Logistics of laying off our house cleaners
August 9, 2017 4:13 AM   Subscribe

When letting our house cleaners go, should I tell them when they arrive, when they're getting ready to depart, or between visits?

Our house cleaner comes once every two weeks, usually along with one other person. They're very nice, reliable, and trustworthy, so though they haven't done a fantastic job, we've stuck with them for about two years. Now, rather than bringing up the improvements we'd like, my husband wants to try taking on the job himself -- he's reducing his hours at work anyway. If that doesn't work out, we'll take the opportunity to find someone new. So, we need to tell them.

It seems very awkward to tell them as they arrive, and then have them here knowing it's the last time. Similar but worse would be letting them know in advance, then having her come by again. I could tell them when they arrive and let them leave immediately, but they'd have schlepped here on the bus and would have to wait for the next, infrequent one. Plus I'm giving them one extra (two weeks') payment, and in that scenario, I feel like I'd have to give them the current one in addition, which I'd rather not do without having them clean.

It also seems very awkward when they're departing, after I've greeted them normally and sat there being friendly and pretending everything is fine while they scrub. Plus, they leave straight to catch that bus, so I'd have to predict when they're getting close to done and interrupt, rather than waiting until we're saying goodbye anyway.

Telling them when they're not here seems much easier, but complicates getting them the extra payment, and getting back the key. I guess I could send them a check and a SASE for the key?

What's the right time to do this?
posted by daisyace to Human Relations (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Just tell them at the end of the cleaning job. You're way overthinking this, which is nice of you, but this is not personal. I think framing this as a layoff is not really necessary either. Just tell them your husband is reducing his work hours and that therefore you won't be continuing with their service, give them the extra pay, and stop feeling guilty!
posted by peacheater at 4:19 AM on August 9, 2017 [19 favorites]

Yeah you're over thinking this. I'd tell them at the start that this will be the last time so you can see them off nicely after they have completed the job, express your gratitude and willingness to provide references (if you are indeed willing to) as they leave. They are professionals, are used to the precarity of their field, and any awkwardness will probably be in your own mind. Don't tell them between cleans - they will have to find a new position and would probably be grateful for as much time to do so as possible.
posted by tavegyl at 4:28 AM on August 9, 2017 [4 favorites]

Similar but worse would be letting them know in advance, then having her come by again.

I don't understand what's so bad about this idea. Giving them some warning, e.g. 'The appointment we have scheduled for the 23rd is going to be our last one,' seems considerate to me. You don't have to present this as punishment or expect them to hang their heads in shame. Just say your schedules have changed and you're able to handle the cleaning yourself now.
posted by jon1270 at 4:36 AM on August 9, 2017 [18 favorites]

I personally would tell them between visits because it would be easier to do it over the phone or email, which is perhaps somewhat cowardly, but it has the virtue of letting them choose whether or not to show up for the "last time." They may simply want to move on and find a replacement customer with their time rather than coming out to you.
posted by Mid at 4:59 AM on August 9, 2017 [7 favorites]

I don't know whether there's something extenuating in your situation, but in general this is what I would do:

It's better to give a heads-up to the cleaners farther in advance so they can start booking their next clients, make arrangements, etc. I would call/email in advance to explain the situation but you could also have a quick huddle with them when they arrive for the next cleaning (but before the last appointment).

"Do you have a few minutes? I need to let you know that [because of reasons], we won't be needing cleaning sessions anymore." Thank them for the two years of cleaning they did (and offer the extra pay--I'd probably frame it as thanks for their good work). Then let them know the last cleaning date and your plans for money/key exchange ("I'll give you the check at the end of [date/session]," etc).

You're not the first client to discontinue services. It's part of routine business for them. No need to make this awkward.

I think it's preferable to be upfront with expectations rather than springing it on them on the last day and at the last minute.
posted by Sockin'inthefreeworld at 5:00 AM on August 9, 2017 [11 favorites]

If you tell them ahead of time, do make sure to tell them you're paying them for the extra weeks!

On a personal note, if it's at all possible in terms of schedule and so forth I'd offer them some coffee and cookies or something and sit down with them a bit in addition to the severance pay (if that's not something you do already). Obviously you don't actually have to do that, and yes in the end it's just a business transaction, but anything that makes people feel a little more recognized and a little more like their good work mattered is a good thing, imo.
posted by trig at 5:03 AM on August 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

"Next time you come will be our last appointment- my husband is reducing his hours at work so he's going to take on the house-cleaning duties at home. Thanks so much for everything!"
posted by amro at 5:20 AM on August 9, 2017 [5 favorites]

PS - When money gets tight, unnecessary luxuries like cleaners are the first thing to go - they are used to this and it's not a big deal.
posted by amro at 5:21 AM on August 9, 2017 [2 favorites]

Telling them between visits is what I would do, just because it prevents any weirdness (unlikely though that would be). But the suggestions above of giving advance notice is probably the kinder option.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:07 AM on August 9, 2017 [2 favorites]

I am an independent professional residential/commercial cleaner. PLEASE do not spring impending termination on them either while they are there, or especially as they walk out your door. Reverse the situation for a second: would you not find them unprofessional at best, were they to do similarly? Advance notice by phone (even if only via text or voicemail), is not cowardly in the least. jon1270 has it spot on in their response. Sockin'inthefreeworld also has it, with this specific paragraph:

"... I need to let you know that [because of reasons], we won't be needing cleaning sessions anymore." Thank them for the two years of cleaning they did (and offer the extra pay--I'd probably frame it as thanks for their good work). Then let them know the last cleaning date and your plans for money/key exchange ("I'll give you the check at the end of [date/session]," etc).

It is very kind and generous of you to provide the additional pay, most would not think to do that. I have never expected same personally, but have been quite touched by the gesture in recent past, for a client needing to move into a nursing home. While I mainly rely on the income from my regular clients for the bulk of my living expenses; any professional has safeguards in place against last-minute cancellations, unforeseen circumstances, outright need to cease services, etc. If these people do not have safety nets in place for any reason, your thoughtfulness could well save them from a rough financial patch.

Should you find yourself in need of cleaning from someone new down the line; the very best practice is to delineate up front at hiring any and all duties/expectations, policies concerning cancellations on either side, what will occur should either side wish to cease service, rules for your house key, how possible damage or breakage of personal property is to be handled, how any dissatisfaction with services provided will be ameliorated, and/or any other topics of importance. Leave no room for miscommunication or misunderstanding.

Hope this helps! :)
posted by Amor Bellator at 7:39 AM on August 9, 2017 [15 favorites]

I would wait for them to do whatever the upcoming appointment is, then call them the day after to let them know that you have decided to discontinue their services, that you will be mailing them a "bonus" check to thank them for their past services and that you would be more than happy to provide a positive reference in the future. This effectively gives them four weeks until they would need to replace you on their appointment schedule, which is more than fair.
posted by slkinsey at 8:02 AM on August 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

Thanks, everybody! Sounds like most people think it's not too awkward to have them come again after I've told them ahead of time that it will be their last visit, and that even with the extra payment, it's still worth giving advance notice. So, that's what I'm going to do, and I appreciate the help!
posted by daisyace at 10:17 AM on August 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

« Older Support group for non-traditional caregivers?   |   Store-agnostic book linking Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.