Preposterous Proposal

opinion 1
I have just started work as a nanny to a 4 month old little girl in the southeastern region of the US (Alabama, specifically) and while I know nanny salaries probably aren't great down here in the south since the cost of living is fairly low, I feel that what my employers are proposing they pay me is, well, nothing short of preposterous.

I was hired very very last minute: as in I was interviewed at 7:00 on one night, and started the next morning at 7:30 am. Salary was barely mentioned as the parents were eager to get their daughter out of daycare, because they felt she wasn't getting enough attention, they didn't like the people there, and they were concerned that she only had 2 dirty bottles when coming home, meaning she was fed only twice a day.

They kept using phrases that I NOW know are huge warning signs, such as "Oh she's a very easy baby" and "This won't be a hard job" because the parents are very very lax and laid back and do not mind if I do with her what they would do with her all day: which is give her some playtime and attention, and then sit and watch tv with her or go on the internet. I will say, despite having explicit permission to do this, I still feel strange about it, even though there's not a whole lot you can do with a 4 month old. There's not a lot that really captivates her at this point and she has no interest in toys.

To get to the point: they want to pay me $200 a week for 50-52 hours of work, 5 days a week, 10-10.5 hours a day. That's.... $4 an hour with no overtime. In fact, they WERE going to pay me $175 until I sheepishly piped up and said more would be better, and the mother said $200 would be fine. To her merit, she does seem a bit clueless about what to pay a nanny and pretty much admitted to that. She did say she didn't want to screw me over, which is great, because I'd rather deal with someone who's clueless then someone who is deliberately trying to cheat me out of fair wages.

I genuinely have no idea how to go about telling them that $400 a week (meaning DOUBLE their proposed salary) is the MINIMUM I can accept. That's minimum wage with no overtime. I drive 35 minutes to work every day, and 35 minutes back. That eats up a lot of gas, so that's also part of it. Ideally I think that $500 a week is fair, but I know there's no way I'm getting that out of them. I do believe the father is fairly well off, but again, this is a sensitive issue and while I am grateful to them for hiring me, I feel it is a waste of my time for spending 50 whole hours a week being paid so little. How do I bring this up without it being a huge issue?


unicornsparkleprincess said...

Well obviously you also know now that you never take a job that you a) don't know the wages you'll be earning and b) take a job where you know they're not paying you enough.

I wouldn't be surprised if they don't want to pay you as much as you want...even $400 a week isn't a whole lot for the amount of work you're doing. Don't undersell yourself...have you been a nanny before? If you consider yourself a good one, you're not representing yourself as one by not demanding to be paid what you're worth.

If you want to have a serious discussion about your wages with your employers, you need to tell them what nannies like you typically earn for how much work their asking you for. You might be right that they don't know how much to pay you, and who knows...they may fix that after they are more informed. But I wouldn't hold my breath.

Learned lesson: Don't take a job you're not fully on board with, wage wise. AND SPEAK UP!!

Run Reesie Run said...

"She did say she didn't want to screw me over..."

Sorry, hun. I think that's pure crap. Simple math would tell her that she's paying you 4 bucks an hour. Even if she's unsure of what a "decent" pay is, she could at least make sure she's paying you minimum wage and move on from there.

I'm not sure how you could best bring this up with them, but perhaps you could set up a meeting with them to discuss all the specifics, since you didn't really have the chance to before. There you can make clear your hourly rate minimum and let them know how much it would come to per week. I'm not too seasoned in the nanny industry but hopefully the other ladies can give you some good advice.

Susannah said...

Have a talk with them and outline what you need. I find it best to present the salary as a range a little higher than you want so you can negotiate. I've found bosses more inclined to give in this way.

I you are paying taxes make sure to specify what you need as net pay.

I truly doubt they think a salary of $200 a week is ok, but who knows.

Know you worth but also know your area. You don't want to price yourself too high and be jobless and unable to find a job

Student Nanny said...

I'm willing to give benefit of the doubt and say that because these are first time parents who previously only had a daycare, they may not understand the financial intricacies of having a nanny (I've had this problem with my own family, who all use daycare, as they're baffled how I can make $15/hr when they pay only $250 a week for daycare).

Explain that this is your only source of income and a full time job, and that you can't accept any less than minimum wage. You may also want to explain that daycares can charge less because they are taking in multiple clients, which leads to the lack of attention they feared their daughter was getting.

It may still not work. But at least if they were in the dark about how it works, they know now.

N is for Nanny said...

I'll give them the benefit of the doubt and guess that they expect all forms of childcare to be around the same price. They very well might have been paying around $175/wk for daycare...and the sticker shock of a daycare to nanny move boggles a lot of parents. I totally agree with you that naive > cheap.

I'd suggest that you ask the parents for a sit-down conversation soon, during which you'll formalize your agreement. Bring a pen and paper and write down things like your duties, compensation (holidays? vacation? sick days? taxes?), and hours. Have all parties sign it and make a photocopy for them, so that everyone has a written reference of your agreement.

As far as compensation goes, yes, you do need to make at least minimum wage. If you are open to it, you might suggest a nannyshare to them as a way to get their child more personalized care, but at a lower cost than just them employing you. Perhaps something like $400/wk if you work for just them, $250/wk/family if they want to do a nannyshare. (You should make more in a nannyshare situation, as more kids + more parents = more work.) If you/they like this idea, I would put the responsibility of finding a share family on them - it should be someone who matches with them as parents/employers anyway, and this lowers the risk that the families will expect you to referee any issues between them.

Good luck! I hope it works out.

another nanny said...

I would let them know that you're grateful for the opportunity to work with them and their daughter, then ask them for a sit-down meeting by ____ (insert date here) to formulate a work agreement (ideally this would have been done prior to starting, but things don't always work out that way). At that meeting, outline your hours, duties, pay, and any additional benefits, including as much detail as possible. Both parties need to sign off on this. I agree with others that you need to be making at least minimum wage, with overtime.
However, the fact that they even offered $175 makes me think you should also keep your eye out for other opportunities.

Cali Gurl said...

You're right IS a waste of your time to be working for $4/Hr!! You need to sit down w/this family ASAP and let them know you need to make between $400-500 per week and then hopefully they will be willing to work w/you a good compromise.

If they say to you, well we paid such and such for daycare, nicely remind them that daycare is cheaper vs. hiring a Nanny since the Nanny comes into their home, offers personal one-on-one service w/no other distractions and lets the child enjoy the comforts of their own home, etc. Having a Nanny is the most expensive form of childcare around while daycare is the cheapest.

I know you need a job badly, but Honey working for peanuts will get you nowhere.

ELam said...

You've got some really great advice so far.

I know what it's like to want/need a job so badly that you'll basically take the first thing that lands in your lap (which sounds like what you did, since you started work the very next morning), however, working for $4 is both horrible and illegal (on their part)! If anything, at least you have learned to never accept a job without really negotiating the wage.

There's no easy way around it, you simply have to sit down and talk to them. Let them know you enjoy caring for their little girl but, in order to pay your bills, etc., you need to making at least minimum wage (maybe using that phrase "minimum wage" will put a light bulb in their head about what is right and fair, if they really are that clueless) to continue to provide service.

Be prepared, however, for them to be upset, as you all did agree on $200/week and now you are wanting double that amount (and rightly so! Don't let them make you feel guilty).

If they agree, wonderful! If not, move on. I was also stuck in a less than minimum wage job for a few months (48 hours/week for $5/hour) and I was absolutely miserable. Don't let yourself get to that point. If they aren't willing to pay you what you are worth, just let them go. Good luck!

Dana said...

I second the share idea.

But I would start looking for another job.

This may sound harsh, but I don't see them going for nearly doubling your weekly pay.

I really doubt all the problems are with the daycare something tells me these people could no longer afford daycare and weren't paying up and thought they could get in home care for cheaper.

MissMannah said...

Everyone else has given you good advice, so I won't bother repeating it.

I'm more concerned about the fact that you and the parents think that it is so easy to take care of an infant all day long and the fact that she is not doing anything or is not interested in toys. At 4 months, she should be trying to be mobile: raising her head or trying to turn over. She should be reaching out for objects and tracking them with her eyes. I nanny for a 3 month old and she can lay on her playmat for up to an hour, batting at her toys and kicking her feet--she loves it! She has also just started sitting in her exersaucer, but not for very long because she doesn't have the neck and back strength for it yet.

Claire said...

Please leave this job asap! That is a totally unacceptable salary for nanny care. There is no way you should work for less than $10 an hour, and that is the bare minimum you should ever accept. Idieally, for a 50 hour week with one child, you should be earning at least $12 an hour, or $600 a week.

The reason people are still offering these ridiculously low salaries for nanny care is that the nannies are letting them get away with it. You need to walk away from these people and let them learn that in home nanny care costs a lot more than daycare.

Dani said...

No more advice for OP what has been shared is great.Just because they appear to have money doesn't mean they have it. Many people live beyond their means.
I wouldn't be a bit suprised if they were put out of the daycare for back payments.

Miss Mannah, you should avoid putting your little one in the exersaucer until they can rest their feet flat on the floor and properly put what on them. It's not just neck & back development you have to be concerned with. My PT mother constantly reminds me of this.

MissMannah said...

Dani...she can. Baby C is very long for her age (77th percentile) so she can easily reach when in her exersaucer. And when I stand her upright on my lap, she can put weight on her feet and bounce. Quite possibly the cutest thing in the world.

ELam said...

I'm more concerned about the fact that you and the parents think that it is so easy to take care of an infant all day long and the fact that she is not doing anything or is not interested in toys. At 4 months, she should be trying to be mobile: raising her head or trying to turn over. She should be reaching out for objects and tracking them with her eyes.

Thanks for pointing that out Miss Mannah, I thought the same thing when I read this post. 4 month old babies are not useless, motionless, thoughtless blobs.

Wendi said...

@Elam and Miss Mannah:

Please keep in mind that not all children develop at the same rate. Some four month old's are not interested in toys yet and that is okay.

Mrs. Grant said...

I don't see the OP saying she thought caring for a 4 month old was easy.

Although compared to her other experiences it might be easy.

It sounds like she's tried different things with her, but baby isn't interested, or she's interested in other things. That doesn't have to mean it's a red flag moment.

Also there is only so much you can do with a 4 month old at a time.

You may try to do more but very often it's a waste or they become overstimulated with activities.

Bethany said...

How should you word a contract to ensure you get paid for anytime be it 10, 15, 20, 30 or more minutes worked outside your scheduled time.

For eample if you work 10 to 5pm every week and every now and then you get asked to stay till 5:30 how do you charge as it's not a full hour, but I want to be serious enough so not to be taken adavantage of.

ELam said...

I get that children develop at different rates, however the nanny and the parents in this situation seem to think that sitting in front of the television all day is sufficient.

""This won't be a hard job" because the parents are very very lax and laid back and do not mind if I do with her what they would do with her all day: which is give her some playtime and attention, and then sit and watch tv with her or go on the internet."

I'm definitely not one of those "children need constant stimulation 24/7" kind of people, but tv and Internet aren't quite 4-month-old appropriate activities.

Phoenix said...

why did you take this job without discussing your salary first? why are nannies allowing themselves to be abused? why are nannies soft?

I would never take a job that paid peanuts. My husband would never allow me to waste my time. I have worked for my family and I charged them $25 an hour.

Your time is precious and you are wasting it. You need to tell them that you charge $X.XX an hour and they are required to pay you overtime! I've never met a profession that was so taken advantage of as a career nanny. I think that as a nanny you have to be caring and understanding and loving but only to the children! Do you want me to call them for you? You are seriously not be taken seriously and this is ludarcis!

MissMannah said...

Wendi, as Elam said, I do understand that children develop at different rates. OP seemed to me that she doesn't really know what to do with her charge so I was giving her examples of what I do with mine. And yes, I believe that if a 4-month-old is not showing any interest in something placed before her (ie: tracking it with her eyes) it may be a problem, but maybe not. Most, if not all, babies I have met that age are very interested in objects or people's faces and they like to be spoken to and played with...not watching TV.

"I've never met a profession that was so taken advantage of as a career nanny. I think that as a nanny you have to be caring and understanding and loving but only to the children!"

Phoenix, I couldn't have said it better myself.

Tales from the (Nanny)Hood said...

OP, they are paying you to babysit. That's why they are fine with you not playing with their child, watching TV, etc. All they expect (and possibly all they are willing to pay for) is custodial care. They want you to feed her, change her, put her down for naps, and make sure she doesn't die on your watch.

You can try going in and showing them what a site like (google babysitter pay calculator says you should be earning per hour based on your level of experience and the area where you work, but frankly, I think they simply want the minimum care for the minimum money. They will not care that they are breaking FLSA laws by not paying minimum wage and OT.

I don't think this is fixable. In your place, I would go find other work and keep looking for a nanny position. You will earn minimum wage in a daycare or a fast food restaurant.

Have you worked as a nanny before for an infant under 6 months old? I am going to assume you have not, and offer some ideas for stimulating infants and newborns.

1) Hold them and talk to them. Sing to them. Make eye contact.
2) Place them on their backs on a blanket indoors or out. Let them watch a ceiling fan, or the leaves in a tree. Hold toys up for them to bat at with hands and feet. Help them roll to one side and place toys in their view. Roll them to the other side and do the same.
3) Place them on their bellies and encourage them to practice holding their heads up. Place toys in front of them, or lie down and engage them as they do baby "push-ups".
4) Talk to them as you carry them around their house, commenting on what you see. Let them stare at pictures, knick-knacks, the family dog.
5) Talk to them. Talk to them some more. Engage with them. If they start to cry and turn away, place them on their backs to look around at the world, as suggested in (2) above.
6) Remember that children of all ages can and do love interaction and do respond to you. Kids who do not get interaction do wind up less responsive and interactive. No "normal" child is an unresponsive lump.

N is for Nanny said...

My contracts usually state that I am to be paid every Friday for 40 hrs/wk at $y/hr. The contract then lists my regularly scheduled hours, so that I do not end up with a smaller check if the family chooses not to use my services - e.g., grandma is visiting, family vacation. It also says that hours over 40 will be compensated at $z/hr and computed in 15 minute increments. Within a week that the family doesn't use "our" regular hours, I'm generally willing to be flexible as much as it works for me (e.g., grandma has the kids my usual 8-6, parents take grandma to dinner 6-10 - I don't expect extra money for that; family has an early flight Friday morning, I stay late Thursday night to help them pack - again, I don't expect extra money for this) and it's worked really well. You may or may not choose to put something in your written agreement about that, but it's worked very well for me and my employers. I require 48 hours notice about any "cancelled" hours for them to be shiftable. Less notice than that has a big impact on my utility for the now-off hours. If you are open to shifting hours, definitely think about how much notice you want and make sure your employers know.

Just My Two Cents Just Now said...

If they say to you, I cannot afford you, simply say, "I cannot afford you either..." then walk away.


I said...

I make $700/45 hour week, and i'm a first time nanny. In fact, this is what they offered me. I'm their first nanny too. It's great; all they want me to do is take care of their two kids, feed them, take them places, clean up after them, and keep them happy. It's awesome.

OP Here said...

To everyone saying a 4 month old is not a lump: I am well aware. We did tummy time and I interacted with her almost the entire time she was awake. If she got fussy, we walked around and talked about how crazy Rick Santorum is. They have no toys for her besides stuffed animals, which she does bat around a bit.

Thank you for all the feedback!

Here's what happened: She didn't even think ONCE about paying me a fair amount. I told her I needed more and she flipped her lid on me. Said I wasn't giving her enough notice to find someone else, to which I replied that she wasn't going to find someone else because no one will work 52 hours a week for $200, and that daycare was pretty much her only option. That made her flip out on me even more. Skip to today, she posted a very scathing review on about me, and about 90% of it is untrue. The 10% that happens to be true is that I kept her in pajamas all day, because when I asked if the mother wanted her clothes changed, she said that they don't put an actual outfit on her unless they go out.

I am so sick of parents like this, I really am.

Susannah said...

I'm glad you spoke to her about the wages.

it probably would have been wiser yo not engage in a back in forth with her you know the daycare comments.

You can respond to her review with the truth. Or you can delete your account and register with an agency using good references from previous jobs.

1234 said...

Maybe you should figure out why you keep attracting bad jobs and parents so you can avoid it in the future.

As for MB threaten her with a lawsuit. That'll shut her cheap ass up quick.

Bethany said...

Just out of curiosity, but what did you say to her exactly?

OP said...

I also referenced the stats I could find on what nannies are typically paid in my area, obviously she didn't care lol.

MissMannah said...

"we walked around and talked about how crazy Rick Santorum is."

Oh my god, I almost died laughing at this one. I'm sure the baby is intelligent enough to realize how nuts he is, hopefully the Republicans will follow suit.

OP, you can try emailing and ask them to remove the bad review, saying that she posted it out of spite and outline all the falsities in it. I don't know if they will, but it is worth a shot.

My only other advice is to start choosing your words carefully. You said in your OP that this is an easy job and the baby has no interest in toys, which you did not mean because now you're saying that she does show interest. Now you are also telling us that you told your employer she isn't going to be able to find a nanny. It isn't any wonder she flipped her lid--that was not a smart choice of words on your part.

OP said...

noooo, I said the PARENTS said it was going to be an "easy job". I don't think taking care of any child is "easy". They just said that because they didn't care what I actually did with her as long as she didn't die.

She shows interest in a couple of the stuffed animals for brief moments. Oddly she does not care one bit for peek-a-boo.... sad because I enjoy it!

I tried to be as polite as possible. Said that I had done some research and thinking and that due to the cost of living as gas expenses, I could not continue to work for her for less than $400 a week. I said that her baby is wonderful and that there are no hard feelings if she feels that she can't afford to keep me on.

I WAS going to offer to watch the baby (and the 6 year old) for her until she could find suitable daycare arrangements, but after she blew up at me, I said forget it. And I didn't say the "you won't find someone else" thing until after she blew up at me. Even then, I was polite. I explained that $200 for 52 hours a week is not a living wage and that she was very unlikely to find someone else to replace me, and that daycare was probably her best option for her budget. No rudeness or unprofessionalism whatsoever on my part.