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Describing Domestic and Private Positions

There is often a dichotomy between the job title of a vacancy and the profile description of the most suitable candidates for that role which in essence is about two words: private or domestic

Despite our understanding that the words are mutually exclusive, we are also aware that they can be used reciprocally when referring to household staff.

Determined to shed some light on this issue, we decided to consult our candidates and clients about the interchangeability of the terms “private” and “domestic”. Furthermore we approached our external legal advisors Neves Solicitors to find out if, by law, domestic staffing contracts are seen in a different light to private staffing placements.

Our aim was to go beyond the labels and start using the right nomenclature for each role we handle. What we discovered is that there are several misconceptions which need to be dealt with immediately in order to make sure our clients know what they are expecting and provide suitable salary and benefits to match, whilst also fully briefing candidates on the breadth of their position. Domestic sounds every day, unremarkable, almost untrained, whereas it is clear that anyone being placed by Irving Scott would be uniquely skilled to fit the specifications of such a vacancy. On the contrary private service implies confidentiality and discretion, with the candidate being able to show their face when necessary and take responsibility for the running of the house, which although true often applies to domestic roles too.

At the risk of over-simplifying, the distinctions appear as so:

Hiring domestic / private staff

Those candidates hired through a limited company that runs the affairs of a family are often referred to as private staff. This is by no means derogatory. Meanwhile a placement that offers a direct contract with the principal is usually referred to as domestic staff, regardless of the category of the role.

Describing domestic / private staff

It is true to say that the term “domestic staff” is usually associated with paid work carried out within the household such as gardening or cleaning whilst the term “private staff” is more often associated management roles such as Estate/House Managers and Butlers.

Becoming domestic / private staff

“Domestic” roles demand a set of skills that our candidates have trained hard to achieve. “Private” roles require flexibility, discretion and troubleshooting prowess. Both require high standards and attention to detail.

But is there any legal distinction between the two roles as implied by their differing classification? Absolutely not. Elizabeth McGlone from Neves LLP is adamant that there is no difference between private and domestic contracts.

Here at Irving Scott we concentrate on finding ideal roles for our candidates and finding ideal candidates for our clients. We seek to find the best fit in terms of CV and personality. We build close relationships and care about our clients and our candidates. Given that the key issue is compatibility we know that once a mutually beneficial working relationship has been embarked upon both parties will come to a seamless agreement upon the most appropriate description of the duty being fulfilled.

Domestic or private, the classification is secondary to the performance of a role that is career-enhancing.