Hiring Friends and Family

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Friends & Family As Employees

I’m not a fan of hiring friends and family members for your cleaning business. For all the reasons we just discussed in the lesson about Friends or Clients. The lines are blurry. The boundaries don’t exist. And somebody will be taken advantage of.

Over the years, I’ve seen countless cases of desperate house cleaners hiring friends and family in a pinch. They skip the background checks. They skip the legal paperwork involved in hiring a new employee. Rules and boundaries are not established properly. And the new employee(s) never do respect the boss like they would if they weren’t related. 

One house cleaner I know hired a new boyfriend to help her clean. In her mind, it was a chance for them to spend more time together. And she was blind of all the things that look like love. Turns out the new boyfriend was a registered sex offender and because she skipped the background check she didn’t know. 

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Note: You can’t hire a registered sex offender to help you with house cleaning not matter how desperate you are for help. They will see family pictures, kids rooms, they will know the layout of the house, they will have a key, and an alarm code. And it’s possible the kids could be at home while you are cleaning. Oh my goodness. Your risks just went through the roof

One of the clients ran a check on the “new guy” and within minutes, via social media the house cleaner and her new boyfriend were out of business. 

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If You Do Hire Friends and Family

I am not asking you to be cold and calculating. I am asking you to treat all friends and family you hire as professional employees. 

Be friendly but not friends. If you have to separate your personal and professional life – do it by work hours. When they are at work, they are employees. 

Have Them Fill out a Job Application.

Job application

This is not a weird request. In any other job, anywhere, people fill out job applications. This should be no different. You have a real company and it follows real rules in exchange for real pay.

Run a Background Check.

Every new hire should go through a screening process that includes a background check and references.  I know a house cleaner who skipped this step because her new hire was a lady from church. Turns out the new hire was a recovering drug addict who found Jesus but still stole things from clients to pay for her habits when she slipped.

Another house cleaner hired an employee who had been arrested for a DUI. He failed to mention that his license had been revoked and that he’d done jail time before he was hired. A background check would have uncovered this. Anyway, one day he ran a red light while speeding through a school zone to a job. A nearby cop pulled him over and impounded the company car. The driver in violation of his parole went to jail. And the passenger a house cleaner, and family friend filed a civil suit against the cleaning company for a series of intentional, negligent and fraudulent torts. She won the case.

Pre-Employment Drug Test

Have Them Take a Pre-Employment Drug Test. 

According to the 2001 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse (NHSDA), approximately:

  • 15.9 million Americans age 12 or older admit to current (in the last 30 days) illicit drug use.
  • 36 million Americans age 12 and older admit to having abused prescription drugs.
  • 12.9 million Americans age 12 and older and 12.4 million adults admit to “heavy” drinking. (5 or more drinks on at least 5 or more occasions in the past month).
  • 2.1 million Americans 12 to 20 years of age admit to being heavy drinkers.

If you think it’s costly to administer a drug test to potential employees – think again.

Have Them Go Through Cleaning Training.

House Cleaner Training at ComputersEvery employee should go through standardized training. All your employees should clean the same way. If you have to replace a sick or absent employee – another employee should be able to fill in without the client noticing. Just because you grew up in the same house and you had chores, doesn’t mean your sister knows how to clean professionally. 

Give Them an Employee Handbook. Savvy Cleaner Employee Handbook

OSHA requires you by law to have a body of rules and regulations for your employees. These usually are part of an employee handbook.

Rocket Lawyer has 85 documents on their website that include all the things you might consider including in an employee handbook.

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Have Them Sign a Statement of Compliance.

It’s one thing to provide an employee with a handbook – it’s another thing for them to read and understand the rules. 

Every time rules change, every employee needs to signs that they’ve read the new rules and understand them and agree to comply with them. If at any time you have to go to court against an employee, these signed statements will give you leverage.

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Keep an Employee File on Them and Give Them an Annual Review.

An annual review is a good time to review any agreements between you and your employees. This is also a good time to award any bonuses earned. 

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Don’t Play Favorites.

This is called nepotism. If you treat your related employees different  – your other employees will resent you for it. It creates an unhealthy work environment that will cause you bigger problems down the road. Give your hired friends and family the same work schedules and benefits you offer your other employees. (Health insurance, bonuses, vacation pay etc.)

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Pay for the Same Risk Coverage as Other Employees.

Because you hire friends and family doesn’t mean you can skimp on benefits or risk coverage. (Bonding, Insurance, Workers Compensation etc.) Family members can get hurt on the job or break something just like anyone else. You need to protect yourself, and your company by taking the same precautions you would with any other employee.

Have Established Disciplinary Rules in Place.

If your child is late for work, and your other employees get written up for this, you have to write up your child.

By following the “rules” everybody wins. It might be uncomfortable at first to set new ground rules. But in the end, your friends and family will appreciate the stability you provide with the professional boundaries. And if anything ever goes awry – you’ll have legal grounds to fire your Mom just like you would any other employee. 

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