Contract and Duties

Understanding your contract

Contracts can be daunting and occasionally confusing to decifer, however it is vital that you understand everything documented between you and your employer before you sign the employment contract. This is your chance to flag up anything you’re not certain about or that you disagree with. This could be something that wasn’t fully discussed at the interview stage such as the specifics of duties and requirements. For example, don’t be afraid to ask for clarification on what ‘occasional weekend babysitting’ means and if perhaps you are expected to be available every weekend for this or not. Make sure you are happy with everything that is expected of you. This is particularly important in domestic roles as often from the employer perspective, the duties can interchange from one role into another, ie companion and carer, housekeeper and nanny. Furthermore, it is crucial you understand what legal and financial requirements the employee is agreeing to, such as the standard deduction of tax and NI contributions and a clear statement of employee entitlements – this is their responsibility. 

 

Duties and requirements 

There should be a comprehensive list of duties and requirements within the contract. Examples for a nanny position include: 

  • Organising the children’s calendar
  • Light housework related to the children only (getting children's uniforms and clothes in order, tidying up bedrooms, making children’s beds)
  • Cooking kids meals and making packed lunches
  • Cover for staff on leave / sick 

Ensure you are happy with your proposed list of duties and don’t be afraid to ask for more clarification on anything that sounds vague and might lead to misunderstanding between you and your employer.  Does the list of duties and requirements seem in line with the salary? Sometimes duties can appear to merge between roles. A housekeeper generally might be expected to do light cooking, cleaning and housework. If there’s also a maid and chef then the role must be more defined. A carer companion is not the same as a personal carer, make sure you establish that you are not expected to administer medical help as this is a different kind of caring that involves healthcare professionals. 

 

Accommodation and benefits 

Your accommodation and utilities are paid for if you are in a 'live-in' role, therefore your monthly salary can look a great deal more robust, do make sure you know if bills are included or not. There are often some great perks of live-in roles, apart from getting to know your employers and their family on a personal level, you might get your own private accommodation with en-suite facilities and a separate entrance. Other benefits can include travelling, access to private clubs and gyms and all food and drinks included. Check on your contract what the benefits might include and where the accommodation is situated. The drawbacks can include lack of privacy and a diminished division between time on and time off. It is important to understand clearly what time you have off and when, especially if you are living in the same house as your employer. Most employers will be fair and clear, but some may take advantage of a good nature and you may find yourself doing that 'extra' bit without pay, if you're not careful. 

 

Pension

Don’t forget about your pension – contrary to general assumptions this isn’t something reserved only for old people. Pensions are a great way of saving tax free cash that you and your employer and the government can add to in order to save for your retirement. If you pay NIC (National Insurance Contributions) you will therefore qualify for State Pension. This gets divided into two categories, Basic and Secondary / Additional. Ask your employer about this if there’s no information on the contract. 

 

Termination

There should be listed within your contract clear guidelines for termination. Either the employee or the employer can terminate the contract of employment. If you want to resign you should state this in writing with appropriate notice in the first instance. You can find much more advice and information here

 

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