For expats coming from a Western society, full-time household help sounds like a fantasy come true. But in Mumbai, domestic help is almost more of a necessity than a luxury. You’ll quickly discover the constant presence of dirt and dust in your home. And you’ll be surprised how often workmen come and go because everything (air conditioners, fans, Internet, TV, water pipes) has a tendency to break down, no matter how new your place is. If you expect to maintain the same standards of order and cleanliness that you are used to, then you should consider hiring an extra set (or two) of hands.
Types of Staff
Maids: Called bais in Hindi, maids help with a variety of chores. They are mainly responsible for cleaning and laundry but may also do some light cooking and some child-minding. They usually work part-time or full-time. Live-in maids are not the norm since most have families of their own to care for, but they do exist.
Nannies: Nannies who solely care for children are called ayas. They usually work full-time.
Cooks: Cooks prepare food and can also help with shopping. Some can cook Western style meals and are willing to try new recipes. They can work either full or part-time.
Other: There are workers with very specific jobs, so you could hire a part-time ironer, window cleaner, fan cleaner, sweeper, or gardener if you wish.
The salary for full-time domestic help ranges from Rs 6,000 to Rs 10,000 per month. Salaries are usually lower, about Rs 5,000, for live-in maids since you will be covering costs for their accommodation, toiletries, and some food. The compensation for part-time help can vary between Rs 400 and 500 per job such as jhadoo-katka (sweeping-swabbing) and bartan (washing dishes). Determining salary will depend on experience, responsibilities, English skills, and previous salaries. Some choose to pay Rs 100 per hour for part-time work.
N.B. Given the influx of expat families in Mumbai, wages for domestic help have risen over the past several years. Some expat families will pay as much as 12,000 or 14,000 per month for their full-time staff, which is considered very high for domestic help. For this reason, you may find that potential staff, particularly those who have held a high-paying expat position before, will demand higher pay. Try to remember that some of the salaries paid out by expats are usually inflated for no real reason, and see if you can get the price down to a more reasonable 9,000 or 10,000 a month.
Regina Pacis Convent
Seth Motishah Road
Byculla, 400027 Mumbai
Phone: 022 23733275 or 022 23725311
Regina Pacis Convent places young girls from rural parts of India in Mumbai homes as live-in maids. The convent trains the girls for two weeks before they begin working. The girls are usually in their late teens or early twenties and speak Hindi. They are reliable, but young and therefore inexperienced. Lack of English skills is a downside. However, if you want a live-in maid and are willing to be patient, this is a viable option.
S K Enterprises Agency
Phone: 2674 1812 or 2294 0218 or 2674 2719
S K Enterprises Agency can help you find English speaking maids, nannies, and cooks as well as drivers.
T R Manpower Services
Phone: 2300 2491 or 2300 1230
T R Manpower Services recruits cooks, cleaners, maids, nannies, drivers.
“Chalo” Mumbai Connexions
The expat club Mumbai Connexions mails out a monthly newsletter called “Chalo” which often lists maids seeking work when expat families leave Mumbai.
Hopping Bunnies is an expat club for women with young children which meets once a week at the home of a member. You can join the club and ask members for recommendations for maids and nannies.
Take utmost care while looking for domestic staff. Ask for references and check them to make sure the maid is highly recommended. Most maids in Mumbai understand English, so ask a lot of questions until you are satisfied that you have a basic understanding about your prospective maid. One of the most important steps of hiring someone is to clarify expectations at the outset. Do not assume that what is obvious in your country is also obvious in India. Some issues to discuss include :
Job description: Describe in detail what you expect. Mention even the smallest of tasks, so that they cannot say “but it wasn’t discussed, so I won’t do it.”
Punctuality: Spell out if she needs to inform you before taking leave or tell in advance if coming late.
Holiday / Leave policy: How many days off are allowed per month? Are Sundays and Saturdays working days or not? What about pay when you are traveling? How much vacation time will she have?
After you have hired a maid
Once you hire a maid, take the time to train her. Do every chore while she watches, and show her how you like things to be done. Give her a schedule to avoid daily frustration and hair splitting.
In Mumbai, the police urge that employers register their domestic help’s address and other details at the local police station. You will have to fill out a form with details and attach a photograph of the maid. The cops cross-check the information provided and get back to the employers if something is amiss. This is to ensure your safety, and it is highly recommended that you do it.
Large housing complexes insist that part-time help carry Identity cards issued by the complex.