Your thoughts on my situation?

Received Thursday, June 7, 2007
I've got a question that I would love some input on from the nannies/moms/etc that frequent your site. I would much appreciate some help! Please don't include my name or email :0)

I've been working with the same family for about 3 years now, and to this date we've worked really well together, with a little misunderstanding here and there but for the most part they are a loving and wonderful family to work for. Currently I care for 3 children and work about 35 hours per week. I feel that I'm getting paid fairly well right now, I know I could find work with a family that paid me more for what I do but I love the girls and have no intentions of leaving them. Now that being said, this summer they are expecting their 4th child which will leave me with 4 kids under the age of 7. I know that this will include a lot more work and I'm not sure how to work out the pay. Soon after the baby arrives it will be when I usually get my raise, however I'm not sure that they will necessarily think that I need to be paid that much more. I'm also concerned because when mom is home on maternity leave (and this is from past experience with the last baby) there were many occurrences where she would let me leave early, at her insistence. At that time I was getting paid a weekly salary and things have changed slightly so I am now paid hourly. I'm nervous that this will happen again but that they won't pay me--this is where I have the most trouble with the family. They literally pay me for every hour that I am (or am not there) to the tee. I'm not trying to be greedy but if they come home early that's no reason for me not to get paid for that last hour I did not ask to leave. Same with when they say oh just come in a few hours late we're going into work late. I don't get paid for the hours that I don't work when it's their choice to have me not there, even when they go on vacation. Would it be unreasonable for me to request (in lieu of a large raise) that I get paid every week of the year? I rarely take vacations, I take days off here and there but every job has paid time off and I don't take advantage of them at all. If anything I bend over backwards to help out more than needed (which I have no trouble doing!) but I thought that this could be a good idea rather than asking for a large raise.

Can anyone help me out here? Let me know your thoughts on the situation and if you have other suggestions I would love to hear them. I'm not trying to be greedy but just trying to figure out something that would work for us all. Oh, and I have absolutely no intentions of leaving my job, I love "my kids" dearly :0)


Anonymous said...

I don't have any great advice, but it is really nice to see such a smart, educated and loyal nanny.

You just need to step up and talk to the mom. Do it now, not later.. and be honest just like in your post.

You'll be fine, because I am sure they don't want to lose you either!

annie said...

One of the biggest joy and at the same time largest problem nannies face is that their job frequently involves growing to love the little people they care for. Combining love with a monetary payment is something that makes everyone uncomfortable, so don't worry that you're nervous about talking to the parents, that's totally natural.

Your challenge will be to split the difference. Ask yourself what you think you are worth, salary-wise. What's your fantasy salary? What's the lowest minimum raise you could accept and still feel good about the compensation you're receiving? What would make you satisfied (somewhere in the middle, probably). You need to answer all of these questions before you sit down with the parents. I always think it's best to write things down and have them on hand during the meeting.

You should understand that with another child on the way these parents may be equally nervous to discuss changing your arrangement. With four kids, childcare is not a luxury for them, it's a necessity, so their feelings will be strong. They may be the type of parents who'd bend over backwards to keep you (in which case you have to be careful not to be greedy, because that will breed resentment) or they might be the kind of parents who'll jump to the conclusion that you're trying to strong arm them and take advantage of their dependence on you (in which case you'll need to be the one bending over backwards to convince them that you're not trying to manipulate them).

In my experience parents frequently just don't understand simple truths about what their nanny needs in terms of job security. This stems from the fact that they'd like to think of their nanny as a member of their parenting team, not a paid servant. THIS IS A GOOD THING, but it often causes problems that makes the nanny think she's being taken advantage of. What you need to do is calmly explain that you have bills to pay that are the same every month, and that you'd like to have a steady income that you can count on. Chances are the parents will immediately see what you are talking about, because I'm sure their jobs pay them for sick leave, vacation pay, etc. Also, if their boss tells them to go home early, I bet they'd be surprised to be docked pay. Nannies think these things should be elementary to their employers, but parents just don't always think of their jobs being comparable to their nannies. You need to try and not be offended by that.

So, bottom line: Plan out what you need from this job. Set aside time to talk with the parents when the kids won't interrupt you. Be calm and don't assume the parents understand how you feel until you've explained it.

Good luck with the new baby and I hope I've been some help!

Anonymous said...

I know it can be difficult to ask for raises and so I sympathize with your situations. I'm a working-mom with a nanny and I find it difficult to ask my boss for raises and so I can imagine that my nanny would feel the same way too.

The best way is to be professional about it. Since they are expecting another child, that is a legitimate reason for increasing your pay - your work responsibility will be increasing. I don't know what the increase should be since, salaries vary so widely depending on the region.

As for getting paid for hours when your employer comes home early, etc... I think you should be paid for those hours. I pay my nanny, even though, she has an hourly rate, for times that I ask her to come in late or leave early or if we are away on vacation and don't need to come in at all.

Perhaps, you can talk to your employer about going back to a weekly salary. That might make it easier to get all of your hours paid.

A Nanny in Baltimore said...

Do you have a contract with the family? My contract states that the family must give me 2 weeks notice if they are not going to need me (ex: they are going on vacation). It also states that they may have 5 days (1 week) when they do not need me and I do not get paid (unless I want to use my vacation/personal time then). I get 2 weeks (10 days) paid vacation and 3 sick/personal days. I am to give them 2 weeks notice for vacation days.

I have only been with this family since February and their daughter is only 6 mos old, so we have not gotten to a point where I would hope for a raise yet. Although, my birthday was only two weeks after I started working for them and they gave me $50 and a photo album (that was another $20 from a cute boutique)!

I know they plan to have more children, but I also plan to have a child (next year hopefully!) so those are all details we will have to work out when that time comes.

From time to time also watch their neighbor's baby - who it 8 months - and I get paid extra for that. If I run errands or anything like that for them, they always leave me extra money for lunch or groceries that I want here.

I am paid hourly, if I work extra hours they pay me cash for the extra time. If they let me leave early I am still paid for my regular hours. Afterall, they are the ones that decided to spend extra time with the baby, I shouldn't suffer for that.

You should address your concerns with the parents. You have been there for a considerable amount of time so they should understand AND the cost of living is increasing for everyone so us nannies could use the extra money too! Good luck! Sorry this was so long!

Anonymous said...

You sound like a very nice person, first of all. They are lucky to have you. However, even if you do love the children, as I'm sure you do, it doesn't mean that you shouldn't put yourself first. You must put yourself first. It is your income and budget and living expenses and your value that we are talking about.
You must ask for either a)salary pay, which would be the same every week regardless of if they take a vacation or not
or b) guarenteed hours every week, per contract
I would make it clear to them that you need to count on a certain amount of hours and that if they cannot offer it to you, you need to look elsewhere. If they don't understand, then they are the ones who will lose out.
You should be getting payed for the time that they take a vacation. That is standard. You should get ample sick and vacation time yourself. If you can coordinate with them and their vacation, great, if not you are still entitled.
As far as your raise, I would say that if it is a newborn, and newborn makes four, you should be getting at least an 8 to 10 percent raise, if not more.
I know it is hard to think about leaving a job you love and children you love too, and about looking for another. But I'm sure if they cannot accommodate your needs someone will snap you up. You sound great.

Anonymous said...

You're not greedy, you took the job expecting a certain amount of hours and if they decide to let you go then you still need to be paid. When interviewing I have always said that I expect X amount of paid vacation and that if I choose to take off more than that then I dodn't expect to be paid but if they choose to let me have the day off or go on vacation that I needed to be paid because I have a budget and bills to pay. I guess when it comes time to discuss your pay raise just be honest even if it's uncomfortable and say that from now on if they let you go home you need to be paid because you are counting on the money and yes you should definitely get a raise when the new baby comes. Stick up for yourself or you will grow to resent them.

Anonymous said...

Do you have a contract? If so, when it comes up for renewal, make changes. If not, you need to ask for one. You should absolutely be paid a salary 52 weeks a year, with vacation, holidays, and sick days spelled out. This is standard for a professional nanny. I would ask for a time to sit down and talk as soon as possible, before the baby arrives. Tell them how much you love the children, and that you are happy in your job. If they seem reluctant to pay for hours they don't need you, explain that you need an income you can count on! Maybe you can offer to do some extras during those times. I sometimes cook dinner, or take the dog to the dog run when my employer comes home early. These are things I enjoy doing, and she is happy to have time with the children. Good Luck
A Nanny

Anonymous said...

How did your pay change from weekly to hourly? I have a PT nanny and the pay is hourly, but I still pay her for the full day even if I don't need her for the full day. The hourly part, to me, just means that I pay MORE when I need her for extra time. I think you are well within your rights to ask for this.

Perhaps if you bring the up issue of the raise--and say I am willing to go without a raise if you can do X Y and Z--before THEY bring up the raise, then you will have an upper hand in the negotiations. It sounds totally fair to me. Just leave them an out, say "just think about it and we can talk more later" so they don't feel put on the spot.

Also in my situation, which is different again b/c my nanny is PT, I pay her when I go on vacation but I don't pay her when she chooses to take time off. We go away at least five weeks out of the year so I think this is fair.

Anonymous said...

I would expect your salary/hourly wage to increase by 10-20% after the 4th baby is born. It's really tiring to take care of a baby let along 3 other toddlers/children at the same time!!

Also, if you're paid hourly, then how do you get paid sick days/vacations? I think your employer needs to pay you weekly because you deserve monetary stability. Also, don't fall into the "I love the children and I can't leave" trap. No matter how much you love the kids, you need to think about yourself first and understand that this family is taking advantage of you.

Anonymous said...

Good luck to you. I will reiterate what this person said: "You should understand that with another child on the way these parents may be equally nervous to discuss changing your arrangement. With four kids, childcare is not a luxury for them, it's a necessity, so their feelings will be strong."

You are not powerless in the situation, although I can certainly understand the feeling. You sound like a great person and an excellent nanny. You should always get paid for the hours you were expected to be there, even if they come home early. A similar example: When I was in a share care, if I felt my daughter was too sick to be around the other child that day, I paid the nanny anyway. She is on a tight budget in an expensive city, and it's not fair for her to be paid less that day because my kid got sick.

Please report back!!

cheryl said...

I don't have anything new to add really, but I do encourage you to go to them and discuss your concerns. You should always be paid for all your scheduled hours, and with another child on the way you should also get a raise. Your bosses sound nice, and may just be misinformed on the proper way to handle your payment. You can do this in a mature and positive way while still remaining honest and true to yourself.

The last thing they need right now is to lose you and have to deal with having a new nanny, so they will do the right thing.

Anonymous said...

I'm 1018 above -- wanted to add that they would also be extremely hard-pressed to find anyone else (one single person, that is) to take care of 4 children, so you really do have some power in this situation.

OP said...

I am the original poster--thank you all very much for your thoughts. I'm going to sit down with them soon and talk to them before the baby comes :)

I thought that the idea for doing extra things when I get to leave early, or come in late was a good idea but I'm already doing most of these things--I'm cooking dinner and I fix the girls breakfast and lunch, do the kids laundry, run errands, etc.

I think I was just having a hard time with trying to make sure that I was able to communicate exactly what it was that I needed. I also wanted to be sure that I was being fair and that they weren't going to feel as if I'm taking advantage of them.

I'm going to ask for a small raise and to go back to being paid weekly, with any hours worked extra just paid by the hour. Hopefully this will eliminate any small issues that may come around and I will still be getting paid every week.

Thanks again for everyones help :)

Mandarina said...

op- that sounds totally reasonable. Good for you for stopping to reflect about what you really wanted to communicate before saying anything. I know how uncomfortable it can be, but what you are asking for is incredibly reasonable. Your fixed income should not be at the mercy of their whims, especially since you have been there for them for so long. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

What a great thread! It's nice to see so many reasonable responses from everyone.

The only advice that I would add is to help the parents understand your position - that you have to balance the love you have for their family with the fact that this is you JOB. I was a full time nanny and ran into issues w/ time off, vacation, etc. because I don't think they understood that being a nanny was my full time career at the time, not just a job that made their lives easier.

I recently entered another field (though still nanny part time for a different family) that is also a caring/helping/emotionally involved profession and we got specific training about setting up boundaries, and taking care of ourselves first and foremost or else we'd be worthless as care providers.

Just make sure the parents understand that while part of you is a loving, involved caregiver, the other part is an independent person who needs to make sure she has some financial stability and express the fact that you don't want these lines to get blurred to the detriment of everyone.

Good luck with your talk, and kudos!