Sunday

Wage & Benefits in Florida...

Received Sunday, March 16, 2008- Perspective & Opinion
Hello all! I've got a question about wages/benefits.

A bit of background, I'm currently working for a wonderful family here in Tallahassee, FL. I have a 23 month old charge, C, and I work from around 8 to 6 M-F. I've been on the job a bit over 6 months, and while I love it more and more every day, I recently had an encounter with another nanny here in town and the discussion got heated when the subject of wages came up. Mostly, she became upset when I told her what I made weekly and then demanded that I ask for a raise immediately.

I don't work on the books, I prefer it that way for the time being. No health care or mileage reimbursement or car insurance co-pay. I've done a ton of Internet reading but I don't know vary many other nannies personally. Are these things normal? Currently, I'm making 350 a week.

I'm 22, I worked as a teacher's assistant for a year at a pre-school, and I have large amounts of babysitting experience (7+ years), as well as being CPR and first aid trained. I've also taken state required courses in child care and development. However, this is my first job as a nanny.

I'm beginning to feel like I should be making more. I feel I'm worth more. I have a great relationship with C, and a good relationship with his parents. I don't know what a more appropriate salary would look like, and I have no idea how to even go about asking for one.

I would love to hear some advice from other nannies as well as employers - tips on how to ask, what to ask for, etc.

40 comments:

Nanny Jen said...

OP,

I am a nanny of 12+ years and the first thing I want to say to you is that you need to be paid on the books. Temporary nannies are often considered "independent contractors" because they only work for a family for a few days or a few weeks. However, any nanny who is working with a family on a long-term basis needs to be paid on the books. We all have to pay taxes. Why do you think you don't have to pay your share?

Second - there are benefits to paying your taxes... such as not going to jail, qualifying for unemployment should you lose your job, SS benefits should you get sick suddenly and not be able to work. You must protect yourself financially.

Third - Before you enter into a working relationship with a nanny family, you need to do your homework. Ask around to find out what the going rates are for your area, take into consideration your experience (or lack thereof), and have your expectations settled in your mind. It is unfair to your nanny family to interview with them, agree to terms and salary and then come back to them after 6 months because you met another nanny who told you that you should be making more. To go back to them after six months and demand a higher salary would be unprofessional. You should, however, ask to be paid on the books.

just anonymous said...

Do you realize that you are barely making minimum wage?? Are you a live-in? If so, then you should get a slight raise, since they are paying for your room and board. However, if you are a live-out, you are getting ripped off. Minimum would be to make $10/hour, equalling $500 per week. That's the bare minimum.

Anonymous said...

They aren't going to raise you up. They are probably nice because they know they have a ganga on their hands.

My suggestion. Put your resume out there, call some nanny agencies. Go on some interviews. If it feels like you have potential of another job, give notice at your current. Cite the salary. This will still give them time to ante up, but I've been there and tightasses always turn nasty when they get called out on their shortsheeting the help.

chick said...

Well, one thing you don't say is whether the nanny you spoke with was more experienced, educated, etc. than you are. That does make a difference in many cases.

Another issue is that nanny wages vary greatly - there is no real "standard", because every situation is different. Many times, a family will pay a low wage because that's all they can afford - yuour employers are not neccessarily trying to rip you off, as 8:40 seems to believe.

Geographically, my understanding (based on discussions with nannies who also live in areas with large immigrant populations) is that your area generally pays less because some immigrant women are willing to (or have no choice BUT to) work for very little money.

My advice - get on the books. If you want to do things like get credit, buy a car, buy a house, etc., having no verifiable income will be detrimental.

If you go to your employers to get on the books, you may need to consider that your "raise". IOW, get legal, and then have them adjust your pay based on $7 per hour as a NET wage. Then, at your one year mark, ask for an actual raise, or for additional benefits.

Good luck to you!

OP said...

Nanny Jen,

Thank you for the advice. I am going on the books - I should have clarified that in my post. I do feel that paying my dues (taxes) is important and I worried about my job security. They seem to want me to stay and I want to be there long term.

As far as asking for a raise, I'm not asking just because I met someone who makes more - it's not a jealousy issue. When I took the job I had no idea what was the nanny norm for pay, and at the time (being un-employed and not fully realizing what it takes to be a nanny) 350 seemed like a fortune.

The sad fact is, it's not, and I'm barely making it week to week. And when I do go on the books, I'm going to be making even less. I don't want to leave them, but I don't know what to do.

OP said...

Just Anonymous,

I do now. I never did the figures when I was hired. I'm a live out nanny, and I'm having trouble making ends meet. Thank you for the advice!

OP said...

Anonymous 8:49,

Ganga? I've never heard that term. I would like to think that I am a better judge of character - my employers are genuinely good, nice people. I'm just hoping when/if I have to ask, they will understand.

star bellied sneetch said...

I think that yes, ideally it would be best for you to be on the books. However, your family is not necessarily going to switch you to being on the books. It may be something that they cannot afford to do, or perhaps they don't want the extra hassle. There is a lot more involved when you pay someone on the books, and this may not be what they bargained for. Just wanted to mention this so you know what's going on.

I also think that no one can really say what the norm is for your area for someone with your age, education and experience, unless they really know the exact neighborhood you work in, etc. If there are similarly qualified people willing to work for a certain wage, then that is what the going rate is. In other words, it often can come down to simple economics of supply and demand. If there are many qualified people like yourself working for a relatively low wage, then this is what sets the market price.

If you are okay with your situation, wait until some time passes and ask for a raise. Or, instead of asking for a raise, if it's more important for you to be on the books, bring up the subject gently with your employer. Ask if she would ever consider paying you on the books.

Remember that if you are paid on the books, your take home salary (net pay) will be significantly lower than it is now, because taxes will be taken out.

If you are happy, choose your course of action carefully and be gentle with your family/employers. You don't want to ruin a good situation if you are both happy and you simply want a raise. If they can afford it and if they like you, they will probably do whatever they can in the future (like after you have been there for a year).

OP said...

Chick,
Thank you for the advice! It seems like me post came off as a comparison with my nanny friend but really, I was only citing her wages because she's the only other nanny that I know of in Tallahassee.

I am going on the books, and my one year mark is September, I'm just worried that I won't be able to make it work until then. I appreciate the sound advice, thank you!

OP said...

SBS,

What an interesting name! My employers are the ones who brought up putting me on the books, actually. It is a good idea and it will happen soon, just hasn't yet.

As far as my area, I understand supply and demand. I live in a town with three major colleges, and fairly good size immigrant community; finding help is easy, esp if you're looking for part time help.

It's not just that I want a raise, I'm having trouble making ends meet - I feel like I need one in order to make my life work.

star bellied sneetch said...

Hi OP, If you really need a raise in order to live, you should bring this up very gently with your employer. Try not to let that other nanny color your feelings about your situation though.

I hope you find my name amusing. You know, "the star bellied sneetches had none upon thars" later, and through the book they kept getting them taken off, and put back on again, by going through Monkey McBean's star off/on machine, so don't read too much into it, just some i saw your nanny blog humor.

Good luck to you. I hope you continue to be happy with your family and them with you.

Anonymous said...

I do think that you are indeed underpaid. I believe most nannies start at $10. It can go up quickly after that especially when you change families . (My first position= $10, one year later = $15). All on the books.

It will be hard asking for a raise. They will most likely say no and you'll feel very underappreciated. You can always try and see what happens!

You should also think what kind of benefits you get. Do you get sick days? Do you get annual leave? If they come home early, do they pay you for the full day?

Good luck and do update us.

just anonymous said...

Words of advice:
This is your first nanny position. You will most likely put up with more than you should b/c you care about the child and can't bear to think of leaving. However, this is your profession now, always keep that in the back of your mind. Respect yourself more than the job.
Get out there and make some nanny friends. It's amazing what support you can get from a nanny network. Go to storytimes, libraries, parks, etc and start talking to other people that you assume are nannies. If you have a good first impression, give out your number for a future playdate.
Remember, this is your life, you need to be able to pay your bills. As hard as it would be to leave your first family, you can't struggle week to week. You may love the family you work for, but don't look at them through rose-colored glasses. Sometimes when you bring up anything you're not happy with they flip a switch and turn into horrible people, and then you wonder why you were so loyal to them for so long. Hopefully you have found employers that do not fall into this category. But I just wanted to give you some warnings b/c I see too many nannies stick through sub-par conditions for years only because it is their first nanny position and they don't know any better.
Good luck.

Anonymous said...

I've been a nanny for 10+ years and I feel you should be making more money. You may want to speak with your employers about a least a modest raise, but even if they can't or won't grant one I'd suggest finishing out a year with them. Future employers will be looking for someone who's able to make at least a year long commitment, because it provides a certain amount of stability for the kids. Let the family know at least six weeks in advance that your planning on leaving, and be prepared for it to be a very emotional experience for you. Try to stay on good terms with current employers, be honest about your situation and they should be understanding. A good reference from them will make finding a new position very easy. To find a new position nanny agencies both in your area and online are always free for nannies to join and the parents pay a fee to search the company's group of nannies. In the future before you start a job make sure you draw up a contract with your new family. It should include all your responsibilities, wages, and benefits (yes nannies do get benefits). I wish you a successful carrer as a nanny, it's a wonderful job.

§marypoppin'pills§ said...

I can certainly appreciate a lot of the posters bringing up for the OP the chance that her Employer may turn on her when she asks for that raise. Hopefully it won't happen, but she has been dutifully warned.

Also, I can't help but think that OP is being taken advantage of. Why wouldn't the Parents have an idea of the going rate if they did the research they were supposed to in finding the best Nanny for their child?

I wish you the best, OP. I'm glad you're going on the books, that's problem #1 taken care of.
I really hope they ante up with your raise ... because you would need a significant one to survive.

Anonymous said...

Well, I am not from FL, but, $350 a week? That seems like a very low salary indeed for a full time job! And, if you are using your car to take the child around, the parents should be giving you a gas allowance at minimum!

jerseyxjacqui said...

350 a week in Florida would be like...450 a week up here in the NY tri state area.
Still low, in my opinion, but it really IS all relative. Florida's cost of living is significantly lower and kind of sets the standards when making comparisons up and down the east coast.

Anonymous said...

any self respecting real professional nanny doesnt take less than 1K a week.

jerseyxjacqui said...

1000 a week?

I must not have much self respect then.

Be realistic.
1000 a week is what nannies/household managers make in very affluent areas.


Any self respecting nanny takes a job based on the future relationship with the child and parents...salary is important but should not be THE most important aspect for a nanny when deciding who she's going to work for an how much she will be making.

Any professional nanny knows that.
I turned down quite a few nanny jobs where I knew I'd be making significantly more than I do now but didn't feel at all comfortable with the way I would inevitably be treated...Why? Because I wanted a personal relationship with child and parents. I did not want to be their hired help or another household employee...That was my choice when I chose nannying as my career (temporary or permanent)...

It's all about what the nanny is willing to tolerate. I am not suggesting that every nanny who makes 1000 a week is treated poorly nor am I saying that an underpaid nanny is automatically treated well...but there are patterns, trends and realities when it comes to ANY profession...

And of course you have to take the geography into account. I nanny in a pretty wealthy area, but it'd be safe to assume that other nannies around me aren't making 1k a week...There are too many variables that need to be taken into account...it's not as black and white as, "a professional nanny should make 1000 a week. PERIOD. THE END."

And furthermore, I question the nanny who feels that way...

Anonymous said...

I'm a mom, not a nanny, but I think you should talk to your employers and tell them you aren't making ends meet on your salary. Anyway, here is my 2 cents: I live in NYC where things are more expensive, but based on the fact that $10/hr is the minimum salary I've heard of here, I'd say you should be making no less than $9/hr there NET of taxes. Your employers should be paying you ON THE BOOKS and your GROSS pay should be whatever it takes to have you NET at least $9/hr. You should be reimbursed for your expenses when you are at work that relate to transporting the child around but not for travel to and from work as everyone has to pay to get to and from their job and maintain their own car insurance. I worked a job for the federal govt and had to use my own car. I was reimbursed for mileage on the job but not to and from work. Having use of a car was a condition of me being hired

Anonymous said...

Families who pay $1,000 a week and up do not hire a 22 yo with no previous nanny experience.

OP, you have good qualifications for a first job, and yes, you are being underpaid. In order to move up the pay scale, it is very important to get a glowing reference from your current employers. I would put off asking for a raise until your one year anniversary if you can. Then if they can't give a significant raise, move on. It is certainly important to be happy with the family you work for, but you also have to make a living. Don't lose sight of the fact that this is your job. GL
UES Nanny

Anonymous said...

What is the usual mileage reimbursement rate?

Anonymous said...

What is the usual mileage reimbursement rate?

Anonymous said...

Hold on everyone....didn't she say she was making
$350 a week for, monday-wednesday and friday from 8-6 ??? if so, that comes out to $11.67 an hour...under the table --- which makes it even more than that. If she didn't say that, I read it wrong -sorry!

Anonymous said...

Im a former floridian and you are being ripped off,
You should be making 500 a week to start, thats assuming there are not lots of other responsibilities for you (driving, cooking, cleaning, laundry etc) in which case you should be making more. Talk to them, let them know you are struggling and what you NEED in order for this job to work for you. Tell them you love your job and want to stay, but wont be able to at this rate. Let them know that you miscalculated your expenses initially so that they realise you are not just trying to work more money out of them than you initially agreed to.

atl nanny said...

You are definitely being underpaid. I would do a little research -- contact agencies and support groups in your area -- and determine the going rate for a first-year nanny. Approach your employers gently, and tell that you love your job and want to stay, but that you are having a hard time making ends meet on your current salary. Then give your employers the local salary information, and ask them to raise your salary to the going rate. If they are good people and you approach this correctly, you should be able to compromise and find a number that works for both of you. If they can't or won't, you are going to need to look for another job. Money isn't everything, but you need to make a livable salary.

Anonymous said...

2:07 pm: No, she said she works Monday - Friday from 8 until 6

Armonk LO nanny said...

.53 cents a mile, I think.
Check the IRS website.

If you work for a family and are useing your own car, you can sure as shit ask for more. They need you. I don't drive anyone anywhere in my car without $1 per mile compensation.

Anonymous said...

OP, since your employers are putting you on the books, you should let them know you are very concerned that you will not be taking home what you made before because you need it to make ends meet. They should be able to calculate out what it would take for you to net $350 a week. (Should be about $420 a week gross plus $50 on top they will need to pay for unemployment, SS and medicare as an employer). It may seem like a big jump up for them, but that's still less than $500a week which is pretty reasonable for a full-time nanny and they obviously know they should be paying on the books and why should you take a paycut because they are changing things now?

Laura said...

i think that you should be making around $12-13 an hour. which would be starting at 600 a week. That seems fair for a first nanny job with pervious experience in my opinion. At the lest you should be taking 500 a week home for 50 hours...and thats even not much.

Rebecca said...

Firstly, you should absolutely be getting compensated for the use of your car - not getting compensated can eat up a TON of money, and if you're using it they should be paying you.

Secondly, using your car for a government (or any other type) job is not the same as it is for a nanny job because if you're transporting other people as part of the job you MUST get supplemental insurance - and your employers are responsible for paying that.

Thirdly, I am with the others that you're probably unlikely to get a raise if you agreed to a year at this salary. That being said, if you can't make ends meet it's not unreasonable to bring that up. In my first real nanny job my employers gave me a small raise after 3 months, and another after 6. I didn't get paid much, but they were GREAT to me, and I don't think they could really afford much more. Which brings me to...

Fourthly, consider the employers. Does their lifestyle/jobs/whatever suggest that they can afford to pay you more? Or are they more of a middle-class family? If they don't seem like they can afford to pay you a top rate but you want to stay with them, I'd think about simply getting compensation for your job-related expenses (like driving), and leave it at that. Then after a year I'd look for another job (and from what I hear there are tons in Florida).

Also, I will probably be VERY unpopular for this, but if they're going to put you on the books with exactly what you're making now (meaning you'd be taking home a lot less), I'd just stay off the books for the remainder of the year, then get an on-the-books job in September. It sounds like you really can't afford to be taking home less, and one year off the books probably won't end up being a problem.

If, however, they're raising your salary so you can be on the books and still take home what you're already making, I really don't think it's terribly appropriate to ask for a raise on top of that - that's quite a huge jump in salary for them if you agreed to a specific salary and agreed to a year-long contract.

Lastly, someone previously asked about the benefits of the job - consider if they let you go home early and pay you the same. How much vacation time are you getting? Anything else? As I stated, my first real nanny job was with great employers. They didn't pay a whole lot, but if I occasionally wanted to leave early Friday for a long weekend, they'd always come home early so I could. They were very considerate of what I needed, and they never treated me like they were trying to get as much work for as little money as possible (something that is unfortunately common). Keep the intangibles in mind (good and bad).

motheroffive said...

2:07- She works M-F 8-6, which is 50 hours a week, or $7 per hour.

Most cashiers at WalMart make more than that.

OP, you need a raise. Also, the federal reimbursement rate just became 50.5 cents per mile on January 1.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Rebecca when she says consider any "extras" and the family. Many nanny jobs have little to no flexibility and the employers are cold and detached. Look objectively at anything out of the ordinary. Are you allowed to run personal errands during the work day? Do you pick your vacation time and are they flexible with extra time off? Do you get more than 2 weeks paid vacation? Do they make you feel guilty if you take a sick day? Or do they pay you for the sick time and seem genuinely concerned about your well being? Do they recognize and acknowledge your efforts? Do they give you gifts and bonuses? If yes, my advice is the same as Rebecca's to a point--stay the year without changing anything. Do NOT let them cut your take home pay by putting you on the books. (BTW, mimimum wage in Florida 6.79, so 40 hours at minimum wage plus 10 hours of overtime is $374 weekly, so they can't even put you on the books at your current pay level without lying about how many hours you work). I would alter Rebecca's advice as follows if you get extras out of the ordinary and care for this family. Rather than leave after a year, tell your employers you appreciate all these things, but you really need and can net more elsewhere on the books and see what they can do to bridge the gap. They may not come up with as much as some of the people here recommends (wish I could make $1000 a week caring for kids-that's almost $75K/year on the books), but enough that you can make ends meet with employers you enjoy-legally. Like an earlier poster said, raising you to just $500 a week gross on the books would allow you to net a little more than you do now, and that's really not much to pay for a full time nanny.

Anonymous said...

Hi,
I am a mom in Pensacola, FL not too far from where you are, and about the same "market". We hired our live in nanny 22 months ago for $300.00 per week. My daughter was 8 at the time and I was 9 months pregnant. Our agreement with her was a raise of $25.00 per week every 3 months, up to a year at which point she would be making $400.00 per week. We also pay the majority (%80) of her health insurance premiums, and give her a stipend for her cell phone. I gave her another $25 per week raise at her 18 month point. So now after being here for 21 months or so, she makes $425. per week and I increased her stipend for insurance.

Let me also say, that any time she works outside of her normal work schedule of 7:30 - 5:30, we pay her an hourly rate ($11) over and above her salary.

About 6 months ago, she moved out with her boyfriend, and we did cut back her hours a bit, but I know technically she makes less now because she is not getting room and full board. She still eats breakfast and lunch with us, but goes home for dinner. I'm feeling guilty about that, even though it was totally her decision to be a live out.
Anyway, here in the Panhandle of Florida, getting ANY job starting at $10.00 an hour is a blessing, unless of course you are a professional (doctor, lawyer, etc). Our cost of living is just so much lower.
I hope this helps OP. I think you should be making a bit more than you are, and I think you've been there long enough to at least ask for a nominal raise.

Nannyjess24 said...

first off i want to say that i've read alot of blogs about nannies being paid under the table and they do not paying taxes.

i am a Live-in Nanny, nannying a 2.5 year old and make $320 a week, i get free gas, food, no rent or utilies. travel with the famiy for free.
last year was the first year i went the whole year as self-employed. and found out from my mom (thank-goodness) that instead of paying the goverment one big sum a year i pay estimated taxes each quater.

eventhough i do not make alot of money i still pay my taxes.

but anyway, i think $350 is a great amount especially for Live-In's

julie said...

Depends what part of Florida you live in. I am a live in and live in what was once a writing studio on their gated property near the Bay, about 3 block from the beach.
I make $600 a week as a live-in. I don't pay taxes, they handle it. I take home $600 but technically make $730 or something. They pay the taxes to the IRS every quarter. I work about 55 hours a week and I have traveled with them to Brazil, Spain, Hawaii, Noca Scotia, Fiji and London. They also have a place in NYC which is where I went to originally interview them. You want to know who has a great job? It is the man who takes care of their NYC apartment. My family uses it a few weeks a year and most of the time it is empty and this guy gets to just chill there and... he makes about $450 a week. If your 350 makes you happy, let it. What makes me happy is working for truly cool people who do a lot of nice things for me that have nothing to do with $ and everything to do with simple kindness.

julie said...

I wrote that very quickly, but just wanted to assure you I am a college educated nanny with a great head on her shoulders. : )

julie said...

I did it again. My shoulders.

Anonymous said...

Who are you to give anyone the riot act about being on the books ?. You do not know her circumstances. A lot of women go into that work because it is potentially off the books. I agree with being on the books if she plans on making a career out of it ; because she will regret it when she is older , or God forbid something happens that makes it impossible for her to work a regular job , and needs to collect disability. That is when working under the table hurts ;; because her checks wont be enough on. If the girl wants to take that chance , for whatever her reasons are ; than leave her alone. I think you should be making a bit more money , even for being under the table. Maybe the family can not afford to be paying an on the books employee either ; because then they would be forced to start paying for benefits, such as healthcare. So its a great benefit for them also ; but I would bring up that point , with the family. Just because you are off the books ; does not mean your work should be demeaned ; ask for more money ; or tell them you will need to start asking to be on the books ; they will give you that raise.

Anonymous said...

Dont let anyone bully you. Geez. You just said it yourself ; now you will be making even less money. ":and " Nanny Jen just sounds jealous.That pisses me off when people insist on taking the few positions that still exist ; that can potentially be off the books , into a commercialized job. Some people " need" to be off the books , for whatever reason ;:and some people could not otherwise afford to hire on the books. Nanny Jen ; go back to school ; and get a regular 9-5 ; if you insist on being legal ; and leave the at home work to the others .Make sure the family pays you for what you are worth though , because they are saving a lot by keeping you off the books too , so remember that.