Help with Nanny's Religious Holidays...

Wednesday, October 31, 2007- Perspective & Opinion
My nanny is from Jamaica. She asked for Good Friday off back in the Spring and we gave it to her off, even though we don't celebrate it and I have to work. She gets Christmas and Christmas Eve off. We were recently discussing her time off at Christmas and the fact that she wants to take some of her vacation days at that time, not a problem as I have plenty of notice to arrange something. It is the end of the year and she doesn't have a full week left, but rather than bicker with her over the days, I decided to just go ahead and let her think she has a full week. This morning she tells me the "Festival of Sacrifice" falls on X day, she will actually be away an extra day on top of that. I asked her what the Festival of Sacrifice was and she said, "The Islamic Holiday I celebrate". I bend over backwards to be all kinds of accommodating, but I ask you, is it possible that she celebrates Good Friday and this day? I noticed she seemed angry to work the last (Jewish) holiday that I took off, but I spent the day in Temple and not with our young DC. And any thought on how to address this tactfully without being accusatory? The nanny is wonderful with our two very young children and has been with us since March of this year. TIA


Anonymous said...

This is a common issue for a lot of parents and many employers who live in the UK and Europe because of such a big Muslim population. I think you have every right to sit down with your nanny and a calender and and tell her what your capacity is. Project ahead at least for the next six months so there are no surprises for anybody

I give you credit for hiring someone who is culturally different from you and hope you can reach a fair agreement.

Nanny B said...

Did you discuss holiday times before you hired her? My bosses and I discussed which holidays I would get off and which ones I would not, therefore if I wanted to take another day off, that would be vacation pay. Do you have a contract with your nanny outlining her vacation days, sick days, ect. I would suggest having a talk and outlining a contract where all holidays are covered. Ask your nanny for say 5 holidays she prefers and then you give a pick of 5 holidays you prefer. I get new years day off, but not new years eve. I also get thanksgiving and the day after but I certainly don't get Good friday off and I'm a christian. I think that the nanny should get whatever holidays you have off or else whatever religion she practices. I hope that helps.

Anonymous said...

I think the problem here is the lazy nanny is draining the pipe at both ends. She cannot celebrate good friday and muslim holidays.

Reminds me of how offended the Jamaican nannies were when asked to work on MLK Day. As if by simply having darker skin they should holding only a greencard be 'entitled' to drink at the fountain of the Black American, emphasis on American, who has struggled a lifetime against all sorts of discrimination and strife.

I would fire her. Do you think this will end after that holiday? By next year, she will need Passover off. And who is she to be pissed off that you were home on a day and she had to work? Unless you specically told her she was going to have that day off, I would suggest she get her ass to work, do her job and be fucking grateful.

gfd said...

Ever hear of nannies who move out overnight and are never heard from again? Trust me on this, if you are nanny, this is the way to go. Don't stick around to be used up, abused and impeached upon. This isn't your difficult situation. Go out there, embrace the sun, chase rainbows, build a life. Leave Emloyer a nice "Get Well" card. These people who treat nannies like disposable people are going to be reckoned with. A change is coming. Are you going to be a part of the change or.....

chick said...

7:49, I am baffled. Are you in charge of worldwide holiday observances? If so, could you explain why someone "cannot celebrate Good Friday and muslim holidays"? If you are not the ruler of holiday celebrations, maybe you should pipe down a bit, and accept that no one has to act according to your holiday guide.

That said, OP, I would think you could ask your nanny a simple question: "Nanny, I am a little confused, and I want to be sure I understand what religious holidays you will need off in 2008, so that I can arrange coverage ahead of time. Do you celebrate Christian, Jewish, or Muslim holidays? I only ask because I remembered you asking for Good Friday off, and now you are asking for the "Festival of Sacrifice" off as well. Perhaps we should make a list together of the days you need to take off for religious reasons."

Anonymous said...

I believe Good Friday is also a Muslim holiday, of some sort.

Anonymous said...


This is YOUR holiday. you can wear your white sheet and go to town!

happy Halloween Grand wizardess

Caroline said...

i think gfd's comment was for a different post -

I was a nanny working for a jewish family - I was raised christian and am married to a hindu, without the contract stating exactly which holidays would be paid as religious days, we could have run into problems. I worked on jewish holidays, I had off christmas and easter and used my personal vacation days for any others that i wanted off.

This shouldn't be an issue - it just needs to be discussed properly. Sit down and decide on 4?5?6? religious/government holidays and make sure your nanny is aware that all others taken will be considered part of her vacation allocation

Anonymous said...

There are a couple of signals in your post, OP, that indicate problems.

First, you say
"but rather than bicker with her over the days, I decided to just go ahead and let her think she has a full week." That is pretty ridiculous. No wonder she is continuing to take advantage of you. Obviously, no Muslim celebrates Good Friday. She is taking advantage of you because you don't even stand up to her when she is not due a week off. Instead you will "let her think" she has a full week because you are too scared to be clear with her about how many days she is due. (I would rather you point out to her that, for example, she only has two days off that she is entitled to, but as an extra holiday gift, you will give her an additional three days off as a special one time only holiday bonus.) Instead you are afraid of your own nanny, and do not want to "bicker" with her over days. The fact that she thinks she can negotiate or "bicker" with her employer shows a great deal. Surely she will ask for St. Patrick's Day, Passover, and George Bush's birthday off next.

Second, the fact that you say she seemed angry because she did not get an extra (unexpected and uncontracted) day off on the Jewish holiday that you mention. Although I can understand that a non Jewish person may not know in advance that an observant Jew will spend alot of time at the Temple on the holiday, and that it is not a holiday akin to July 4th where a family would be together during the day and evening, it is still totally inappropriate for her to act angry! Who is in charge here? Not you. She should not be allowed to show you she is angry because she has to work on a regular, contracted working day. It is not for her to judge if your going to the Temple is a worthwhile use of her time as an employee.

While I am not saying you should fire her, because you think she is probably very good with your kids, I would have a frank discussion with her. It is not her place to judge you, and it should not be tolerated that she is continually trying to milk you for another uncontracted day off. She is trying to get away with as much as you will allow. Tell her it must stop immediately. Find a way of telling her, somehow, that it is not for her to decide how you spend the day, on a day that she is supposed to work.

I just don't understand how people can tolerate this kind of disrespect.

Good luck and keep us posted.

Anonymous said...

I am a Christian nanny working for a Jewish family. I work on their holidays, and get Good Friday, Christmas, New Years, plus the main national holidays such as Thanksgiving.
We discussed this, along with vacation and sick/personal days when I was hired.
You should sit down with your nanny, and spell it all out for the year, so there are no more misunderstandings.

Nanny L said...

Based on your post, is it correct that you told you nanny ahead of time how much (paid) vacation time she receives per year and non-specific paid holidays? If you do have a written agreement which specifies which (or how many) paid holidays your nanny receives, I would tell her you consulted it to make sure you weren't shorting her any holidays and here is what she has: x.

At this point, I think PP's suggestion is best where you offer her some set holidays and some of her choosing. I wouldn't split them with her equally though, as I know my employers give me paid holidays when they have them - otherwise I'd consider it vacation. My contract says that I get the following holidays off, if they fall on a normal workday: New Year's Day, Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving (and the day after), Christmas (and either the day before OR the day after). I also get to select two additional holidays from the following: Columbus Day, MLK Day, President's Day, Easter Monday. FWIW, my employers are Jewish and I am a Christian. (These are based on days DB has off.) Were I Jewish, I doubt they would have asked me to work the high holidays, but I also doubt they would offer me an additional day at Christmas and Easter Monday. (Like your situation, I stayed home with the kiddos while the adults attended services.) If you like my holiday set-up, perhaps you could eliminate the extra day at Christmas (and maybe Tgiving Friday if you are worried about number of holidays) and in the category of "additional holidays - pick x" you could insert "or days other days of religious obligation".

Beyond that, if you have alternative childcare options, you could tell your nanny she can have the day off, but without pay.

Anonymous said...

Be a good boss and allow her this extra time off, but only pay her for the remaining paid vacation days she has left. I would inform her ahead of time that she will not be paid for the extra days that extend her contractual vacation days. Things come up in life where you need time off. Were you not allowed a maternity leave? All she wants are a few days to celebrate an important cultural holiday. Remember: a happy nanny is a good nanny.

Mom said...

And a happy employer is a good employer. Don't get yourself into a position where you feel taken advantage of. You will be resentful.
I like the combination of a couple of ideas above. Tell her you checked the calendar last night to see how many days she had left..."just to make sure you weren't cheating her out of any days." Then tell her you discovered that she only has X number of paid days left BUT, because you can see that it is very important to her, you think that, even though all of the extra days off were not anticipated and will not be paid, she should go ahead and go on her trip anyway and you will find a way to make do for your child in her absence. (This is going to cost you extra money. Why should you pay her and the person who actually watches your child for the same days?)

Then either give her the extra days as part of her bonus, or just give her a nice cash bonus for her trip. (This is the time of year she would get one anyway, right?) I would guess the cash in hand might feel more "generous" to her than extra paid days that she cannot put into her purse.

If she gets mad, she is not a good employee. If that happens, find somebody you can have a more comfortable relationship with. If you feel bullied by her, imagine how your small children might feel being with her all day.

Anonymous said...

Are these PAID days off? If so, then the nanny is taking advantage... if not, then stop whining.

Did you hire a nanny legally able to work, or is the nanny an illegal alien... causing you to feel like you somehow "own" her?

You post is very vague.

If this bothers you so much, fire her and go back to craigslist to get a new nanny. You sound like the type of person to use craigslist.

Kelly said...

OP, your nanny is just lazy. Religion has nothing to do with it. I have friends who are Christian, Jewish, and Muslim, and they mark their religious holidays on their calendars months in advance. They also plug in their annual/vacation days into their religious holidays and let their employers know months ahead of time. So for you nanny to abruptly declare holidays as they come, that is irresponsible. I hope she does not watch Alice in Wonderland because that could encourage her to start observing her 'unbirthday' whenever she feels like it.

Anonymous said...

For my nanny, her holidays are the same as the ones I get from my office: Christmas, New Years, Thanksgiving, Labor Day...etc. I am Chinese and celebrate Chinese New Year but if I want that holiday off, I have to use my personal or vacation days. I don't see why the same could not apply to nannies. If she wants to celebrate a religious or cultural holiday that is not in the agreed upon contract, she could use her vacation days.

Anonymous said...

Which goes back to the question... did the OP hire a person legally able to work in the USA, or did she hire an illegal alien so she can save a few dollar, and rip off the government?

Anonymous said...

I thought that too. The nanny comes from a foreign country that is not necessarily envied for it's many high quality nanny training facilities. I would want to know about all of the training and expertise my nanny had, not just get a bargain.

Anonymous said...

"The nanny comes from a foreign country that is not necessarily envied for it's many high quality nanny training facilities"

Oh right, and the US is?!

Anonymous said...

I am a nanny and I usually get the time I ask for off with pay. I get the usual holidays off
TG and TG Friday
Memorial Day and labor day.
I get a paid week the end of August when the family goes on their vacation and I get a week of my choosing off.
I also get sick days (No set amount) Paid and the occasional Friday to sneak off for a long weekend (Also paid) Other than the major holidays we have no formal agreement. But I dont take advantage of it! In 16 months I called out sick one day and have taken 3 Fridays off with much adavance notice. The parents also know if their child gets sick at school I will run and pick her up and work OT on short notice. It's a beautiful thing when people respect and work with each other.

Sit down with your nanny and disucss each others needs. IF she asks for an extra day off and you thibnk she deserves it throw her a bone. If you think her work is sub-par or she has asked for too many tell her no.

Anonymous said...

I an an arab muslim woman. We do not celebrate good friday. and the sacrifice thing is called eid al adha . eid al adha is after Hajj which starts next month . Muslims celebrate only 2 holidays eid il ftr which was last month after ramadan the holy month of fasting. Fire that women she is a liar. she shouldn't be trusted with your kids.

Anonymous said...


"Reminds me of how offended the Jamaican nannies were when asked to work on MLK Day. As if by simply having darker skin they should holding only a greencard be 'entitled' to drink at the fountain of the Black American, emphasis on American, who has struggled a lifetime against all sorts of discrimination and strife."

How were you able to see the computer screen through your KKK hood?

Please tell me you've been neutered.

minski said...

Oh my ignorant child at 12:37 AM,
There is a huge difference between a black American who's relatives have weathered injustice, Americans who have fought prejudice, integrated and rose up past all odds and some schmuck who washes up on the shore with a banana on her head...

I think that comment was in response to Jamaicans who pass themselves as AA to get the perks that THEY don't deserve.

I don't know where you live, but many people I associate with have issues with Jamaicans getting their children scholarships they don't deserve. They aren't even Americans. Remember there is an AMERICAN in the NAACP.

And while I'm at it, same goes for Hispanics who want free access to the US. The Mexicans started out here. We annexed them. Anyone else- not so much.

If you or a group of people want something, don't you think they should work for it?

Anonymous said...

I come from Dominica,West Indies.Our educated people who come to your country will take away what you allow us to take including your scholarships and good paying jobs. You AA have a chance to grab all the opportunities available to you. What do you do with them? Nothing. Don`t spite me because I Have goals and I want to be productive. I was a nanny for 10yrs and now I am an elementary school teacher.

kelly said...

I think the bottom line here is that anyone who intends to come to the U.S. regardless of race, nationality, or ethnicity should take the time to learn American History despite some of it's hard to swallow realities.

We all should take the time to appreciate those who paved the way for us, those sho suffered in order for us to step outside without fear. If it wasn't for those who faught for our existence, life would be very different today.

Laws changed because someone did something about their craziness. We all would not be here going to any school we want, sitting on any seat on the bus, marrying any race we want, or making our wonderful multicultural friends without those who came before us.

This is a hard pill to swallow, but a thorough course in American History, followed by a comprehensive examination should be required for anyone applying for a visa to come to the United States.

Sue Doe-Nim said...


I just had the strangest feeling, first I thought it was an earthquake, then I realized it was....

Martin Luther King Jr. spinning in his grave.

Dearest you should probably stop typing now because the combination of ignorance and arrogance is truly a sight to behold.

I have no idea what the OP should do but I am 100% clear in knowing that you should never be a trusted source of input.

It's absolutely stunning.

Anonymous said...

3:54pm is the reason why Americans should start voting and assuming that everyone likes them.

the OP said...

To the woman who responded at 11:00 PM,
Thank you for your response. My present feeling is that the nanny is revealing a greedy side and that she has outright lied to me. I am now wondering what other lies she has told me. I am more concerned with those things affecting day to day activities with the children than this, but I believe a person who will lie about one thing will lie about another. I am going to talk with the nanny about the holiday think by telling her that I am confused as to what Holidays she celebrated.

Other people had asked if we discussed this in advance. We really did not, but Good Friday came up rather suddenly. I do not celebrate it and do not have it as a day off. She inquired about Good Friday and I asked her if she celebrated it. She said that she did and I replied, "It isn't a holiday we celbrate, but if you do, of course you can have it off".

This is my first full time nanny. For two years, I was fortunate to have a part time nanny/sitter who worked with my mother. Those were the days. Things changed and not for the better. My mother wanted grandchildren for a very long time and we discussed in advance how she would help out. The arrangement was wonderful while it was lasted. I don't think I was cut out to handle this myself. I know other working women with young children who seem to have nine balls in the air and make every catch, but not me.

Anonymous said...

Sue Doe-
No person should show up on our shores or cross our borders and be handed the benfits that belong to Americans. How many Jamaicans lost their lives in World War 2?

erics mom said...


Try not to get discouraged. You sound like a nice employer. Muslim people don't celebrate the Christian holidays. If she wants to celebrate different holidays besides her own thats her problem.

Don't feel like other mothers have it all together. Maybe, they have more family support.
If you decide not to keep her, maybe its better to have your kids in daycare. At least you know what days they are closed.

Anonymous said...

OP: Don't compare yourself to other working Moms. You don't know what they do to juggle. Every job is different--some Moms have more flexibility in work hours and location than others--and every nanny/family relationship is different. It's hard to find the right match, especially the first time you hire a nanny--the persona some put on during the interview process can be very different from their day to day personality. I'm sure many of the Moms you are comparing yourself to didn't find the perfect childcare situation on the first try and might not have one now.

It's good you plan to talk to the nanny, but I suspect this is not a good nanny relationship. Unless she is exceptional with your kids, you might want to consider finding a new nanny. She sounds like my first nanny. Even though we went through each of the holidays she would have off on the interview and wrote them out (you should write down all paid holidays and paid time off you give so there is no confusion), she would ask for time off for holidays we didn't offer and complained she had to work when my husband took off for Jewish holidays. She didn't like it when I worked from home, even though I told her I do work from home when I can when she was hired, and would ask to leave early or leave for a few hours to run personal errands whenever I did. She would sulk all day if we said no to requests (although we never said out and out "no--we would tell her she could take it as a vacation day or as unpaid time off). The best thing I did was let her go and find someone who enjoys spending time with my family rather than someone who was focused on how to work as few hours as possible for the same pay.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe I'm even reading something so dumb. As a nanny i can say.... sign a contract with all the holidays required and thats that. or say. you get xmas, new years and thanksgiving. the rest you are planning on taking off comes out of your say 2 week paid holiday. thats that. if she's jewish. give her rosh hashana etc. im married to a jewish man and i dont ask for jewish holidays. only xmas, thanks giving and new years. not even good friday. she's taking advantage of you. let her know it

Anonymous said...

Dear OP, 12:12pm is very correct. This nanny is taking advantage. I can hardly believe that a person this dishonest and manipulative is as wonderful as you think she is with your two children. That is hardly possibly from someone who is trying to get more days off for the same pay. Ridiculous. Move on to a better, more professional nanny. Look for an energetic, educated person. Your kids will be so much better off than with this poor excuse for a nanny.

Anonymous said...

And, OP, please tell us how your conversation went and what was the outcome. Indeed, I very much agree that her lying and greed surely extends far beyond what you are realizing now. Good luck.

cali mom said...

10:50, I agree. MLK Day is to celebrate the important achievements he helped make for black AMERICANS by organizing enough people to change AMERICAN laws for the better. I don't think someone who moved to the U.S. from say, Tanzania 5 years ago (especially if they are here illegally) should be disgruntled about having to work that day.

Anonymous said...

wow a shmuck who washes up on the shore with a banana on the head?
how racist!!!

Anonymous said...

I agree. Some posters wear white hoods around here.

Anonymous said...

To Sue Doe, I don't know how many Jamaicans died in WWII, but Many did serve in the RAF (Royal Air Force)of Great Britain and Canadian armed forces. Don't be so quick to assume only Americans fought Hitler and Mussolini.

Furthermore, to the writer who is in a snit over Jamaican kids getting scholarships, rather than listening to their American peers who label them with "acting white" when they get good marks, many Jamaican chldren are encouraged to study hard. That's why THEY get scholarships.

Anonymous said...

"Furthermore, to the writer who is in a snit over Jamaican kids getting scholarships, rather than listening to their American peers who label them with "acting white" when they get good marks, many Jamaican chldren are encouraged to study hard. That's why THEY get scholarships."

when there is a limited amount of benefit/award to go around, it is somewhat infuriating when a Jamaican with a green card takes away what is intended for the African American.

Let's not mince words.
No one should arrive here and get a hand out, and the last thing anyone should do is take away from people who have struggled and worked so hard.

Childrens Behavior Problems said...

I am also surprised to read about this nanny.How could this possible to celebrate all holidays? I think you should ask her about her religion.