Saturday

Stuck in $5/hour hell...

Received Saturday, May 15, 2010
perspective and opinion I've got a pretty crazy situation going on with my job right now, and I'd love some advice.

Background:
I'm nannying for a family that has a single child, a 13 month old boy. I started at this position last June, caring full-time for the child. In September, the family enrolled him in daycare because they wanted him to "have socialization with other children" and gave me a minimal amount of notice that my position would be dissolving. Several months later I was contacted by them again when he was kicked out of the daycare due to his behavior (Which is another story in of itself...) I, with some hesitation, agreed to work as their nanny again. I was glad for the work and especially happy that they were willing to work with my new schedule, in which I had classes from 8 - 11. The mother often didn't go into work until 12 often anyway, so it was no problem. Later, though, she decided to hire another lady (Who has no childcare experience) to come in the mornings so that the mother could catch up on her sleep (13 mo still wakes up every hour during the night) and so she could get ready without having to deal with the baby.

Without discussion, they decided that they would be paying me the same rate they paid the daycare for my work - which works out to a measly $5/hour! I take him to storytime at the library every week, set up playdates, go to the zoo, etc (In my own vehicle, with no compensation) and in addition am highly qualified for this position. $5/hr in is no way fair compensation, but I've hesitated to bring it up as I know they can't afford much more than that. On top of that, they often need me to stay several extra hours at least 1 day a week, but give me only a couple hours of notice, if that. They still only pay me the $5/hr for overtime as well. They have taken off on several trips with little warning as well, leaving for several weeks which left me scrambling to budget as I was without pay.
I notified them that my schooling will be switching to online, which opens my morning up and makes me available for full-time pay, which truthfully I am being desperately in need of. The mother informed me that the schedule would be staying exactly as-is because she didn't want to mess anyone's hours up. However, I later learned through the other caretaker that she has been offered an extra 2 hours of work a day, which is frustrating to hear. They had also assured me that if they ever turned up needing care outside of our normal hours, they would give me priority over the other caretaker; I also found out that they have not been truthful about that either.

All of this has led to to wanting to take another position. I've been looking for a couple of weeks but have not found the full-time position that I need. I'd love some tips from other experienced nannies out there about where else I can look; Craigslist (ugh), sittercity, care.com... Any input would be lovely!

24 comments:

cali mom said...

I'd sa that I cannot even begin to figure out why you agreed to work for these people without discussing the pay FIRST, let alone why you are STTILL working for them for basically $3/hr, once you subtract your unreimbursed vehicle expenses. But then I realise that the ecomomy sucks and they were probably paying you under the table before so you can't apply for unemployment and $3/hr is marginaly better than $0/hr. (Just marginally).

So, my only advice is, update your resume, talk to any agencies that might assist you in finding a REAL job (that is, one that pays at least half of minimum wage), and next time don't agree blindly to a job without any idea of what the potential employer wants to pay you. You may as well be walking around with a "screw me, I'm your bitch" sign on your back nnow that you agreed to work for them as a NANNY for what they paid the DAYCARE.

Nanny Sarah said...

OP, I carefully read and then re-read your post..how much did you make before they put him in daycare? Did they pay you more, then after daycare start paying you $5/hr? Or were they paying you that before he went into daycare? This changes the dynamics of the situation. Anyway, for them to pay a Nanny the same as a Daycare is absolutely ludicrous!! Why a Nanny is much better than a daycare, you come into the home, provide one on one care, drive your own car and they don't have to worry about germs, etc. The child gets their own bed to sleep in, eat their own food, play w/their own toys, etc...you should at be making at least double what they pay for a daycare. Shame on them. They are getting a great deal. Are they paying the new babysitter $5/hr too?
Anyway, I am an unemployed Nanny myself dear. Feel my pain. I have placed and answered ads on craigslist, care.com, + sittercity. I either get spam (CL), no responses or responses by families who are interviewing 30 other nannies along w/me. Back 3 yrs ago, I got Nanny jobs left and right just on craigslist, but now I am lucky if I get even one.
They say the economy is rebounding, but I have yet to see the results. I wish I could help you in this dept. but I am stuck in a dead end and am very depressed about the lack of work and the amount of people competing for each job. But let me tell you one thing...I will NEVER in a million yrs work for that low of a rate no matter how bad the economy gets...I would rather stand in the bread line than let some family do what they are doing to you.
Don't let the economy rob you of your pride and dignity. Tell the family "Adios" and don't give any notice. It is illegal to pay less than minimum wage so you don't owe her any notice.
People who pay their babysitters peanuts shouldn't expect them to show up. Bottom line. Lots of people will criticize me for being unprofessional, but considering they are paying less than minimum wage...you do not owe them the standard "two week" notice!!

ghostfromthepast said...

The economy is NOT rebounding and in an effort to protect their millions, many nanny employers have chosen to cut their losses via paying their nanny on the cheap. ASK for a raise. DO NOT hesitate. If you don't get a substantial raise, make your escape plan. McDonald's pays better and works with people who are in school.

Aurezalia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
OP said...

OP here:
To answer the question, YES, they were paying me more before the daycare thing. When I agreed to come back to the job, I assumed - incorrectly, apparently - that all of our arrangements from the previous run would carry through. I guess they decided that since they were only paying that much for daycare, that's how much they should pay across the board.
I'd give my notice and leave right now, but I don't want to be stuck without even that measly pay while searching for another job which, let's face it, isn't going to be easy to come across in this economy.

Oakleafnanny said...

I too am stuck in a $5 hr hell..i feel your pain op..

Nanny Sarah said...

OP, this whole situation makes my blood boil! They changed your pay just because they paid less in daycare and now want to "revert" back to what they paid to have him in daycare? I usually don't cuss....but WTF????? They are off of their rockers. That is the most ludicrous and disturbing thing I have ever heard of!! Can you tell us what part of the country you live in? Because I live in San Diego and that kind of pay is way below minimum wage here (State is $8.25).There is no logic to what they are doing.
About the economy, they may be using that as a bargaining chip as they know that times are tough for everyone, including us nannies...and that they know it will be difficult and impossible for you to find another job. They must be taking full advantage of the whole economic situation and know the tide is in their favor now.
These are horrendous human beings to do this not only to you, but to lowball their OWN child in such a manner.
I wish you only the best OP. Maybe you could try to find a job while you stick w/this miserable one and I hope you do soon. Then leave this family and never look back!

VAnanny said...

Honey, get the hell out! People don't even pay teenage sitters 5 bucks an hour. That is just ridiculous. I know the job market is tough on nannies these days but you have got to get out! I make 12 an hour and I'm in school. When I babysit on the side, I make at least 10 an hour. Stick up for yourself!

Euro-nanny said...

Look online for nanny agencies in your area....and please leave these people, you sound like a great nanny and the way they are treating you is appalling!!

BURNTOUT NANNY said...

I hope you find another job for a nice family, I know exactly what you are going through, I believe in karma and these parents will get what is coming to them

MB said...

Also next time make sure you make a written work agreement with the family that specifies pay, hours worked, overtime, what happens when the family goes on vacation etc. If you have a written agreement they aren't as likely to feel free to do things like this. It also makes you look more professional. You should be getting paid a lot more because you should put it on your taxes so you can earn unemployment. The job market is extremely bad. I have been unemployed over a year. You need to earn unemployment. Unfortunately one family I worked for decided that since I was no longer their nanny due to mom's layoff I could "babysit" for them. But the first time I did they only paid me $5/hr for 3 kids even though they had paid me $12 and I was doing the exact same job. So I quit. It was hard. I miss the little girls but I really felt bad when they "demoted" me to babysitter!

oh please, OP said...

OP, I had to stop reading when I saw that you said "Without discussion, they decided that they would be paying me..."

Get some balls. Quit. You are better off subbing at a childcare center: most positions there are offered internally first. At least you would be getting full time and full benefits. And a hellofalot more than 5 bucks an hour.

Unless of course you are retarded in which case you should not be allowed around kids anyway.

eeesh.

Bostonnanny said...

I'm sorry but as soon as I realized they were paying me less I would have said something. I can't believe your still working for them, I know jobs are hard to come by but your better off working for a few different families occasionally then doing this. You should update your resume, write a great cover letter and get a portfolio going. You need to treat a nanny job like a professional. Know what you want in pay, benfits and in a family. Don't let people walk over you. This family obviously doesn't care about you since they hired another babysitter. They have a replacement already in line and your the sucker still getting paid crap. You should file taxes against them if your under the table. When you do this you will have to pay your share but it won't be to much since you make nothing. They won't file and after you do they will end up paying fees and back taxes and unemployment. That will teach them not to mess with future nannies. Go to the IRS website and research it.
By the way quit now. Find a job at a daycare, through your college anything is better then that.

please, poach me said...

When you are out with the baby, you need to shine. Be the best.nanny.ever. with him, and encourage his interactions with other kids. Schmooze with these other kids and their parents. You can drop the hint that you babysit on weekends. Have a card ready to give them with your number and overview of your experience. Let thme know you are just part-time right now (so no one will feel guilty about nanny poaching).
Soon you will pick up some weekend babysitting and/or another part-time gig. Then you can put the word out through this network that you are interested in a full-time position.

Kentuckychickrk said...

I hate to say this, because I know as nannies we love our jobs and working with kids, but GET OUT of that job! Heck you can make much more than $5/hour just take on a temporary position (that you can leave at any time) at your local shopping mall or restaurant. You can make more than that in tips waiting tables.

No, they aren't fun jobs, but I'd rather go back to working at the mall (which I loathed!) then getting ripped off for the kind of work you truly do when taking care of someone's childen all day long.

Look for a job somewhere else and then at least you can have something temporary, making more money while you're looking for a better nanny job!

OP said...

Thanks everyone for the input. As harsh as some of it was, you're all absolutely right. I put up with it far longer than I should have - which was not at all! The family is actually a friend-of-a-friend, so that complicated the matter slightly for me.
I did just find someone offering a full-time position, and they contacted me about my ad right when I was about to contact them for theirs, and I will go into an interview in the next few days. Hopefully I can get it and get out of this crappy position!

Nanny Sarah said...

Please Poach me....you have an interesting innovative approach to the problem at hand and I like it. OP, that is a good idea...if you are out and about w/your child...show other parents what a great nanny you are and then when you talk to them, let them know that you are looking for more work. If they do not need someone, then maybe they can refer you to someone who does. And every family needs a back-up nanny though I don't know of many who actually have one in line. Great advice.

HungoverMissDee said...

Poach: Excellent idea! Parents do watch how nannies interact with their charges. When I nannied for J, people would stop and compliement me on his manners and our interactions. I have never been offered a babysitting job just by being with a child in public, yet stranger things could happen for OP.

OP: I don't get it. What is it about the lack of understanding with the job descriptions of a nanny, daycare provider, early childhood educator (employed in a daycare center as a teacher) and babysitter? Yes, the jobs are simliar, and different at the same time. If only there was a nanny union, which had a universal pay scale, that would eliminate this problem of cheap parents who want the Tiffany and co. childcare (a nanny or quality childcare) paying garage sale prices (in your case $5/hr or some other unliveable rate that is impossible to live on) I recently babysat for a family from my center who paid me $5 for two kids. Never again will I sit for this family....

cali mom said...

OK, I just have to ask...why does it come as a surprise to people that "they **decided** to only pay me such and such"...Do you state, when making your arrangements with clients and/or potential employers, that the pay scale is completely discretionary? That is it completely up to the parents what and indeeed, WHETHER, they even have to pay you at ALL? I ran into one such problem when I was 14 and babysat 2 kids for one mom one day, but I had assumed everyone posting here was an adult?

OP, as has been said by other people, GET OUT NOW. Yo could be a hostess at a restaurant and make 3 times $5/hr. You could answer phones for twice $5/hr. You could be a back-up on-call sitter and state that your rate foor one chold is $10/hr. You're spending more on vehicle expenses than you're making in pay. Find some reason to get a written reference from them, then just don't show up and when they ask you, inform them that you will no longer work as a nanny for daycare pay so you will not be back. You owe them NOTHING.

Bostonnanny said...

please, poach me... that is exactly what I do lol. I actually made business cards and gave them to the concierge at the building my current family lives at. The concierge loves me and gives them to all the new parents in the building, Its how I get occasional babysitting jobs. Its amazing how many parents at sing alongs and story times watch me and my charge or say something positive. I think its a great way to network and any nanny looking for a new job should give it a try.

please, poach me said...

Miss Dee- I actually have been offered jobs (more than once) while at work with current charges. That's why I suggested it. lol.
In all seriousness, though, in every other profession you will hear about "networking." Why should professional nannying be any different? I think having a personal recommendation or actually seeing the person at work helps build a trusting relationship right off the bat, which bodes well for the working relationship.

MissMannah said...

Do I need to say it again? CONTRACTS!! Never, ever accept a position without an iron-clad contract! At the very least, if you don't have one, if your bosses randomly change your pay rate, speak up. If you won't defend your rights, no one else will.

OP, get out, just like everyone else has said. I hope this interview does work out for you, but even if you have the slightest doubt, don't take it. Refuse to settle for less than you're worth and eventually you'll find a family who respects you for that. In the meantime, tell your bosses you want to leave and see what happens. If they get pissy, quit immediately and get a menial job. I worked at Target as a cashier with a bunch of high-schoolers while looking for the perfect nanny job--which I found on nannies4hire.com, incidentally. And you never know, your bosses might get desperate and want to work out a better arrangement.

Nanny Sarah said...

Great advice Miss Mannah. This situation is a perfect example of why all nannies should sign a contract...OP...if this job is on the books then you can go after your employer for illegal pay...after all, they are paying you less than the minimum wage and they could get penalized for it. If it is off the books, then quit IMMEDIATELY and you don't have to give them the standard 2 week notice. I know times are tough, but are you really in such a bad situation that you MUST keep this job. I hope not. God Bless you.

Katlee85 said...

Someone here mentioned a Union for Nannies. Well, why doesn't someone look up what that entails and start one? I'm not a Nanny, as I've said before but I do think Nannies should have unions.