Housekeeper, gardener, estate manager, cook, cleaner, house-sitter, personal assistant… Private staff are integral to the smooth running of your home. But did you know that the employment of private and domestic staff is highly regulated in the UK?

Virtually the same rules apply to individual private employers as apply to corporate employers and getting things wrong can have serious repercussions for your home life, your bank balance and your reputation.

Private staff also have very bespoke responsibilities and unprecedented access to your home and your private life. When things go wrong, situations can get difficult very quickly; they need to be handled with care and any exposure contained.

We have extensive experience in these situations and offer comprehensive HR for the home – a complete range of legal tools and services to manage your domestic life and help make these relationships work.

We prepare bespoke employment contracts for domestic staff of all kinds which ensure that you are protected as well as their rights clear. We can help with all aspects of compliance with employment regulations relating to pay, holiday, working time, sick pay and other employment matters so that you can avoid enforcement action and legal claims.

We help you identify and document the right working arrangements to meet your needs, such as taking employees on directly, engaging an independent contractor or using an agency.

If staff live with you, we ensure live-in arrangements are properly documented to help make certain that they adhere to house rules and do not assert rights to remain in your property once their employment has ended.

We also prepare confidentiality agreements to ensure personal information is protected as much as possible. Alongside contractual protections, we advise on policies and procedures relating to security, monitoring of employees, IT and social media use etc...

If things do go wrong, we can advise you how to deal with disputes and grievances, settling claims, making changes to terms and conditions, relocating staff and how to terminate arrangements which aren’t working whilst limiting claim risk and managing any reputational issues.

From hiring to firing and everything in between, our comprehensive employment services for domestic staff help ensure that you are fully protected and have the right people to manage your home.

Our team has wide-ranging experience offering front line HR and employment law advice to large and wealthy households.

Our recent work has included:
  • Preparing bespoke employment contracts, policies and house rules for a very large entourage of staff for an overseas royal moving to the UK, including strict privacy protections
  • Drafting and negotiating exit terms with various household staff (including a yacht captain) when their employer died. This included unpicking some complex jurisdictional issues and tax risks, and dealing with some challenging family dynamics
  • Advising an internationally-renowned author and her family on the redundancy and relocation of her long-serving but disgruntled live-in housekeeper
  • Advising an individual employer on the management of his elderly live-in housekeeper during long-term sickness and dealing with associated discrimination claim risk.