I have seen and experienced firsthand the stress families go through when trying to make a decision on whom to hire as a maid in this part of the world. The stress stems from concerns surrounding their security, the maid’s qualification and capacity, her ability to be effective and the general vulnerability that they will have towards this one stranger who they will allow into their personal space.
Because of the stress and tension, I have found it common among employers to forget even the most basic things that should be on top of their list and at the same time, prioritizing the things that are not relevant to the maid’s job or their family’s wellbeing. This is why I encourage that before employers come under the pressure to hire, they should have a well-thought and written down list of things to consider and put in place.
Somewhere in the middle of the long list of things to consider, you may find a referee and/or a guarantor written. But in my course of relating with clients, I have however discovered that many do not understand the role each of these two parties play, their differences and how they should be related with when considering a candidate to pick.
I have seen cases where employers are demanding personal and intimate details of a referee because they want to be verify that they truly exist, or are asking for work recommendations from a guarantor that has been put forward by a candidate. If their requests are turned down by these parties, they assume it is a red flag and turn down the candidate, whereas it was an error on their part.
So let’s dissect these two entities, define who they are and differentiate the roles they each play in hiring a maid. After reading, you are free to then decide as an employer who you would want to request that the candidate provides; either or/ or both of them.
Who is a referee?
A job referee is a person who can recommend the person who you are considering hiring for the particular role. Typically, in the case of hiring a maid or a nanny, the person should be a former employer, a colleague, superior or supervisor in her former place of employment, one of her trainers in her training agency if she is fresh from training school and without work experience or a well known/experienced person in the same field. E.g the CEO of a know maid/nanny agency. You may also ask them for her result in the training school.
People who should normally not be accepted as referees are family members, because there is a belief that they would be biased in their judgment towards the person being referenced. So employers are to avoid parents, siblings, in-laws etc.
The job of the referee is to vouch for your maid’s qualification which she has presented to you and claimed to have and also act as a character reference to attest to the maid’s character and abilities.
You will need a referee if you are keen on experience and an independent voice who can corroborate the experience your candidate claims to have or has gone through.
Contrary to what you may be expecting, the only information your maid needs to provide of their referees are their names, phone numbers, email addresses (if any) , the capacity in which they worked with or related with them, and a signed reference form. This is all the information you need. You do not need their ID cards, an address verification of their homes or offices.
In an ideal situation, the candidate should have informed them prior that they are being put down as referees and state the position they are going for.
In communicating with them, they are not obliged to disclose any personal information of theirs to you such as their address, the number of kids they have, names or ages. An experienced referee will also only give you information and refer the candidate to you based on ONLY when he/she worked with the person. For example he/she could say “Based on working with this person from January 2016-January 2018, I can recommend her fit for the role because of the character, skill and knowledge displayed within this period”.
Now if you hire the candidate based on that recommendation, and later discovered the person was arrested for theft in February 2018, the referee cannot be held liable for withholding any information.
Once you have hired the candidate, the referee’s job has come to an end. It means you found their recommendation sufficient and satisfactory.
Who is a guarantor?
A guarantor in relation to hiring a maid/nanny is someone who offers a guarantee or a promise of certainty that if the person you hired doesn’t turn out to be who they have posed to be, they will bear fully the liability or partially (depending on the agreement) resulting from it.
In this case, he/she is saying “hold me RESPONSIBLE for anything you don’t find to be true about this person”. Because of this level of responsibility, typically it is advised that a guarantor is someone who has known and is very familiar with the candidate for a certain period of time. Normally, not less than two (2) years.
Another key trait of someone who should stand in as a guarantor is CAPACITY. This is because someone who is saying he/she can bear the responsibility of loss must have the capacity to bear it. Therefore, the capacity must be verified.
A guarantor can be anybody (still subject to knowing for a certain minimum period), even an influential family member as long as they have proven to have the capacity to assume the role.
This is where you go all in to ask for whatever you need to determine that this person is identifiable, is traceable, capable and willing to stand in as guarantor. Some of the information you have the legal right to ask for are
- A verifiable address
- Current/recent proof of address (utility bill)
- A valid identification card
- A work address
- Proof of capacity
- A signed cheque deposited with a lawyer (if you think it is necessary)
- A filled and signed guarantor form drafted by a lawyer, that will give all the information you need and contains all the conditions and clauses.
Many maid employers certainly do not go all in asking for all these documents, but I always advise that you do. If the guarantor truly has faith in who he/she is standing in for, they would not have a problem releasing these documents.
When communicating with a guarantor, you have the right to probe, though skillfully so that it doesn’t sound like you are just out to “get at them”.
- Ask them if they fully understand the role they have agreed to take on.
- Ask them how long they have known this person for and ask for other personal details you know only someone close may know.
- Ask them if they understand the role the person is taking on and if they think he/she qualified to take on that role.
Unlike the referee, a guarantor’s role is ongoing until the candidate’s employment is terminated and he/she has been cleared by the employer. Personally, I think a guarantor is an indispensible resource in hiring a maid.
I tried to make this as simple as possible, and I hope that after reading, you can determine who is most important to you when hiring. It will help you when you are making demands to the agency and will determine how you relate with each of them.
So which team are you? #TeamReferee or #TeamGuarantor.