Not Getting Paid When the Child Sleeps

Received Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Perspective and Opinion on ISYN I have a similar problem to ones posted about overnights on here and would like reader's input as I am on the verge of leaving my position, but need some advice first.

I get paid $10 p/h to watch a 3 yr old little boy. The father is a Dr. and has late night shifts so I am asked to do overnights every now and then. When we interviewed, he had told me he pays $70 for overnights and I just assumed an overnight was anywhere between 12-14 hrs. Flash forward 3 months later and I did my first overnight. I got there at 6PM, child went to bed at 11PM-8AM, then I had said child until 1PM when I was let go. Total 19 hrs. 9 asleep. And I got paid $70!! Now when I protested, the father told me that he had already informed me at the interview that overnights were $70, but he never mentioned my extended hrs..plus when I asked him why for 19 hrs of childcare, I only got paid $70, he told me that the 9 hrs the child is asleep he was not going to pay me for a sleeping child!!

My opinion is that if a child is asleep, sure I can flat-rate my pay...however to say that I should not be compensated for a sleeping child is crazy to me. It is my time, I am giving up time w/my own family to be there. When if there was a fire, an intruder, etc.?? I am still 100% responsible. It's not like I can just leave and hang out w/friends at a local bar while the kid is asleep. I HAVE to be there for the child' sake.

Please give me some advice and if you all think I should move on and how I should do it. For the record, I need this job as I need the $$, but at the same time I am growing more resentful by the day.


Manhattan Nanny said...

Of course you should be paid for overnight hours. From what you said, it appears that you weren't even paid your regular rate of $10 for all the hours the child was awake. That means your employer is very aware that he is taking advantage of you.
I think you have to ask for a time to sit down for a talk. Tell him that nannies are normally paid for the hours the child is awake, plus an overnight fee. Therefore, you assumed that the $70 he offered for overnight was the overnight fee, and that you would also be paid for the daytime hours. Decide beforehand if you are prepared to negotiate, and if so, what your bottom line is.
You don't say where you are located, but if $10 is already at the low end in your area, I wouldn't accept less that $70 for overnight. I charge my regular work family $100, and families I sit for occasionally $150.
Let us know how you come out.

Upstate Mom said...

For starters, even if he is not going to pay for "asleep" time...assuming he'd cover the extra expense by the hourif you needed to wake up for any emergency......you were awake 9 hours, so $10 an hour would be $90. I would have assumed it was the $10 an hour for "awake" time and a $70 surcharge and/or night differential. That's what it sounded like when you explained the $70 for overnights. It's a differential in addition to awake hours paid at your going rate. I don't think you'd get 19 hours, but 9 plus $70. Good luck.

ChiNanny said...

Even if he wasn't paying you for sleeping time, he didn't pay you for the 10 awake hours. I would confront him, at least get the extra $30 you are owed and inform him that while you are "on duty" you should be paid, sleeping child or not. Like you said, you can't leave or do whatever you feel like, you must be there to keep the child safe.

If he refuses to pay for sleep time, then I would refuse to do overnights.

Village said...

This has been gone over before. You get your regular rate until the child goes to sleep, then half rate while asleep. If the Doc doesn't want to pay it, you have to choose if you want to continue. I wouldn't. People treat you the way you let them. So don't let him treat you like that. It may be once you win his respect, he will come around . . . or not.

If I were you, I would figure out if half rate or $70 is higher, then charge him the higher amount.

Just a short personal story. 25 years ago I had a customer who was disrespectful. I told him in very polite terms he may not act in that manner if he wished to do business with me. There was complete silence on the other end of the phone, and I told my partner I thought I had blown the account. Today, his company is my best customer, and their loyalty knows no bounds. I think people want to see veracity, character, and self respect. But be very calm and matter of fact as you recite your requirements for a business relationship, and be ready to walk. No bluffing.

Original Poster said...

Wow...your advice on here is wonderful. This is true, people will treat me the way I allow them and that is something I need to remember time and time again. I will keep you guys posted on what happens. I also think I will forward this thread to my boss as well. :)

djembé said...

A very simple one-liner is all you need in situations like this:

"For hours I don't get paid, I assume it's my free time and I can come and go as I please... hope nothing happens while I'm gone."

That makes the point quicker than any long academic argument.

nannyneedsanap said...

djembé- I might give that one liner a try! I just turned down a weekend babysitting job because the parents didn't want to pay me while the children are napping.

poor nanny! (hugs to you) said...


sorry this happened to you. This dad took advantage of you and the signals got crossed! All above posters are correct!

Good luck and keep us posted!

anonymouse said...

I agree with the other posters. I would advise against forwarding this thread to the dad though. It just sounds like a bad idea.

On another note, what's with all these 3-year-olds staying up until 11pm? I'm completely sure I was in bed by 8 every night when I was that age. Is this normal? I'm an au pair for 3 kids and all of them are asleep from 8:30pm at latest-7 or 7:30 am, even on weekends. The oldest one is 6.

parent said...

my three year old goes to bed at 7:30.

just another mommy said...

My kids go to bed at 9:00 most nights, but there are occasions where they stay up extra - sometimes due to a comittment, sometimes just because I want them to sleep a little longer in the morning (which doesn't always work!) so maybe that's why the three year old stayed up until 11?

Tales from the (Nanny)Hood said...

Ask to sit down and explain that you believed he meant to comply with SOP when it comes to overnight pay, and pay you $70 for SLEEP time, along with your normal rate for hours worked while his child is awake.

If he is unwilling to make any changes or compromise, you will either need to accept the status quo and resolve to never "assume" again when it comes to work, or you will need to start looking for a new job.

Don't offer up any ultimatums, no matter how tempting, unless you can afford to lose both your job and any chance at a good letter of reference.

nannyinmanhattan said...

Continue to grow resentful, you already know all the rules. You said it yourself you can't leave the sleeping child alone and go out with friends. Yes you are supposed to be compensated for you time when said child is asleep. He pays you when child is taking a nap during the day doesn't he?/
How absurd, a Dr for crying out loud who pays $10 an hr?? Who does that?
How much more cheaper can people get??
Bottom line you should be compensated your daily rate of 10 an hr for the number of hours you work plus the $70 for overtime if that was the rate you agreed upon.
Grow resentful and start looking...
Good luck!


comeondude! said...

I would NEVER expect someone to watch my child overnight for free. Just ridiculous.

Seattle Nanny said...

1. Nannies are protected by minimum wage laws. No contract or agreement of any sort can change this. $70 for 19 hours is $3.68 an hour, a clear violation in any state.

2. This is a point of debate for some, but I would never accept less for any night hours. I'm sorry, but I'm just as legally liable at night as I am during the day. Children take naps during the day, should I change my rate during naptime? No. It is no different at night to me. But I can understand why it may be different for some. You need to specify exactly what hours is meant to be part of the flat rate.

3. 1:00 pm in the afternoon is not part of "night". Your employer was obviously in clear violation of the spirit of your agreement.

4. My view? You should have walked away with $170. $70 for the 9 hours at night when the child was asleep, $100 at $10 an hour for every hour before or after.

If you think confronting him will end your job. Begin looking for a new one NOW. Bear with this job for awhile longer until you find a new one, then leave.

After you do, file a complaint with your state's department of labor - hopefully your state is like mine where it is easy and free to seek back wages for minimum wage compliance.

Original Poster said...

ISYN rocks!! I have received the best advice on here and have taken it as it is very logical, etc.

Yes, this is the Original Poster and I spoke w/my boss today! We mutually agreed to end the job today and now I am going to take a break from nanny work (this situation has irked me) and concentrate on my own family and school, probably in a few weeks I will go back on craigslist and/or sittercity to find work. Does anyone know of any other websites I can find nanny work? Thanks. :)

Tis An Early Morn said...

I would suggest trying:

Beware though, care.com's editors are obviously a bunch of English majors who failed to get jobs elsewhere. No offense to English majors, but they go out of their way to edit an ad. I can understand editing the more egregious offenders, but that isn't where they stop.

Worse, they won't tell you they did it.

That said, I've had good luck with care.com.

Only Dad Here said...

Correct me if I'm wrong but isn't the night over at dawn?

6:45am the meter starts running again.

m said...

I get paid the same rate whether or not the child is sleeping. The money does add up, but it is work. I can't go anywhere and I have to spring into action if there is an emergency. It is work and you ought to be compensated likewise.
Lesson to all- children are expensive.