Business men have evolved a satisfactory and workable plan by which their employees are neither overworked nor deprived of all legal holidays, although frequently the work they are engaged in can not be suspended day or night even for an hour.
It remains for women of the leisure class, and to this class belong all those who can afford to pay to have their housework done for them, to adopt a similar plan in their homes.
When the plan for limiting housework to eight hours a day is discussed for the first time, the following question invariably arises: What is to be done when anything unusual happens to break the routine of the regular work, as for instance, when sickness occurs, when friends arrive unexpectedly, when a dinner party is given?
Sickness, of course, is unavoidable, but as a rule a trained nurse or an extra household assistant is called in to help. Many times, however, this is not absolutely necessary, or perhaps the family can not afford to have outside help, and the extra work caused by sickness usually falls upon the domestic employee whose hours of labor are more or less prolonged in consequence. What ought to be done in such an event?
There is but one answer: Work that can not be accomplished within the regular working hours already agreed upon should be paid for as “overtime.”
When it is a question of work being prolonged beyond the eight hours a day by the entertaining of friends, one can only say that this ought not to happen if the housewife planned her working schedule carefully. She alone is responsible for her social engagements; she alone can make a schedule that will enable her to have her friends come to luncheon or dinner without prolonging the day’s work beyond the hours agreed upon between herself and her employees.
When friends arrive unexpectedly, however, or when a dinner party or a big social function takes place in the home, an eight hour schedule may be the cause of great inconvenience, unless a previous agreement has been made to meet just such occasions. It is certain that some compensation is due to all domestic employees for the extra long hours of work caused by unusual events in the home life of their employers, and many ways have been devised already to remunerate them.
In modern social life a custom of long standing still exists which makes it almost compulsory for this remuneration to come out of the pocket, not of the hostess, but of her guests. The unfortunate custom of giving “tips” is not generally criticised very openly, but when viewed in the light of reason and justice, it seems to be a very poor way of trying to remove one of the present hardships connected with domestic labor. Why should the housewife depend upon the generosity of her guests to help her pay her household employees? She never demurs at the extra expense entailed in giving luncheons and dinners in her friends’ honor, nor in taking them to places of interest and amusement. Why then should she object to giving a little more money to her household employees upon whose work the success of her hospitality so largely depends?