Tuesday

Here's the thing:

Having a nanny is a luxury. You pay for a luxury the same way you'd pay for a luxury car or a luxury cruise or a fine dining experience - in other words, you have every right to expect certain things for your money, but you pay the price.

Let me offer an example: a nanny gets an hourly rate that is higher than a daycare rate. It's expected that she will get regular raises. A bonus at Christmas is pretty standard (one week's pay for every year worked). An expectation to a minimum number of hours. A week of paid vacation. These things are STANDARD, not signs of a generous employer.

I don't know if this is more a rant or an entreaty to parents, but I'm dealing with a situation right now with my NF that is leaving me a little bitter.

I live in an area where nannies are not common, so I considered myself blessed to find a new NF several years ago after my then - current charge started school (I had more than three years wjth that family, and continue to work for them when they need a sitter or short term care). I hit it off with the parents, hit it off with the kids, and was coming off of six months employment, so I went ahead and took the job WAY below market rate, even for my area, and way below my personal rate - we're talking $10/hour for three kids, all under age 2 (and the time) and special needs/multiples. I was so glad to be working again. I've now been working for them for several years, and while I don't think they mean to take advantage of me, I think they just don't think about how their actions affect me. :(

When I started, the family was in a medical crisis and required someone literally every time the kids were awake. I was working almost round the clock, seven days a week (in excess of 80 hours) and DB says it's too much for them to afford, so offered me afford flat rate of $500 per week. He said they'd "remember this later" with a tone of appreciation (and the insinuation that when the crisis was over, they'd make it up to me monetarily). I didn't go back to hourly until almost ten weeks later. Again, at the time I needed the money so badly it was like a godsend, and worth it to keep the job long term, but sometimes when I think of how much money I lost, I could scream. They never "remembered it later" unless you count the time months later that my car died right before vacation, and they asked me to work on my day off and paid me for five hours instead of three "to help out".

Over the years, the pattern has held. I have never gotten a bonus, nor any paid vacation. I have gotten regular raises so I'm just now - after years and another kid - approaching a base market rate. This year, at the beginning of the school year, we talked about me taking on some additional responsibilities, so they offered me a slightly bigger raise to compensate for the incidental time I spent on my own time. I found out then that they gave the other nanny the same raise (even though she was not expected to take on any additional responsibilities).

Which leads me to my current problem. At the beginning of the school year, when i took on additional responsibilities, it required me to give up or reduce some other side jobs I'd been doing. I was upfront with with them about this, pointed out that I'd need to depend on them now for that lost income, and they agreed. So for four months now I've been working about 35 hours a week (give or take no more than am hour or two).

I asked to take off a week over Christmas break because MB would be home, and the week I was supposed to come back, the family decided to go on vacation for a week. When I finally did come back, they told me that "things were tight right now" and they'd need to cut my hours a little temporarily. They assured me they knew I still had bills to pay, they'd take care of me, etc.

This week I was scheduled to work 27 hours; they cancelled even more hours so now I'll only be working 18 this week. I have bills that I won't be able to pay this month. No clear end date in sight. And, frankly, I'm a bit peeved. My dad says I should say something like "don't worry, I can use the extra time to go job hunting" which obviously I could never do, but sums up my feelings well.

I'm a good nanny. This is not in dispute - they rave about me, MB frequently says she wouldn't be able to get along without me, she's so glad I'm in the kids lives, etc. I do light housework, I do laundry, I help keep the household running smoothly. I've been with them through thick and thin - deaths in the family, behavioral problems, other undependable nannies, etc. It's very hard to not feel underappreciated.

Ironically, I have a side job where I never work more than 7 hours a week, and my boss there goes above and beyond. My first year I got two weeks pay as always bonus; this year I got a month's pay. When he found out I bought a new car after my old one died this summer unexpectedly, he gave me a random bonus (almost a month's pay) to help out with the unexpected expenses. This is pretty typical for him. It's hard not to compare the two. :(

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm sure you are a good nanny. But here's the thing, you keep staying. I'm sure you realize this, but I'll say it anyway- it's time to quit. Well, it was time to quit a long time ago. If nannying isn't a big thing in your area, you might need to do something else.

Anonymous said...

Employers have a job: To pay the rate agreed upon.

They didn't pay you $800 for your 80/hour week but $500--- Naturally they owe you $300 for however long that went on for (or more depending on your state's overtime laws).

Nannies: Its your job to make parents pay you for your time. If they dont COURT! Always have text/e-mail's saved to back up what you agree upon if you don't use a contract. Example: Go to interview agree to $10/hour... follow up with text; get scheduled for 8-8... follow up text of "alright I'll work 8-8 on day". Keep an hour log. Can't argue against facts in court.

Anonymous said...

Court isn't really the best way to keep a relationship with a family you WANT to work for.

You agreeed to this so the family can't read your mind that you think it's not fair. Also, since that was years ago, you gotta drop it.

What I would do (if you want to keep working for this family) is to write up a contact with minimum hours and paid sick and vacation time. You're the professional, so you drive that conversation and stick to what you think is fair.

Anonymous said...

Judges tend to agree with an employee who has been paid below minimum wage in defence of labor laws. There is no excuse to ever be paid less then that. In this regard there is no difference of an employer of Mc D's and a NF who break labor laws; both are employers and are expected to pay legally. Heck, depending on how long she had been working with them for such a slaves wage she might be entitled to a lump sum suitable to sustain her life until she found proper employers.

I've taken families to court on my own and won. You give the family no heads up, tell them nothing. You have law's printed and highlighted and your sources cited. You print up all e-mail's and text messages and high light the agreements. When you don't have physical proof of conversations you have to go on memory-- record it like a diary on Feb 3, 2016 around 5pm (when parents came home) we had a conversation about______. Its important with recalled conversations to state your minor faults (so that you are not some perfect human, thus unbelievable). I told the judge in my case "The family said they could only pay me half the amount that week and when things settled down for them I'd get the remaining pay. I believed them and allowed this to continue until 'this date'(physical proof) when I could no longer support myself without the back pay I was owed" {approximately}. I won, it took some work to get my money and part of the settlement was they couldn't slander me, write a bad review on nanny sites, provide an untruthful review and couldn't bring up the court case. I have 'friends' call acting like a NF asking about me from time to time-- the one time they got spiteful I went back to court and threaten to sue and after that they shaped up. They now say "I performed my job appropriately but we adults had a personality clash they couldn't handle and that the children had fun" (I'm cool with that)

This is all about standing up for your rights. There is no reason to settle for less rights just because you work for a family and not a corporation.

Hanna said...

Not to be rude, but YOU accepted this! There was no gun to your head. I'm tired of nannies posting these victim stories. NFS can ONLY take advantage if you let them. In all this time, you could have found a family to pay market rate and give you basic hours. I'm sorry but I no longer sympathize with people who KEEP accepting poor treatment