Create an Employee Handbook for Your Private Staff

Whether you’re hiring for the estate or searching for someone to help you in your day to day, an employee manual or handbook gives your private staff a detailed overview of your rules, policies, guidelines, or procedures. Your goal should be to set the right expectations and, at the same time, state all your legal obligations to them. Note, that an employee manual is not the same thing as an employment contract.

Having an employee handbook helps to facilitate smoother onboarding, making it easy to welcome new staff members to the team. Furthermore, a set of guidelines also clearly outlines your expectations as an employer or staff manager, who may have several individuals under their purview.

In this article, we’ll discuss how to craft an employee manual for the team managing your personal and household affairs.

Values and Mission Statement

Your values and mission statement explains, in simple terms, your purpose for hiring your employees. And in the wake of a pandemic, making sure that you are 100% aligned with your existing and potential staff is critical. What are you trying to achieve, and how can your private staff help?

You need to effectively communicate these expectations with your staff to really get the right message across. Ensure that they know why you are hiring them and what your objectives are as an individual, an employer, and a homeowner.

A short paragraph defining your personal business and expectations would suffice as a brief character reference, offering some insight into who you are as an employer. Be as specific as you can and write it concisely, so your employees know what you are trying to convey to them.

Employee Compensations and Benefits

First and foremost, outline how your employees will be compensated, whether that’s a monthly wire or a weekly check. If you are offering other perks or incentives to your private staff, then this information should be clearly spelled out in your employee manual. You’ll want to include everything that covers employee benefits or rewards.

Clearly outline how much they are paid per hour and if they will be paid for overtime hours or when they work during holidays. Your private staff may also expect some benefits, so ensure that you outline this, in detail.

Benefits can include health insurance, parking spaces, sick leaves, 401k, dental benefits, meals, and beverages provided, lockers and personal storage areas, etc.

Code of Conduct

A code of conduct is a set of rules that tells your private staff how they should behave during work hours. You can include cellphone usage, dress code, smoking policy, etc.

For household rules, you can talk about who opens mails or accepts packages, how family members are addressed or contacted, rules of driving a family car, how guests are addressed and greeted, when to notify family members, or who to call for emergency issues.

For the code of conduct, your staff must understand it in its entirety. Be as detailed and as specific as possible.

Social Media and Digital Conduct

Digital conduct is a set of rules that pertains to an employee’s behavior online. You need to be specific with what is allowed and what is not when it comes to social media or other online-related activities.

Are your employees allowed to talk about their work on their social media channels? What about taking photos in your homes or with family members? Are they allowed to go online during work hours? Can your employees talk about your business?

You need to be very specific about this and ensure that your employees understand these home security guidelines.

Workplace Safety

In case of an emergency, who does your staff need to contact? Are there any allergies that you or your family members or guests have that your staff needs to be aware of? Are there any restricted areas in your home? These are just a few considerations that need to be met in your employee handbook.

While this all depends on what role your staff is filling, it’s still important to have it as a reference. Here, you’ll want to get in as much detail as possible, from dietary restrictions and medication regimens to safety procedures both in-person and online. Write about any guidelines or considerations you’ll need your staff to know.

You should also point out where the first aid kits are and the location of the fire extinguisher.

Duties, Work Hours, and Leave Policy

In your employee handbook, talk about the specific duties that your private staff is required to do. You may want to have a digital calendar shared with your staff members so that you’re always aligned.

How many hours are they required to work? What time should they take breaks, and how many minutes? Do they get paid on sick leaves? What about their vacation leaves – how many days are you giving them annually. If you’re not sure about the minimum wage or how many PTO do you need to offer to your private staff, you can always speak with a professional for assistance.

The goal is—your employees must understand, without question, their duties and responsibilities and what’s expected of them.


Outline the reasons why your employees may be terminated at work. You can write about a list of violations that may warrant a termination. Also, include a plan or checklist about what a certain employee would do if they are terminated. Do they need to return their uniforms or devices that were provided to them?

You need to also talk about their final wage when they are terminated. Will they be paid in full? What about deductions? Speak with a professional to ensure that you’re doing the right thing.

Conflicts of Interest

Depending on the nature of work, you may ask your private staff to sign a non-disclosure agreement and how to deal with them.

Writing the Handbook

When crafting your employee manual, make sure that you’re familiar with the applicable laws. For example, under the Fair Labor Standards Act, you are required to pay the minimum wage to all employees, including compensation for their overtime hours when they work for more than 40 hours a week. Your employees should be paid for every hour over 40. Also, you need to know whether your state’s employment laws require you to pay for breaks or meal times of your employees. Consult a professional when there are unusual work circumstances.

For your taxes, it would depend on the total amount of wages that you pay to a certain employee on an annual basis. You must check your state regulations to determine whether you need to withhold state income tax or settle for disability, unemployment or worker’s compensation insurance. Find out if you need to pay social security and Medicare taxes or pay federal unemployment tax. You can always use a payroll service to make this effortless for you.

Things to keep in mind:

Your employee manual should be readable, clear, simple, yet concise. It has to be accessible to everyone. If possible, hire someone who can discuss your employee manual, in detail, with the new hires.

Ask each employee to sign their handbook to ensure that they have fully read and understood them.

Contact Private Staff Group if You Need More Help

We are a recruitment agency committed to helping prominent individuals like yourself. Our team of experts specializes in sourcing strategy, hiring staff, staff onboarding, tax compliances, training staff, and even writing compelling job descriptions. Get in touch with us today!

The Importance of Employment Contracts When Hiring Domestic Staff

When hiring a new employee, whether a personal chef, personal assistant, nanny or any other household staff, an employment contract is a great opportunity for you and the new hire to go over all the details of the role.

Important Aspects to Include in Your Domestic Staff Contracts

  • Employee title
  • Employee duties and responsibilities
  • Compensation & Payrolling
  • Benefits
  • Hours
  • Vacation, personal and sick days as well as disability, maternity, bereavement and other absences
  • Confidentiality: proprietary information
  • Rules and Regulations
  • Disciplinary/Termination procedures
  • Notice periods

Discussing these will help both you and your new employee to understand the expectations you have for each other. Presenting a new household employee with a contract and allowing them time to review and ask questions is a great way to make sure everyone understands the job and is in agreement from the start.

While a contract provides accountability, as you and your employee are now held legally responsible for maintaining the standards set forth in the contract, you should also keep in mind that there is a lack of flexibility as well. A contract locks you into terms you may want to alter later, which means engaging in new negotiations that could potentially end not mutually beneficial. Sometimes, it is best to have a different contract made for each domestic staff role tailored specifically to them, in order to ensure the contract is as fair as possible.

About Private Staff Group

There are important pre and post-employment considerations when hiring private staff. Once staff is onboard, an employer needs to ensure proper IRS and state and local employment compliance and payroll tax obligations. Private Staff Group offers employment solutions to handle these important staffing requirements. For more information on our staffing solutions, contact us today.

NDAs for Decorators of Affluent Homes

These days—especially when it comes to high-end residential projects—non-disclosure agreements are, as interior designer David Scott puts it, “as commonplace as Ubers and Starbucks.” So much so, in fact, that several architects and designers asked by T&C to comment on the increasing ubiquity of decorator NDAs wouldn’t comment—or, in one case, would only do so anonymously. Some did, however, speak on the record, and they have some constructive advice for the extremely private.

No Dogs Allowed

Scott was once asked to sign an NDA that extended to the clients’ pets. That’s a no-go. You should limit demands to the classics, says acclaimed French architect and interior designer Robert Couturier: “You won’t divulge who you’re working for, how much money they spend, or where they live. Often you have to have all your subcontractors sign one as well.”

Manage Your Ego

“NDAs make sense when it’s a matter of security, when a family could be threatened,” Couturier says. “It’s incredibly irritating, though, when it’s for a society woman who posts photos of herself waking up in the morning and thrives on notoriety.”

Beware of Social Media

“For one client,” Couturier says, “I had to go through my Instagram account and erase pictures that I had taken of the construction site. He had flipped through thousands of posts trying to find those of his job site. That must have taken him hours. I think people have an incredibly inflated opinion of themselves.”

Call It The Michael Cohen Statue

One architect who asked to remain anonymous so as not to jeopardize high-profile projects pleads with clients not to get him involved with law enforcement. “Sometimes,” the architect says, “NDAs ask for restrictions on disclosing information that seem as if they were written by someone trying to hide something from Robert Mueller!”

Leave No Paper Trail

“Many NDAs have archaic language from the days of paper files that doesn’t seem relevant any longer, such as a commitment to destroy all copies if asked,” says the anonymous architect. “This is nearly impossible in a digitally backed-up era.”

Trust Matters

Some NDAs are too demanding. Adjust accordingly. “When documents become so one-sided that they tip away from reasonable restrictions,” says the architect, “you really start to wonder about the intent of the person on the other side.”

Couturier asks, “If a client doesn’t trust his or her designer to protect him, what’s the point of working together?”

Attribution: Town and Country Magazine- April 2019