Brightly colored illustration of a person with brown skin wearing an apron and holding a broom.

How to Hire Domestic Workers Responsibly

Anna Tsantir, Founder of Two Bettys Green Cleaning

February 7, 2022

Are you hiring your nanny or cleaning person responsibly? Follow these 8 steps to ensure that when you bring a domestic worker into your home, you’re doing it right.

Hire a professional cleaning company or nanny service.

Setting up payroll and benefits for a domestic worker or janitor is tricky. It’s easier to let an established organization do this work. Choose a social enterprise (like Two Bettys!) that pays their workers fairly, provides benefits and sick leave, and is green. 

When possible, choose companies that hire their workers as actual employees, not independent contractors. Why? Because the independent contractor model isn’t great for workers. They don’t get worker’s comp, unemployment benefits, health insurance or sick leave. There’s no safety net. 

If you want to hire a worker directly, ask yourself: 

  • What wage will I pay them per hour? (Hint: They should earn at least minimum wage)
  • What will the pay be when they’re sick and can’t come to work? Will I provide health insurance? Alia is a service that helps you provide your domestic worker with paid time off and insurance for just $5 per visit. 

Put it in writing 

If you’re hiring domestic workers or janitors directly, it can be tempting to make a verbal agreement and leave it at that. But drawing up a simple contract is important. It lets them know what they can count on in terms of pay, sick leave, and other benefits. You can use this contract template from the National Domestic Workers Alliance.

Provide green cleaning supplies

Keep the people in your home safe and healthy. Ask yourself – What products will I ask them to use? Are they safe and certified green? Who will buy them? Will they be expected to bring any cleaning tools and equipment? 

And – Like, of course! Two Bettys sells cleaning products that are safe for both people and the planet. 

Reduce COVID risks

If someone in your household or workplace has COVID, tell your domestic worker or janitor, so they can make an informed decision about whether to risk coming to work. When possible, schedule shifts for when no one else is present. 

Tell your neighbors that workers are coming to your home or business

Many domestic laborers and janitors are people of color. POC are often targets of 911 calls reporting possible break-ins, when all they’re doing is going to work. Protect them by informing your neighbors that workers will be entering your home or business. 

Shovel your walk

Make it easy for workers to safely enter your home. Carrying a cleaning bucket can make it extra hard to navigate a snowy or icy sidewalk. In the winter, shovel your front and back walk, and throw down some sand. If someone slips and gets hurt on your property, you are liable.

Write to Congress

Use this form to urge Congress to support a care economy. This important campaign from the National Domestic Workers Alliance calls for legislation that supports and protects domestic workers. It only takes 2 minutes to fill out the form! 

There have been some positive strides for domestic laborers in recent years. These include the Bill of Rights for Domestic Workers, which has already passed in several states. But there’s a long way to go. This Bill of Rights needs to pass at the Federal level. And we need regulations that prevent companies from abusing independent contractor status, which leaves hourly workers out in the cold.

Two Bettys is committed to raising the visibility of domestic workers and janitors, and providing them with the fair pay and benefits they deserve. Thanks for standing with us, and doing your part to support the indispensable, incredible domestic laborers and janitors in our community!

Additional Resources