More to do than just lying on the beach

Choosing a Home Help - Cook - Housekeeper
by JL Farmer

With my home-help lady

As you get to settle into your new home you will get to know the local shopkeepers, merchants and locals in general. If you have the money to spare you may then be in a position to decide if you would like to have home-help and how to find the right person to assist you.

My suggestion is to ask around for yourself (rather than asking local men to find someone) and select someone who is more advanced in years, has a sympathetic look about them, doesn't look too street-wise and appears to be

Always agree the amount of payment in advance, before the person arrives to work
How much to pay? If you find a person yourself...
For home help for three straight hours - 50 dirhams
Full day (six hours) cleaning or cleaning/cooking - 100 dirhams
The person may likely ask for more money, seeing that you are an expatriate person, but you don't need to pay more than the above prices. The government minimum wage for domestic helpers is currently around 1542 dirhams a month - and that is for a maximum of 48 hours of work (see article near the bottom of this page.)

You can then arrange a probationary period of say, one month, to see if the person you have chosen is capable of the tasks they will be expected to perform.

Security is important. The first thing to do is to make a photo or photocopy of the person's Moroccan ID card. Check that the Card is date valid. If it is not and you want to employ the person, ask them to renew their Card. Secondly, lock away all valuables that you would normally leave in view.

On first arrival, it might be a good idea to run the person through the expected tasks and also to mention tasks that they may be expected to perform on a less regular basis - such as monthly window cleaning, curtain washing etc.

Some people just want to have a home help for half a day per week, others may want someone who can do cleaning and cooking for one full day, or maybe two days a week. Either way, try not to get someone to work on Friday morning because they will likely be distracted by the up-coming prayer time and the couscous they will be making for the Friday family lunch.

Try not to make a habit of sitting around for half an hour drinking mint tea and chatting. If you do it more than once, it will become expected as the norm (as does everything else.) Instead, take a glass of tea to the home help where they are currently busy working, maybe with a couple of biscuits or a slice of cake.

Always check the contents of any bag that is asked to be thrown out or any extra bag on leaving that the person did not bring with them that day. I had the same home-help in five different homes in Tangier over a period of nine years. The day that we moved into our last home there we had bags and boxes scattered around the whole place. Our home-help came to assist us for a few hours and upon leaving held up a large white plastic shopping bag and asked me if this was for the garbage. Believing it to be rubbish I said yes. I discovered later that day that the bag that was being held up contained all of my expensive bottles of perfumes - Chanel, Houbigant, Guerlain, Vanderbilt, Lancôme, Arden - around US$600 worth to be precise. She surely must have known, but I didn't go after her. Needless to say, that was the end of that.

Over time, you may likely begin to hear the beginning of a lot of bad-luck stories about unemployment, illness etc and the home-help may turn up for work with an expensive looking medicine prescription in their hand. Truth is, when we take on a home-help for a few hours a week we do not expect to have to take on the family's financial problems. This is the time to tell them so, give them a chance to continue their work, then if the requests for money persist, to say goodbye. Don't be intimidated in any way. We came to Morocco to live a quiet life in retirement, not to be viewed as meg-rich people who can be "softened up" in order to be taken advantage of.

Please read this article to get an idea of government law on paying domestic workers
August 1, 2016: "Morocco: New Law Advances Domestic Workers’ Rights"
Thank you for reading. Please feel free to send an email if you like this article or have any questions.

JL Farmer
Talborjt, Agadir
October 6, 2017
This page is updated from time to time

External Links

"A Note on Moroccan Plumbing" by Manolo Miller

Kingdom of Morocco: Administrative Procedures Guide
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