The Search for a Yaya (Part I)

The quest for a yaya seems to be a never-ending problem for mommies. Gone are the days when yayas stayed with a family until their little charges grew up. These days, we mommies consider ourselves fortunate if the yaya stays for a year. I know the search for a yaya is a foremost concern for expectant mommies, especially those who will return to work at some point. So for these mommies, here are some tips that I can give you when it comes to hiring yayas for our little ones.

1. As much as possible, look for referrals. Usually, these are relatives of the helpers you already have, or the relatives of helpers from families you're personally acquainted with. Personally, I'm more comfortable with this, since the person who refers knows you personally. They won't send some random person who will just give you a headache. In our case, our yaya was referred by another yaya who my sister-in-law sees quite often when she picks up her daughter from school.

The SOP with these referrals is that you'd have to send them transportation money, which they will have to pay back out of their wages when they get here. To make you feel safer, you can ask the person who referred them to act as a guarantor. This means that just in case you send the money and the helper doesn't show, the guarantor will pay you back for the transportation costs.

2. When all else fails, try an employment agency. But of course, look for a reliable one. Ask people you know who have gotten helpers from agencies about their experiences. Ask about agency/office fees (which can be quite steep), contract terms, replacement guarantees (how many times they'll replace the helper within a certain period if their performance is unsatisfactory). As much as possible, try to get applicants that came directly from the province instead of those who have had been working in the city for a while. Based on the feedback of the moms I've asked, and on my own experiences as well, provincial applicants are usually more manageable.

3. Interview your applicants. Main question that I think you should ask would be about their family, i.e. how many kids they have, the health status of their parents, if they have any family in the city. You want to ask these things because these are the factors that can affect their performance. I've recently gone through a slew of headaches with my yaya because she was besieged with family problems that required her to constantly borrow money or go on days off to take care of family matters. Other things you can ask:
  • Previous employment: Where did they work? How long did they stay there? Why did they leave? This will give you an insight into how they are as workers. If they shift from job to job, that's a warning sign; generally these helpers are unreliable and you don't want that. If they left of their own accord, ask them why. This will tell you what they expect from their employers as well. If possible, ask for the number of one of their previous employers as a reference.
  • Religious beliefs: Do they have to go out every Sunday to attend mass?
  • Eating habits: I once had a helper who couldn't eat the same viands more than twice in a row cause she gets indigestion, and if I wanted to cook beef, I'd have to make sure she has something else to eat, because she doesn't eat beef. It seems like such a small thing, but it was an inconvenience on my part and it might be inconvenient, not to mention annoying, for you as well.
4. Determine their health status. For agency applicants, they are usually required to undergo a medical examination that includes x-rays. This is important, especially for households with small kids. In our case, our helpers were x-rayed upon arrival and I had their blood checked for hepatitis. (More on this in a separate post.) 

To be continued...


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