Hiring Personal Employees: Trust But Verify

Hiring Personal Employees: Trust But Verify

In a corporate setting, hiring decisions are made with many layers of protection for the employer. Candidates are routinely vetted, not just for their qualifications to perform their job, but for criminal background, prior drug use, citizenship or immigration status, and driving record among other things.

But despite practicing due diligence in the office environment, I have seen business leaders fall short when it comes to hiring in an even more important setting – their home.

One of our long term clients experienced a substantial financial and emotional loss due to a rogue, personal employee, hired to help with matters at home. Perhaps no precautionary measures would have prevented the loss this client suffered, but the experience points out the importance of having a standard process in place when hiring employees who will work with the people you care about the most.

The best rule to follow is:  trust, but verify.

Personal employees are different in that they will see you and know you in a context that other employees will not. Some will live in your home. Some might spend more time with your children than you do. Personal employees might seem like family.

These are all reasons for employers to feel like taking a more casual approach to hiring when they should probably do the opposite.

Marsh, the insurance giant and risk adviser, put together a helpful primer on the best practices to follow when hiring domestic employees such as housekeepers, nannies, or elder caregivers. Trust but verify, does not just mean the preliminary steps to take prior to hiring, like background checks, but safeguards to put in place while they work for you, like worker’s compensation or liability insurance.

Your domestic employees can get injured on the job, and it would be naïve to assume they would never sue or seek compensation.

Finding an employee from an agency might hedge your risk. But even in that case, or even if you know his or her previous employer, it is still wise to do your own research and vet their background just as you would for a company employee.

As with many other life matters, when it comes to hiring people for your home and family, it is best to expect the best but prepare for the worst.

John Christianson
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