Sunday

Nanny Gets Left Behind in London

Received Sunday, March 22, 2009
Perspective and Opinion on ISYN Hello, I am a Nanny and have been doing this for 7 years now. I was recently asked by a family to go to London and help them with their 3 year old twin boys. The trip was going to be 8 days long and I was going to get paid 1200 for my services (150 a day). Plus, they paid for my ticket and were going to pay for everything else food, activities etc.

I got to spend a few days with the boys before hand and they were great. The family is great and laid back. The mother is wonderful and understanding. I was very excited about the trip! I went to the house the day before the trip to help the mom with laundry and packing. I packed all the kids and parents things too (I am very organized) and she was very grateful. The day of the trip comes and things were very relaxed and calm. The mom said "I made the process of going to the airport very easy and relaxing, because normally things would be hectic".

We get to London and I'm going through customs and get stopped. Apparently, you need a
"working Visa" to work as a nanny in London. Basically, to make a long story short I got stopped in London and was sent back home. I got to London at 7 in the morning and left at 3 in the afternoon. I got back to NYC at 7 at night. The process was humiliating, scary, stressful, and upsetting. They went through my luggage and purse. The person who went through my stuff was very unprofessional. She was making comments on my clothes, makeup, and perfume. Where I bought this, where can she find that. I was like wtf???? Then I was finger printed, asked about 20 questions, and then thrown in this room, where I had to wait until I was sent back to NYC. I called the family to let them know that I was okay. The family was out at the park with the kids. I ended up speaking to the grandmother.

My question is what should I do. I really needed this money. I am currently not working and this money was really needed. I am so upset and don't know what to do. They already have a full-time nanny and I can't work for them to make up the hours. Should they still pay me? Should they pay me half? Parents what would you do? Nannies what would you do? What should I do? I'm so confused and lost.

44 comments:

Nanny in San Diego said...

I sympathize w/your situation. It sounds like you went through a tough time and I am sure it stressed you out a lot.
If I were the family, I would do the "right thing" since this is partially their fault and pay you at least something for your ordeal, lost work, etc. I think half would be fair. A little more would be more than fair. All the wages you would have earned would be wonderful. I am surprised that the mother didn't learn that you would need a "working visa" since she seemed so organized, etc. As a nanny, I would ask if I could receive some compensation, especially since you had to go through all that and you never got to earn your wages, however if it was just a verbal contract, I am not too sure if and how you can recover anything. Possible small claims court, however again, I am not sure. Even though I personally think it was your employer's responsibility to find out about the visa thing, I do not know how the law sees it.
Has the family bothered to contact you at all? If not, it seems they probably shrugged it all off and went on w/their vacation w/out a worry at all. If so, then this would say something about their personality and you may never see a dime.
Good Luck to you and I am sorry this happened to you.

ChiNanny said...

I would think the family needs to pay you for the day and a half that you worked, but that would be all. If they are nice, they may throw in more, but I wouldn't think they have to. I would find a new job as quickly as possible and see what happens when they get back.

I find it odd you needed a working visa. Nannies travel with families all the time without them, especially since you're being paid in the US.

Emily said...

If this had happened to me, I don't think I would expect the family to pay the full amount. They should at least pay you for the time you spent with the children before the trip and for the travel day.

Good luck!

NannyJ said...

Why should they have to pay you? It wasn't as if they benefitted, they were out a nanny for their trip. It would be very unfair for you to ask for money (for more than just the day and ravel time, etc). If they do give you more money, they are very generous, but you shouldn't expect anything.

Village said...

I'm so sorry this happened to you. I had something similar happen to me decades ago. The British are a bitch about who comes into their country. The mistake was identifying you as their nanny. All they had to say was that you were a cousin or niece.

Who identified you as the nanny? If it was them, they probably owe you the money. But they may not pay.

Go get another job quickly. You have learned a lesson, the hard way.

NannyInCharge said...

Ugh that sounds like a nightmare. You already got some good advice though so I just wanted to say how truly sorry I am that this happened to you! All that time and flying for nothing must have been just the worst. Plus it sounds like you were counting on that full amount of money, that has got to be the biggest let down.

does this moniker make my butt look big said...

wow, so sorry this happened for both you and the parents.
As working adults though, we are responsible for ourselves and need to accept responsibility for knowing what to expect when agreeing to a job and that includes traveling abroad. Unfortunately you learned the hard way..I hope a job comes your way soon to make up for that money. I do not feel the family owes you pay.Don't count on others to be in the know..beat them to the punch and you will always stay one step ahead.
FYI, I have been making some great money sitting for people vacationing in my area. I advertised on CL in the vacation rentals area and it has really helped bring in some extra cash(quickly) while times are tight. I have been getting a lot of work for wedding guests who don't want to bring the kids along..perhaps this will help you out..goodluck.

kc said...

This sucks. I think they should pay you for the traveling days, and that's it. You have to look at it from their perspective too: they have no childcare while they're on vacation. It's an all-around bad situation but I just don't think the family should have to pay you just because something happened that screwed both parties. I hope you find some work soon.

Emily said...

Did this just happen? I ask because I'm in London right now on a personal holiday. When I came through passport control they gave me a great deal of grief when I said I was a nanny. They asked if I was currently employed in America, they had me name the family and give contact info, etc. Then it became a HUGE issue that I didn't have a copy of my itinerary, specifically my return flight, on my person. Finally I was able to pull up the email from my cell phone to prove to them that I was booked on a flight back home.

I wonder if there has been a recent rise in women sneaking into England to work as nannies? Either way, I'm sorry for your troubles. I wish I had something to suggest, but I think this is just a terrible situation with no real villain except customs.

macaroniandcheese said...

i would think the family should pay you (although whether they do is a different story).

when you go somewhere for work, it's up to your employer to arrange your visa and papers. obviously, they didn't. OF COURSE you need a work visa..jeez.

Swiss Nanny said...

It is because there have been a lot of changes to the traveling rules in Europe. I am not sure when this happened to the OP. Here in Switzerland, the passport control has become a nightmare!! Yes, she would have needed a working visa as she was "working." I am not sure who said she was, but that was her mistake. You cannot admit that you are going to work in a coutry (whether you are technically on vacation or not) and then not expect trouble from the authorities. Tough lesson learned, OP.

duh said...

If it was for a week, why didn't you just say you were vacationing with them?

Then, no problems what so ever!

Nanny Taxi said...

The family didn't return to the airport and try to help you? No one should've said anything about you being the nanny. So what did they do for childcare when they were in London?
Technically you were on vacation so I'd call it your vacation pay. Hopefully you have a work agreement.

Vanessa said...

That's horrible and ridiculous. It's not like you're earning English money from an English family. This is American money and it's an American Family and you're only staying for 8 days for goodness sake! Suggest that next time you guys travel, just travel separately, that was you can say you're visiting the country.
You can't ask for $1200 but you can definitely ask for the money they usually pay you for the week. That's my situation. If they travel and I'm losing a week worth of work because of them, they'll pay me.

millows said...

i think that the family should pay you for atleast some of your time. it was their responsibility as the employer to make sure that they covered everything about traveling with an employee. its not your fault at all.

S&M said...

I think you should absolutely get paid for all the travel time, at the very, very least. This was a huge inconvenience for you and it isn't fair at all to you!! Your travel and time should be paid for, and some of the pay you had agreed to beforehand. I wouldn't say all of it, only because you weren't able to be there for the rest of it and they may have had to pay for babysitting services while you were over there.

Emily said...

I want to know why they even knew you were the "nanny". I think it's really stupid that they wouldn't let you go there just because you were going to nanny for them. What if you weren't going to nanny?!

Nanny Left Behind! said...

The mom filled out the customs form. The part that I was a Nanny and where we were going to stay for the week. I didn't think it was going to be a problem. It become a NIGHTMARE!!!

CONanny said...

I think you should definitely get paid for your time with them, and if they want to give you a little extra, that's great. But I wouldn't expect them to pay you for the whole time, or even half time. I feel for your situation, that really sucks! But, they didn't get a nanny for the week, and I'm sure they are upset about their loss of a nanny for a week, as well as the loss of the cost of your flight. I think it was a miscommunication between everyone, and the family isn't really to blame.

DenverNanny said...

Um...I'm pretty sure the parents should be blamed for this. The parents hired the nanny, therefore it's the parent's responsibility to make travel arrangements--including knowledge of customs laws. Especially since the mom filled out OP's customs paperwork...

OP probably can't hope for full pay, BUT I would hope any self respecting parent would pay her for her time plus a LARGE tip for the stress involved.

If they absolutely refuse and it's worth it to you, take them the small claims court... what did they expect? Leaving their nanny in another country....

Nanny left behind! said...

thank you so much for all your comments!

Phoenix said...

The family already compensated for the plane ticket, they should not pay you. why on earth would you tell customs that you were going there to work as a nanny? and BTW they were being really stupid, you were already employed in the US as their nanny. It's not like we all have to submit working visas to have a meeting with out international partners overseas. The whole thing sounds really bizarre to me. i have never run into anything like that when going to London... but I look like I belong there.

Nanny left behind! said...

The mother wrote it on the customs paper, I didn't write that I was going there to be a Nanny. So, it's not my fault. What was I supposed to lie to the customs agent?

Cha Cha said...

Who paid for your expedited ticket back? Isn't it a ton of money to change an itinerary? Did the Govt or you or the family? Just curious. Sorry this happened to you!

Daisy said...

they need to pay you - its your employer's fault for bringing an employee with them, and you are out the money you should have earned.

AboutToGoToUK said...

this sucks that it happened to you. i don't see why they had to mention that you were going to work as their nanny. last time i went to london with my nanny family, there was no question as to who i was or what i was going to be doing there. i will be going again soon with a different family and will make sure not to have any mention of me being a nanny so that we don't have this same problem. yikes!

Nom de Plume said...

I traveled with my work family in 2001 and I knew then not to put down that I was the nanny. I was vacationing. I have a different last name so their was no need for me to even be grouped with them. Same way when I've gone to other countries with my work families too. The parents and the children went ahead of me, and I went after and I was "vacationing". What I get this wasn't OPs fault, this was her bosses fault for being too stupid to know that you can't put down nanny on form. Why in the world why she even be filling out the paper for you is what I don't get.

MissDee said...

Wow, I wouldn't even begin to know what to do in your situation, OP. I do think that the family should pay you in full because they were the ones that screwed up. They should've known the rules.

I had visions of going to Canada when I was a kid and never coming back home...My 9 year old mind pictured a black tunnel with lights at the end. When I envisioned trying to come home, I would picture being held in Canada, without cable, Bob Barker, JR Ewing or Happy Meals....

Yaya said...

Wow, that had to have been so scary. You should definitely get some pay. For the work you did the days prior to leaving and then figure out an hourly rate for pay for all the time you were "detained" until you got home. That is not fair.

dt said...

I have to agree with a previous poster that it's shocking that the family didn't even check on you while you were stuck at the airport for hours!

mpls said...

a visa to travel for a few days? not true... it doesn't work like that. i've travelled with my charges/family, and this doesn't happen. is there more?

nanny left beind! said...

This is what the customs told me. I can't come into london becuase I didn't have a visa to be a nanny. Im a U.S. Citizen, I'm guessing the family thought I didn't need one. I asked the customs agent 7 times. She told me the same thing you need a visa. Im calling the American Embassy today and ask them about my situation.

nannyinmanhattan said...

You don't need to call the embassy. Once you claim you are going to be employed in a different country, that's the protocol. You have to have the necessary paperwork to follow suite, meaning if you state on you form you would be working, the customs dept would automatically check your passport for a working visa. Its more or less the same anywhere you travel.
You should have said you were visiting.
I know we have all learned from your mistake and NONE OF US will make that mistake I'm sure.
Thank you for your post...good luck getting at least half of what of originally expected.

macaroniandcheese said...

The embassy will confirm what the customs officer did was right.

You need a visa if you go on business or if you're journalist on a short assignment so yes, you definitely need a visa to work as a nanny- even if it's just for a few days with an American family.

Seriously, it's annoying how SOME Americans think they can travel everywhere without any papers just because they're "American" . No one cares and you don't receive any special priviledges just because of your nationality (it may be easier for some nationalities to enter a country but generally not when you're going somewhere to live or work. Europe has plenty of anti-discriminatory laws). In fact, due to America's tough visa laws, many countries require Americans to apply for visas as these things are usually reciprocal.

sanfranny said...

I think at one point I would have said, "Did I say I was a working nanny? I meant to say I am a nanny taking a vacation." I would have improvised accordingly after all, you have no written agreement, you would have compensated for being EXTRA HANDS, they are not paying taxes for your help. I have lots of friends that take college students on holidays to be extra hands when needed and then they are on their own. In hindsight, it was YOU not them who stated you were a working nanny, so they don't owe you anything. As a working nanny who hired her services out and agreed on terms, so you could have looked into what you needed to travel.
YShould you all have discussed on the front side? Should you have come on here and asked advise from traveling nannies before going? Probably. Research before you make a mistake like that again. I feel for you. I bet you were looking forward to enjoying a vacation in England

sanfranny said...

Just got to the post that it was the woman that hired you that labeled you. Disregard on that comment

tisha said...

Your employers should be smacked in the head for what they did to you! They weren't thinking of you. They were thinking of themselves and their vacation. Anyone with a brain knows you list the nanny as a friend when you travel.

Your employers must be STUPID.

And I don't work for stupid people.

mom said...

I'd guess it has to do with your level of professionalism as a nanny as to where the blame lies for the fiasco at customs in London.
If you are a professional nanny, it would be up to you to make sure all things were taken care of in advance for you to be able to do the job you signed up to do...including visas, work permits, etc. In that case I would say that the problem was yours alone and that you should not be compensated...maybe you'd even be on the hook for the airfare and expenses the family paid in good faith in anticipation of having a professional nanny accompany them on their trip.

If you are a college student or just a young girl who decided to take care of a couple of kids on the side for a few days and get some extra money, or somebody that the parents knew not to be a "real" nanny but thought might be a good bargain due to inexpreience in the field, then they are probably most at fault for the chaos in the airport and your wasted time.

Unfortunately, I don't think this is a compensable loss for you either way.

They are alone in London with their kids in tow...whatever will they do!? Maybe it will be the best thing that could have happened to them...being FORCED to interact day in and day out with their kids on their FAMILY vacation! I had three young kids alone in London for three weeks. My husband worked all day every day and joined us in the evenings. Nobody died. I didn't feel sorry for myself, and we have memories that will last a lifetime. As much fun as it is to see new places, it's a lot more fun to see them through the eyes of your kids...IMO anyway. (PS This does not go for teenagers, who have the power to ruin any vacation at will.)

mom said...

I just reread the original post. If you billed yourself out to the family as a professional nanny with seven years experience, I'd go with option number one and say they don't owe you anything. They may even be upset with you for not taking care of your papers before hand.

macaroniand cheese,
Special priveleges for being an American? I think not. When we were recently traveling between eurpoean countries they would have two lines at the customs area...one for those from eurpoean countries and one for "everybody else." We got to wait in the "everybody else" line (which also seemed, inconveniently enough, to double as the "haven't bathed since last season" line) which required a lot of questions and other ordeals to get passed through, and which took about four times longer to get through than the other line.

macaroniandcheese said...

Mom: My point exactly. My comment was directed to OP who seems to think that being an American means she won't need a working visa in Europe.

mom said...

macaroniandcheese,
In all honesty though, I can see how this happened. I would have had no idea myself that somebody needed a special visa to nanny in London. I just think the burden of responsibility is not necessarily all on the family that hired the nanny. If she is a true professional, it's her own responsibility to find out.

When we were in London all those weeks it was for my husband to work. It never occurred to me that he needed anything special...but then again, maybe his office had made all of the arrangements and I just didn't know anything about it. Also, his company had a London office. Maybe that makes some sort of difference? I do now recall being asked every time we have crossed a border whethere we were on work or pleasure. I guess it just never occurred to me why they cared. I always assumed they just wanted to converse with us to see if we looked nervous or appeared to be lying about anything in case we had cocaine filled rectums.

Um said...

Not to be disrespectful mom, but if you read through the responses you would see that the OP did not call herself the Nanny to customs, she only said as much once she saw that the mother wrote that she was the nanny on the form.

Also it would have been nearly impossible, have taken weeks if not months and been very expensive for her to get a work visa for 1 week. I live and work in Europe. Trust me.

It is a learning experience as everyone should have agreed to just say she was visiting the country. All around people acted dumb.

mom said...

Um...I guess I'm just one of those rule followers. I would have probably done the same thing, as I would be too afraid to lie about anything to customs...bend the truth, fudge, whatever...not to customs.
I agree that everybody made a mistake and all were probably shocked upon arrival to even find there was a need for a permit. It's a live and learn type of thing.

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