Most expatriate families employ domestic helpers who are available at reasonable wages. Cooks and cleaning staff may be male or female, although women are usually hired to care for children. The average family employs a housekeeper/cook and a gardener/pool man; they may be full- or part-time. Families with small children often have a nanny and some families employ a full-time cook in addition to a housekeeper. Servants rarely live in, although they can be asked to work in the evenings, and/or weekends; they are usually paid extra for these occasions. English-speaking domestics are rare; many will speak reasonable French, although fluency varies, and many domestics do not know how to read or write.
Incoming expatriates often hire staff who have previously worked for other Westerners and who have proven their reliability. Most domestics seeking employment have attestations, letters of recommendation from former employees. Domestic staff should have a physical examination and chest X-ray before employment, and annually thereafter.
The work week is generally 5-6 days a week, 8-10 hours a day. Salaries, paid in CFA francs, range from $60 to $160 monthly, depending on the employees' responsibilities and experience. Food or an allowance for one meal per day and a transportation allowance may be provided. Some employers also provide coffee, tea and sugar as well as a clothing allowance to buy uniforms. Although the employer is not obliged to give the employee bonuses for holidays, it is customary to give something at Ramadan and at Tabaski, the two major Muslim holidays in Mali, or at Christmas. Employees are entitled to a month's vacation each year, although extra pay may be given in lieu of vacation if mutually acceptable.
Unlike many countries, Mali has established a work code for household help that stipulates working hours, overtime pay requirements, probationary periods, vacation and sick leave policies, meal and uniform policies, salary increases, and compensation for termination of employees.
A contribution is required for every 3-month period to the Malian social security system (INPS) for each employee, including during the trial period. This protects both employer and employee in case of accident or illness and provides hospitalisation, a monthly stipend for each child of the employee, a pregnancy stipend and retirement benefits to the employee.