Equal Exchange

opinion 1
The mom I work for and have been working for for almost 2 years loves to trade hours. It was fine for a while... Id come in early during the week in trade for my 4hr work day (Friday) off. But lately she has been really holding hours over my head. For example the other week she let me go at her discretion an hour early... Then the next week when she went to write me a check for the overnight I had just done she reminded me of the hour from the previous week and said she had factored that into my pay. This morning she came into work and had a suggestion for us to try because her and her husband were taking the kids on some extra vacations (they are gone next week and were gone for 2 days a few weeks ago) she thinks that I should owe them a few date nights for the extra time off. I'm starting to feel a little taken advantage of. I mean, if they had their kids in daycare and went on a vacation the daycare wouldn't refund them their money for those days.. Right? Help.


la said...

I have a VERY similiar work situation. MB will let me go early and then tell me I have to be there on a Saturday. Which is in contradiction to our contract. And now she wants me to leave early every day so I can come for a full day on a Saturday.

UmassSlytherin said...

OP, you are being taken advantage of. I would not put up with this for another second.
Re-negotiate your contract.

SLNanny said...

I totally agress with Umass. You are being taken advantage of. It is sad that a mb would treat an employee of 2 years like this. Are you full time? It's pretty standard that you get paid when they are on vacation or whatever. My MB is great. I was full time but due to changes on both our ends, I'm only part time now. Still, if she lets me leave ealry or whatever, she still pays me for the time I was scheduled. Definitely discuss this with her.

alex said...

You are definitely being taken advantage of. Do you have a contract? You should mention that it is there choice to have you leave early (without prior approval from you to "make up" hours) and as this is your job and you rely on the money, they owe you your full salary regardless. I'd use the daycare example.

i can relate said...

I worked for a woman who took "trading hours" to a whole new level. She didn't cut one of my weeks by 1/2 my hours (14), paid me my full pay that week, but then had me stay an hour extra every day for 2 weeks. It doesn't sound like a big deal, 1 hour extra every day, but doing it for two weeks really wasn't convenient. I can totally empathize. I would definitely sit down with her and discuss her proposal re: vacations. You should be paid for forced time off, and not have to make it up. Do you have a contract?

Zarine said...

This would not work for me. Tell her you need a set schedule, and exactly what you said regarding the daycare comparison.

Phoenix said...

I don't agree with trading the date nights for the vacation time off at all.

But I do agree with her factoring an hour here or there when she pays you. They do the same thing in corporate settings for hourly employees.

Nanny321 said...

My MB does the same thing.. Takes last minute vacations, I dont get paid for them, then makes me work to make up the hours. On spring break they were gone the entire week, which means 45 hrs of my paycheck had to be made up by working 60 hrs two weeks in a row upon their return. MB and DB absolutely refuse to pay vacation pay. My hands are tied there's nothing I can do short of quitting and I'm just not in a position to quit right now. But yes, they still pay the child's preschool tuition when on vacation.

Village said...

It's hard to stop a practice once you start. I don't think you have any choice but to look for another job while you TRY to get MB to back off. Good luck.

It's insane they pay you for their vacation time, and then make you make up the hours. I would have been gone the day that started.

♥ Amy Darling ♥ said...

OP, your Mom Boss is being very petty and yes, you are being taken advantage of.

Perhaps you can talk to her about this. Just tell her what you told us.

Good Luck.

Phoenix said...

um. MPP can you please remove the German?

sick of it said...

Huh? What the heck is Phoenix whining about now? I have no idea what "German" she is referring to, Phoenix, do you have something against Germans?

Tessa said...

I never understand why a parent who has had a wonderful nanny for years suddenly starts taking advantage, but I have seen it happen over and over.

I think the other posters have given really good advice, but I also know it is really hard to bring up a situation like this with your MB. We can all sit here and tell you not to put up with it, but it isn't that easy with someone you have worked for for 2 years. I have been in similar situations many times, and it is really difficult.

Maybe you could tell her you need a more regular schedule to accomodate your other activities. Or you could suggest that you switch to a monthly salary, and make it sound like you are trying to make it easier for her. I hope you can come to an agreement, or you can find a better job. Good luck!

UmassSlytherin said...

Phoenix probably spotted a spammer. I hate spammers.

blissfuly ingnorant said...

Whether swapping hours is appropriate or taking advantage depends entirely on your initial agreement (and any formal changes in the agreement since then). If you are an "hourly" hire, then you get paid for the hours you work, and not for the hours you do not work. If you are a salaried person, then you get paid for the PERIODS you are available for work whether you spend the time at your employer's or at home. Your part of the agreement is to be available at those times, and their part is to pay you. Anything else has to be negotiated on a incident-by-incident basis. Say, for example, you're paid on a weekly set schedule, and YOU had an opportunity to extend some outside trip if you could just change one of your normal working days for that particular week. You'd have to ask first, right? And the employer would have to agree, possibly requiring you to make up for the hours some other time, or possibly asking you to accept a cut in pay for that week to cover your lost time.

On the other hand, if the original agreement is that you'll be paid hour-by-hour and both sides will aim to keep a certain schedule, then that's what the agreement is, and neither of you has any complaint if the schedule changes, OR if certain desired changes by either party can't be accommodated.

Bottom line: Your agreement is whatever your agreement is. And if it's not working for either party, then all that is morally required is to give proper notice to the other.

Good luck, all.

nycmom said...

I agree with the essence of what Blissfully Ignorant posted (notwithstanding the oft posted "nannies must be paid hourly"). Demanding flex hours if that is not in your Work Agreement is unfair and unethical. However, if you agreed upon flex/trading hours, then it is a reasonable arrangement that often works for both parties. Clarity on this is missing from the OP so I can only make inferences based on my reading of the post. Most responders seem to be reading the post as a clear-cut case of a nanny being taken advantage of, and that may well be true, but to me it sounds more like OP agreed to the flex hours for many years (and even, perhaps, benefited from this herself for a while) until they have escalated recently .

I do this with my nanny, but any trades have to be mutually agreed upon in advance. So if she asks to work 32 hours one week instead of wanting to use up a personal day, she will often ask to make up the hours the following week. In that case, I make requests for where the extra hours would be helpful to us and we find a time that works for us both. In return, if I ask her to work 45 hours one week, she is willing to work 35 hours the next week instead wanting overtime, and prefers this herself as it gives her time for personal stuff she wants to catch up on. Agreement is she has final say on choosing OT vs flex in these cases. We also defined, discussed, and reviewed examples of flex/trade hours at hiring and agreed upon this.

However, if we were traveling for an extra week above the standard 2 weeks vacation, I would *never* expect her to "make up" those 40 hours. That is not flex hours IMO. Our arrangement and a key point in my hiring job description was significant flexibility and variability in the week-to-week schedule. So if we were traveling Wed-Fri, but home Mon-Tues, I would expect Mon-Tues to be long days (perhaps 10-12 vs 8-10 hours), but it would still be far less than 40 hours and she would not be expected to make those other hours up. That is not the same as flex/trade.

Based solely on the info in your OP, you have set yourself for a difficult battle. You either directly or tacitly agreed to flex hours for much of the past 2 years of your employment. You agreed to various hour trades. Again based only on inferring from your OP, it sounds like the initial flex hours may even have been your initiative or benefit by getting Fridays off and making up those hours at other times. However, now that MB is the one who let you go early and wanted the flex/trade, it seems to be snowballing and no longer good for you in any way.


nycmom said...

Even the "few date nights" in exchange for 7 work days off is a difficult area. In their minds, you guys have a flex/trade agreement setup by years of mutual practice. In their minds, asking you to work 15-20 hours in exchange for 60 hours off seems like a really fair deal. But, of course, it doesn't feel that way to you because the date nights are not what you want to work and this was not what you had in mind with "trade hours" despite it being "fine for a while."

This is yet another issue of poor communication from both parties, vague terms, lack of a clear Work Agreement, and lack of definition of what the initial trading of hours meant to both parties. In your situation the problem is trading hours, for others it has been pay for sick days, pay for vacation, OT pay, household duties, etc. ALL of these could be solved by establishing a clear job description with a written Work Agreement BEFORE taking a job. I understand you likely had not dealt with this before -- I know I learned a lot on the "job" as an employer also -- but you only have two choices now.

You can sit down with your employers, explain the issue and take partial responsibility for the lack of clarity, but *insist* on defining it all going forward. Or you can quit, find a new job, learn, and make sure you do all those things before taking the new job.

Either way, you can *never* count on the nanny or employer to simply be on the same page with any employment issues. You can't count on both sides knowing which are paid holidays (MLK, day after Thanksgiving...?), agreeing on who chooses vacation time (mutual, each chooses one week...?), what constitutes "light" housework (loading the dishwasher, a quick vacuum ...?) or ANY other topic. Assume that whatever is not spelled out will become a problem today, tomorrow, or 4 years from now -- but it will almost always require addressing and it will be a lot more pleasant for everyone to do it before hiring than after a misunderstanding.

another mom said...

Thank you for all of the advice you provide in your comments. I've just hired our 2nd nanny and we are still in the learning process (ISYN has a wealth of information on many different issues!)

Though we admittedly have taken some cues from our new nanny, whose vast experience in hiring practices is helpful, it's nice to have another employers opinion on matters.

What I don't know I have to research, or so far, trust that we have chosen a good nanny that won't lead us astray!

Susannah said...

I don't know nycmom, this doesn't seem like this was in the agreement, but nanny just went along with it because it seemed reasonable. A rookie mistake.
My guess is she and dad have fallen on tougher financial times.
I doubt you'll be able to change this behavior 2 years in.

Susannah said...

If you like call a sit down and renegotiate a contract with regular hours and regular pay make sure something like nannies hours will be 8am to 5pm Monday through Friday. Nanny will be given a weekly net salary of $XXX to be paid weekly even if nanny does not work her full hours through no fault of her own.
Nanny is not required to work any days or hours outside these hours.

Should Nanny agree to work additional time outside of her scheduled hours nanny will be compensated at a rate of $x/hr.
Nanny will be paid her full salary of $XXX per week should the employer take vacationor hoilday time.

In the future never agree to flex-hours in your contracts, and if a new emplyer tries to slip them in, kindly refer them back to your work agreement.

OhhPlease said...

I agree with everything Susannah said! Basically what Susannah outlined for you is how my contract is. I get a weekly salary and if I work on the weekends or say I stay later in the night I am fully compensated for doing so. I am often relieved early and my bosses NEVER ask me to "make up" these hours just because they choose to come home early. And when they go on vacation I get paid in full and once again they NEVER ask me to make the hours up. It's obsurd that parents expect you to make up for THEIR vacation time. They should treat a nanny the same way as daycare tutition. You still have to pay even if you do not use their services that day or week. Why should I be penalized and lose my paycheck because you are living it up in tropical paradise? Having a nanny is a luxury not a right. And you have to pay money for luxurious privillages. This is why I would never work for a parent who practices "trading hours" or flex hours because it can becoming extremely annoying/petty.

OP said...

Hi, this is the OP. I want to clarify a few things. My original post was done on my phone and while I was feeling a bit heated, sorry if it was hard to understand. To clarify: I am a salaried employee. I do have a contract. When we began having issues with this trading of hours, I asked to have a sit down (several times) with my bosses. They finally met with me last week. We hashed out some of the issues that have been coming up over the past few months, including job creep (lots of household duties have been added recently) , the trading of hours and the overall burn out that I am feeling because they often will request multiple nights of care as they travel- in addition to my 40 hour work week.
My Friday schedule has always been kind of a flex day. On a typical work week, I am off at noon. There have been many times in the past few years that we have switched up my Friday schedule to accommodate both of our needs. For example, when my boyfriend who travels for work is in town, I might ask them if I can stay late or come early and have Friday off. Or, one of them may be traveling and need me to come early or leave late and thusly I have Friday off. Because MB uses Friday as an errand day, this has worked well for them. It has been in the past few months that they have been taking time off and expecting me to make it up. If Grandma comes into town, they say “Hey, no worries about coming in on Friday- Grandma will be here” but then they will come back later and tell me I owe them those hours. Or, they will take a week-long vacation and tell me that I owe them date nights or hours for this. It doesn’t feel fair to me because then I end up giving them back those hours on weeks where I am already working a full work week. There have been several times in the past few months where I have worked 60+ hours in one week. I care for two children under the age of three, am up throughout the night with the youngest- etc. and the burn out I am feeling is tremendous during these weeks. I don’t know how to explain to my MB that I am all about making things fair, but that when THEY take the kids out of town or have Grandma visiting, it is not my choice and therefore unfair that I have to constantly have these hours held over my head.
I tried to talk to MB about this, and her response was “Fine then. I guess I just won’t take the kids with us on vacation and you can be here with them.” What??!! I felt like she was punishing me for bringing it up. Now I am scared that if I push it, they will just go on their trips without the kids and I will be providing round the clock care.
This position is so good for me in a lot of ways, and I am scared to leave. Most of my nanny friends and even other parents I babysit for or have nannied for in the past have advised me that I should find another position. I have been with this family for two years and I guess what I am wondering is, is this fixable? What can I say or do to make MB see the light?

MissMannah said...

Is it fixable? In a word: no. The fact that you tried to explain your position to MB and she shot back with a sarcastic remark, rather than rationally trying to come to a compromise, is very telling of things to come. The exact same thing happened to me at my last job and I was fired after only 3 months of employment because they started doing that crap to me after only a couple of weeks and I wouldn't let them. If you stop letting them use you (and they are), it will be very bad because they have gotten so accustomed to it.

Not likely... said...

Fixable? Not likely. I would look for another position.

nycmom said...

Let me start by saying that any parent that would "threaten" their nanny with having to care for THEIR kids as "punishment" for raising job concerns is likely unsolvable as employers. Especially after two years together so that "new employer" learning is not an issue. So regardless of my following comments, I am not defending these people as good employers and do feel you will have to get a new job. Nonetheless, there are many larger issues here that you don't seem to understand -- and you need to have a good grasp of your rights before you take your next job.

I feel like a lot of what I suspected in my initial response is, in fact, accurate.

The trading of hours was mutually beneficial and agreed upon initially. Over time, the parents have begun to interpret this more liberally (to their benefit, of course) while you concurrently would like more of a fixed schedule. You tried (and good job) to address this to no avail. It won't get better.

Going foward: You cannot be a salaried employee. Period. You must be paid hourly. If you are a live-out, you are entitled to 1.5X for hours above 40. If you are in NY, other Nanny "Bill of Rights" laws apply such as one day off/week, max weekly hours, etc. If not, review the FLSA laws as those apply to you. One of the most important and overlooked of these is Recordkeeping. Your employers are required to keep written records of your days and hours worked. Sounds small, but if you do have to sue for back wages or unemployment or fight a bad reference, this is very important.

It is clear you need to move on. If this job pays well or is very liberal on unusual issues that are important to you, only you can decide if that is more important than the negatives. But the negatives won't improve.

You just need to decide how you want to go about this. Do you want a fight? Are you prepared to sue for back wages and all the employer violations? Or do you just want to move on quietly? You may be able to get a positive written letter of recommendation in exchange for waiving the above if you play hardball. It just depends on how much you want to fight. You have a lot of law on your side. Your employers can't just pay you a salary and expect you to work 24/7 for weeks on end while they travel. They can't not pay you overtime.

If you want to fight, stay at the job a few more weeks and establish a paper trail. If you email your employers, start putting your concerns (w/o raising law) in writing and getting their admission that this happened. If not, do it in writing. You said you have a written contract -- great! That alone is proof of all the violations. Keep records of your hours worked over the next few weeks and your pay. Email a close friend or review old communications to find documentation of how much you have worked. Do you live in a one-party state? If so, record a phone conversation with your employers if email would be impossible.

Do you want unemployment? You can't quit so you'll need to get "laid off."

If you don't want any of this, find a new job and quit. This time, know your rights and stick to them.

Good Luck.

OhhPlease said...

Start looking for a new job OP. The MB's sarcastic "threat" of leaving the children while they go on vacation is totally unacceptable. Judging from that reaction alone I can tell you that this situation will not get better. If I were you I don't even know if I would give a 2 weeks notice simply for the fact that they have been using you and because MB responded to your concerns with sarcasm. Look for a new job now and try to line one up before giving your notice.

Katie. said...

I don't know what you're state but in some cases you can quit and receive unemployment, I do believe you need proof that your boss created a hostile work environment for you.

So I would look into it.

Katie said...

Aslo, this situation isn't going to work out for you.

So stop trying to fix it.

If you can tolerate ( please keep in mind your mental and physical health) find another job first and give her 2 weeks notice.

You do not need to give more than 2 weeks, believe me when they want to a parent can find a good replacement nanny in that amount of time.

In all future jobs make sure you negotiate a contract with your employers. There are plenty of postings on this place about getting a fair contract for yourself.

Susannah said...

What about this position is good?

Why are you scared to leave?

momiswrong said...

When my family had a nanny, we paid her for any time we took off. If we took extra vacation days off, the nanny got paid. If Grandma came to town early and wanted to spend some time with the kids, nanny got paid. If mom wanted to take one of the kids shopping, nanny still got paid. In addition, we paid her for holidays, overtime if she was staying past her usual hours or coming in early, and extra if she had an additional kid that hadn't already been planned for in her salary. My family would have never asked the nanny to work extra hours to make up for time that we made her take off. That's completely insulting. A nanny is not an indentured servant, and anyone who treats them like one doesn't deserve them.