As we find ourselves in the grip of a third lockdown, many people are wondering if domestic workers are allowed to come in to clean their homes during this time.
The short answer is yes, says Luke Kannemeyer, Chief Operating Officer of SweepSouth, but safety needs to be a top priority for you, your family and your domestic worker.
“Domestic workers in Lockdown Level 4 are still able to safely travel, and work, but it’s important to make sure that safety protocols are put in place to help the fight against COVID-19,” he says.
Follow these guidelines to make sure everyone stays safe:
- Social distancing is key – even in your own home – so keep a 1.5 metre distance between you and your cleaner at all times.
- Wear a mask and ask her to do the same.
- Keep a bottle of medical-grade hand sanitiser on a table at the front door, and ask anyone coming into your home to sanitise their hands first.
- If you belong to the ‘shoes-don’t-belong-indoors’ camp, ask anyone coming indoors to remove their shoes, or provide disposable booties.
- Keep talking to a minimum, and even though it’s cold outdoors, open windows to keep fresh air circulating.
- If you have an elderly relative, or an immuno-compromised person living at home, keep them in an area of the house as far away as possible from where cleaning is being done.
If you have emergency repair work that needs to be done in your home during this time, such as a burst geyser, Aisha Pandor, SweepSouth CEO, advises sticking to the following safety precautions:
- Insist that everyone, from an individual service provider to a team of workers, wears a mask at all times. Just in case someone arrives without a mask, have clean masks on hand for them to use.
- Spread newspapers or a plastic drop sheet on the floor where they will be working, and cover tables or countertops with newspaper so that they can safely lay out their tools.
- Encourage workers to avoid touching surfaces unnecessarily, and avoid touching their faces or mouths with their hands while doing the job. Afterwards, ask them to wash their hands with soap and water.
- After a service provider has left, throw away any newspapers or drop sheets, then wipe down hard surfaces and door handles that may have been touched, with a disinfectant. Wipe and disinfect any sinks and taps where workers have washed their hands.
By sticking to the above guidelines, the risk of transmission is much smaller, says Aisha. “We all have a responsibility to maintain safety protocols, so don’t feel awkward or guilty about asking someone to comply with safety measures. We all need to keep each other safe, while keeping our economy functioning and our population working.”
If you have any symptoms, it’s important to self-isolate for 10 days. During such times, when your cleaner can’t come to work, consider still contributing towards her financially.
“It’s a difficult time for everyone but we’ve just released a report called the fourth annual SweepSouth Report on Pay and Working Conditions for Domestic Workers Across Africa which highlights the disastrous financial effects the pandemic has had on domestic workers,” says Aisha.
“Our report shows that some domestic workers are foregoing food to try and stretch their money to make ends meet. They live lives that are challenging beyond what we can imagine, and desperately need our help and support to get through this time.”