Employer Seeking to Do the Fair Thing...

Received Thursday, July 22, 2010
perspective and opinion Not a nanny sighting, but I read your blog a lot and I know that many of your readers give great advice for this kind of situation so I thought I would see if you would post this question:

I employ a full time, live out nanny for my 3 year old and 14 month old. She's paid on the books, 40 hours/week, plus overtime for > 40 hours (usually ends up around 45 hours/week), 2 weeks paid vacation, most holidays paid as well. She started with our family when I went back to work after having my youngest, so she's been with us for just over a year.

Starting in the fall, my son will be going to preschool. I am wondering about how to deal with her salary and raises in this situation. I know it's standard to give a raise at this point (though it's not in her contract, I know it's the right thing to do) but in just one month she will be taking care of one child, not two. One day a week his preschool ends at noon so I will drop him off back home and return to work, but apart from those 5 hours each week, she will really have no responsibilities for my older child anymore.

Is it reasonable to forego the raise in light of the decrease in responsibilities? For what it's worth, I am not getting a raise at work this year and my son's school costs money too so raising her salary will be tight for us, though still doable. She has not brought the issue up at all (and I wonder if she will, since I recently learned that we pay about 25% more than the going rate in my neighborhood). And speaking of raises, what would be a reasonable amount?

What do ISYN readers think? I want to do the right thing but I also can't afford too much!


bippityboppityboo said...

I think that sounds fair. I think you should say to your nanny exactly what you just said here. I am a nanny and that makes perfect sense to me. Perhaps giving her a bonus on maybe her birthday or Christmas might be nice since she has been with you for awhile and since you are forgoing a raise. Good luck

nanny2 said...

I have worked well past the one-year mark without getting a raise. If the family otherwise treats me well (as in, paying me a fair wage to begin with, paying me on time, being respectful of my time, valuing the good job I do), then to me it's not a big deal. The thing to remember is that, as an employer, you are paying not only for the actual "work" but for commitment to the job (ie, length of time on the job) and the fact that she will still be caring for your older child when he is sick or has teacher workdays.
If you're not able to give a raise, would you be able to save up to give your nanny a nice bonus at holiday time? That will let her know she's still appreciated.
Alternately, would you be able to give her more paid time off rather than raising her actual salary?

TC said...

With my family I made X amount and then for a year they put the oldest (the youngest wasn't born yet) in preschool two days a week and I still got paid the same amount. I didn't technically get a raise that year but when summer time rolled around and I started watching her more they did give me an extra 100 a week. When the youngest came around they put the oldest in daycare 3 days a week and I just had the baby and they gave me a 50 dollar a week raise because he was a newborn.

Nanny2 brings up a valid point and one I had forgotten, when the oldest was sick or the school was/is closed I am responsible for her on those days and I don't get paid more for those days. Would you be willing to pay her extra on the days that the school is closed or your child is sick? If you can then I would think it's fair to forgo the raise this year as long as you explain it to her.

Nannyboo said...

I would just give her an extra $2 an hour raise (a dollar for each child or $1 if that is easier for you and your nanny.) I mean after all your plan sounds good and simple now but what happens when things change and her duties pick up, because let me tell you they will. Thats just the nature of raising children things change quickly with little or no notice.

That's what happend with me with my last family. It all started out so easy and gradually I was doing way more than I was contracted or agreed to. I was happy to help and do what I can to tend to the children and give them what they needed while running their errands, and doing household chores that somehow became part of my duties along the way. I felt as if what I did as my job was not equal to my pay. Its just easier to give a raise even if its small, just so that you can avoid your nanny feeling over worked and under appreciated.

Nanny in Beautiful Sunny San Diego said...

Since one of the children will be in preschool and that will lessen her workload, I do not think a raise is warranted. I think it would be fair to just continue paying her what you already are. However, if your preschool child is off from school (i.e., illness, holiday, etc.) then you should pay her more than what you are currently paying. Perhaps $2-4 per hour. Also, as some of the posters suggested, it would be a nice gesture to offer a generous holiday bonus in the future.
You sound like a wonderful employer who not only pays your nanny a more than average wage, but also one who takes in to account her feelings. She sure is blessed to have you and I wish all employers had your outlook!

nycmom said...

I'm an employer too and I think you should give a raise. Even if she truly will have NO time with #1 except for 5 hrs a week (no pickups, dropoffs), she will still have him on sick days and school closures. Plus, a Cost of Living (COL) raise is standard. I don't know your nanny, but many see raise/no raise as insight into how you view their performance regardless of what you say otherwise. It doesn't have to be a big raise, COL is usually 3-5% nationally, so if you pay $15-20/hr, that's only $1/hr or less. Usually if you pay a weekly salary, $25/week is a common amount. If you really love her, I think it's worth the raise.

student nanny said...

I would give some sort of signing bonus (separate from whatever you might do at the holidays) and explain that its for a year well done and to thank her for her hard work. Maybe also do like a mid year review after preschool has started, to check in on her workload and such.

alex said...

I would tell her exactly what you said here. I don't think that because your son is going to preschool she should be penalized but considering you pay more than everyone else and it seems like everything is run really fairly I doubt she will have a huge issue with it. You could maybe give her a little raise if you felt like it, or a bonus for a year.

Seattle Nanny said...

My view is that you shouldn't allow any changes in the number of children to affect the rate. Some days are going to be harder, others easier, do you want to track that too?

Ergo if you would have given her a raise if her responsibility had remained for the two, you should go ahead with one.

If you weren't, don't.

Seattle Nanny said...

* I would add, has your nanny's cost of living gone up?

Seattle Nanny said...

** My apologies, one last word. I don't know how you learned about what is paid in your area, but I would strongly urge you to take that information with a grain of salt. Online resources tend to often be out of date, and as for friends and neighbors, they don't always want to admit how much they pay. Also they may not be including how much benefits you don't provide cost them, or they might name the amount after taxes rather than before, etc. Do not take it at face value, for all you know your 25% may actually be 25% under.

Nanny in the Know said...

You say your nanny will not have to do anything for your older child going forward?
Does she do his laundry? Does she make him breakfast? pack a lunch? make dinner? Clean up his dishes?Will she ever have to drive/pick him up from school? Pack his backpack for school? Help with any school project? Or voluteer to help out at a school funtion?

What about the days your child has off from school? or is home sick?
Will she be the one to watch him?

What if something happens while he is at school? Will she have to go get him?

If you can't afford a raise- but you have a really great nanny, you need to still make her feel appreciated in a "raise" type way.
Could you find at least $10-20 per week extra? and give her a gift certficate? or bonus every season?
or extra day off?
A nice heartfelt card and photo of the kids or something the kids have made- goes a long way!
(My most cherished gift is a heart shaped box my charge painted-as his little fingerprints are all over it!)

That way you spead the "raise" out-which might help you- and also show your nanny you are doing your best.

Good luck! I wish more nanny employers would care enough to seek out advise!

CuriousDad said...

Just an FYI,

Some people have mentioned a CoL raise. Well if no one else is getting a CoL raise, why should the nanny expect one?

A merit raise on the other hand, if deserved and warrented maybe.

give her a raise said...

No. I do not think it is reasonable. If this nanny is valuable to your family, give her a raise. It doesn't matter the number of children. Not giving her a raise would be an insult.

pro-nanny mama said...

If you pay a rate for two kids and that rate stays constant for one child, that is a raise. Less work for same money. You wrote you found out you pay on the high end for your area, you should also find out the 1 kid vs 2 kid cost. I pay a one kid cost, on our nanny share days with another family I pay a reduced rate, and on days my oldest is not in school and with the nanny too, whether it is a share day or not, I pay a 2 kid rate. So if you want to give a raise, maybe an additional $2 an hour only on those days she has both kids - school vacation, etc. But not $1 an hour across the board, that is more than CoL for full time hours, and her workload has more or less cut in half.

talesfromthe(nanny)hood said...

I think you have to do something to indicate to Nanny that she is valued. Traditionally, a merit raise shows that a worker's contribution is valuable. If you are generally having to cut your spending in all areas, then being honest about what dort of raise you can afford is the way to go. But if you give her little or nothing for a raise using your budget as an excuse, then leap into an expensive home remodel, or buy new furniture/electronics, nanny will then know where the care of your kids ranks on your priority list, and she will start looking for other work.

While you may feel that she will have "no responsibility" for your older child, you might want to look at how many days that child will NOT be in school, and look also at what nanny will be doing for that child when he is not home, such as his (?) laundry, tidying his toys, sorting and cleaning out toys, etc.

I seems to me that offering a regular merit raise until BOTH/ALL children are in school the majority of the day is the way to go. At the point all kids are in school every day/most of the day, you can look at her reduced hours as her "raise" each year.

Sean @ Nanny Payroll said...

I think a raise of 3-5% would be fair. That may not translate to a large amount of money, but it shows your nanny you appreciate her.

As you mentioned, her responsibilities are going down and she already enjoys a high salary, so this is not an exercise in employee retention.

Also remember that whatever raise you give will be compounded by various "nanny taxes.

kindofanobrainer said...

Wow, I guess I'm in the minority. I absolutely would not give her a raise.

CanadianMom said...

In my area, there is little if any difference in nanny pay whether they are caring for one child or two. She took the job on the understanding that she would look after two children. While things of course do change in any nanny job as the kids get older, she should certainly not be penalised financially because one of her charges will now be in school. The 'decrease in responsibilites', is not something that she has any influence over! Also, she is still there to care for the older child if needed. You should give her the same raise whether she is looking after one child or two, to take into account any cost of living increase in your area, and more importantly to recognise her efforts and make her feel valued. We gave our nanny a raise even though we didn't get raises ourselves because we wanted her to know we appreciated her and the amount (about $20 a week more) was not that much for us. When you hire a nanny you need to be aware of the commitment you are making and be willing to step up to give raises, bonuses etc. when necessary even if things are a bit tight, because these are your children she is looking after. The only situation I can imagine where it would be ok not to give a raise is if one parent loses their job. I can't imagine any other situation where someone who can afford to hire a nanny can't afford to give a raise. Even if you think she is paid a bit more than the average nanny in your area, I think you should still give her a raise - if she is really that great, pay her accordingly.