On the Subject of Dishonesty
Written by Kate Shuttleworth   
Tuesday, 06 July 2010 09:57
One of the most frequently asked questions is: “Are your workers honest?”  To which I respond “No, they are human beings and subject to temptation as much as anybody else, if not more”. To claim that our workers are honest would claim a unique group of moral beings in a quagmire of corruption and duplicity.

What utter garbage.

We have had managers hike off with our clients, money and staff and we have had clients move away without paying us. We have referees giving glowing references for former staff only to discover that they simply wanted to get rid of them easily and were happy to pass on the dishonest, lazy, cheating worker on to another poor unsuspecting employer. Some of our more illustrious clients are on record for the theft of millions and are either on trial, imprisoned, recently out of prison or have fled the country.

One of the problems is that it is usually the poorest, darkest person that is blamed if something goes wrong. One of the top housekeepers in Constantia, I’ll call him Abie, came to me about 7 years ago. When asked why he left his former employer he said that he was fired for theft. I said that in that case I would be unable to assist him. Abie replied that he did not do it, swore innocence and asked me what he could do.

I suggested that he submit himself to polygraph examination and I was prepared to set it up if he paid for it himself, which he did. The examiner was so convinced of Abie’s innocence and outraged at the injustice that he charged only 50% of his normal fee. A large sum of money had gone missing out of the house but it transpired that there were two teenagers in their late teens with a partiality to recreational substances. I managed to negotiate a settlement which kept Abie’s employer out of the CCMA and compensated Abie. Polygraph examination is not always conclusive and there are sociopaths who can beat the machine, in my view, Abie’s blameless record for the past 7 years vindicates him.

A current case suggests that our Marvellous Maids are being blamed in a fraudulent insurance claim. The client’s report for our Disciplinary Investigation states that the jewelry was in a locked box at the back of the cupboard. The insurance investigator contacted our office to clarity certain statements and in their report the jewelry had been in a drawer next to the bed. The client also stated that nobody but a Marvellous Maid had been in the house but when our workers said that another domestic worker had been present that was dismissed as “Oh, that was Aggie, she worked for me for years, and she would never do anything like that”. Oh, really? Sad but true, loyal workers of many years standing choose the time that another person is introduced into the household to remove goods, knowing that the blame would fall on them.

Our workers are not blameless and when employing or placing them we can only judge them by their history and cannot predict the future. The only assurance we can give is that our workers are in full time employment and all issues relating to allegations of dishonesty are dealt with expeditiously.