Knowledgeable Negotiations Needed

First time Nanny needs suggestions.... First of all, some background info about me - I am a full time nanny for a family living in the Washington DC metro area. This is my first full time job as a nanny, but had been a part time (nights/weekends) nanny in NYC area for a few families for 7yrs. I have been working for the DC family for 6 months now and they are also first time parents. I am grateful to them for willing to hire someone who has never been a full time nanny, though I do have loads of experience with children along with great references too.

Initially, I asked for a contract to be drawn up by the parents before I started my first day at work, the parents are lawyers as a lot of DC professionals are. After weeks of them saying 'We're working on it.. it will come this day...", no contract ever surfaced. And I was willing to let the matter rest as I was eager to start work. Now, after 6 months of working for the family, I have met several other nannies whom I speak to regularly. From gathering information from these nannies, I have realized that a contract will help me set certain boundaries with this DC family as there are particular issues that come up time and again that I have problems with. To be clear - I have no problem with what they pay me hourly and for my overtime rate. But I need opinions from parents and nannies about some parts of the contract:

1) Since there are no official rules/laws about raises, when is the right time for me to ask about a raise? And what percent raise is reasonable?

2) I currently have NO paid days/hours off. I do NOT get paid on government holidays /personal days /sick days /vacation days, etc. I only get paid for the EXACT hours I work. **What is a reasonable amount of paid days off I can ask for? I was thinking 5 paid days off every 6 months, is this reasonable? My daily hours varies, it ranges from 9.5hrs - 11.5hrs, so what amount of hours should I ask for that is equivalent to 1 paid day off?

3) And is it also reasonable for me to include in my contract to give me at least 3 or 4 or 5 days notice for any period they expect me NOT to work, and otherwise if there's no advance notice, to pay me a full standard day? (Sometimes I am given little or only hours notice as to when I am not required to work that same day).

4) As we just had Hurricane Sandy come thru our area, there was another issue that came up as well. Is it reasonable for me to include a "Due to extreme weather..." clause in my contract? Such as if they want me to report to work, but the public transportation is shut down due to extreme weather, is it reasonable for me to ask them to compensate me for a taxi cab?

5) There was a dilemma that surfaced previously regarding overnight rate. The parents and I could not agree on a rate therefore, at that time, I did not work for that one night they asked. In this instance, I was again given little notice of when they needed me to stay overnight. They offered to pay me an overnight rate equivalent to a babysitter's rate, whereas I was asking for a reasonable rate according to a typical full time nanny's overnight rate. I asked my other nanny friends what they were charging, and based on that, the rate that I offered was on the low side. **My question is, being a full time nanny, should my overnight rate be more or less than your average babysitter? After talking to other nannies that I've met, I deduce that I perform more duties than the average nanny, without ANY benefits and on an average wage. I feel like having a contract will be beneficial and I need any helpful suggestions to my questions above from parents and nannies. Thank you! - Anonymous


Caring Mom All Day said...
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Lyn said...

1. Industry standard is after you agree to a salary you stay with it for the duration of your contract. Most contracts are for one year terms of service. In some cases you can reneg after 6 months. Like, if the job description has changed from what was originally agreed on. IE, extra hours, overnight fees, extreme weather causing issues like you mentioned. But again, if you do not have a contract, therein lies the issue. You need to tell the family flat out. "I began working for your family 6 months ago. I was told before starting you would have a contract prepared for me. That did not happen. I've given ample time for this to be corrected. I need a contract and negotiations meeting to happen with in the next month." Point blank. And once that happens you'll be able to stick to your contract and refer back to it as needed.

Lyn said...

2. While paid offs on government holidays vary from family to family EVERYONE needs holidays. I have given my employers (past and present) a fee for my services and how many hours I am available each week for the contracted amount of time. I told my current family my fee was $**** for 37.5 hours of work each week. When I usse a vacation/personal/sick/holiday off I have it counted as my average weekly hours, divided by how many days I work (5) and that number is how many hours my work family has to subtract from my schedule for the week. That way, if I take a sick day on a monday, I only have 30 hours to work the next 4 days as opposed to trying to fit 37.5 hours into 4 days.

Lyn said...

3. I also have a late cancellation fee written into my contract for when I do occasional sitting (as this is not an issue with my nanny family). It states that if I am given less than 24 hours notice of their cancellation I am still to be compensated for 4 hours of child care (again, only 4 because I only include this in my sitting contracts. If my mb does not need me one day with little/no notice I am still paid for that day as though I had worked.)

Lyn said...

(Forgot to include in 3,) because you are paid hourly rather than salary I would implement a cancellation clause into your contract. Because you will have a contract written up. Righhhhttt? *obvious nudging* haha

Lyn said...

4 . Yes. They should pay for your cab if public transportation is down.

Lyn said...

And 5. A good rule of thumb for nanny overnight fees is hourly rate for all awake hours and then half rate for all sleeping hours. If the child typically goes to sleep at 7:30, charge untl 8:30 your normal rate and then begin your normal rate again and hour before the child typically wakes up. But I have no idea how old your charge is. If they do not sleep through the night then you need to request baby nurse pay for all overnight hours.

Sorry I had to submit this in sections OP. I'm typing from my phone in bed trying to wake up and it's easier to write these long posts in sections. :)

Send a Limo said...

Why would a cab fare be due? Most all employees are responsible to get to work, no matter what it takes. They are not paid to travel to work. It might be nice for the family to send a car for you (or a cab) under the circumstances. That would be a very wise thing for them to do, but no boss is responsible for getting their employees to work. I think the contract idea here is doing more harm than good for your future work relationship, personally.

operananny said...

1) this varies, but standard for my area (chicago) seems to be $1/hr raise yearly.
2) again, varies, but the standard seems to be all government holidays paid, 5 paid vacation/personal days and 3 paid sick days.
3) i think you may be able to negotiate this, but i think it's really on them to be considerate or not...
4) honestly, others may disagree, but i think getting to work is on you. if cab fare, train fare, gas fare or bus fare are normally your responsibility, they are in inclement weather as well. otherwise, you can take a personal/sick day.
5) some nannies have clauses in their contract about this, for me, it falls under "overtime," time and a half for all extra hours worked, including overnights. in my case, this means they have NEVER asked me to stay overnight. :) stand your ground on this one! overnights are tough.

hope that helps!!

Send a Limo said...

To add to above, how about thinking of the reverse? What if due to a hurricane (Sandy), your bosses work shut down and they didn't need the child are? Would your disaster clause of the "contract" allow them not to pay you and would there be a penalty to them for canceling last minute? See? It's give and take.

MissMannah said...

You need to write up a contract and get them to sit down for a 6-mo review. To answer your questions:

1. I don't think you should put in anything about a raise. I think raises should be based off merit and if at a year the parents think you're worth a raise, you'll get one. Putting it in the contract will make you sound greedy, especially because you said you have no problem with the salary they're offering.

2. Are you getting overtime (time and a half) for every hour over 40? If not, you should be. As for PTO, you can ask for holiday pay but don't expect it. I don't get it. Ask for 1 week vacation (40 hrs) at 6 months, another week at 1 year and another week at 2 years.

3. Yes! You are counting on that salary and should expect at the bare minimum 2 days' notice if you're not going to be paid for a day. If they give you any less than that, you should expect to get paid for it.

4. Present it as an "in case of emergency" clause. If they willingly give you the time off, you should still get paid but if they want you to come to work and you don't want to, you should not be paid for it. You can ask for cab reimbursement but don't count on them going for that.

5. I believe in a flat rate for overnights. Hourly up until the kiddos go to sleep and then a flat rate for the rest of the night, assuming they don't wake up at all. I don't know what the standard is there, but I charge $30-$50 for overnights.

Bethany said...

6 months is the perfect time to renegotiate.Here's my take based on my own contract and experience

1. I wouldn't put anything in the contract about a raise. I believe tose should be earned an when the time comes they will give you one or you can negotiate for one. Only exceptions are if duties are added to your responsibilities you can include that in your contract.
2. I am paid time and a half for all hours over 40 in a week. I am guranteed by full working salary each week even if I do not work those hours through no fault of my own. I also outline my rates for lateness, babysitting, holiday work, travel and overnights.
3. Basic benefits are all federal holidays off and paid, 5 sick/personal days. 2 weeks paid vacation 1 I choose one they choose. Some families are willing to add additional time of paid time of per year of employment.
4. Much like in #2 I have a clause in my contract that states that in cases of weather emergencies states of emergency,blizzards, sever snow, floods, hurricanes etc I am not required to come into work but will be paid for that time.
5. In your case if they insist you come in I think it would be reasonable for them to compensate for the taxi. Many employers do compensate their nanny for using public transport to and from the job. They may say no but it doesn't hurt to ask.
6. Some nannies prefer to use a flat rate for overnights I prefer to stick to my regular hourly rate no discounts for sleeping. If you go with them I think minimum should be $100/night more if you are caring for infants or young children that frequently wake.

Good luck to you

Contract hmm said...

Mannah- You had a contract for three paid weeks vacation and you felt you should be paid for two more? Ladies, not even corporate professionals get this kind of PTO, let alone labor jobs. The fact that you were fired may have more to do with your bosses not being able to reconcile your expectation that No One ( except perhaps congress and corporate execs) receives these kinds of benefits!

Lyn said...

I get 7 weeks pto. 3 of my choice 4 of the parents. Plus holidays and I have unlimited paid sick days. My Husband gets 6 paid weeks off too.

I think mannah got fired for being a professional and sticking to her guns.

Contract hmm said...

Lyn, I'm so glad you clarified your work experience. I really am. I'm all for workers rights and professionalizing the field. But I think your expectations really limit your employment options. If you plan to stay with this family for the next 5 decades, you're set. Otherwise , your entrance to the real work world may come as a surprise.

Lyn said...

I think if I were expecting every family I work with to give me 7 weeks pto I'd definitely be in for a shock, haha. You're right. That is just what this family and I have agreed upon. In the past my pto has always been between 3-5 weeks annually. However if I returned back to teaching, helllllo summer and winter breaks!
I believe Mannah is intelligent enough to know the root cause of the reason she was fired. And sticking to a contract can be an issue for many families. It's always baffled me why I hear stories of mb/dbs not sticking to their end of the contract. I mean, they read it, they negotiated it, they have copies of it. Why is it so many families "forget" what they agreed to? Or become offended if the other person happens to remember what duties they agreed to? It seems to be a problem for many mbs/dbs. It's disheartening to hear about.

Contract hmm said...

I agree that if a parent agrees to a contract, then they should be professional an keep to their contract. I don't feel there's anything wrong with ask for renegotiating based on changing needs, though. That's my only point, along with speaking to the reality of PTO for the vast majority of people everywhere in this country.

Lyn said...

I fully agree with you Contract!

MissMannah said...

I have absolutely no idea what you're talking about. I have never received 3 weeks of paid vacation. I advised the OP to ask for 1 week after 6 months of work and another week after a a full year.

Contract hmm said...

MM- sorry for confusion- my mistake. I got this OP and other OP below mixed up. Sorry again to all here- just cut an paste most of my posts to other thread- thanks!

MissMannah said...

Uh yeah, I got that. But I didn't say I had 3 weeks vacation on that thread either.

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

I do not think it is any of the nanny's business if the boss-parents have gotten a raise/bonus that year. Nor is it any of her business how much they make. I can't tell you how many times I've seen nannies complain "I know my MB makes a lot of money!" Well, you shouldn't know that unless you are her business partner or doing her books. (not a nanny's job)

Getting back to the point, COL raises aren't really customary anymore, from what I've seen anyway. I think ALL raises (not just for nannies) should be based off merit. I believe you agree to a salary and have to earn more if you want it.

Caring Mom All Day said...
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Calanna said...

I agree that raises should be merit-based, however, I DO stipulate in my contract that an annual performance appraisal AND salary review be done. Given in writing and discussed together. If I am going to be denied an annual raise, I want to know the reason(s). Luckily, so far, this hasn't been an issue because I've always received an annual increase. If a Nanny isn't doing a good enough job to deserve one, why is she still employed?

I also stipulate a minimum number of hours I will be paid each week. I have bills to pay and a budget to plan. If the parents decide at the last minute to have grandma come stay with the kids one day, or if they decide at the last minute to take off work and take the kids to Six Flags, I will still be paid up to at least my minimum weekly payment.

Other things I specify:

- time and a half for every hour over 40 per week
- double time if I work on a holiday previously agreed upon as pto
- 5 sick/personal pto days per year
- 10 vacation pto days per year
- 8 holiday pto days per year (New Year's Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving and the day after, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year's Eve)
- gas reimbursement at the IRS rate for all miles driven while on-duty (commute miles do not count)

Caring Mom All Day said...
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nycmom said...

As an employer having employed 2 long term nannies for total of 9 years in NYC and one nanny almost a year in SF (just to give perspective on area salaries/benefits):

1. I specify in our contract that our nanny can expect 3-5% raise per year. In reality, in NYC that was roughly $25/week more and in SF it will be $1/hr more.

2. Two weeks vacation, one we choose, one nanny chooses. Five sick/personal days paid out if unused (incentive not to feel the need to "use" them up last minute). In NYC we gave only the 6 major holidays; here we do 6 + day after Tgiving for 7 total. All paid at normal rate. Always pay for 52 weeks/year.

3. Yes, but it should be irrelevant. You should be paid 52 weeks/year as a full-time nanny.

4. Mixed feelings on transport. If I wanted my nanny to get there (since I would *have* to get to the ER for work), I would expect to pay for a cab if public transport was not working. I would not want to include this in a contract though unless it was very, very specific about exactly that all public transport had to be nonfunctional.

5. I prefer a flat rate. I usually do $75 for 10pm-7am or so. The hours have varied as my kids get older. I also would be comfortable with half pay for sleep hours. If you want to do occasional overnights, set up pay like this. If you never want to work overnights and ensure the family has other arrangements, then charge OT rates.

Sunny said...

I think overnight rates should depend on the child.

Newborns and infants who still wake up during the night should have their nanny paid the same hourly rate. Or OT if over 40 hrs.

W/older children this depends on many factors. For example, sometimes I do overnights for older children. What I notice is that older children can have difficulties falling and staying asleep knowing their parent{s} are not at home. I have had many children awaken multiple times during the evening/early morning crying they miss their parent{s} or wondering when they will return, etc. It can really be disruptive to one's sleep to be awakened multiple times during the night. Some people can just "fall back asleep," but I am not one of them. Also, some children have nightmares or night terrors and awaken at night in fits of tears, etc. I once watched a 7 yr old who awakened multiple times during the night crying and talking to himself. He was incoherent and I had to massage his back so he could fall asleep again. He probably woke up around 5 or 6 times and I didn't get a sound sleep until I went home and slept in my own bed. Yet because of his age, his parents only paid me 1/2 his daytime rate.

Unless a nanny is assured that she will get peaceful and interrupted sleep, she should still charge her regular rate.

Jess said...

I agree with the people that say a nanny should be paid her normal wage for evening or overnight care. Or, receive an additional wage or overtime. Technically, it really is overtime. I charge a flat rate of $15 after 8 hours for additional evening or overnight care. You are still responsible for the child whether they are asleep or awake. And, you cannnot leave the home. Plus what if they do not sleep the whole night or wake up?

Kara said...

There really is no harm in asking to revise a contract especially after a couple of months. Circumstances can change and unforseen things can arise. It can benefit both nanny and employer. Revising a contract after a certain length of time can actually be put into a contract.

Miss Sunshine said...

I see my comment from last night has been deleted. I'm not sure why, as I said nothing wrong. Is this blog being censored? Why was I silenced?

MaryPoppin'Pills said...

Miss Sunshine,

Most readers are not interested in the back and forth insults. Sorry if you are offended but I am tired of my blog being dragged through the mud.

Miss Sunshine said...

I'm sorry, but I don't see how I have insulted anyone. I came here trying to have a discussion - I haven't even said anything to anyone. I was somewhat offended that my first post got deleted, so I'm sorry if it came off as rude, but I truly do not see why I was targeted for deletion in the first place. I have been nothing but respectful. No offense. <3

MaryPoppin'Pills said...

Miss Sunshine,

Welcome aboard. Obviously being new, you aren't aware of all the serious fighting that has been going on lately. It is possible you did not see the nasty response you received but I decided to remove the entire conversation.

I am trying my best to come up with a solution... and I think I might have one. I get so many e-mails from long-time readers threatening to leave because of the nonsense and something needs to be done.

Thank you for inquiring so politely as to what happened. I hope that my solution at least gives readers that want to stay away from the drama a choice to avoid certain threads now.

Dr. Juris said...

Couldn't agree more with the person who suggested the yearly performance review! Great time to bring up a raise, air any grievances, and renegotiate a contract (if need be).

Miss Sunshine said...

Thank you for the explanation! I was wondering why I was attacked the second I got here. I'm sorry if I stirred the pot somehow, I was just trying to add to the discussion. I can understand how hard it must be to run a blog with fighting going on. I certainly don't want to add to that. At any rate, I appreciate the warm welcome!

Caring Mom All Day said...
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canadiannanny said...

I am a first time nanny as well, but will give my 2 cents to try and help you out, when I send in a question I always appreciate every response.
1. I agree with most of what was said already, I think I am lucky in that it is in my contract for the next 1.5 years I will get a 5% raise every 6 months. With any other job, you would probably get a raise at least every year so I think it is nice to know we're getting it too.
2. I think we should be paid government Holidays as well as have a few sick days, maybe 1 for every 2 or 3 months, whatever is the norm. I get 4 a year but am only a nanny with this family 3 days per week.
4. I agree with some others that you getting to work is your responsibility, sorry!
5. See the question posted a few days ago regarding overnight rates, a few people commented there!
I think it will be hard to renegotiate the contract now, and you may lose your job but good luck and let us know how this turns out:)

canadiannanny said...

Sorry OP I forgot 3.
I think you should put a clause in that they must pay you when they don't need you.
If you work a set schedule every week, and have a certain number of hours you're supposed to get, if they don't need you you should be paid. If possible, just have in your contract the hours you must be paid for weekly whether or not they use them. And NO they can not be bumped over to use as unpaid hours later.

NewDCNanny said...

Hello nannies and parents, I made the original post regarding the contract...
Thank you everyone for all your advice. I will definitely keep them in mind.I will be working on a contract soon and hope to have a meeting about it with my employers before Christmas. Although it is a little intimidating as I will going up against two trained lawyers! I will probably post again after the contract meeting as I presume I will need third party perspectives. Thank you again!