Resentful Nanny Needs Help to Stand up for Herself

Received Monday, August 24, 2009
Perspective and Opinion on ISYN I was wondering if someone could help me, I don't want to not say anything because I'm starting to feel resentful about this, and I don't think it's healthy to feel this way constantly. I find MB a little hard to approach, so I've had a hard time standing up for myself. I'd like to drop her an email or something and I want to word it delicately so I don't upset her but also hope she listens to a voice of reason.

I'm a live in nanny working 45 hours a week, we have no contract and no provision for me to take days off. The couple times I've needed days off, I've been met with "when will you make it up?" (I legitimately needed these days off, I'd had staph infection and strep throat, I ended up working so I wouldn't have to make them up) but increasingly lately she's been asking me to help out in my time off without extra pay, like I've helped out 3 out of the last 4 Saturdays. (Saturday is not within my normal working hours) and I'm working next Saturday and also this evening... Of course without extra compensation. I don't feel like I'm being unreasonable when I feel a bit upset about this. I don't know how to delicately word this without upsetting her. Advice anyone?


lynn said...

well, if she can say to you "when will you make it up" when you ask for time off, when she asks you to work extra, I'd think you can say "gee, I wasn't expecting to work over 45 hours each week. I was under the impression that my weekly pay was based on that 45 hours. Can we discuss my compensation for overtime since it seems I'm working beyond our original agreed upon hours? Also, when I work overtime I'd like to be paid at the end of each overtime shift as opposed to including it in my regular weekly pay. I would just tell her face to face. Grow some balls woman!

NotANanny said...

I think you need a contract! Oy, I could never work this kind of job. It seems like *most* competent nannies end up getting taken advantage of.

I don't have specific advice beyond: politely but firmly re-iterate what you were hired to do, get it in writing along with any provisions for overtime, etc. And then don't make exceptions.

You need a life too!

Noble Drusus said...

There are two things you can do to try to change the situation. The two problems you have is that your boss thinks she owns your free time and also, she doesn't see the connection between your time and money.

If you are asked to work outside of the 45hr agreement, say "I'm sorry, I have plans." Then go out with friends, or have fun on your own, even it's just reading a book in a Starbucks or going for a walk. You can even say, "I'm sorry, I just need to rest" and watch a movie in your room with the door closed. By making yourself inaccessible you show that YOU own your time off, not your boss.

The other thing you have to establish, and yes, this is sad that you have to do this, is the connection between your time and money. Any legitimate requests to work overtime (such as a scheduling conflict, an emergency or an unforseen situation that really requires you to work over 45hr), you should ask the question, "How can you make this up to me?", turning it around from the way things are now! Your boss should understand that you expect time off or more money. You can say, "okay, I'll help you out Saturday but in exchange I'd like to work a short day on Thursday." Or, "Sure, I'll work tonight. I could use the extra money. How about $xx?" where xx an approximation of your hourly wage. This will establish a clear connection between "extra time" and "extra money".

If these don't work then you are in a bad situation. The resentment you feel is completely toxic to your relationship with your boss and, unfortunately, is unlikely to subside. If nothing changes, you might want to start considering your options for employment elsewhere with someone who won't take advantage of you.

Kaitlyn and Daniel said...

You have to learn to say NO. You are taking steps in the right direction but when she asks you to do something that you know is unfair, SAY NO. Even if it's really hard, remind yourself that you have good reason. No one can help you until you help yourself!

Also, if you can, I really advise sitting down with the parents and working out as detailed a contract as possible. I know from personal experience that it's so much better to have one!

Good luck!

just another mommy said...

I think that if she asks you to work extra, you need to ask to either exchange that for time off during the week or extra pay. Just let her know nicely, but firmly that you will expect things to be a certain way if you are asked to work on your day off. I think an email is a great idea. It gives you the ability to word things just right and her the chance to digest it before replying.

chgonanny said...

I, too, don't have a written contract, and I HATE confronting people. MB and I communicate via email. She seems to really prefer it too. Plus, everything's in writing, then.

If you don't want to do it face-to-face, try and make your email sound official, but friendly and upbeat. You don't want her to think you hate your job.

I agree that you should just say no to every extra hour you're asked to work. I know it's passive aggressive, but I know a lot of nannies that do that.

As to having sick days and vacation days (which you should have! You shouldn't be working when you have strep or a staph infection. You need your rest!) again, I'd turn to email. Write something like, "Hi X, since we are reaching four months (or years, or however long you've worked with her), I'd like to talk about having a contract. Nothing official, just written details of my hours, vacation and/or sick days, responsibilities, etc. When can we sit down and discuss this?"

Now, there's a downside of this. She might just ignore the email. Then you'd have to talk to her face-to-face.

Good luck! And you deserve some time off. Don't let her guilt you into thinking otherwise.

nycnanny said...

I would never accept a position without a written contract. This is exactly why!

MissDee said...

No work agreement? I am sorry, but I will not work for a family that will not take out my taxes or agree to a work agreement. I have to ask, are you crazy for taking this job without a work agreement? I think so.

CuriousDad said...

Contracts are there for your protection and the bossess protection. Without a contract you are not protected from anything she says and can do too you. Including firing you and saying you have never worked for her ever. Get a contract that defines your working hours how much when and what they are paying you for any overtime. Or find another job. I hope your paying your taxes, becuase if you are not you have even less to stand on in case of a dispute.

DenverNanny said...


Don't accept anymore extra days, unless she's willing to pay overtime or let you off early another day.

Request a contract

Blah said...

Stop being a push-over and demand some respect. If they don't like it, then find another job where your bosses won't be complete a-holes.

I have a wonderful job without a contract where I ask for days off and I don't need to make them up ever. I even tried to discuss how much of my pay should be deducted and they simply told me to not worry about it. They are people who are decent human beings and don't need contracts to act like such.

Kristen said...

I do not think this is right at all. If you are working extra they need to pay you for that extra. I would also ask for a contract because it sounds like they are taking advantage of you.

aNo-Brainer said...

Come on. You know the answer to this. remind her of your work days, and suggest that if they need you additionally, you can discuss fees, etc.
come on.
a no-brainer.
you are her nanny. not doormat.