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My Own Experience of a Housekeeper

Having witnessed her clients’ lives being transformed by the appointment of a professional Housekeeper, Julia Harris, managing director of The Housekeeper Company, decided to ‘walk the talk’ and employ an Asian Housekeeper for her own family home.

Here’s Julia’s own experience of the process:

I’d wanted to employ a Housekeeper from day one, and employed my first housekeeper 8 years ago. At first, I was a bit daunted by the prospect of sorting out National Insurance, tax coding and banking issues. I needn’t have worried. I was very pleased to learn, from first-hand experience, that it’s really quite a simple process.


In line with all Housekeeper Company candidates, my own Housekeeper, Ruby – who is now a very welcome and established member of our household – arrived with a domestic worker’s visa in November 2009.

So, initially there was nothing to do on that score, as the visa had already been verified by The Housekeeper Company and was not due for immediate renewal.

When Visa Renewal is Required

When her domestic worker visa was up for renewal, we helped and supported Ruby renew her visa and suggest that initially she gains further background information on the procedure, by logging on to http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/workingintheuk/othercategories/domesticworkers/

As it was her first time renewing her Visa in the UK, we advised Ruby to put the matter in the safe hands of one of the specialist immigration solicitors whose contact details are provided by The Housekeeper Company.
National Insurance Number
So, our first task was to sort out a national insurance number for Ruby. As with anything, if you’ve not done it before, it may seem a little daunting, but I simply followed the steps outlined below:

Call the National Insurance Helpline and they can either arrange an appointment for your housekeeper to go to your local Job Centre or post you an application and you can do a postal application, which does not involve an appointment and is much simpler.

If you do the postal application, you need to complete the application form and post it to them together with a photocopy of your housekeeper’s passport & visa. The NI conformation letter usually takes about 2-4 weeks to come through and the NI card follows shortly after.

For the appointment, your housekeeper will need to take with a letter from you confirming her employment and a copy of your Contract of Employment.

After the appointment at the local Job centre, a National Insurance number follows for your housekeeper about two weeks later.

Tax Coding
Ruby and I needed to ensure that she had the appropriate tax coding and again the procedure was quite straightforward: On receipt of the NI details, you then fill in an easy-to-follow form about tax coding, that is sent to you in the post. On receipt of the completed form, the tax office sends you a tax code.

If you wish to put your housekeeper on a PAYE system, before they receive their NI number you can get them to complete a P46, which is for people who do not have a P45.

Setting Up a Bank Account for Easy Payment
Now that all of this was in motion, as Ruby had her own NI number, it was time for her to open her own bank account.

I simply made an appointment for her at my own bank and went along with her for support. Your bank will outline what sort of documentation is required for this meeting. Typically, this includes a current passport and sight of your NI card or the letter from Job Centre Plus with their address on it, giving the details of their NI number.

Our appointment took less than an hour and it meant that Ruby now has control over her own money, whilst enabling me to pay her directly into her own bank account,  which was an easy process to set up, rather than taking cash out of the bank to pay her every week.

We have also advised her to set up a savings account as well as a current account, so she money put by for emergencies, flights home or her next visa renewal.

Passport Renewal
Normally it’s not always the case, but it was in Ruby’s case, as her old employer withheld her passport from her, she needed to obtain a new passport, so we downloaded the relevant form directly from the Philippine embassy website (www.philemb.org.uk).

Replacing passports that have been stolen by the employer do take longer than if it is a straight forward renewal, as the housekeeper will have to go the the Embassy in person and will need the original copy of their Birth Certificate from the Philippines.

If it had been a straight forward renewal, we could have sent her completed form and documents to the Phillipine Embassy, by recorded delivery, and it could have been as quick as a few days to renew a passport! It’s really convenient that you can now do this online as people often think they need to travel directly to the embassy in London to renew a passport.

Contract of Employment, Available via email
I also sorted out a contract of employment for Ruby and we will email this to anyone we have placed someone with, who needs it, along with other relevant documentation.

Again, this was easy to do and helped both myself and Ruby to feel we had a good understanding of what was expected of each other.

Registering as your Housekeeper’s Employer – How to get started
Don’t be put off by this next bit, you just need to make sure that you get your act together and have the various systems in place, so that you are officially recognised as your Housekeeper’s employer in the eyes of the law: it’s for your protection as well as hers.


This would cover issues such as:

  • Registering with the Inland Revenue as an employer.
  • Running a payroll for your Housekeeper, providing her with pay slips etc.

Naturally, becoming an employer for the first time may be a source of concern for some. But, it’s just a matter of making sure you keep to the Government’s requirements and introducing a system that works for you. Inexpensive, friendly and professional help is at hand for everyone new to the system. Basically, there are three clear routes to follow:

i) Stafftax

  • Stafftax (www.stafftax.co.uk) is the UK’s original and leading payroll service for employers of domestic staff. Stafftax offers a complete support service and will not only take care of all your payroll responsibilities for you but will also guide you through any legal issues that may arise. The Stafftax telephone number for employers’ enquiries is: 0845 2262214
  • For an annual subscription of £280 (including VAT), all of these P.A.Y.E scheme issues can be managed on your behalf by the Stafftax professionals. Indeed, by claiming one of The Inland Revenue’s tax free rebates, the Stafftax service could actually cost you nothing in the first year.

ii) Call In an Accountant

  • You can also use an accountant to run your P.A.Y.E. scheme – but we would suggest that this may work out more expensive than the Stafftax approach.

iii) Do it Yourself

  • Alternatively you can do it yourself by contacting your local tax office. This is especially relevant for clients who have experience of running a business themselves.

A Pleasant Surprise

I know from the feedback I receive from clients and business contacts that people are sometimes a little put off by officialdom – thinking it may be a slow and potentially troublesome process – but actually it’s not at all complicated and I have been pleasantly surprised by the speed and simplicity of each step.

Ask The Family

Ruby makes a huge difference to our family life. She can start early or finish late, depending upon my schedule, and that flexibility is a real life-saver for me. She’s always thinking one step ahead, is meticulous and diligent in her approach to household tasks, is lovely to my children & dog and a great cook to boot! Having such high quality help around the home means I’m free after work to spend quality time with my family, we simply could not ask for a better Housekeeper!