Severance pay for household help

myrtle_59September 7, 2011

I am looking for some outside opinions. For 20 years a woman who is self-employed - has her own business has cleaned my home once a week. She does all the work herself but is also her own boss. For many years she was here every week come hell or high water and depended on the money she made cleaning. In the past few years she has been more involved in other pursuits but still cleans and can still use the money. She does call off frequently. I like this person personally and consider her a friend as well as the person who cleans my house although we do not see each other outside this relationship and probably won't in the future.

I am now retired and not going to go back to work. It is time for me to clean my own house. So what about severance pay? I will give her some for sure in lieu of notice. I'd like to say I would give her a week for every year but that is not in the budget. I pay her $60 a week for what was once 6 hours and is now 2 hours. What do you think is in order here. I know nothing is 'required' as she is not my employee, she is self employed but I want to hand her something to help out.

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You're doing a very nice thing. I would say that $200 or even $250 would be a nice gesture.

I give my cleaner a 'bonus' at the holidays of a little less than one month's pay (rounding it off). That would be about the same as what you'd be doing.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2011 at 7:36PM
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I would not call it 'severance pay'. That implies more of a contract/obligation.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2011 at 8:06PM
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I won't call it anything but I have no concerns about her claiming anything.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2011 at 8:20PM
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You have no legal obligation to give her anything or any notice. It certainly would be nice to give something a gesture for the 20 years of service though. There aren't a lot of employee/worker relationships that last 20 years nowadays. I wouldn't frame it as a notice or severance etc - just a thank you.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2011 at 8:15AM
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I think I would just give her a nice gift of what you can afford. Honestly, if she is interested, she should be able to pick up another job in no time. I know where we live, trusted house cleaners are in demand. You could write her a letter of reference.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2011 at 10:07AM
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I agree, give her what you are comfortable as a thank you. I don't usually tip people like that unless they go above and beyond like helping me move something, etc.. I think tipping is getting out of control. I offered to tip one of my hair stylist and she just laughed and said I don't take tips, I own the shop.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2011 at 7:09PM
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Greetings Myrtle 59,

I'm not qualified to offer any relevant suggestions.

But I want to thank you for your kindness and generosity, wanting to do something more than the right thing for what has become something of a friend as well as a service provider.

Good wishes to both of you for many happy, prosperous and fruitful years ahead.

ole joyful

    Bookmark   September 8, 2011 at 11:03PM
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Thanks everyone for your input. It was helpful.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2011 at 6:44PM
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Perhaps in addition, you could give her name to friends and neighbors who could use her services. That way, she could replace that income.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2011 at 9:02PM
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Myrtle, I like gardenspice's suggestion. If your maid is in the metro DC area, please send her to me. If you had her for 20 years, she must be good!

Congratulations on your retirement.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2011 at 9:26PM
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I never had "household help". But I did have two long-term babysitters who watched my kids, put them on the bus, etc. I gave them an extra weeks pay at Christmas. I fired the first one when I found she'd been spanking my youngest daughter. No severance pay for her! The second one was a neighbor. When hubby became disabled and had to stay home, we no longer needed her, I gave her an extra weeks pay as a parting gift. Do whatever you feel comfortable with. Cash or a nice gift (maybe a piece of jewelry?) As far as I can see, there's no "contract" so you don't need to pay her "severance".

    Bookmark   October 10, 2011 at 8:36AM
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