Hiring a Domestic Helper through an Agency
Expect to pay CI$15 per hour for a minimum of four hours if hired on a full-day or half-day regular weekly basis. On a temporary basis, allow CI$17 or more per hour and some charge a transportation fee of CI$6 per day. The convenience of using an agency is that they train the staff, pay their health insurance, pension and will replace them if they cannot work for any reason. Many agencies also run an employee bus service and will drop them off and pick them up.
Hiring a Domestic Helper Directly
A domestic helper is primarily employed to clean the house, prepare food and babysit the children. They would transport the children to activities, but they would not be expected to plan activities or get involved with doing homework.
The standard working week in the Cayman Islands is between 40 and 45 hours per week. The Labour Act (2021 Revision) states that the minimum wage is CI$6 per hour for a 45-hour week, or nine hours per day. Anyone being asked to work over 45 hours should get paid 1.5 times the hourly rate for additional hours. If the employee is a live-in helper, then their 'in kind' credit (accommodations and utilities, etc.) can only account for 25% of their salary, meaning the employee must be paid a minimum of CI$4.50 per hour in gross monetary compensation. If this is not met, then the employee should call the confidential line at the Department of Labour and Pensions on (345) 945 3073.
The reality is, however, that anyone being paid CI$6 an hour for a 45 hour week will take home CI$270 per week or CI$1,170 per month, less their 50% for basic health insurance (CI$80), then they are barely able to pay rent, feed themselves, catch a bus to and from work and send home some money if they are living on CI$1,090 a month.
However, the pay is significantly better for a very good full-time domestic helper who can also double as a nanny. You would expect this person to be able to drive, cook for your children and help with cleaning the house but they would not help with homework nor manage the logistics of a child's weekly afternoon activities. Expect to pay between CI$450 and CI$550 per week, before overtime, for a 45 hour week, plus a discretionary housing allowance of CI$300-CI$500 per month. For part-time work, or babysitting, and working over the 45 hours per week, you will find that everyone will expect to be paid CI$12-CI$15 an hour. For non-agency helpers who you hire full time, you must take care of their health insurance and a good employer would not expect the employee to contribute towards it.
According to the Labour Act (2021) all employees are entitled to a minimum of two weeks' vacation (10 working days) for the first four years of employment, three weeks (or 15 working days) for years four to 10, and four weeks (20 days) if employed for over 10 years with the same family. You must also pay them double time for working any public holidays. Unfortunately, by law, you do not have to contribute to a domestic worker's pension although a good employer will. A good employer will also pay for one airline ticket home per year if the employee lives nearby (e.g. Jamaica) or a ticket home every two years if they live further away (e.g. the Philippines). They should also provide a Christmas bonus of between two-weeks' and a month’s salary.
Hiring a Professional Nanny
A professional nanny is expected to have a university degree and/or some form of formal early childhood care and education training. Their role is to focus on the children and not on general household chores. A professional nanny is usually paid CI$18-CI$20 per hour for a 45 hour week (CI$3,500-CI$3,900 per month) and the overtime rate is negotiable but starts at CI$12 an hour.
Typically, a nanny's job includes washing the children’s laundry, doing dishes, doing the household grocery shopping, preparing healthy dinners or homemade baby food, arranging activities, helping to organise and drive children to afterschool activities, assisting with homework, supporting any homeschooling and organising playdates. They would be expected to help develop a well-rounded, responsible child with a strong moral compass. Find professional nannies by word of mouth, or through local agencies such as The Perfect Maid & Nanny Agency and AAA Caregivers. If you are looking for a live-in au pair, visit www.greataupair.com.
Most nannies would expect to be provided with a car to use seven days a week, a monthly fuel allowance of CI$80-CI$160 (depending on distances involved between main household, school and certain activities), flights home (once a year no matter the destination), four weeks' paid vacation, non-contributory health insurance, and to be paid their monthly salary whether the family are away on holiday or not. It is not unusual for a nanny to travel with the family on vacation and stay overnight as needed (but please check visa requirements of the holiday destination if the nanny is working on the trip). For overnight stays, the going rate is a sleep fee of CI$10 per hour or CI$75 a night. It is then CI$12 per hour for the hours the children are awake outside of the nanny’s regular working hours.
Work Permit Rules for a Domestic Helper/Nanny
If you are an expat, then you cannot submit your domestic helper's or nanny's work permit paperwork until your own work permit has been approved. It is also illegal to have them pay for their own work permit. Helpers are not allowed to have dependents on their work permit, and the absolute maximum time they can stay on the Island is ten years. You can take out a work permit for any nationality as long as you can demonstrate a genuine need.
The Department of Workforce Opportunities & Residency Cayman (WORC) does not usually grant expats a work permit for a domestic helper or a nanny unless they can show sufficient need, i.e. they have children who need looking after. In this case, you'll need to provide certified copies of the birth certificate of each child to be cared for and think carefully about the information you provide in your cover letter to support your application.
Please note, a work permit for a 'Nanny' needs to be advertised on WORC's job page but a work permit for a Domestic Helper does not need to be advertised. The work permit for a Domestic Helper costs CI$150 per year, while the cost for a Certified Nanny is CI$550.