Saturday

Should Nannies be Liable for In-Home Accidents?

Received Saturday, January 15, 2011
Opinion 4 I had a sticky situation happen at work today and I really need both parental and nanny advice on this. My charge, a 16 month old little boy will ONLY eat if he gets to watch Sesame Street on his Mother's ipad while he eats. His parents told me when I took the job that I am to ALWAYS have Sesame Street on youtube on the ipad by his highchair or their son will refuse to eat. (They do this since he is a very picky eater and will not eat unless he has a distraction such as Sesame Street turned on.) Anyway, the ipad was charging on the counter today and the Mother told me to just unplug it and take it over to the dining room table to put on as I proceeded to get his breakfast, etc. Well on the way to the table, I accidentally dropped the ipad on the floor (they have hardwood floors..ugh..why can't they have carpet?) and the screen cracked!! I told the Mom what happened and she told me it would cost about $500-600 to replace and that they would just deduct it from my pay in increments. Is this fair??

My argument is that since I am REQUIRED to use it on the job that it is not my fault should something accidental happen. However, I also see it as a huge liability since I am probably responsible for all equipment used on the job. For example, when if a nanny has vacuuming duties? If the vacuum breaks because the nanny accidentally vacuumed a large object, is nanny responsible? Same if nanny has laundry duties? If a nanny doesn't properly empty all pockets and a crayon is still inside, is nanny responsible for any damage done to the dryer and/or other laundry?

There is so much liability caring for someone's child. No insurance is available for any mistakes. Does the same apply to appliances, electronics???? Thanks so much in advance for your help.

46 comments:

Joy said...

I don't think this is your responsibility. It doesn't sound like you were tossing it around or handling it in an irresponsible or careless manner. I wouldn't think you should be responsible for the cost of replacing it. If you had laid it on the floor and then later stepped on it, that should be your responsibility, since a reasonable amount of care wasn't taken, or if you had decided to check your email on their ipad and dropped it then, that should be your responsibility, since it wasn't being used for the job.

I don't know what the legalities of the situation are, but personally, I would at least expect the employers to cover half, if not all, the cost.

Joy said...

I just wanted to add, that if you do end up having to pay for the replacement, you should let the parents know that you will not be using it in the future. It's such an easily damaged thing that you aren't willing to risk your pay for the use of a nonessential item.

Anonymous said...

No, you absolutely should not have to pay for the iPad. That is nuts. I agree with the previous poster that if you used it without explicit permission for personal use, then perhaps. But not when you were told to use it on the job. Sorry, that's the breaks of having your kid hooked on a iPad to eat a lousy bowl of cereal.

Tell them no.

~ Annie

Bostonnanny said...

I'd like to say that apple has insurance on their iPads and that you can replace the screen for cheaper then buying a new a iPad. I would tell them that then say that you refused to use any electrics incase of accidents etc. They should be teaching their child healthy eating habits anyways.

The maids broke the mircowave at my employers house while cleaning and my employer just replaced it and asked them not to clean it again. I also didn't check the pockets of their laundry and they had left a pen that damaged one of there work coats, i never had to replace it and they never left anything in their pockets again. I do however double check just incase. I think your employers sound like assholes. I hope they have employee liability insurance incase you get hurt on the job because I know I'd sue the fuck out of them.

aaagh! said...

totally agree, you shouldn't have to pay, with that thinking, you wouldn't touch anything in the home for fear of being liable for the cost of replacing it.

tell them you won't pay for it. i've had situations like this before, its total bs.

ATL Nanny said...

Over the course of ten years as a nanny, I've broken a handful of things and NEVER have I been asked to replace them. I think that as long as it is broken unintentionally and in the course of your duties (which it clearly was) then there is no way you should be held liable for it. If they insist of deducting it from your paycheck I would inform them that you are no longer willing to touch/operate any expensive item in their house (including washer/drying, dishwasher, etc) and start looking for a new job. I would also look into any legal recourse you might have. I'm not a lawyer, but it seems like there might be employment laws that cover this issue.

MONKEYSHINES said...

That is crazy on another note, the kid will eat when he gets hungary, why do so many americans have such picky eaters? They are children you put the food and if they don't eat it they will eventually.Why is there such a fuss over food? Why do american kids have such nasty teeth? because they drink milk and juice all day long and eat processed foods. I was watching an awful tv show last week called the drs, one of the drs was doing a segment on picky eaters and was making faces on the food etc. This is why kids have so many problems with food. I have never come across a kid from a white family with both parents working who has starved to death. When I was young you ate whatever was put it front of you and wouldnt dare complain!

MONKEYSHINES said...

Oh, and when you get hurt in their home don't forget to sue them!

TC said...

And this is why I will not allow my charge to play with her dad's Ipad.

Luckily for me if I was to have an accident like you did I don't think they would make me pay but I would still feel horrible.

From now own I would use an ipod touch to watch the show on, that way if it is broken it's a LOT cheaper to replace/repair.

I wouldn't pay for it, it was truly an accident and when it comes to little kids that's just par for the course, things WILL get broken. If you intentionally broke it I'd say you deserve to pay for it but it was an accident plain and simple and they should just replace it themselves.

Texas Nanny said...

I've never been asked to replace anything that was broken or damaged while I was working. At my first position, I scratched my DB's brand new convertible while trying to pull into the garage (that was the car they had me driving since it was their "spare") and I even offered to pay for repairs on that one, but they didn't charge me at all.

Give me a BREAK said...

No! You were not negligent. I too, have broken things over the years and never was I expected to pay for it.

LovingNanny said...

No, you should not have to pay for it.
Now to the real problem,the eating habit of that baby. He is probably going through a phase right now. My charge did the same thing. Food she used to eat without a problem where denied.
Most of the time the reason for that is that they just discover that the ONLY thing they can decide for themselves is, if they eat or not! Everything else is regulated by us adults. When to get dressed, what to wear, when to change the diaper, when and where to go out......
You have to be patient and take your time. I was worried aswell that she wasn't eating enough and might get sick. I tried to give her more power, for example I showed her her jacket and told her we will have to leave soon. Then I waited for her to come to me to get the jacket on instead of me going to her and put the jacket on her. There were a couple of those little things. Now she eating again without a problem, even her veggies :).
That is just a part of becoming a toddler. If you put them in front of a TV or Ipad, that will not solve the problem, it even creates a bigger one.
Oh, I forgot to mention my charge is almost 14 months old.

mikki dolan said...

Your boss is an asshole! And a bad parent. Stop working for her. Get a better job. Insane. And if you do have to pay for it, you of course own it. Dumb bitch. Nasty bitch. I hope she falls down a sewer!

a mom said...

I don't think you should have to pay for it. That is something that, as an employer of household help, you just have to suck up. I'm a big believer in if you want something done right, do it yourself. If you assign something to someone else you have no right to complain if it isn't 100% done to your expectations, and that includes things breaking.

Rocket Scientist said...

You are definitely not responsible to pay for it! I can't believe they are even asking you. Good luck! I hope you can work this out with them, because the job market is awful. I have not been on here or my other favorite nanny/childcare sites lately because I have been so burned out on looking for a new position.

world's best nanny said...

First off they shouldn't be encouraging the child's habit. But, that's either here nor there. Offer to take the item back to the store they got it from see if they have the insurance on it. They may have and don't want to tell you, they just want a way to pay you less. When it comes down to brass tacks you dropped it, you pay for it.

world's best nanny said...

Okay, okay, maybe I was hasty on who pays for what. I had to replace a sweater that I washed instead of having it dry cleaned. I was so mad and I don't want anyone else to feel that mad.
Show Mom This
http://www.digiexpress.us/biPadb_c_42.html?gclid=CI3-iamNvaYCFcbd4AodSXn8IQ

Sorry Mom! I don't see no $500 price tag here!

nycmom said...

No, you should not have to pay. I've had nannies break things over the years and wouldn't dream of asking them to pay. If there was a pattern of a nanny being irresponsible and neglectful of material goods and things getting broken, I would have a sit-down discussion and try to come up with a plan. Assuming she was an otherwise fantastic nanny, I would try to come up with a plan that worked for everyone.

But accidents happen and that's part of being an employer. Absolutely no way should you have to pay in your situation.

oh well said...

I agree that you should not have to pay. But as several posters have mentioned, I am horrified at your charge's eating habits. He should be taking interest in his food and also be given some control, as lovingnanny wisely said. The I-pad has to go (actually, it's probably a good thing that it's gone, although you might not want to say so to your employer!)

New England Mother said...

I disagree with the posters about the child's eating habits. I am a mother of a 15 mos. old and he HATES eating anything and everything. He hates eating period. He needs to be reminded to eat all the time. He only likes yogurt. *Sigh* Well a 15 mos. old cannot live on yogurt alone and needs a balanced diet that includes all food groups. Plus, I am having a problem getting him to eat three square meals per day. So the only way he will eat is if I put his favorite show on the ipad next to his highchair. If I don't set up the ipad, he will just whine/cry and won't eat a bite. I have no choice if I want my child to eat. We don't have a nanny now, but if we did, I would ask her to do the same. However, if she broke the ipad, I would never ask her to replace it. That is insane OP. Like another poster mentioned, if you pay for it, it is yours.
I know I will get a lot of flack for letting my child watch the ipad while eating, but a 15 mos. old NEEDS 3 square meals a day. I have heard research that states if a child is allowed to watch T.V. while eating, then he may overeat. Well, hopefully watching the ipad during mealtime will make my child eat. If it wasn't for the ipad on during mealtimes, my child would not eat a thing and would not get his proper nutrients. I do not believe a child can live off of air alone. Not every person has the ability to manage his or her own appetite.
Go Steelers!!!!!!!

can't judge said...

I worked in a school. Where certain children had to have a show on. And they also had a controller on their chair. To change the next screen. It was all educational. Like I mentioned these were "special need" children. They even had feeding therapist and speech therapist help feed them. To make sure their reflexes, etc. were working correctly.

Parenting classes should be REQUIRED said...

New England...the kid will eat when hungry PERIOD. Unless your child has a documented eating problem then it's just a matter of will power and your child has proven to be the better opponent.

My charge was like that, she only ate fries, hamburgers, and mac and cheese. She was 18 months old and she refused to eat when I gave her chicken nuggets. We sat there for 45 min and eventually I had enough and laid her down for nap. When she woke up I fed her a banana for her snack....something she never ate before but did because she was *gasp* hungry and we don't really have food battles anymore, heck she loves fruits and veggies now and hardly ever touches the crap she used to eat.

My cousin was 3 and she also was a stubborn/picky eater. I watched her for a week while her parents were out of town and she too tried to pull crap on me. Dinner came around and I cooked but she didn't want it, she wanted a hamburger. I explained to her that dinner was ____ and that was it, I wouldn't force her to eat but if she didn't eat she would have to wait for breakfast. She told me several more times that she was hungry that evening and I offered her the dinner each and every time and she said no...so she went to bed hungry. Morning rolls around and I offered to cook her eggs and bacon, cereal, toast, and oatmeal. Of course she didn't want that, she wanted the crap from Mcdonalds so again she went hungry. By the time lunch came around she ate what was served and it wasn't from Mcdonalds and lo and behold I didn't have any problems with her eating after that because I showed her who was in charge.

You're kid is smart and has you trained pretty darn well. At 15 months he has you wrapped around his little finger and unless you start acting like the parent you're going to end up dealing with a lot more problems

christine said...

I have four kids and I have been a mom for 26 years. I had one child who, at about 18 months old, refused to eat anything but oatmeal...for every meal. I mentioned it to my pediatrition, who was a wise, seasoned old guy. He told me since I didn't run a diner I should just put the meal I prepared in front of her and she could choose to eat it or not. At first she did not eat it but when she got hungry enough, she ate what I gave her. It worked for me through four kids. Using an ipad is utterly insane!

Also, this mom is a real winner, making you pay for her ipad. I would refuse if it were me!

nycmom said...

I do agree that starving a child will result in them eating virtually anything out of hunger. However, I disagree with the idea that starving a child will result in them liking said foods.

I very much do not think that all children are created equally in terms of their eating, sleeping, or any other part of their personality/habits. When I had only one child, I may have argued that everything was within my control. Having 2 kids, and definitely after 3 kids, has taught me how much of their behavior and personality is genetic. I have two terrible sleeper, one good sleeper. Nothing done differently in terms of parenting. I'm sure if I kept the bad sleepers awake for 36 hours, they would ultimately sleep anywhere under virtually any conditions. But I don't think it would change their core sleep patterns. I know Ferber and Weissbluth, both attempted diligently, did not result in longterm improvements in their sleeping pattenrs.

Same for eating. My kids have very different preferences and I don't mind, within reason and health, offering them different food options. I'm reserving judgment on the Ipad. I don't think it's a choice I would make as we have a no electronics at the dinner table rule. But I have certainly made concessions for my kids, especially during OCD toddler years. For example, if my son thinks I put his PB&J on "wrong," I'm glad to take it back and pretend to reapply the jelly and peanut butter in the "right" way. As a child, my parents had very strict food rules about requiring us to eat every vegetable. If not, it went in the frige and it was the only food offered for every subsequent meal until it was gone. Did I ultimately eat it? Yes, I was a hungry child. Did I ultimately like the hated foods? No. If anything, I was resentful and hated them more.

Having been through a lot of different parenting challenges and difficult sleep/eat challenges, I am hesitant to be too judgmental of other moms on these things.

Ditto said...

What nycmom said . . .

another nanny said...

I agree with the person who said if your child's feeding problems are that severe (that there is NOTHING they will eat without distraction), have them evaluated through Early Intervention and try to get them some feeding therapy.
As to the iPad- OP, you were specifically told to use it on a daily basis for work-related purposes. It was damaged in the course of your work duty, and it was accidental, not negligent. It's ridiculous of them to make you pay for it, but to be honest it will probably be hard to address it without causing a rift in the relationship. So decide how much you need this job.

NVMom-movedtoTX said...

I have to agree with NYCMom as well. I did not have 'food wars' with my daughter, and she is the most health-conscious child I know. I let her experience different foods and allowed her some 'bad' choices. She learned to regulate how much she ate, and what kind of food she ate by my guidance, not by force.

My other daughter has special needs and I would keep this in mind, parents and caregivers - many special needs children are not diagnosed before age 3, yet their eating habits emerge as they do when they are toddlers. I would hate to think of a child having to weather numerous food battles when in fact, he/she is experiencing sensory or other feeding challenges that come with special needs.

re: the iPad, to be honest, as a Mom I'd be upset that it happened, but accidents do. I'd also doubt that price tag; I just replaced my iphone glass and it was $100. I doubt the iPad's is that much. I would balk at using it again, if I were you.

Tales from the (Nanny)Hood said...

Unless a child has an actual eating issue (which is diagnosed by a doictor or therapist and is being treated), they will, in fact, eat when hungry. No normal child will starve themselves. And distracting a child in order to make them eat increases the issue, IMO. It comes down to a power struggle, as I think someone said up thread.

The job of a parent/nanny is to provide healthy foods to the child. The job of the child is to pick what they wish to eat from what is provided and eat it. It's a good idea with a really picky eater to make sure something is offered at each meal that they will actually eat, of course!

sharon said...

i am 49 yrs, and to this day day i can recite "the cat in the hat" by dr suess. My mother loves to regale how my brother and i would not eat unless she recited it through every bite,every day,every meal. (sigh) At 74 she can recite it from memory also - and "green eggs and ham".

The 3rd millineum (sp?) has many more challenges but there is nothing new under the sun ;0)LOL

christine said...

NYCmom- A child who skips one or two meals could not be defined as a starving child. I would define him/her as a stubborn child who wants their oatmeal (in my daughter's case) or their ipad or they refuse to eat. I say (as did my pediatrition) just put a variety of foods out and hope for the best. I never forced my kids to eat something they hated, I just refused to make a "special" meal. Food never became an issue after I put this into practice. I happen to hate several foods and get that you can't make someone eat something they dislike. So, I just made sure there was something they would at least try on the table.

But, to make a special meal or have some sort of distraction to make kids eat is really just giving them a platform to act out over food and that creates issues that nobody needs. At our house, the message was eat or don't... whatever. But, don't ask for a PB &J, it wasn't going to happen. Nor did I deny a snack later on because the entire meal wasn't devoured. Plain and simple- I was not a short order cook.

Village said...

It's absurd the employers would even think the iPad was not their responsibility.

I'd look for another job right away.

nycmom said...

Christine,

If you read carefully, you'll note I did not specify the number of meals. At no point did I say: A child who skips one or two meals IS as a starving child. You are too defensive. You were not accused of starving your child.

If you read more carefully, you will see we actually agree. Yes, if you do not feed a child what they like, after some period of time which varies by child, they will eventually get so hungry they will eat. Some very stubborn kids could easily go 2-3 days without eating (I know I did as a child) before they give in. Probably still not "starving" like malnourished, underprivileged kids. Yes, at that point you will have "beaten" them at the food game and showed them who is boss. Eventually you are likely to train them that there is no point in resisting because they will simply go hungry otherwise. If that works for your family, go for it.

I never attacked or criticized anyone for using that method. I only said that I understand parents who choose different methods because all kids are different and respond to different things. Not all parents are a fan of depriving their kids of food until they get hungry enough to eat in the hope of eliminating picky eating. Just like not all parents are fans of Cry It Out - which is basically depriving your child of comfort until they learn it won't come when they cry and they should simply sleep when put to bed. Food training and sleep training are personal choices. You should do what is best for your family and I'll do what is best for mine.

My overall point was that the two groups should not judge one another since they haven't raised each others' kids. I do not think the No Food Choices method works for every child, just like I don't think Cry It Out works for every child.

christine said...

No argument from me, NYCmom. I think we essentially agree. I always offered something at a meal my kids would for sure eat but I didn't switch out a chicken leg for a chicken nugget. Not that they did not get chicken nuggets on occassion, but I planned a meal and it was up to them to eat it or not. No torture or threats or even a conversation about it. As they grew up, they bacame more apt to try new things and are now, as adults, eaters of almost anything. I would say I'm a pickier eater than they are! The same foods I disliked as a kid are still big turn offs now.

Got Milk? said...

A word about eating habits of infants under the age of two - for the first two years of life, an infant should be receiving his/her mother's milk as the primary source of nutrition. Solid foods should be offered so the infant becomes adjusted to different textures and flavors. Babies under two are not picky eaters; physiologically, they don't need solid food at that age. Most people don't really know this. The picky behavior gets better as the child gets older. It's all about nature!

Lila said...

I've had nannies and housekeepers over the last 18 years and they have broken dishware, scratched and dented cars, chipped masonry, torn leather furniture, shrunk sweaters and busted toys and appliances. However, they have never stolen from me nor harmed my children. I would never ask them to pay for items broken in the line of duty. As long as they tell me right away, I take care of it without a fuss. Your employers are cheap, petty, and spoiling their child. I agree that you should look for another job if they dock your pay.

Christina said...

Hell NO. I wouldn't give a ten year old an iPad period, let alone a toddler.

Maybe you should take an accidental "tumble", you know get a neck brace and a nice Chiropractor and force them to pay.

(And ftr, that was a joke, albeit not a very funny one.)

alex said...

It was an accident and while it was unfortunate I do not think you should have to pay for it. It was a true accident and since it is required for you to use it (honestly, if the kid is hungry enough he will eat. They are being ridiculous to allow him to do that but that is another story...) and you didn't do it on purpose.

While I was nannying I have had two things that come to mind that I did. I (almost) broke the dvd player once. I was really upset about it but the dad said anything I did (like that) while working was not my responsibility to fix. They know I am doing everything for their kids and so if something happens it was trying to help their kids. I also got in a minor fender bender in the car once. Not a big deal at all.

I feel that if it isn't on fault, and is for the child, then they should be responsible for it. If you take care to be responsible and make sure accidents do not happen and it was a true accident they should accept an apology as enough.

Just My Two Cents Just Now said...

I think that if they specifically asked you to use it on the job, and it broke accidentally if you were using it like you were instructed to, then they should pay.
However I think you should have been more careful..you should have made sure the case was properly buttoned up before you let the ipad slide out. When you handle something expensive like that, you should take extra precaution. But that is all water under the bridge.
And if they dock your pay, they need to give you the old one. Get the screen fixed and enjoy your new ipad.

MojoRising said...

No matter what advice anyone here has to say, what it comes down to is that the parents will probably take it upon themselves to dock your paycheck without further discussion. If I were you, I would check with Apple right away on their replacement options + how much getting it fixed would cost. I'm sure it's less than the amount your boss is charging you. I would let them know this information right away. I would also check for the actual legal responsibilities either with a lawyer or online, so you have that as back up. Let them know that upon repair, you will NOT be using this device or any other home device which costs more than $100, for fear of being charged a fee again. If they DO dock your paycheck + legally you are entitled to that money, I'd let them know that. If they do not pay you that money, take them to small claims court. (or get in touch with Judge Judy- I'm sure she'd rip them apart!) Also, look for a new job. This mom sounds like a twit + jerk.

Confession's of a girl said...

No way! You should not have to pay for that.
A. Is she crazy? That child is not practicing good eating habits by only watching tv while eating.
B. She asked you to use it!

She is crazy. I would tell her no!

no way said...

Okay, so they insist that the iPad be kept WITHIN ARMS REACH of their toddler WHILE HE IS EATING and that, miraculously, it will remain in pristine condition?!! It was only a matter of time before something happened to it, imo.
I agree with those who say if they DO dock your pay for this, then you'll have no choice but to refuse to use expensive appliances in the future. However, I will give them the benefit of the doubt (as maybe they are first time employers) and say maybe they are just clueless rather than evil. If you bring it to their attention (that it is not customary to have your nanny pay for things that are broken accidentally in the course of their work duties) they might let it go.

Cutenanny;) said...

Look for another employer who's understanding and respectful. First of all they're spoiling their kid. What if there's no iPad or tv??? the kid won't eat? You could tell what kind of employer you have just by that. It's not your responsibilty to pay for that iPad. Anyway on your story seems like you're multi tasking already and they still ask you to do this do that..I hate spoiled brat parents!!! I think they need a nanny to teach them morals more than their kids lol

MB said...

I slipped and fell on the open dishwasher door. Even though I hurt myself my employers made me pay for new hinges on the door by babysitting for a free night. I didn't think that was fair. They didn't even care that I hurt myself.

Late Nanny said...

When it is THEIR iPad and they required you to use it, heck no and there isn't a judge in the world who would let them pin it on you.

That's pure nonsense.

Now when it comes to MY iPhone and my charges, and it is MY choice, then I am to blame. Clearly.

kap said...

I am 90% positive that it is illegal for your boss to require you to pay for it, since you were required to handle the ipad for your job and you neither purposefully broke it NOR were grossly negligent in its handling. Nasty c**ts. Have a "slip-and-fall" incident on their hardwood floor, Honey--then have fun collecting ;-)

Anonymous said...

I think people should not pay for honest mistakes. I have a problem with people who do not report when something is damaged. They just pretend that nothing happened! That makes me mad!!!