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Glossary: Domestic & Childcare Staff

(see also' House Manager' and 'Valet')
The traditional butler is deemed as a manservant responsible for ensuring the smooth running of the household. Good modern-day butlers are multi-taskers and are now expected to fulfill a combination of the following roles; butler, valet, chef, chauffeur and traveling PA.

In the past few years we have also seen the emergence of the 'super butler' - generally highly educated, computer literate and multi-lingual who travels extensively with their employer managing and ensuring the security of multiple worldwide households and their respective staff as well as responsibility for the 'super rich accessories' such as private jets and yachts. Butler's duties include:

  • Charge of all household staff including daily schedules, duties and ongoing training

  • Knowledge of social etiquette and formal service

  • Greeting and care of household guests

  • Organize household budgets, maintenance and household inventory

  • Care and cleaning of fine china, crystal and silver

  • Prepare formal table settings, serve drinks and wait on the table

  • Be knowledgeable about the purchase, storage and serving of wines and spirits and maintain the wine cellar

  • Assist in the organization of social events at home, travel arrangements and household / family security

  • Liaise with the employers corporate office staff as and when required

  • Valet service to the gentleman of the house


Person employed to take charge of property in the owners absence - generally on a temporary basis. Also used in a commercial role for large properties, museums etc.



Professional driver to either a private household; driving the employer to work then covering school runs, driving the lady of the house and running general errands or a top-level corporate employee where they will be on call all day driving to and from business appointments and possibly help around the office. The majority of chauffeurs have a background from the police or armed services and qualifications include Rolls Royce-trained, anti-terrorist and defensive driving skills. Chauffeurs are responsible for:

  • The care and maintenance of the car

  • Insuring that the car / cars are in a state of constant readiness (petrol etc)

  • The care and paperwork (MOT / insurance etc) for the cars


Person who moves into the private home in order to provide company and security normally for an elderly person. They will generally help out preparing and serving meals and light cleaning duties but they will not administer medicine or provide personal assistance - full time registered carer will fulfill this role.



Chefs are generally formally trained whilst cooks have gained their knowledge through experience. This covers the preparation of all meals from children's and basic family meals to professional qualified chefs who might cater for dinner parties and larger social events. In a private household cooks and chefs are responsible for:

  • Maintenance and cleanliness of the kitchen, its utensils and food storage areas

  • Menu preparation and cooking for daily family meals and special events

  • Cooking for other household staff as required

  • Food ordering and purchase


Split job between preparing and cooking the food and cleaning the house. A cook/housekeeper would be expected to prepare food to a good family standard and be able to cope with the occasional dinner party. Depending on the size of the house and family might work in conjunction with and be responsible for a daily cleaner.



Domestic couples are generally a married or long term couple with no dependants who are employed to manage and run the private home and will have a combination of the following skill sets - butler, chauffeur, cook, gardener, handyman, nanny, housekeeper, houseman, house manager or PA. Often domestic couples are employed to maintain weekend, country and overseas holiday properties especially in the owner's absence. Couples will require separate self-contained accommodation.



Responsibility for through cleaning of the household; duties to include:

  • Vacuuming and cleaning floors and carpets

  • Dusting and polishing

  • All laundry and ironing

  • Maintaining the entrance of the house

  • Any additional chores agreed with the employer

Generally responsible for all areas outside and possibly inside the main house on small to large country estates. Could be a joint position looking after the inside of the house as well. Duties would include:

  • Maintenance of the house, grounds and amenities (tennis court, swimming pools etc)

  • Organise the duties, schedules and training of all estate staff (gardeners, handymen, keepers etc) or arrange all relevant contractors

  • Work in conjunction with indoor staff over kitchen garden etc.


Liveried servant usually employed in pairs only within royal households.



Role varies depending on type and size of the garden but can range from simply mowing the lawn and maintaining the garden to a fully qualified horticulturist who can plan and create gardens from scratch and create and maintain formal gardens. Able to maintain and operate the usual outdoor machinery and tools. Knowledge of managing a Kitchen garden is extremely useful in country houses.



Looking after small day-to-day maintenance projects either round the private house and grounds, larger residential apartment blocks or commercial properties. Requires being able to turn your hand to anything inside or outside the house: experience of DIY, carpentry and painting as well as basic electrics and plumbing.



When employed on a full-time basis the housekeeper is responsible for all aspects of housekeeping and care of laundry. Depending on the size of the house and family might be assisted by a daily cleaner. Duties to include:

  • Responsibility for the duties and schedule of cleaner(s) if employed

  • Thorough cleaning of the house

  • Vacuuming and cleaning floors, carpets and rugs

  • Dusting and polishing of all surfaces

  • Laundry and ironing - drop and collect dry cleaning

  • Schedule all linen changes

  • Maintain a household maintenance report

  • Care of fine china, silver and crystal in absence of a butler

  • Maintain adequate supply of household cleaning products

  • Arrangement of flowers throughout the house

  • Run errands and possibly be responsible for household shopping

  • May be asked to assist with serving at table for dinner parties


(see also 'Butlers')
The House Manager or Major Domo holds overall responsibility for the running of the household, home-office or multiple households and their respective staff. Their duties would include:

  • Overall management and administrative operations reporting to employer

  • Coordination with the butler or individual house managers at each property

  • Oversee overall household budgets and banking facilities thereof

  • Maintain up to date property inventories and reference manuals

  • Overall responsibly for household maintenance, and work in conjunction with employer in major renovation works

  • Coordinate the movement of the family, furnishings and artwork between properties

  • Assist in the organization of social events at home, travel arrangements and household / family security

  • Liaise with the employers corporate office staff as and when required


Under-butler or male housekeeper responsible for the heavier housework in a more formal household. Is a very popular domestic position requested by clients nowadays as a general halfway house between a butler and housekeeper in less formal situations covering hands on cleaning, cooking and some driving.


Personal servant responsible for the lady of the household. Duties include:

  • Care of the wardrobe and ladies' private rooms

  • Care, cleaning, pressing and mending of ladies clothes

  • Preparation and packing of clothes for packing


Responsible for all laundry and mending from individuals personal clothes to all household requirements. Bed linen, towels, tablecloth's and staff uniforms.



Split job between care of the children and the cleaning of the house, in this situation the children are normally older and out at nursery or school during the day. Usually works in conjunction with daily cleaner. If the nanny/housekeeper is expected to take sole charge of children then it is imperative that her housekeeping duties take second place to ensure the quality of childcare at all times.



Working on a one on one basis within a home office environment and is responsible for all organizational matters both commercial and private for the employer. Duties to include:

  • Manage the home office

  • All secretarial duties

  • Diary management and scheduling appointments

  • Organization of mail and responses

  • Manage accounts payable and expenses

  • Arrange travel arrangements

  • Overseeing special projects

  • Organize corporate and private entertainment


Door man of large building residential or commercial- responsible for the front entrance, security and the well being of the occupants.



The valet is a manservant to the gentleman of the house. Duties would include:

  • Care of the wardrobe and gentleman's rooms

  • Care, cleaning, pressing and mending of gentleman's clothes

  • Preparation and packing of clothes for packing


Trained Nurses, midwives or health visitors who specialise in the care of newborn babies. A Maternity Nurse helps the Mother from the time she leaves hospital until she and her baby are settled into a routine at home; this normally lasts between four to eight weeks. They work 24 hours a day, 6 days a week. Duties include:

  • Responsible for all the physical needs of the baby

  • Advise and help the new parents establish a feeding routine (bottle or breast)

  • Bathing, changing and settling the baby

  • Care of the baby's laundry and nursery

  • Keeping the nursery and their own room (if separate) clean and tidy

  • Maternity nurses DO NOT do housekeeping!


Those who work as Mothers' Helps are generally younger and less experienced with children than Nannies. Due to their lack of experience they unlike nannies are not qualified to be left in sole charge of young babies but act as a general help for mothers working under their direction. They will generally do light daily housework but should not be expected to fulfill the role of a housekeeper or cleaner.



A Nanny is expected to be responsible for all aspects of the child's life. In practice domestic nannies usually care for children between new-born to 4 years, after the age of 4 years families generally migrate to au pairs, mothers helps or nanny / housekeepers. This includes:

  • Get children up in the morning and put to bed at night

  • Bathing and dressing children

  • Organising the children's meals

  • Laundering the children's clothes

  • Cleaning and tidying the nursery and bedroom

  • Dropping and collecting children from school / nursery / playgroup / friends

  • Babysitting - 2 weeknights additional by arrangement

  • Arranging the child's social life

  • Stimulating the child's mind and imagination

  • Assisting the children with homework

  • Providing the parents with feedback on children's progress - possibly via nanny diary


An arrangement where two or more families share the services of the same nanny as neither require their own full time position.



Split job between care of the children and the cleaning of the house, in this situation the children are normally older and out at nursery or school during the day. Usually works in conjunction with daily cleaner. If the nanny / housekeeper is expected to take sole charge of children then it is imperative that her housekeeping duties take second place to ensure the quality of childcare at all times.



Experienced Nannies have no formal training but have gained their knowledge through practical hands on experience. A nanny with varied experience can be just as valuable as her trained counterpart. We would recommend that they should as a minimum hold a first-aid certificate.



National Nursery Examination Board N.N.E.B. now called C.A.C.H.E. (Council for awards in Council and Education)
This is a two-year course covering children from age 0 to 7 years. The N.N.E.B. is probably the most recognised course and gives the students an in-depth knowledge of the physical, intellectual, social and emotional needs of the different ages. Other subjects include health, hygiene, first aid and appropriate play. Students gain hands-on experience in hospitals, schools and with families with approximately 40% of time being spent in placements. There is an equivalent qualification in Scotland called SCOTVEC.

Business & Technical Education Council Nursery Nursing Diploma B.T.E.C.
This is a two-year course covering the same subjects as the N.N.E.B. but with more emphasis on the academic side. Additional modules are included for students focusing on teaching, nursing, social work and childcare. There is also a requirement to complete 400 and 750 hours work experience the full time course.

N.V.Q. Levels 2 & 3
These courses can take up to two years to complete and are competence based. Students are assessed within the workplace and have to complete up to 15 modules. This course is new and has replaced the City and Guilds' qualification, which was a one-year course in childcare. There are no examinations for an NVQ but candidates are assessed on their performance in a working environment.

National Association of Maternal & Child Welfare N.A.M.C.W.
This course is similar to the N.N.E.B. covering children from new-born to teenagers. Topics include special needs and the student qualifies for a supervisory role within nurseries.


Norland, Princess Christian and Chiltern
These are private residential colleges, which have their own nurseries for training on-site. The course is two years and is followed by a 6-9 month probation period where the nanny is placed within a family. All subjects are covered thoroughly and students receive the N.N.E.B. qualification and the Royal Society of Health Diploma.


Montessori Diploma
This is a privately run course, which can be run on a full-time basis or by correspondence covering the ages 2-7. Training is based on the philosophy of Maria Montessori who believed that children could teach themselves within a structured learning environment. The full time course comprises approximately 500 hours classroom study and 200 hours probationary teaching.


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Last modified: 03 May 2011.