One day I came home from work and opened the freezer to pack away some groceries. I could hear Julie was finishing off the ironing in the room next door. A pack of opened chicken breasts caught my eye. I could have sworn I still had a full pack in the freezer before I left for work in the morning. I don’t know how long I stood in front of the open freezer staring at the chicken breasts. All the while I was standing there; I could hear the rhythmic back and forth of Julie’s iron moving on the board. Julie was a hard worker. She could barely speak English. And she came in a little too late or left a little too early every day but during the time she was in my home she would work like a horse.
Unfortunately for Julie, I have been robbed of laptops, GPS’s, cameras and everything else you can think of so I have paranoia about my stuff. Even chicken breasts. That afternoon I gave Julie a wad of cash and explained that I was not able to afford her services any longer. I explained that I wanted her to take the time that she would have worked for me over the next month to look for another job. I was worried that Julie would take more stuff from my house if I let her continue to work during the employment termination notice period.
It turns out I still owed Julie money despite the amount that I gave her. The CCMA explained the law after Julie made enquiries with them. I didn’t realize that we needed to pay UIF to an employee that worked more than 24 hours per month and since Julie worked for me once a week, I needed to pay up the amount I owed for UIF.
When Julie came to collect the money I wrote a note to the CCMA’s representative and apologized for my negligence. I knew I should have contacted them to enquire about the legislation before I terminated Julie’s contract, which I didn’t do.
In the meantime I discovered a very expensive clothing item that went missing on the same day that I discovered the opened pack of chicken breasts. I was feeling outrage at the thought of Julie’s generosity with my belongings when I was writing the note to the CCMA. So I mentioned that I also deeply regretted that I never approached them earlier about a theft problem I had with Julie. Julie read the note, which I was hoping she would and she confronted me. I realized I made a mistake. Julie didn’t take the chicken breasts from my freezer. I’m certain of it. Unfortunately, I couldn’t say for sure what happened to the expensive clothing item.
I still terminated Julie’s employment.
From the beginning I never gave the CCMA the real reason for my unhappiness. How was I supposed to prove that a maid was stealing from me? I won’t be taking stock of the items in my house once a week to keep records! Cleaning and laundry services may be a little more expensive but I’ll be making use of them from now on. At least I won’t get a phone call from them on Christmas Day asking me to send them money because they’re stuck in Johannesburg, a million miles from home and without a cent to their name. Also, they don’t worry about getting paid with new R5 coins. My money – any of it – will be good enough.