Monday

A Fair Price to Pay?

Received Monday, October 19, 2009
Perspective and Opinion on ISYN I recently babysat for four children between two families and wanted to get everyone's opinion on what I was paid for my work. I found a babysitting service in my local area that is highly recommended, well known, and one that has many long term families as clients. If you are unfamiliar with how a babysitting service works, here is the best explanation I can give: a family sends a request to the service for a sitter on a particular date. The service then emails us (the sitters) and if we are available, we respond back to the email. We are then sent a job confirmation for that date and a job description describing the family and children. On Monday, the owner of the service called me, asking if I would be ok watching four children alone. I said I would be fine without another sitter, and she personally recommended me to the families for this most recent job, being that I am one of the older more mature sitters with daycare experience; handling multiple children at a time. The owner loves feedback from families and sitters, and I am unsure as to what to say about these families to the owner. I thought the one set of parents I met were very nice, along with the grandparents of all four children. I had a bit of an awkward situation, babysitting at the grandparents house while the family attended a college football game and then preparing for a party afterwards. I was still there when the party started, and gone when the food was served. My problem wasn't where I was babysitting or the party itself. It wasn't the job, but what I was paid for my work, especially when the owner of the service told me that I would be getting more per hour since I was sitting for two families. I was responsible for four children - 8, 4, 3, and 13 months, all boys, all cousins. The 8 year old arrived toward lunch as he had a football game, which left me with the 3 younger ones. I was there seven hours and was paid $90 for four children. I expected more than this to be perfectly honest. My thought was that I would be getting more per hour, since there were two families. It almost seems like the other family got a free babysitter, being that the parents of the two younger children paid me. I am not happy about this, am unsure as to what to tell the owner and am rather disappointed that this family paid me something different than what the owner mentioned. I also feel that I was ripped off. Anyone else's thoughts?

27 comments:

inthesameboat said...

I actually ran into the same thing this past week. I've been babysitting/nannying for a family on and off for 3 years. There are 4 children, all girls, under the age of 8, and I'm paid $10 an hour. Basically the wages that you would pay a 16 year old babysitter with the responsibilities of a nanny, and have never gotten a raise.
Last week I was asked to babysit the two younger children, along with a 5 year old boy who is a friend of their family. $10 an hour is not a crazy rate for 2 children, so I thought I would be paid my regular rate for those two, and extra from the mother of the other child. When the time came to be paid I was given $62 for 6.5 hours.
The mother of my regular charges informed me that they had decided to split the cost "to make sure I got my $10 an hour". I was completely insulted. I'm close to this family and their children adore me. I cook, do dishes, fold laundry, and clean up messes that were not made while I was sitting. I feel regularly taken for granted, but this one really stung.
Maybe I'm overreacting, but isn't it normal to have both families pay an individual rate?

Manhattan Nanny said...

Something must be in the water, the same thing just happened to me! I have several families I do occasional sitting for, who sometimes have visitors from out of town with children. I have always received my usual fee from the family, and a generous additional amount from the visiting family. Not this time. It was the first time I took on additional children for this particular family, and the mom even warned me that the boy was "a hand full".
All I was given was my usual fee. I was especially surprised, as the dad is her brother, so it should not be that awkward for her to tell him he needs to give the sitter some $!!!

JUST ME said...

thats why I ALWAYS insist that each family pay me SEPARATELY.... they bitch but I dont give in because its extra work and only one of me

CuriousDad said...

Its the water. :)

My guess and advice:
OP I would take it up with the service you got the jobs from. Inquire why it was such a small increase over you normal pay. When you expected a bit more then you got paid. SOunds like you needed to know upfront how much you should have been paid per hour, per kid. Also they may have prorated the 8 year old as seperate from the other kids, since he was late. Then again they probably thought you were not "sitting" him.

So maybe the $90 for 7 hours. Was about 12 dollars and hour for the 3 kids and the 8 year old was added on at the end for the lunch period you worked with him.


Sounds like you guys should have made the ground rules from the start, on how you were and how much you were going to be paid.

It is way to easy for employers to "forget" how much they were going to pay you originally. They may also figure that the flat rate is for you per hour no matter how many kids you sit for.
So really ground rules and upfront pay expectations are really important to protect your selves.

Psyber Chica said...

Op, you should bring it up to the owner, but you should have worked out the rate BEFORE this happened. Hopefully someone else will read this who will learn from your mistake. I can't believe this has happened to so many people. Don't agree to the job until the rate is agreed upon.

just another mommy said...

I guess I don't see that as such a bad price. You made almost $13 an hour. What did you expect to get paid?

MinuteMuggle said...

I don't think it's a bad price either, to tell you the truth. I would have done it for that.

VAnanny said...

I agree with Mommy and MinuteMuggle. 13 dollars an hour is a pretty good rate. I am college educated and have over 10 years of experience with children of all ages and when I babysit, I make 12 dollars an hour. Based on the research I have done, that is around the going rate for a good babysitter. As a nanny, I make much more because of the longer hours and additional responsibilities. I do think you should contact the agency and inform them that you were payed less than what was agreed upon when you accepted the job. That isn't fair and the agency needs to know this.

ChiNanny said...

I reread the post and maybe I'm missing something. How much were you supposed to be paid? Were you assuming you were going to get more, or were you told an amount. Over $12 an hour for a babysitter for 3 to 4 kids doesn't seem that low to me, but if you were promised more you should have gotten it. Talk to the agency and tell them what happened.

Rhiannon said...

Throughout college I worked for a sitter company like you described. Doesn't the company have set rates for situations like that? When 2 families shared a sitter, the company charged each family several dollars less than the typical hourly wage. For example, each family would pay $5-6/hr which gave the sitter $10-12/hr at the end... otherwise she'd get over $20/hr...which is ridiculous.

It sounds to me like you got paid very fairly. You could tell the company that you think you got shorted but my guess is there isn't anything that they can or will do about it.

Rhiannon said...

oops, just saw that you had written that the owner of the service did tell you a price. My guess is that the company will then just pay you the difference. When there was an error and families didn't pay the correct price, the company would send us a check for the difference and then just send the family an invoice so you don't have to deal with it.

Village said...

Just me has it right. You have to tell them what your fee is UP FRONT. You expect $10 an hour from BOTH families, or $20 an hour to sit for two sets of children. If they don't want to pay it, they can take care of their own children.

I used to have a service, and I was very stern and rigid with my clients about pay. You have to be. Otherwise, they will screw you. If you are not tough with the money up front, you probably won't get what you are worth. That is just the way it is.

lynn said...

I don't understand why you don't agree to an hourly "rate" up front based on how many kids you are watching....(1 child-$12/hr, 2 children $13/hr, 3 children $14/hr, 4 children $15/hr - or whatever rate you feel is fair). It should make no difference whatsoever if the kids are from 1, 2, 3 or 4 families.....if it were 4 only children, you wouldn't get $40/hr vs $15/hr if they were 4 sibs. Consider it a lesson learned...state your hourly rate up front once you learn how many children you are watching...don't focus on how many families the kids belong to

NannyVal said...

Well, $13/hr is a good rate here in Pittsburgh, especially if you are dealing with a service. I used to work for the same type of service,(the temp department of Rent-A-Mom) and RAM got a cut of what the parents paid BUT RAM also set the rates. There were clear rates based on number of kids and any additional factors,(special needs,overnights,etc)so I knew upfront what the rate was going to be for each family and the family would have already been quoted that same rate. In summary, I would talk to the owner about what your expectations were. At least that will avoid confusion next time.
I also did alot of 'temp' work on my own and gained many clients thru word of mouth. Very early on I ran into the problem of new families wanting to negotiate rates.At first I went along with it but then I realized that since my business was thru word of mouth the families would probably disclose thier 'individualized' rates with one another and I was bound to run into problems with that.
I agree with Lynn that if you decide the rate then you need to sit down and print up your rates per hour, per child, and even think about any additional charges you would charge for overnights and multiple family situations. Decide your rates, print them up and don't negotiate. Be generous and set your rates reasonably and offer discounts, for instance, if there are two families then the the rate is only time and half instead of double time, that way you'll feel confident able your pricing and will be able to stand your ground. you would offer

OhMan said...

$90 for the whole day! Yes, that is a ripoff. Those ages too! I would have wanted A LOT more.

2+2 said...

Always set a rate up front, and don't be afraid to remind the family what you should be getting paid (they just came home from a college football game. Maybe their math skills were not so sharp if you know what I mean).
I used to babysit at a local resort. They had set rates for sitting, based on number of children. However, their policy was that if two families shared a sitter, each paid the regular rate.

2+2 said...

Also, I guess I've been really lucky because I have never felt taken advantage of in this way. I've done a lot of work like this, involving multiple families, and either they both pay me, or one family (the "host family") pays me extra to cover the extra kid(s). At the very least, I set a rate upfront and let them decide how to work it out among themselves. It sounds trickier when you add the middleman.

Orange Snakeskin said...

If you allow families to "share" a sitter and get a lower rate everyone wins but the sitter who has to deal with twice the amount of kids, working with two different parenting styles and arts of rules and one family not even being in their own home all for half the pay. It is pretty unfair. I'm not saying Op should make $20 an hour but I think we all should consider the stress of 2+2 over 4.

UNOME said...

You can't say anything bad about the families because it seems you did not negotiate your rate clearly and make sure everyone was on the same page. The other family didn't get a free sitter, they each got a very inexpensive one. I don't mean to be mean, OP, but your failure to properly negotiate your fee and speak up for yourself is neither families problem, it's yours.

Sharing a nanny or sitter is done to save families money so it is up to You the provider to negotiate a rate you are happy with based on the number of children and amount of work you did. AHEAD OF TIME! Then, you must make certain that everyone involved with paying you understands what that rate is. That responsibility is yours. It's not the person who placed you or the parents it's yours because if they don't understand it's you who suffers. Live and learn.

alex said...

What is the normal per hour rate where you babysit? I get $10 an hour for certain families and while I feel I should get more because I have been doing it for so long and for so long to these families I don't bother saying anything. I wish they would notice though :) haha, just a side note.

But when I babysit two separate families (cousins-4 kids just like you) I do get paid by each of them. So yes, you probably should have gotten paid by each of them. But since you were left with the three younger ones they probably figured $90 was good, because it is $20 more than $10 an hour. I don't feel that it is horribly unfair, just maybe you should have been paid by both. But maybe the family who paid you was doing the other one a favor because they couldn't afford it or something?

I don't think it was hugely unfair but you can talk to the owner of the company since they did tell you that you would be getting more.

OzNanny said...

What did the OP do wrong? She was told a figure by the agency and had every right to expect it! I would call the agency and get them to organise extra payment - this is why you use an agency.

FWIW I have been caught by this once aswell - when I was a young teen. The difference between babysitting a couple of kids who would be sleeping majority of the time in a normal babysitting job compared to having an EXTRA couple thrown in and during the day where they were all awake so needing entertaining/feeding/fights sorting etc...it was massive! I was shocked to find that I was not paid a cent extra, and certainly learnt my lesson as it was at least twice as hard as the usual job I had with them.

Now I don't accept two families, unless they want to pay double the fee - which would be $40 an hour for me cash so hardly cheap.

Learnf rom it, but because there is an agency and fee was stipulated prior, you are entitled to be paid the difference.

Julieta said...

That is why you always have to set the price before you start babysiting.

MissMannah said...

I don't understand how this agency works. The babysitting agency here in town charges the parents whatever fee they decide is fair and then the babysitter gets a paycheck in the mail from all her jobs in the given week. I believe they charge something like $11 for the first child per hour and then the sitter gets $8 of that $11 and only $.25 for each additional child. (Yes, the sitter gets screwed which is why I find my own babysitting jobs now!!)

Anyway, what I've been trying to say is if the parents are paying the babysitter directly, what is the purpose of the agency? Just seems like a middleman.

As for how much OP got paid, I charge $9 for the first child and a dollar for each additional child so $90 for the day seems more than fair. If you were told something upfront from the agency, you should have told the parents that before working for them. Always make sure everyone is on the same page, especially when money is concerned!!

Me said...

I don't understand, if you were sent there by a babysitting service, shouldn't the service had set the pay scale? Why was it left up to the families?

ME said...

$13 an hour would be considered way too low here in NY! people get that for watching one child, for 2 children they get $15 an hour, sometimes more.

I have had people watch 3 kids in my home, a mix of mine and a friends and we have paid them $17 an hour.

CTMOM said...

Who would pay double the rate for 1 sitter? I agree that I would pay a sitter more for watching more kids, but if I wanted to pay the equivalent of 2 sitters, I would want 2 sitters. I have done this with family members and it worked well. The sitters could help each other and not be overwhelmed, especially at the ages mentioned, and the cousins could be together to play and visit. I am not sure where you live/work, but $13 per hour for 4 kids is a low rate. I would mention it to the agency and let them help.

dcmom said...

If the agency provided you a figure, you should take it up with the agency to recoup the difference between what you were paid and what you had been promised.

It's hard to say whether the amount is fair or not because rates vary by geographies. We live in DC and the going rate appears to be between $15 and $20 per hour for a family. I'm not sure what it would be for two families but I would assume more since you would have more responsibilities.