Tuesday

Justified in Leaving the Contract Intact?

OPINION
I want to hear other perspectives on this because I'm not sure if I did the right thing... I'm a live in nanny. My contract states my salary plus rates for overtime. My vacation was set aside as 2 weeks of the family's choice, one week of my choice. I have been here for nearly four months and it's clear that my vacation time will actually be about 5 weeks total because of the parents' flexible work schedule and their desire to vacation as much as possible. So last week I had 2.5 days off but was still paid my salary. I have an overnight rate of $50. In my contract, the overnight rate begins at 9pm. Because I am live-in, night time babysitting and overnight babysitting are the same rate (so whether I babysit from 9-10pm or 9pm-4am, whenever they come home, it's the same flat rate).

The other night MB told me she needed to pick up DB from the airport and asked if I'd mind babysitting for 2 hours while the kids were in bed. I said yes, and assumed that I would be paid our agreed upon rate. Then, right as she was about to walk out the door, keys in hand, she asked me if it was "okay if she just didn't pay me" (yes, her exact words) because of the "extra vacation time last week and because it was 10pm-12am, and you'll be home anyway". I was really offended and caught off guard. I do understand her perspective -- she didn't want to pay me $50 to be home while the kids were asleep, but I wanted to put my foot down because I'm always mindful that I do not work for free, period.

It's taken about four years of experience for me to become as assertive as I am with bosses so I intended to tell her no it was absolutely not okay for her to "just not pay me".  I told her I was not comfortable agreeing to anything outside of the contract we signed before I started. I said I understood that I got extra vacation time, but that I was always here and ready to work when she needed me, but her decision to take her family on a holiday was outside of my control and I didn't want to set a precedence that it's okay to penalize me for it. She responded that she was not lowering my monthly salary because of the days off but she just didn't want to pay me for the extra babysitting the following week because I had two and a half days off.

In the end, she wouldn't drop it so I said it would be okay for just the one night, but moving forward I want to stick to the contract we agreed upon. I am absolutely not happy with this but I felt really pressured, so I'll cut my losses there. I know I was within my rights to insist that we go by the contract, but my question to you all, parents and nannies, especially live-in nannies -- was this reasonable of me? What would you have done? I have a good relationship with my employers and would like to keep it that way. I am upset that my boss would ever even ask me to take less pay than what we agreed upon in the contract, but I'm not sure if I'm justified in feeling this way. There is nothing in our contract about "making up hours" the next week or anything of the sort and I would never get into one of those arrangements if it's because the FAMILY left and I could not do my job. I value this family and the job, and feel that a follow-up conversation is definitely necessary. - Anonymous

23 comments:

RBTC said...

i think the way you did this is very good and wise

out of respect for the mb and family you made a one-time compromise out of respect and amde it clear this was only one time

that way she can plan in the future to stay with the contract

but - that is a red flag, not a good sign

KJ said...

For those 2 hours, I don't think I would have made a big deal at the time. I then would have made sure to have a meeting with them the following day (or shortly thereafter) to discuss adding an addendum to the contract that addresses this specific issue. I think it needs to be added or else animosity may come into play on both sides.

For instance,next time MB decides to stay home with the kids or take a day off and go somewhere with them, she might ask you to do things that weren't originally in your contract since she's paying you. I"m thinking walk the dog, water the plants, etc, not heavy cleaning. She might also want you to be "on call". If there really is going to be an additional 2 weeks of vacation that wasn't specified in your contract, I think it def. needs to be reworked before both sides get annoyed with each other.

Lyn said...

Um, yeah you're upset. You should be! The fact that she even asked that is an insult to you. I'm surprised she wouldn't let it go when you told her you weren't comfortable with anything outside of your contract. That's weird to me.

What's done is done and there is no way to go back and change anything that happened that night or that was agreed to. But if I were you I would stick to my contract like GLUE for the next few weeks so that she doesn't ask this of you again with a "yeah, but.... *insert when you were lenient with the contract" and just don't let it happen again. If by some chance it does get asked of you again I would stay strong and then mention to her that your contract is up for renewal in ****, and you would be happy to add or renegotiate the terms of your position when the time rolled around. But for now you do not want to stray from an agreement that was agreed on by all adults for a conducive work agreement. You were "going to be home anyway" but if a friend called and needed you for something, or even if you just wanted to go and get a late night McFlurry you wouldn't have been able to. Your time was not your own. I wish more live in's bosses understood that concept.

OP, don't beat yourself up too badly about this one time slip though. You're a live in and I get that the lines between being work time and personal time can get pretty fuzzy sometimes. If this is the most infringing thing that's happened in 4 years I wouldn't put too much stock in it. Unless it appears to be becoming a pattern. :) You deserve the best.

Nannypants is a wonderful live in Nanny so if she is around lurking (like I know she is, haha) she can probably give you an idea of what she would have done and has done when these issues happen.

Original Poster said...

Re: KJ...

I don't want to amend the contract. I like it how it and when I signed it I intended to abide by it. If she started asking me to do "little things" or "be on call" I would again, say no, or say I was willing to do so for an additional rate.

I am this family's third live-in nanny and as far as I know, their lifestyle hasn't changed. Meaning, I think she knew that I would have this extra time off but didn't put it in the contract. You say animosity will build, but I don't think she has any right to resent what we agreed to! When she presented me with the contract, I didn't even make any changes. It was HER contract and I felt it was more than fair. Am I being unreasonable to think that unfortunately this is a loss that they will have to take if they want the luxury of full time, short notice, full availability and flexibility live in childcare? To me, this is just silly and unprofessional of her, but I posted because I was curious if anyone thought I was being inflexible and unreasonable.

just my 2 cents said...

I think it was pretty ballsy of you to insist to be paid for 2 hours of doing nothing (you were home anyway and the kids were asleep) right after getting 2.5 extra days off paid. I know it's within your rights and within the contract, but a business relationship always goes sour once people start nickel and diming each other.

Kj said...

I agree that she has no reason for animosity to harbor, but I wouldn't be surprised if she's the type of person who would hold a grudge about this. I read another forum that has had this issue arise and a good chunk of MBs resent their nannies over crap like this. I think you're totally justified in feeling how you do, I'd just want to address this with your bosses ASAP so the expectations are clear. They probably aren't used to having a nanny that stands up for themselves! Good for you for doing that OP, only way MBs like that will know they are taking advantage.

Contract hmm said...

I have never been a live- in, but I have worked closely with many many parents. I've always been curious about those who urge sticking to a contract as if it's the law. It's not, it's an agreement. But needs change regularly. I think there is a danger in not seeing the forest for the trees by making the number one focus sticking to a contract. Sure, businesses have "policy and procedure", but much in business is also give and take. It's especially true I think in the intimate relationships nannies have with their bosses/ clients.

Your MB sounds like she is following contract, but is wondering if with the extra paid time off you receive, she would like to negotiate something that feels like a win- win. I don't like the way she presented the question to you, and I would be bugged for that reason, as you were. Maybe saying- "you know, in this case I'm fine with the idea, but let's talk about it in detail soon, because I want us both to be comfortable with our current arrangement."

Caring Mom All Day said...
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Caring Mom All Day said...
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MissMannah said...

You were absolutely right--you should be paid for ALL hours worked and if they choose to go on vacation, you should not be penalized for that. I faced the exact same situation with my last job and I insisted on being paid. Guess what happened? I got fired because the dad thought I was being greedy. Too bad for him--I have a much better job now! So use that as a warning, stick up for yourself but be prepared to be let go.

Bethany said...

You are right in that you should expect to be paid.

However I think the time for this to be handled may have passed you by.

Unfortunately Mannah is right that they may not like you sticking up for yourself so be prepared for that.

It could be they are just testing your boundaries. I've found that many families like to do this just to see how serious you are about the contract.

From this moment on stick to your contract and don't be afraid to do so.

Good luck to you.

Melanie Raye said...

you were totally within your rights to want to keep the contract intact...that's what it's there for! Sorry to hear that your MB renegged on that, OP!

Caring Mom All Day said...
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Ann O'Neemus said...

Good for you, OP. Stay strong. I'm sure you don't want to feel you are nickel-and-diming your employers but if you don't stand up for yourself you could be on a slippery slope. I have found that if you don't behave as though you deserve respect, you don't get it.

backwards said...

Some people have it backwards. OP, you aren't nickel-and-diming your employers, THEY are nickel-and-diming YOU!

Wren said...

This is a tricky one...I think you are perfectly within your rights to tell her no, and stand by your contract. Personally however, while I would have been insulted, and upset at the request, I wouldnt have charged them anyways. I am live in and I let MB and DB leave the house on nights I am home anyways and don't charge them as long as long as it doesnt put me out of my way, however if I were working for a richer family who I know could afford it, I might treat that differently. I have had my fair share of parents wanting me to work for peanuts tho, so I applaud you for standing up for yourself.

nycmom said...

These situations are so difficult. I would never have asked you to work without pay, but I do always include flex time in our contracts. For example, if my nanny were paid for 35 hours, we would both be willing to do 37 hours one week, then 33 hours the next for the normal salary. In return, I am willing to offer the same flexibility.

I think the mom was out of line, but I can see how she might feel anger even if consciously she knows you are solely sticking to the agreement. In most jobs, we often go above and beyond the paid our expected duties for no extra compensation. Nannying is difficult to expect that because too many parents take advantage. But I do think there is some value in the concept. Every great nanny I have employed has gone above and beyond and I have made sure to compensate them at bonus and raise time.

I would *never* ask a nanny to work hours without pay. But I do realize I feel resentment if there is all give and no take in any job, as an employer or employee. If the parents start feeling that way, I do think your relationship will slowly degenerate regardless of other factors. There is such a human and personal factor in the nanny/parent relationship that is not there in most other jobs. I can easily see the parents feeling they need to "use up" all your ours if you are not at all flexible under any circumstances.

Bottom line is the that the mom was wrong and you were not. But I would consider offering some flexibility, perhaps if she plans in advance, if *you* can do that without feeling resentful and love the job.

Lyn said...

NYCMom, I love you. For real. You are the reason I come to this website! I love your tidbits!

nycmom said...

Lyn,

The feeling is mutual! There are few really great people on here and they are the reason I return also, yourself included : ) Well, that and to make sure I don't make the employer errors I read about on here!

christine said...

I'm not a nanny but work for a woman in a small home based business. She often calls and texts me when I'm home... sometimes during dinner or even late at night. I bill her for every minute of my time she takes up! I used to just endure it for no compensation but since I do the payroll (yes, I'm responsible to pay myself) I decided that if I am made to text back and forth with her so she can tell me who she likes on The X Factor, I am going to get paid!

Yoilkes said...

Yikes Christine! Careful Miss.

pro-nanny mama said...

I agree the mom was in the wrong here. That said, in the moment, remind her of the contract. If she then chooses to escalate (as she did in this instance) let it drop. However, you should now be super aware to monitor that it was a one-time exception, and not the beginning of a new pattern of taking advantage. We could all have a one time situation. As a PP said, stick to your contract like glue for the next few weeks to re-establish boundaries, as it could be testing you to see what to get away with. I wish more MBs were fair employers, it is so upsetting to read how so many take advantage of the kind hearts of people who care for their children.

Caring Mom All Day said...
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