What is Fair?

Received Tuesday, May 4, 2010
perspective and opinion I have been working at my current job for a little over 7 months and I am debating on how I want to be paid...

When I signed my 1 year contract with my current family it was said that I would be salary paid to work an "average" of 40 hours per week but some weeks may be 50 and some may be 30 but the average in a 3 month period would not exceed 40 hours and if it did I would be compensated for that. I was told I would receive 3 weeks paid vacation (1 week at my discretion and 2 at theirs) but I have gotten a week off just about every 2 months since I have started and have only used 2 weeks of my paid vacation. The other weeks they would pay me, then expect me to make up the hours later (by working extra hours other weeks). Now, I do not believe that this is unfair or anything but it is WEARING ME OUT! I feel like I constantly "owe" them hours and they purposely say "Oh we will pay you while we are gone" just so that they can work me 10 extra hours for four straight weeks! They go out of state often because the Mother's family is there so I do not want to be stuck with a lot of unpaid weeks either. I was thinking about asking to be paid hourly because then I feel this would eliminate the "who owes who hours" thing but I am not sure what they would think of that. I would want to be guaranteed 40 hours but if I were to work over then I would get paid time and a half (I feel this would make them less apt to work me over 40) and if I were to work less I would still get paid for 40 hours... Does this sound unfair? As far as the weeks off, I am not sure what to do. To keep from getting burnt out I may just need to take them unpaid. I feel I am more than available to their changing schedules (Mom and Dad are both doctors so my schedule can vary quite a bit on only 1 weeks notice) and that I work very hard to keep them happy. I am just asking the same in return. ANY tips or advice is welcome! THANKS in advance!


TC said...

No No No No!!!

You get paid regardless if they need you or not and you should NOT have to make up the hours...that's what salary means. You work set hours and you might work an extra hour or two here or there but you do not make up hours for when THEY chose not to use you. If you constantly called in sick or took days off that would be a different story but NO WAY should you have to make up hours because THEY don't need you.

I am salary too and my family goes out of town a LOT, heck just since January I've had off the equivalent of 4 weeks and I still get paid and I don't make up hours. If they need a babysitter on the weekends and I want to work I get paid extra...I am not made to make up hours and neither should you.

Look at it another way. Say the kids go to daycare two days a week but the parents take off two weeks for a vacation. Do you think the daycare is going to allow them to make up the days they missed? Do you think the daycare will allow the kids to attend for free to allow the parents to make up the time the kids missed while on vacation? If a daycare won't allow that why should you?

sunlife said...

1. that is what salary means.

2. I have also worked for dr.'s before and idk if this is true with most but they really always seemed to be trying to screw me over! they brought in allot of money, but would spend it as soon as they got it (everyone in house has a tempur pedic!!) now, how they choose to spend the money they make is none of my business except it would always seem I was the one thing they were skimping on

"oh it seems I don't have enough to pay you I'll give you a bit extra next time" (NEVER would)

I agree, average out how many hours you are working every week for a month or two then talk to them tech. they have breached the contract by not paying you for the time they are gone and/ or being untruthful about how much unpaid off time you would have

If they value you, and the time you spent with their child(ren) they will want you to be your best for them and not burned out

If they don't listen...start looki'n

Flexible Nanny said...

I work on a similar basis, though the reason is that there are 2 nannies and we take it in turns to travel with the family (and they travel a lot!). If, for example, the family goes away for 10 days and one of us covers the whole trip, the other nanny gets the time off but may then work the following 10 days when they return. We are meant to do 50 hours a week each(including some weekends and evenings once the kids have gone to bed) but some weeks I do very few hours and other weeks I can do up to 90. Basically, over 10 weeks, we do 500 hours each, and any hours over that get paid as overtime. We are paid automatically every 2 weeks no matter how many hours we've done in that period. Overnights are paid extra. That all said, my employers don't keep track of our hours, so they would have no clue if we weren't making up the hours!

I guess this arrangement may not work for everyone but my work family lets me bring my husband with me on many trips and they pay half of our rent in Manhattan in addition to a high salary, so I am flexible with their needs. With the extended periods of time off, we get the chance to travel which we wouldn't get to do as often if I was working a normal Monday to Friday job.

I guess the difficulty lies in the fact that you've agreed to work an "average" of 40 hours a week, which means that some weeks you work more, some weeks you work less - it all "averages" out. However, if they are not needing you for whole weeks at a time, I agree with the other posters in that you should be paid and not made to make up the hours.

Dribs said...

I also work for a family that has a somewhat inconsistent schedule, due to their work and having family that lives a couple of hours away - i.e. the long weekend thing. I knew that was the situation going in though, so that was taken into consideration when we created our agreement.

1.) I get enough notice (we said two weeks minimum for long weekends, four weeks minimum if a full week or more) so that I can make plans for my time "off". If I do not get notice, I can just be paid, but the only time that happened it was a family emergency so I was flexible with the make-up period - they are the type of family that understands what an exception is and it has not been an issue.)

2.) Particularly when I have less notice, I sometimes go to work when they are not there and do things like organize the kid storage, weed out outgrown clothes/toys, stock up babyfood, etc. I keep track of the number of hours, but they don't care if it's 8-5 or 10-7 and I like to sleep in.

3.) I know a lot of nannies won't, I did agree to "make-up" hours, as "my" family's schedule fluctuates. However, we established an "expiration date" on the hours - the week before and the week after their absence. Since we also agreed on notice, I know what weeks might be heavy. I don't find it too much though as it's a heavy week, a week off, and then a second heavy week. Any hours that do not get made up during those two weeks are "forgiven." Like some PP I am paid $x every Friday, along with any overtime I put in that week. (I am guaranteed 40 hours/week, but paid additionally for every hour beyond forty.)

Hope you can figure out something that works for you!

MissMannah said...

"Owing" your boss hours is the stupidest thing I've ever heard of. How can you possibly think this is a fair practice when you're the one getting screwed in all this? My boss and I have a very simple arrangement: When they ask me not to come in to work, I still get paid. When I ask to not come in to work, I do not get paid. As a result, I don't voluntarily miss work but I do get short days and/or Fridays off all the time because the mom has a variable schedule. It's not like you can tell your boss not to go out of state just so you can work your regular hours.

monkeyshines said...

get another job also in some states setting up a contract where there is a span of hours is illegal, it is 40 hours then anything after that is overtime but if you are a live in I dont think you can get overtime


I am in a big mess from having a contract like this. I started a job in july 09, I was on a salary and the hours were 55-65 and they would average out at 60, my average ended up being more like 69 in in feb I burnt out, went over my contract because I would never wanted to work all these hours, I questioned my employers and was told I do only work 60 hours because the kids are asleep and there is nothing for me to do so they dont count those hours! I would never take a job like this no where in my contract does it state this! I figured they owe me for 320 hours. now I have to file a complaint with the Board of Labor, the owner of the agencey knows what happened and took the high road. you cant trust anyone, take care of yourself and do not have a contract like this PARENTS SET IT UP LIKE THIS TO SCREW THE NANNY!

MB said...

I think people should always pay their nannies hourly-especially with a variable schedule.

BayAreaMom said...

I wouldn't agree to pay you hourly for weeks you are there and then still cover the weeks when I am away. If I pay hourly, I only pay for the hours worked. If I pay a salary, then the hours will need to be flexible within reason (and sounds like the family has not exceeded the average of 40 hrs / week). In other words, OP, suck it up or look for another job with less variability in hours between weeks.

monkeyshines said...

In new york state, live in nannys are supposed to be paid time and a half for any hours worked over 44

just another nanny said...

OP- do you end up working more than the average of 40 hours per week? Or more than 50 hours in a single week? If so, you have a case. If not, you may have to adjust your expectations to thinking that you work a 50-hour week every week (which is actually typical for a nanny job), and when you get paid time off, just consider it a bonus.

TC said...

MB and Bayarea....Nannies have bills to pay just like you do, they count on making a set pay to pay their bills. I personally wouldn't work for someone that thought they only had to pay me hourly because I would never know what my paycheck would be and I couldn't count on it to pay things like a car payment or rent

Anonymous said...

OP here:

Thanks for the advice on this! It is very helpful!

What I am gathering from most of you is that I should be paid 40 hours a week no matter what (thats what salary is). How would you bring this up to them? Can any of you give me advice on how to bring up this topic/word it? I don't want to make it sound like I am completely unhappy because that is not the case... but I want to make it clear that I am BURNT OUT and cannot see myself going at this pace much longer.

Sunlife: I am not sure if it is a doctor thing or what... But I feel like they want to get every dime they pay for! They don't let any hour slip under the radar. I think I am very fairly compensated... I just don't like how they handle the hours. But they are total cheapskates when it comes to their cleaning lady too (see previous Perspective opinion on ISYN). They don't want to clean their own house but they don't want to pay hardly anything for someone to do it.

BURNT OUT NANNY: I feel like they mislead me with the contract and that is another reason I feel resentment. They made it seem like I would get of early (almost every night) and they never mentioned how many weeks they would have off work (where they still expect me to come work for 40-50 hours while they are home... doing nothing) and then the weeks where they travel and then I "owe" them hours... NEVER came up or I would have said something then!!! I am feeling like I am getting screwed over in the sense that I had the wool pulled over my eyes!

Just another nanny: I do not work over 40 hours on "average". I guess I just feel like I do because of how the hours are worked out. I will get a week off (paid) but then I will have to make it up by working 50 hours 4 weeks in a row which feels like I am getting taken advantage of.

BayAreaMom: Why do you feel the need to say "suck it up"... It's just rude and unnecessary.

Just to clarify, I do not know that the reason my employers are "cheap" is because of their race... I have been told by others that it is "cultural"... My boss told me that he has a hard time spending money because his dad came her with "a few dollars" in his pocket...

Thanks again everyone!


find another job, as soon as you mention anything things are never the same because they know you know you are being taken advantage of. I was fired 2 weeks ago. I am going after my previous employers for unpaid overtime for the past 9 months, monkey is correct in ny statelive in nannies are supposed to get overtime after 44 hours if they are making min wage. I was a m-f live in, I went home on fridays so I wasnt living there on the weekends on their dime! I went back to my contract and it stipulates under accommodations " please note that since you are not living in full time, your bed room may be used by occasional guests and we may also may change your designated bedroom, depending upon long-term needs". so technically I am not a full time live in and I make more that min wage so I can get back overtime but if I was making more than min wage and I was full time live in, I permantly lived there, I could not collect. anyway I am going to fight tooth and nail, if nothing comes of this I will take them to small claims and sue for hours I worked after 7.you know the news is so quick to show videos of kids being abused by nannies but you never hear stories about these parents who take advantage of nannies.

you need a moniker said...

As a parent, we caution against being emotional about the conversation. If the contract states other items than what is being done...share with the parents and ask
What a mutual resolve can be. If the contract is not detailed enough... Both the nanny and parents need to take ownership for that and I am sure at least when the situation first came up, the parents probably discussed their intention and some verbal agreement was understood. If you are trying to change agreement to something you already agreed to- then have a conversation and ask what adjustments may be made. and unlike before, if you agree to do something, agree to do it without being upset about it later. I think that is what the person may have meant by"Suck it up". although those words may be harsh- you already agreed to do it.

As a Parent I ask all nannies to please understand, parents are held accountable for what they agree to do and with our jobs and life, we don't get to change our mind and go back on our commitments. We can't go to our mortgage companies and say "I don't want to pay x a month anymore". However in nannying, contracts and agreements can be mutually adjusted, just please don't do it all the time and when you want to get something, be prepared to give something up as well... It is only fair. Giving something or maybe better stated- back could be happier during the hours you are working, more energy to impart on the well being of the children...

Just a few thoughts from parents that have had 1 nanny for 5 of the 6 years we have had one and 3 since then that can't understand the words commitment, agreement and responsibility.

Happy Mothers Day to all the Mom's out there.
Being nice and re-posting because it is Mother's Day!

flameretardant said...

some parents are just plain, not nice to work for, they nickel and dime you to death. and clearly make up contracts to get one over on the nanny because they think they could get away with it, they need to pay up if you cant afford a nanny put your kids in daycare

No more Nanny said...

Where do you work (state)? I was a nanny for two doctors and wa laid off in July bc they could no longer afford my salary and hired someone who requested a much lower salary..they sound exactly like your employers. I know the odds are slim to none, but I am very interested..

Keep Smiling said...

I read your posting yesterday, and had to return to post a comment, as I feel you are being given some unfortunate advice.

I respect the fact that taking care of children is a demanding and tiring job. However, most people in jobs outside the childcare industry would be happy with your work situation. To correct some of what has been written in the comments, 'Salary' does not mean being paid for hours you 'do not work'. Salary for every industry implies unpaid overtime. Conversely, hourly paid work is usually at lower rates, and you may be eligible for overtime pay. If you are very lucky in a salaried job, you might get time off in lieu (which is what the week you get off with pay is called.) This is precisely what your contract describes, with the 'average to be 40 hours per week over a 3 month period'. For the rest of us, that overtime is expected as part of our salary and there is no extra pay, and no paid time off. Most companies require overtime regularly, and they don't ask if it 'fits your schedule'. Although the formal stated work week in North America is 40 hours per week, the real average work week is closer to 50 hours.

If you are exhausted after working 50 hours per week, and I say this with genuine concern, you may want to have a doctor check your iron and blood sugar levels to ensure you are eating healthy and that you have no other health concerns.

If you are unable to cope with the varying hours, it might be best for both you and your employer if you were to seek out another job that has a strict 40 hour work week in the contract.

I know this all sounds like it is not much fun, but that is the simple reality. A lot of us are struggling to make ends meet and pay bills, and others have lost their jobs entirely. If you have an employer that is reasonable, pays you on time, and pays in full, that is a good thing. If your biggest concern is that you only worked 160 hours in a month (something that averages out to 40 hours per week) and got a week off as well, you are doing better than the rest of us.

Have fun on your week off - go on a trip, or visit friends - Be happy.

OP said...

OP here:

No more Nanny- I work in Minnesota... I believe their last nanny either quit or was let go because she had a son she brought to work with her and with my employers having a new baby it was too much for her to take on... But if you are in MN... Let me know and we can talk further!!!

Keep Smiling-

Thanks for all of the input about what being Salary paid "means". I feel like you may think I am unnecessarily complaining... Which, may be true to an extent. Believe me when I say that I am VERY GRATEFUL to have a job in an economy like this. It took me 6 months to find this job and when I took it I got a raise from my last job. I know this is hard to come by... I have bad days (sometimes VERY bad) and good days (sometimes VERY good) and I may have typed some of this on a bad day.

I am not exhausted by the amount of hours... 50 hours is well within my abilities. But the girls I nanny can wear me out... That is what I meant by that. They are 2 and 9 (almost 10) months so they keep me BUSY. I am healthy and able to work.

I will make sure to keep positive and "keep smiling" =) A lot of people are worse off than me!!!