An Overabundance of Overtime

opinion 1
I have gotten myself into a bad nanny situation. It started off great and I loved my job and loved the children but suddenly things spiraled downwards. The family took their children for a week long vacation overseas and did not tell me about this in the original contract. Which the trip was 2 months after I first started. I feel a though they knew in advance. I was told a month before and it wasn't til the week before that I was sat down to discuss what would happen with my pay.

The wife told me that other nannies were being paid but were doing some hours here and there to help out. And that sounded like a fair deal. I did tell her that it was their vacation time and not mine (I shouldn't be forced to take a week vacation technically unpaid since I get 4% tacked onto my paychecks which after 2 months of work that's really only about a day off worth). So anyways a day before they leave I did an extra couple of hours and then I was told to count my hours to make sure I did 42.5 hours worth of extra hours to make up for them paying me. I tried to say at this point that it was overtime hours and that it doesn't equivalate to a regular hour to which the husband replied in a snarky way and asked if my current work day hours were to much for me.

I dropped the conversation until a couple weeks later when I asked for a day off. They asked me to work an evening an extra 6 hours. And I said sure thinking it was making up for my day off. Later I was docked for the day off and not paid for the Monday on the premises that those 6 hours counted for their vacation time that they paid me for. I brought up how I thought this was unfair and I was told to sit down with one of the parents and chat about it. I was told I was exempt from overtime hours (I am not. I get overtime after 44 hours). And that I owed them that extra time and if i didn't want to repay it in overtime, they would take away my vacation pay to make up for it. I feel as though 43 hours in overtime is a lot to make up.

My contract says I get 8.5 hours a day 5 days a week and I can give them 2 weeks notice for my vacation time. It does not mention unpaid leave. Am I being taken advantage of? I'm telling you this family has a ton of money. That isn't there problem, it's more the fact that they feel as though they owe me nothing. I still have to pay bills and I work another job part time. So I do not have time to make up overtime hours for them. They hired me, they should pay me. Right?


Katie said...

I'm going to assume you are in the states if you are you are owed overtime for any time woked over 40 hours a week period.

I don't know why families think that nannies don't have bills when they decide to vacation.

You must speak up for yourself!

Village said...

She tried to speak up for herself. You can't make crooks honest. You can only get another job where the parents are respectable. In some cases, employers aren't having any fun unless they are cheating the help. This looks like a case in point.

StrawberryShortKakes said...

You post was a bit confusing as far as making up the hours and overtime but I think a few things are clear...

1. You need to sit down with them and make a better contract. Decide how much notice you need for their vacations and whether or not you will get paid. If they say no but they will give you more hours to "make up for it" (which I think is what you were describing), you need to decide if you are ok with that.

2. Make it clear to them that if you work over your 40 hours in one week, you are entitled to overtime. Point blank. Period.

3. The whole thing about making up hours and such is complicated. I would suggest putting it in the contract that you will get paid your weekly salary no matter what. Then if you work any hours over that, it is overtime.

4. Discuss what happens when you need a day off. You said you have vacation time and that you have to give 2 weeks notice. Is this vacation time paid or do you have to "earn it?"

5. Put the fact that they have a lot of money out of your head. It doesn't matter if they are millionaires or just live comfortably. You deserve to be paid for your time and you have to advocate for that.

Phoenix said...

well it seems that they are aspiring to run you guys like employees. YOu are either exempt or not. YOu are either salary or hourly. If you are hourly you get paid over time pay over 40 hours per week. If you are salary you get paid the same rate whether you work 30 hours or 80 hours but you are not both. You are being taken advantage of. that would seriously not fly with me. If it says you get overtime pay in your contract that they signed they better give it to you. I would sue the pants off these people. I hate rudeness

Birthday Girl said...

OP, I congratulate you for standing up for yourself. Doing what you did (sitting down w/the family) would have been so awkward for a non-confrontational person like me.

nycmom said...

Yes, you are being taken advantage of, intentionally or not. This is why I advocate putting every single tiny detail in the Work Agreement. Things like this - flex hours/makeup vs unpaid vs paid - are just one of many examples of small issues that could have been avoided.

You should be paid 52 weeks a year unless YOU choose to take additional vacation beyond your allotment. I do know many families, including ours, that do some flex time but it benefits both sides. For example, if my nanny wants a day of this week but doesn't want to use vacation/personal days, we will add the hours on to the next week. I also occasionally ask this, but I always *ask* never insist. Plus, I discussed this issue at hiring including specific examples.

Sounds like you have already tried the sit down talk. Are these new employers or first-time parents? It can be a bit confusing to them as it was to me. IME, most nanny vacation time is handled as one week of family's choice, one week of nanny's choice. That also needs to be clarified.

If you really want to work this out, I suggest you draft a very detailed Work Agreement addressing this and any other issues you can think of. Then ask them to review it and negotiate.

MissMannah said...

Quit and do it now! This situation is only going to get worse, because the EXACT SAME THING happened to me with my last job and I ended up getting fired for standing up for myself. People like your employers, and my former ones, do not understand what it is like to be a nanny and rely on the steady paycheck. And they never will understand it, no matter how many times we try to rationally explain.

Katie said...

Sorry I ready your post again and see that you tried to talk with them.

I actually agree with Mannah here.

I do not believe they don't know what they are doing is wrong They just want to see what they can get away with and it's been working for them up until now.

I also don't see them willing to negotiate a fair contract with you. You can give it a shot ,but I'd start looking for a new gig asap.

UmassSlytherin said...

These people are crooks. Quit as soon as possible.

utnanny said...

Nycmom, do you have a copy of the work agreement you use? I would love to get a copy.

Nanny J said...

NYCMom, I would love to see a copy of it as well. I have a great bear bones contract in place with my current family but I believe it would benefit both of us to go into the relationship further knowing exactly what to expect on those sorts of situations.

Sounds like you have a good head on your shoulders for how to treat a nanny. I wish all families were like that, but I usually assume since I work with tiny things, that being a good employer is something that is learned and my families are just generally clueless. (Not always the case, but I assume the best until shown the worst!)

Andrea said...

I quit my old nanny job when I got into this situation. I was nickled and dimed, and MB was so petty. If the baby was sleeping and let me go 5 minutes early she'd make me come in 5 minutes early the next morning. It's just unnecessary for rich families to be like this. we're not asking for the moon and the stars. Just some respect.

deb4now said...

Did you mention if you were paid through a payroll service? LEgally they need to pay you on the books. And you cannot be an salaried employee Nannies can only be hourly so you are entitled to overtime which is time and a half after 40 HOURS. So two things I want to know, are you paid on the books? If so the payroll service they use can explain this to them. 2nd question, did you use an agency that you can contact so they can assist you in dealing with the issues with the family? THat is always why it's great to go through an agency, they are always there for the nannies and the families if they have any questions or concerns. The agency can clearly explain these issues to the family. Yes I work for an agency and place caregivers with families. Some people say we are all about getting the families money and don't care about the nannies..I'm not the owner I made an hourly wage so that for me isn't true, being a former nanny I am an advocate for a good nanny being treated well.
If you do find a new job please go through a agency who can be your advocate

Aries said...

There are alot of parents who will try one way or another to take advantage. Passive, shy people tend to be the ones who get taken advantage of the most. I don't no why parents who want to screw the 1 person caring for there children. If i ever hired a nanny or babysitter i'd be going the extra mile for them just so i know my children are being truely cared for.

I'd advise you to have another sit down and exlain your situation. and make them realize that you deserve to be payed the extra $$. If you don't then you will become resentful of them. But then again, they might become resentful of you. These are tough situations when you're dealing with these type of people.

N is for Nanny said...

To me, it sounds like you made a bad agreement. While I personally absolutely agree that when families choose to employ a nanny they need to pay that nanny 52 weeks per year - barring the nanny requesting unpaid time off - which a lot of families do. (I'm one of those nannies who won't accept a position that doesn't include that standard.) Unfortunately, we're in an industry without set standards, so a lot of families also don't pay their nannies for unused hours. It seems like these issues always come down to individual nanny/family agreements, where the more detailed the agreement is from the start, the better off the nanny generally is.

In an ideal world, your written agreement would outline how much notice the family needs to give you and their options - if any - for use of your hours while they are away. For example, my nanny family went away for a long weekend a couple of weeks ago and I spent a day packing away (kid) winter clothes and inventorying what each child has/needs for spring and summer. Some families use an "hours bank" - with or without time limitations - which is what it sounds like your family is trying to do, albeit somewhat clumsily. My experience with the hours bank is that the exchange is 1:1 and it is kept track of (by both parties) outside of any payroll, to avoid overtime issues - which yes, is probably not legal. I guess my question is this: when you were told to keep track and make sure you worked an extra 42.5 hours, did you work (or make an effort to work) them? Did you cash their check prior to figuring out your agreement? Because it sounds a bit like they agreed to pay you for the week, on time, if you agreed to make up the 42.5 hours...and it sounds like they paid you and you have not worked the hours. I'm not saying it's a good deal, but I am saying that it sounds like a deal to which you agreed.

I would encourage you to talk to them, bringing solutions to the table. At this point, it's unlikely that they are going to just pay you for hours they aren't using, as they likely view you as an hourly employee AND they might also feel like they were doing you a favor for paying you prior to your making up the hours. You might suggest doing kid-based projects while they are away, more household tasks if they are part of your agreement or you are willing to do them while the family is away (and if it's the latter, specify in writing if you want them limited to while the family is away), or an hours bank with more concrete guidelines.

I would also advise you not to consider how much money they do or do not have. I have found no relationship between employer generosity and employer assets/income.

nycmom said...

I can't post the entire contract (lots of personal details), but I'll try to post all the relevant parts. Keep in mind that I present this as negotiable and we agree on a final copy:

-expected number of hours including guaranteed minimum
-rough schedule with emphasis on need for significant flexibility since my schedule changes weekly
-Whether nanny wants first dibs on additional hours
-expectation of annual reviews and annual COL raises at 3-5%
-minimum one-year job commitment barring incompatibility

-both parties agree to give minimum 4 weeks notice if they need to terminate employment
-if job ends due to no fault of nanny, family agrees to make extensive attempts to assist with job search and serve as a reference
-nanny agrees to be available for assistance with finding new nanny and giving prospective candidates job expectations
-severance will be given at rate of one week per year of employment
-if nanny is terminated for cause, no notice or severance will be given
-causes for termination: unsafe care of kids, inconsistent job performance, dishonesty, stealing, breach of confidentiality, persistent tardiness, unapproved guests, smoking/drink/drugs while on duty

-rate of pay
-paid weekly and all federal and state taxes will be withheld
-monthly metrocard (NYC) or IRS mileage rate for use of own car
-no other comp will be given that is not listed
-if nanny does not have a cell phone, one will be provided during work hours for emergencies
-if she does, family will not assume responsibility for paying for it but if extra charges are accrued due to job, these will be paid.

-Nanny agrees to be available for travel with family, although family understands this is not always possible
-Salary, additional reimbursement and flight/hotel/food details will be discussed and agreed upon in advance

-Nanny will be given two weeks (10 days or 40 hours) of paid vacation. -All attempts will be made to coordinate these times with family.
-However, if coordination is not possible one week will at family's choice and one at nanny's choice
-Vacation must be taken or will be forfeited
-No vacation during first 3 months of employment
-5 sick/personal days per year to be used at nanny's discretion and paid out if unused
-if family takes vacation beyond these weeks, nanny will be paid. However, family may ask for some duties during this time that do not exceed agreed upon duties.

-safety of children is paramount
-plan age appropriate activities
-play with kids including but not limited to arts & crafts, music, board games
-trips to local children's activities or parks as weather permits
-basic needs such as bathing, dressing, changing diapers, brushing teeth, making school lunches, assisting with homework
-follow schedule as outlined by family
-keep briefly daily log for communication (this should not take more than 5 minutes daily)
-prepare basic, healthy meals for kids
-limit TV to one hour during daytime
-limit screen time for older kids (video games, computer, etc) to one hour on weekdays after all homework is completed


nycmom said...

-clean up after yourself and the kids
-keep children's rooms and play areas clean and organized (as they get older part of this duty includes reminding kids to clean up their own rooms)
-loading and unloading dishwasher daily
-removing garbage and recycling as needed
-wiping down kitchen counters or running vacuum if spills
-children's laundry twice a week
-feed, walk, and clean up after family pet
-keep track of children's supplies and notify family if we need more
-grocery shopping as needed
-grant access to home for service people
-occasional errands such as dry cleaning, bank
-be proactive in determining general needs of household

Personal Phone/Errands
-Limit personal phone, text and computer usage during workday to urgent issues only.
-Personal errands time permitting providing it does not interfere with job performance (note that my nanny has 12-15 hours per week of time without the kids, plus at least one full day off each week so this is not a big issue for us)

-Paid holidays are: Xmas Day, NY Day, Tgiving Day and day after Tgivign, July 4th, Labor Day, Memorial Day

Other issues
-Nanny may eat and drink anything in the home. If nanny would like certain foods or drinks during her workday, she is free to purchase them at our expense when buying groceries or add to list.
-Petty cash will always be available. Please notify family if running low. Place receipts in drawer, but you do not need permission for purchases unless they are out of the ordinary.
-Nanny may use extra bedroom to stay over as little or often as she desires
-Nanny may bring her own child to work on days off school, but if child is sick, we should discuss in advance
-Nanny understands that any and all information obtained about family during her employment is confidential and may not be disclosed to third party for any reason (includes medical, financial, legal, career, assets, etc)

I think that is it!

utnanny said...

Thanks so much nycmom!

anon #1 said...

re-posted for anonymous: I have a current nanny who is paid 400.00 a week as a salary employee. We have a vehicle she drives when caring for our child, we pay for activities and lunch expenses if she is away from the house during this time as well as her entrance fee's to museums and zoo's. We also pay for any extra arts and crafts stuff she would like to do. We do make up time if she needs a day off, or let her go early if we can without docking her pay. During our vacation time she is still paid, and she has no responsibilities to us. We also let her live in our other house rent free (she has to pay utilities). I always try to make sure that she agree's to how things are going to work with pay, make up time and such, and I always try to make it fair. We do not have a lot of money, I don't work due to injuries and my wife is a full time student. Even in my opinion you are being taken advantage of. Our nanny stays for dinner, can eat whatever is in the house for lunch, has breakfast with us. I would think that a person who is paying you to watch their children would want you happy to be there. In our case we ask for notice if a day off is needed for something due to my wife's school schedule and my physical therapy schedule. If I were you, I would seriously look for a new job.

UmassSlytherin said...

wow. that is a clear, fair contract. It is appropriately strict and at the same time generous in every aspect. For the right fit, that sounds like a great job.

I would not be right for this position. lol no freaking way! You sound like a tough employer to work for! And that is not a criticism: you also seem like a fair employer who wants the best for her kids! I say tough because it seems you don't take any BS! and that is awesome.

Great job!

Susannah said...

At least you are clear about what you expect nycmom.

I'm by no means lazy or a bad employee but that contract would not work for me , but a nanny can clearly see what you are looking for and see if she would be a good fit or not.

Can we post sample contracts somewhere? I think that would be great to have as there are so many questions about contracts and fair expectations.

nycmom said...


I'm actually not that strict in practice! I just find if you don't address every.single.thing at hiring it becomes a problem later. My first nanny kept saying she did not want vacation for two years. I kept encourage her to take vacation. Then after 2.5yrs, she suddenly asked to be paid for all her built up vacation. I paid her, but I won't make that mistake again. Vacation/taking a break is important for everyone's physical and mental health, thus I think it should be required.

Also, I often negotiate these terms with a prospective nanny and we come to something we both agree on. It's interesting to see the responses perceiving this as "strict" though. I actually don't think much about it is unusually strict, just spelled out in minute detail.

I would be interested to hear which parts, specifically, you or other nannies would find objectionable. I would certainly be open to revising this if there was feedback that some of it was unreasonable. Thanks!

Phoenix said...


I think that you are a very good employer. Setting up a contract like you did is exactly what other businesses do so why should a nanny be any different. I think the boundaries you established are spot on. Any nanny would be lucky to be employed by you. Not just because you are nice but you are professional and that is very hard to find in domestic employment.

kudos to you!

Phoenix said...

i am the double poster lately because i always want to add after i said things...go figure i have more to say LOL

i don't think that setting up boundaries and having expectations of your employee is considered strict. I believe that a good employer is able to walk that fine line and if need be bend to the employee more than expecting the employee to bend for them. it is business when you get right down to it. This nanny wouldn't be in your home if they didn't need a job to pay their bills. It seems that a lot of employers begin to think that it is a privelage they are giving their nanny for watching their children and this isn't fair but a lot of people do it

KJ said...

Not sure why people are saying Nycmom is strict. That seems like a very fair contract that covers all the bases. I too am interested in what people see as strict or not a good fit.

Karli said...

NYC Mom - After being in a situation for a year and a half where my employer flat-out REFUSED to fill out the contract given to us by the agency I go through (just didn't "feel like it") I would love to have an employer like you who outlines the expectations of the job in such detail. I was consistently given more and more to do at this job, and I won't bore people with the details, but a lot of them were far beyond what a nanny should be doing. Meanwhile my pay never increased while my job duties grew significantly until I was completely overwhelmed within an hour of being there each day. I tried unsuccessfully for a year and a half to persuade him to go through the contract with me but he was too lazy about it and kept putting it off so I eventually quit. With nothing on paper backing me, I couldn't ever say "This isn't in my job description." Even though the things he was asking me to do, most people on here probably wouldn't even believe if I told them. LOL

UmassSlytherin said...

NYC mom, I meant strict in a good way: you put everything up front. I don't find anything in this contract objectionable, other than that it sounds like hard work! Nanny jobs in general, when the nanny is good, are hard work! I think this contract is great and you sound like a great employer. I just would not want to be a nanny. Ever again! I will be the first to say I can't do it!

Susannah said...

I don't really think there's anything wrong with it. You're clear with your expectations and your open to negotiations.

It's not for me because I'm a childcare nanny only, so no household chores period/

But I think you've mentioned before you hire a nanny/household manager so in that scenario this contract makes sense.

sabrina said...

Karli, please tell us what kinds of things your employer would ask you to do, i know you don't think we'd believe you but i'm sure there are many nannies here that have been asked to do some crazy shit for their boss!

workingMom said...

Just echoing that I also think your contract is great. I too appreciate covering all bases up front is wise and fair.
Relationships have a far better chance of success when both parties understand fully what is expected of them.

nycmom said...

Thank you all for the feedback!

Anonymous said...

I'm a nanny and my boss wants me to make up 45 hours that they are paying me for there! Vacation! Every time I take a day off I have to make it up! Or if I want to take a vacation a different they take a vacation I have to make up all the hours! Please help is this fear!