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Unwise to let foxes guard henhouses

China Daily | Updated: 2017-07-07 08:12

A LIVE-IN NANNY IN SHENZHEN was found to have a history of mental illness after she attempted to wrestle the 7-month-old baby from her employer on June 29. Yanzhao Metropolis Daily commented on Thursday:

With hindsight, it is clear there could have been serious consequences had her employer not stopped the nanny from grabbing his kid.

Although the nanny was suffering from a mental illness, the housekeeping agency that trained her did not divulge the information when introducing her to the family.

This is reminiscent of an earlier tragedy in Hangzhou, East China's Zhejiang province, when a nanny was arrested on suspicion of starting a fire in the home of her employers that killed the three children she was employed to care for, as well as the mother. The suspect's gambling addiction and resulting debts, which are believed to have reached breaking point, were not known to her employers, although the agency had been notified of this by her previous employers.

In Shenzhen, housekeeping agencies are reportedly not required to screen out applicants with a history of mental illness, hence they might be tempted to withhold such relevant information from their customers. There is neither any regulation nor a department specifically designed to manage the housekeeping service agencies, creating a supervisory vacuum fraught with potential risks.

With an estimated labor shortage of nearly 200,000, China's housekeeping market reached 1.6 trillion yuan ($240 billion) in 2016 and is expected to grow rapidly as the demand for household staff grows. Laws and regulations are therefore needed to rein in the booming business and defend the lawful rights of customers.

How much information agencies should obtain about the staff on their books, and how much should be passed on to the families employing them, and what certification housekeeping agencies should have should be clearly set out. Favorable policies that support the recruitment and training of prospective household staff need to be in place to keep unqualified applicants at bay.

The poor management of household staff merits vigilance.

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