Photo by Samuel Zeller on Unsplash

by Emily Louange, Founder & CEO, Via the Village

Religion and politics. Eek. Two topics most steer clear of in the workplace, right? These topics aren’t always relevant to the work we do unless, of course, you work for a religious or political organization. But few stop to think how relevant religion and politics can become in a domestic workplace … that is, until there’s conflict. So how do you prevent issues from arising?

A thoughtful domestic employer of a nanny might think to broach the topic during the interview. However, except for exempt religious organizations, it is illegal to question a hire or potential hire on certain information.

Religion and politics are amongst a dozen topics employers are not allowed to ask during an interview. So how on earth is one supposed to navigate this? Let’s explore!

Firstly, it is important for anyone who hires a babysitter, nanny, or any other in-home help to recognize that they are considered an employer by definition of the IRS. Domestic employers need to know and uphold legal requirements set forth by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Employers cannot require or inquire on certain things such as race, religion, gender, pregnancy status, political standing, etc.

However, since religion and politics are more relevant in a domestic workplace setting than most others, it is recommended that parents who employ caregivers thoroughly articulate what the job responsibilities entail.

Via The Village confirmed with Hand in Hand , the domestic employer experts, that although domestic employers are limited in what they can ask, they are not completely restricted from the topic. Domestic employers are permitted to inquire if the candidate is comfortable in performing outlined job responsibilities.

A caregiver’s role is to support the child(ren) as defined by the job description. So if aiding your child with political or religious practice is part of the gig, it’s best to include that in the description.

Beyond the standard duties, responsibilities could also include assisting the child with their Hebrew or Bible studies, prayers before meals, or lighting of Diwali candles. On the other end of the spectrum, the family may be atheist or agnostic. They could have preference the caregiver abstains from any religious discussions with their child.

Parents, here are some questions you can ask during an interview:

  • Would you be comfortable assisting my child with our religious practices, then describe.
  • What would you do if our child displayed signs of homosexuality, gender dysphoria, etc?
  • Are there any religious practices that you will incorporate in the care of our child(ren)?

Caregivers—if the employer doesn’t take the lead on this, you can broach the same topics reframed something like:

  • Is supporting any particular religious practice part of the job description?
  • In the event that your child displayed signs of homosexuality, gender dysphoria, etc, how would you prefer that I address the matter?
  • Are you comfortable with me incorporating (insert description of type of religious practice you incorporate) in the care I provide?

It is important to be intentional and sensitive with these topics. At the end of the day, despite any differences, both the employer and the employee have the same goal. Domestic employers desire a care provider best suited for their family. Domestic employees desire to be in a job position where they are comfortable and can thrive. Respectful, legal conversations can get you there.

What are your thoughts? Have you have any related instances? Do share!

Thanks to our friends at Via The Village who originally published this post on their site.