Received Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Perspective and Opinion on ISYN I have a general question...actually 2.

1) For those of you who live in, what does "room and board" mean?

2) Has anyone called their employers on breech of contract (for whatever reason) and continued working in a happy environment?

Nanny P


Village said...

Room means a place to live, and board means food to eat.

lynn said...

beyond the obvious, I think it can vary a lot. We've had a couple of aupairs whom we provided room and board. They have their own bedroom which we do not enter and it has an attached bathroom (very small room 8x10 and tiny bath)...so it's inevitable that they end up hanging out in our living room which can be awkward....and the reason why we are soon going to get a live out sitter. I'd think if we had a nanny suite above a kitchen with a separate living area in it, I'd expect the person NOT to be hanging in our living room but in her own space in her off time (except the kitchen of course if she is getting something to eat). As far as food, I've always tried to make it clear which foods I didn't want them to polish off mid-week (mostly stuff to pack in kids' lunches) and other than that they are free to have whatever is in the house- very rarely I will label something "do not eat" - like if I've broiled some chicken and put it in the fridge because I'm making something else with it the next day- I ask that they write on the grocery list on the fridge anything they finish or notice we are low on so we can buy more and she is free to add things she'd like to eat within reason (as in if she puts down Dom, Cavier and truffles I'm going to ask her to purchase those with her own money)...but I'm fine buying whole wheat pasta for her if my kids only eat regular. If she decides to host 4 friends for a BBQ, or for ice cream sundaes/cookies/chips and a movie, I'd expect her to shop for that herself too.

Village said...

In reference to 'called on' due to money, no, I don't think people like to be 'called on' as if they did something wrong. I don't think that would encourage good feelings.

But with an approach like, 'Oh dear, my records show such and such, do yours match?' If they acknowledge their records do match yours and money has not been paid, you have brought it to their attention in a non controversial way. (This is best done in writing showing the accounting.)

If they then pay up, they respect you and wish for you to work for them. If they still don't pay, maybe they don't care about you, and have decided to pay X and see who stays and takes not being paid properly. The only way to find out which, is by asking for your money.

sd said...

I've never been a live in nanny so I will only answer number 2.

I worked for a woman for 3 years recently. Great relationship. Towards the end however, she started expecting me to work half an hour here, 15 minutes there - for free. When she would short me on pay, I would ask her very politely something like "Oh I think you forgot to pay me those extra hours for Monday" and she woud pay me.

However after a few times of me having to remind her, she got really uptight about it. She said that because she let's me go early sometimes, I should expect to work for free other times. This was never part of the deal before, it was something new all of a sudden and unfortunately, I am not a mind reader.

I told her I would never, ever be working for free. If she was 5 minutes late, no problem. If she asks me to come in one hour early but doesn't want to pay me for it, NOT GOING to happen.

I wrote her a huge email and told her how I felt, and she fired me the next day. First time I was fired in my life but it was probably best, I don't feel like giving my time to a woman who doesn't appreciate me enough to pay me.

ATL Nanny said...

1. Room and Board can vary A LOT, so it's best to clarify exactly what both parties are expecting before signing the work agreement. In my previous live-in experience, i was provided a private bedroom and bathroom and given free rein of the rest of the house with no limitations. I was invited (but not required) to attend every family outing. I was welcome to eat any food in the house and all my toiletries, etc were included. I did all the shopping, and this was never an issue at all. My current position is live out, but they are discussing the possibility of renovating the guest house so I can move in. If they do, I'll be given sole use of the guest house with no limitations (overnight visitors anytime I want, etc.) but I'll be responsible for paying for my own food, toiletries, etc. (In a case like second, my salary will be substantially higher than the first to account for the difference.) Really there is no right or wrong answer to what is included, it just needs to be agreed upon by both parties.

2. I think it depends on how serious the breech and how the situation is handled. If they just overlooked/forgot something, and you can remind them politely, they may apologize and rectify the situation immediately. This happened to me in my current position. My employers added something incorrectly, and I was working way more hours than we had agreed to during my boss's maternity leave. I was being paid for them, so it was fine, but I was a little annoyed because I was looking forward to the reduced schedule. When I approached them and asked for clarification, they were MORTIFIED and explained how the error was made. Our relationship never suffered at all, and in fact I think it was strengthened because we both proved that we could communicate well and work through issues that arose without jumping to conclusions or being passive aggressive.

If, however, the breech is more severe or done intentionally, then I don't think there is any way to address it without rocking the boat. (And you probably need to start looking for a new position anyway, if this is the way they plan to treat you.) I had previous employers who constantly made me come in early or work late and fought me on the compensation. When I brought out our work agreement, they were pissed. They began compensating me properly, but sulked and were passive aggressive. A couple months later, we went out separate ways.