Awkward situation with cleaner - how would you handle this?

(40 Posts)
RevoltingPeasant Sun 16-Jun-13 22:04:50

2 years ago, DH and I hired a cleaner. She is a lovely lady who got made redundant as a cleaner from where I work when she reached retirement age, even though she didn't want to retire. She took on odd jobs after that, included cleaning for us 2.5 hours a week. We pay her what she asked plus petrol money.

Everything has always been fine - she normally does kitchen (not dishes, I do those night before), bathroom, hoovers living room and hall, mops on hard floors, and has a quick swish round the bedroom. No windows, skirting boards or anything.

But we recently moved house and she seems to be really struggling. The house was really filthy when we moved in, so we agreed she'd just do a couple of rooms till we got more sorted out, but she's not really doing those properly. Eg she was meant to do the bathroom last week but when I was doing some deep clean stuff in there today it was clear the bath hadn't been cleaned for a long time. I asked her to do the small loo 2 weeks ago and there are still mud stains on the paintwork. Other things, too.

She is the nicest, gentlest person and this job is helping her supplement her state pension. I feel like such a shit, but should I say something? Or let it go?

Openyourheart Tue 25-Jun-13 13:49:15

What happened?

RevoltingPeasant Sun 16-Jun-13 23:38:19

Natasha that's a lovely idea butbDH would never let anyone else in His Kitchen and we don't produce enough laundry to make it worth while.

RevoltingPeasant Sun 16-Jun-13 23:36:20

Thanks music. That sounds like a nicer way in.

Tbh we can't really afford a deep clean plus a cleaner every month. We spend 120-150 pm on her at least - it is one of our few real luxuries and is in part paid for by me cycling to work and us both taking packed lunch every day.

I am doing a deep clean now bit by bit so I think I'll finish that this week, then see how she is doing, then maybe have a word.

RevoltingPeasant Sun 16-Jun-13 23:29:04

Yellow no it's shorter. We still pay the same petrol money though - I try to be decent!

musicposy Sun 16-Jun-13 23:10:50

If they don't improve, btw, what CloudsandTrees said sounds a brilliant let out. Just say you cannot afford to keep her on. You can always wait a month before employing another cleaner (or hire a firm for a one off deep clean in that time) if it makes you feel better about it.

musicposy Sun 16-Jun-13 23:07:40

I don't think it's the OP's duty to find out if the cleaner is declaring her income; that's down to the cleaner.
I teach privately and am paid cash for almost all of it. Mostly people don't ask, but occasionally they assume that I pay no tax! A friend made a comment that life was alright for me, cash in hand, paying no tax and I was quite insulted and told her so.
Yes, it is all declared, every penny. I don't want the worry of thinking I have anything to hide should the inland revenue come after me. But that is my business and I wouldn't expect the people paying for lessons to want to see proof of that. What am I meant to show them? My tax return showing how much I earnt? I don't think so.

Anyway, that's a separate issue. If I were you, OP, I'd try and have a very gentle word and see what sort of response you get. Maybe start by asking her if she's been finding it harder since you moved house? Then you have a way in without upsetting her too much, and hopefully things can improve.

Openyourheart Sun 16-Jun-13 22:59:02

What starfishmummy said.

ParadiseChick Sun 16-Jun-13 22:53:29

That's not the assumption. People can be paid in cash and its still going thought the books.

It people get paid in cash and its not through any books, they aren't employed or self employed, their ability to claim out of work or income related benefits remains unchanged, there's no national insurance being paid for them, or indeed tax, they're not doing tax returns, not getting any of the benefits of being employed or self employed, no contractual rights on either side.

Oh and highly unlikely to have public liability insurance - leaving your both exposed.

It's right to ask, her receipts, see insurance certificates etc

NatashaBee Sun 16-Jun-13 22:48:15

If she's supplementing her pension then I'm guessing she's fairly elderly and some of the bending/ scrubbing is getting beyond her. You're obviously limited for time, if you don't want to upset her could she maybe do some laundry/ ironing/ cook dinner for you instead?

CloudsAndTrees Sun 16-Jun-13 22:47:08

It's up to her to declare herself as self employed, not the OP!

Tbh, if she can no longer do the job you need her to do, I would end the relationship. You don't employ a cleaner out of charity, you do it because you need your house cleaned. I would tell her that you can no longer afford to keep her on, which is pretty much true if she's not able to do what you need.

apostropheuse Sun 16-Jun-13 22:45:50

Maybe you're asking her to do too much in two and a half hours per week and she's struggling to keep up with it.

zeno Sun 16-Jun-13 22:41:50

It never ceases to amaze me how many people on mn assume that any and every person paid in cash is a tax dodging uninsured liability.

ParadiseChick Sun 16-Jun-13 22:39:46

You would have a contract, an agreement, clear expectations and agreed notice period etc.

Mintyy Sun 16-Jun-13 22:38:09

If it is only 2 and a half hours a week I would do everything I could to keep her on and adjust my requirements to suit her capabilities. Ie. could you ask her to do laundry, ironing, putting away, dusting, tidying, changing beds, tidying, sweeping floors? Easy, non-physical jobs.

Get an agency in to deep clean for a couple of hours once a month.

I'm wondering if her eyesight is deteriorating without her realising it...

candyandyoga Sun 16-Jun-13 22:35:43

I think you need to say you no longer need a cleaner and quietly get a new one! You are not a charity for shit work!

Yellowtip Sun 16-Jun-13 22:35:33

Does she have to travel much further to get to the new house?

karatekimmi Sun 16-Jun-13 22:35:32

How would the issue be any different if she was self employed and declaring her income? What difference would that make to the OP? I'm not being argumtative, just genuinely intrigued as to how it would change the situation?
I hire a cleaner and pay her the agreed amount in cash and assume that she is self employed and fills out a tax return and pays tax herself

( I can see that going through an agency would make it easier to talk to them but not sure it would differ if self employed)

starfishmummy Sun 16-Jun-13 22:34:25

If the house is filthy it could just be that it is all a bit overwhelming. For the next couple of weeks can you be specific about what you want her to concentrate on. Our cleaner (when we had one) wouldn't have done paintwork unless she was asked to (and then it would be instead of doing something else).

RevoltingPeasant Sun 16-Jun-13 22:32:57

Paradise if I suggested that to her I think she would probably leave.

roadkillbunny Sun 16-Jun-13 22:31:39

The last cleaner my Mum had when I lived at home came to us in very similar circumstance, forced to retire from her employment at 60, she cleaned my Dads offices. She started great no problems but as the years passed and she got older the slandered of work just dropped and dropped but she was getting older, she wasn't as able but my Mum knew she needed to top up on her pension. By that time she was a loved family friend who we all cared deeply about and there was just no way Mum would have sacked her even though we used to have to tidy up after her on her days as she got to the stage of reverse cleaning!
It comes down to the type of relationship you have with her. I think a gental word would go down fine. Use the new house as a starting point and be very clear about the jobs you want done, spell it out rather then just saying 'can you do the bathroom and kitchen please'.

RevoltingPeasant Sun 16-Jun-13 22:31:27

Decaf I didn't ask her to do any of the bits that were awful. Eg I deep cleaned the kitchen myself, scrubbed cupboards in and out, etc, but now just ask her tomfo normal cleaning, like wiping surfaces and mopping.

She is a really gentle person and I think she would be mortified if I implied there was an issue with her work though sad

Yellowtip Sun 16-Jun-13 22:31:11

Cross post. Oh ok RP, I thought that might be the problem.

ParadiseChick Sun 16-Jun-13 22:30:24

Doesn't matter if she's earning enough or not. You have to register as self employed with the inland revenue and do a tax return which would probably actually benefit her by claiming for clothing, materials etc. Not to mention liability insurance.

Never fails to amaze me how many people think these situations are ok.

pickledsiblings Sun 16-Jun-13 22:30:01

Work out what she is best at and only ask her to do those jobs. Our cleaner was an ace with the hoover and good at cleaning windows but pretty rubbish at cleaning the loo and shower. I asked her to hoover skirting boards as well as floors and also to hoover the sofas etc to fill her time. She was also OK at wiping down things that just needed a wipe over like doors etc.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now