Help is in Kenya homes are, they are one of most poorly paid employed group. The work they do is so much that when the employer is left without Domestic Help for two days, she has to ask for reinforcements because she cannot handle the work in her own home.

Some Domestic Help are paid s little as KSHS 2000/- (approx USD 22) per month. The argument is that they eat, sleep and get other necessities from the employer. Add that to the bad treatment some receive and domestic work in Kenya is a poor motivator, which does nothing for the self esteem. It’s one of the reasons their turnover is so high.

The Internal Labor Organization recently set rules that the lowest Domestic Help in Kenya should be paid is KSHS 7,586 (USD 84) in major towns with off duty time of 48 hours and benefits like overtime compensation. I can bet that if fellow Kenyans took this initiative, Domestic Help in Kenya will be a privilege of the rich.

The institutions and bureaus that supply Domestic Help may have to do more than recruit and supply, but train such that prospective employers may get professional staff for their homes. Granted, it will cease being a demeaning occupation for those who have completed their KCSE (Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education) but a disadvantage to prospective employers with a gross income of less than KSHS 30,000. That’s my two pence worth what about you? What can you add on Domestic Help in Kenya.

  • Domestic help in kenya is still at it’s weakest. Intervention of Internal Labour Organization may help but only to domestic helps in the elite homes. I’m not sure whether the overall situation can be salvaged especially for those employed in middle income families and below. I would recommend though, that people assume dignity when agreeing on terms of employment in order to caution domestic helps against precautionary contraindication of assigned duties. Nice article.

  • Mumghul

    I had a domestic help for less than 2yrs and now she has left because she says its too far for her to come everyday. She left the job on her own will. I am fairly new in Kenya and I am not aware of all rules and regulations in a situation like this. Can someone please advise me what to do as she is asking for some money.