Thursday

Am I Being a Jerk?

Received Thursday, February 3, 2011
opinion 1 So I've been at a new job for 6 months now and everything has been going really well. When I was looking for work, it came down to two families. The pay was exactly the same, so it basically came down to perks, hours, and children. I chose the job I did because of two things. They have a baby, which means it will be longer term, and I follow the school calendar meaning I'm off all school holidays and snow days. Now those school holidays and snow days are a big deal to me. It's an awesome perk. It amounts to a ton of paid time off, which is why it was such a big deciding factor in choosing jobs.

Yesterday and today were snow days, and lo and behold I was asked to come in both days for a few hours so the parents could go out. Both days I said no thanks. I haven't minded staying late or coming in early here and there, helping out around the house, or working the occasional weekend night. These two snow days though, I just wanted to stay inside, in my cozy pajamas, sit by the fire, and relax! But now I find myself feeling guilty for saying no. I feel guilty that I'm getting paid to do nothing. Maybe I've already said "yes" too much and set myself up for this. I know I shouldn't be feeling this way. I know I'm not required to work on snow days and I have every right to say no, but it's really eating away at me. They don't pay me any overtime, which again, I don't mind when I feel like working. Today I didn't feel like working, maybe I would have felt like it if I were going to get paid.

I know I've still got a sour taste in my mouth after my last job, which was basically 5 years of being a doormat. I see myself headed down that road again. I just hate to say no, but I really feel like I need to stand up for myself or risk being walked all over, again. I don't know what I'm looking for here, maybe just some affirmation that I'm not a total jerk.

16 comments:

anon one said...

Anonymous said...

You're not being a jerk. You have a right to have your time off like you had discussed before taking the job. I know how that guilt can eat at you though, and i often experience it. You just need to remind yourself about your last family and realize that you're making a huge step in sticking to your word and how you believe you should be treated. Don't feel bad about that at all.

repost

aaagh! said...

i agree, you are not being a jerk, they are being pushy to see if you would work and you said no. Like training a dog, say no three times in a row and you won't get asked again. That was your work agreement and you shouldn't feel guilty at all.

nycmom said...

I don't think you are being a "jerk." If I'm reading your post correctly, it sounds like your Work Agreement explicitly states you are off work on all school holidays and snow days. You are certainly not required to work on your days off especially if they are not even offering to give you overtime pay.

However, if I were your employer I would be generally unhappy with the deal I had made and realizing I had negotiated poorly. This perk of so many days off is very much not the norm. Perhaps, they gave it assuming you would be flexible as needed. Perhaps past nannies have been or perhaps they are new to employing nannies or perhaps they are just jerks. Either way, they made an error in the original contract and are certainly regretting it now. If I were them, I would ask to have a sit-down with you and explain that we recognize the error is ours, but the current contract is simply not working for us. I would offer up the terms that would work for us and see if you were still interested in the job. If not, I would agree to part amicably, because it seems the original contract just isn't meeting their needs. I would give you a good reference and freely acknowledge the error was ours, but that we needed a nanny who was willing to work under different terms.

So my only concern, if I were you, would be that your employers may simply decide they need a nanny who will work the days you won't. If you really love the current job, you might want to consider being more flexible (not because you SHOULD, just if you really love this job). If you don't mind switching jobs, then stick to your guns (you would certainly be in your rights to do so).

JustPeachy said...

I don't think you are being a jerk, if that is waht was agreed to in the contract, then you have every right to graciously decline. While it is very generous of you to stay late and do extras, you certainly should not feel guilty for taking time off that is righfully yours. Most likely, the parents simply wanted do some things without the kids, because it is easier....but guess what!, there are parents out there who drag thier kids along with them all the time. Its part of life.
Granted, they may be regretting the decision to give to those days off, and it may very well come up in the future, but if/when it does, be sure to remind them of all the extra time you DO put in for them, and "ammend" your contract to include overtime. If they can "revise" the contract, so can you.
A good working relationship demands that you both be open and honest, and willing to re-negotiate things that comw up when necessary.
Don't be a doormat, but don't feel guilty for wanting to spend a couple days in your pajamas. A rested, happy nanny makes for a better nanny!

JustPeachy said...

Sorry about all my spelling mistakes. Gotta remember to use spell-check. :o)

OP said...

Op here- I feel a lot better today after talking to mb about it and realizing she wasn't upset. I know I have the right to say no, but it's so hard for me because I hate having anyone mad at me. My mom's been telling me to grow a backbone for years! The reason I have snowdays off is because both of their jobs follow the school calandar so they are off anyway. Believe me, if they had to work, or had something important they had to do, I would have been there.

sharon said...

nycmom said it well - you are wise OP to at least be thinking about it and communicating so all parties can stay informed and have their views considered - thank you for the post!

A mommy said...

You should probably discuss it with them. My view is that if you are getting paid, and they need you to come in, then you need to go in. You are getting paid!! Its worth discussing.....

someone's nanny said...

A Mommy- are you serious? So if you work a job where you have federal holidays off, and out of the blue, your boss asks you to come in for a couple of hours on Thanksgiving, you should have to go in, because you are getting paid?

Nanny L said...

Someone's nanny,
Don't you think that you are comparing apples to oranges by comparing a snow day to a major holiday like Thanksgiving? Give me a break.
I understand the OP's side, but A Mommy makes a valid point, from a parent's view. As a nanny, I really value when parents post with their opinion because it gives us insight about how parents feel.

OP- It is your call, and i see where you are coming from.. but I think you could be a little more flexible..although I guess it depends on how much you like the job and how much you get paid. The salary that I am paid is very high, so I never feel put out when the parents ask for extras because I feel like part of the reason why they pay me such a great salary with benefits is so that I will be flexible with their busy lives.

Just My Two Cents Just Now said...

OP, I am just like you. I hate saying NO to people because I don't want to offend anyone or have anyone angry at me. It's something I need to deal with as it has put me in many situations where I am being taken advantage of.
Anyway, while I agree that if your contract states that you do not have to work "snow days" then you are not obligated. However, in business in general..availability plays a HUGE factor in how employers view you. It may be unfair, but an employee with a lot of flexibility is valued waaay more than one who always says NO.

Seriously? said...

Just My Two Cents Just Now,

I think that the fact that the OP goes in early, stays late, and works weekend hours with NO additional pay already shows that she's willing to be flexible. I don't think she needs to go in on the days she's not contractually obligated to work, too.

As a parent, I understand her bosses wanting to take advantage of the snow day themselves, but I would never expect a nanny to come in and work when she doesn't have to.

Snowed in said...

The parents had the snow days off with pay. If it's ok for them to have the days off with pay, why is it not ok for the nanny to do so? I don't know whether anyone has considered this, but when schools and businesses are closed because of snow, it's a safety factor. I never go to work the day after it snows if schools are closed. It's just not worth chancing an accident or fall. Once the roads are clear, fine. But I wouldn't have shoveled my car out and chanced an accident to go to their house for a few hours, either. The fact that there were two snow days in a row implies there was a significant amount of snow, and depending on where in the country she lives, possibly ice. I have always been very accomodating to my families, but it irritates me that people think nannies are supposed to always bend over backwards, even when it's to our own detriment. OP, don't feel guilty.

ATL Nanny said...

I think you did absolutely the right thing by declining to go in. Your work agreement explicitly states that snow days are a paid day off and that was the basis for your acceptance of this job. Not to mention, the parents both had a paid day off, so it's not like they NEEDED you. I'm glad you stood up for yourself and I'm glad you spoke to MB about it and realized she is not upset.

Nanny L -- I think the comparison to federal holidays is a great one, not apples and oranges at all. This is a stated benefit laid out explicitly in the work agreement. No employer (nanny or otherwise) is required to give employees paid holidays or paid snow days. But if they offer them in the work agreement, then they need to abide by that agreement.

Jacqui said...

If it was discussed beforehand that you would have snowdays off based on the schools in the area, then no, you're not being a jerk. You have every right to say no. You could throw them an occassional couple of hours every once in awhile to help them out, but you definitely shouldn't be expected to.

It's a little different with my job. Here in Jersey, we have had quite a few snow days in the past 2 months. In the past 4 years I was always paid for snow days, but there weren't nearly as many as there are this year. My employers and I never discussed snow day pay (I get 2 weeks paid vaca and all federal holidays off, plus the month of august and september's hours cut in half) and I don't expect it, especially if they are a frequent occurrence. So, if they ask me to come in for a few hours, assuming the roads are ok, I always do because I know they're paying for them. Even if I declined, I'd probably still get paid, but I always try to make it in. As I mentioned though, in your case, one of the big perks about your job is that you KNOW you get snow days paid, so you're definitely not out of line at all if you say no.

"most nannies" said...

anon- most nannies get overtime pay. Op dosen't. Just because most nannies do things one way, dosen't mean that it has to be that way for everyone. You sound bitter that you don't get snow days off. If her work agreement includes snow days off, then she has every right to decline work on a snow days.