Employers Wanting Exclusivity Give Nanny a Hard Time

Received Wednesday, July 7, 2010
perspective and opinion I have a question and I would like some perspective here, both from parents and nannies alike. *Sigh* This is a problem that I have been experiencing a lot of lately and am wondering why people do this and what can be done about it.

I am a nanny who seems to only be finding jobs right now on an as-needed/occasional basis. This is not my problem. Some of these families only use me twice a month, etc...again, this is not my problem either. My problem is that since I am only working for these families on an as-needed basis and the hours are maybe 6-10 per month, if any, I also try to find other "as-needed" work w/other families as well. Well, when I ask my current families if they can provide a reference for me, they get angry and stop asking me to work for them. Again, I only work for these families 2x month for 3-5 hrs at a time and can certainly continue doing so. I just would like to have some more hours too. It seems the problem here is that people want me to work EXCLUSIVELY for them, even though the hours are so small. I did say at the interviews that I had 100% flexibility and at the time I did. However, I have a right to look for other occasional jobs don't I as long as I keep my original family first, right? But this has happened recently w/a few families and now I am wondering why this is happening. In other words, if I say at an interview that I have full flexibility and I agree to work w/a family on an occasional basis, then later on...I find other jobs on an occasional basis as well, am I doing something wrong? Am I supposed to work for only one family at a time and if I don't, then am I the one in the wrong here?! I never promise these families I will work only for them. Any and all advice and input would be well-appreciated. Thanks ISYN!


b said...

My advice to you is to find a childcare job outside of nannying. If you do not have any long-term references, you will of course have a hard time finding a permanent nannying position. Right now you are babysitting, not nannying.

Find a job at an accredited childcare center, and get some more experience and some long-term references under your belt.

Incidentally, you are working for dicks if they think you can support yourself off of part-time work, and if they begrudge you a better position, they are really snotty.

Are you living at home with your parents? How old are you? Just curious.

CanadianMom said...

I think these families are being unfair. However, you don't say whether you told them when you went to work for them that you may need to work for other families - I assume not since they are expecting exclusivity. With your current and future families, I think you should explain that you need to work a certain number of hours per week and though you will try to be flexible, if they can't offer you enough hours you may have to find other work as well. If they want you to be exclusive, they will have to employ you for the number of hours you need to work. Otherwise you are essentially working for free if you are not taking on other work just to be available to them if they need you!!!

Bostonnanny said...

For an occasional babysitting position, this seems very odd. For multiple families to let you go because you ask for a reference seems very unusual and unlikely. How are you asking for the reference and how long have you been working for these families?
Have any of these families straight up said we want you exclusively? Most people who hire an occasional babysitter understand that this is not the babysitters only form of income. Also with occasional sitters, a family will hire multiple sitters in case one is unavailable. Are you sure the families just didn't think you were a good fit?
I work as a full time nanny m-f, I work as a babysitter every Sunday for another family and occasionally sit for random families weeknights or weekends. I have never had any problems finding work and I tell every new family my availablity and current positions. I do get my occasional sitting work mostly by word of mouth.
I feel like you may be leaving something out. Have you ever had to cancel or change your availability for any of the families you worked for? Maybe they found a cheaper babysitter or found someone with more experience.
If it's purely just because they want you exclusively and on call then maybe you would be better off without them. Search for families who thank you everytime to come and treat you kindly and like a guest. Tell them right from the beginning that you work for multiple families but have arranged it so you can easily work whenever they need.

nycmom said...

I empathize as I am having a similar issue from the other side of the street! We have a great occasional date night sitter who has worked for us for 1.5yrs. She probably does 2 Saturday nights a month, or an occasional few weekend hours at other times - totalling about 10 hrs/month. She had lost her job a few months ago and I knew a coworker needed help urgently (and being a new mom was not comfortable or experienced at hiring a sitter herself). I thought I would be kind and help both by connecting them, which worked out well for everyone. Unfortunately, I am now finding my sitter is already scheduled to work for my co-worker about 50% of the time we need her.

Now, I am well aware I don't "own" anyone nor do I have any sort of exclusivity since we have always been flexible with each other. But it is a bit frustrating for me because I feel like it was a good deed that has resulted in a lot of inconvenience for me. I feel like it would be very immature to try to pressure my sitter to give me first dibs, especially as we need her for date nights and coworkers need is while she works. Everyone always told me "Don't share your sitter!" and I ignored it.

Anyway, my point hidden in my ramblings is that there is some sense of frustration as the employer also because you hiring a sitter is a big process in terms of time and your kids building a relationship. It is not something I take lightly and adding a new sitter would really be tough for our family right now due to lots of changes.

I do think your original employers are being unfair if they stop using you *just* because you asked for a reference. Are they at least giving you good references? But I can see as an employer how it can become too complicated to employ sitters who are rarely available. I try to only have 3-4 people who do occasional date nights and if one of them is rarely available I'd rather find someone new. You (and my sitter) certainly have no obligation to a part-time employer beyond being honest and giving fair notice, but it is possible that as your availability shifts you are no longer a good fit for the employer.

Village said...

I would suggest two ways to handle this.

One, ask for bookings. Just like a model, or housekeeper, ask for bookings for specific times. If they want you every other Saturday night, let them book you for every other Saturday night. Your number one family will be the one that uses you the most, and they should have first dibs.

Two, in order to keep everybody happy, and allow you to be available for family #1, subcontract or find another sitter to back you up. You can have her work for you, and you handle the money and pay her a lessor fee that you charge of course, or just get another sitter and work together so you can cover more hours and last minute requests.

You can make a lot of money this way, if you do it right. I did this, started alone, and eventually had six subcontractors working for me. By the end, I had one family I sat for, and spent the rest of my time dropping in on the subs who worked for me to make sure they were doing a good job. As I have mentioned before, I charged $20 an hour, but included cleaning the living areas and kitchen with every job. (I'm talking about getting the toys out of the living area, a quick vacuum or sweep, and wiping down counters, stacking the dishwasher, and wet swiffering in the kitchen. It would take me no more that 30 minutes, and engendered loyalty like you wouldn't believe. Women love to come home to a tidy house after a night out. It's such a treat.) I paid my subs $10 an hour, and I made thousands. Just a thought.

I finally quit because I was working six nights a week, as well as most days, and I wanted a life. I had over two dozen families. If I had to do it over again, I would have downsized to my two best families, with one assistant.