Krysta Anderson, Gleaner Writer
Domestic workers locally and internationally, face exploitation on a daily basis. This was a fact stated by Carolyn Hayle, author of Help is at Hand, Domestic Work: A Guide for Employers/Employees.
Hayle launched her new book among family, close friends and well-wishers last Thursday night at the Jamaica Employers' Federation (JEF). She told the gathering that the venture took all of 19 years to come into being. Recalling her personal experience of her son having problems with their household worker, which resulted in the worker being fired, she wondered whether she had required too much of her.
She then began writing instructions for her future employees, and this manifested itself into a how-to book.
She worked with the household workers association, and after doing her own research, she realised that domestic workers are the most exploited, underpaid and underappreciated individuals, living in deplorable conditions. That drove her to explore the field even further.
Sexual harassment, prohibiting the workers from using the same utensils or living-area furniture, and putting them to sleep in a passage were eye-openers for her. She went on board with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Domestic Worker's convention, joining the fight for labour equality.
Commended by the Domestic Workers Union for her work, she decided to put her pen to paper to a published book.
sense of self-worth
The number of domestic workers and child-care providers is already high and is increasing across the region and worldwide. She points out that her book seeks to "assist the head of the household to properly select, train and retain a household worker/child-care provider, who will enjoy her job while delivering quality service in a professional manner, as well as allow the household worker to feel a sense of self-worth".
The title of the book speaks directly to its purpose: to provide a clear and concise guide for domestic workers and their employers, shifting the paradigm from a household environment, to a professional working environment, as they are either seen as 'insignificant' or 'family', instead of valuable employees.
This book, which explains labour rights, ultimately seeks to build a relationship between workers and employers. The current challenge for local workers is that Jamaican law is not yet in sync with the International Labour Convention, which is the next major step after the passing of this law, "The rules have now been passed, it is the people of Jamaica who will have to implement it," adds Hayle.
The guide is scheduled to be available at Kingston Bookshop and Novelty Print Limited.