How Do I Approach Negotiations for a Raise?

Received Friday, January 8, 2010
Perspective and Opinion on ISYN Hello, I am in a bit of a sticky situation and would like to hear some opinions on my position.

I have been working with my current family for a year now, as a live-out nanny. I work for a single well-to-do Mum, and my charges are 3 year old autistic twin boys. My salary is $925 bi-weekly, after taxes, for a 47.5 hour work week. (Over-time hours are paid under the table at $12 per hour.) Also included in my salary is my monthly transit pass (I need it to get the kids to their daily appointments) and I receive 2 weeks paid vacation a year.

My responsibilities (besides caring for the boys) include:
-ALL food preparation - I cook for the children all day, prepare dinner for the whole family each night, make the Mum's lunch for work, and also prepare meals for over the weekend.
-ALL household laundry - the Mum's, the childrens', bedding, towels, you name it.
-ALL the grocery shopping - I shop for fresh things in the neighborhood, and make the lists for all the other things which are purchased online and delivered for me to put away.
-ALL cleaning, done each week - It's a 3 bedroom, 3 bathroom home.
-ALL garbage/compost/recycling is handled by me.

Also I take care of going to each and every single appointment the children have, and they have a lot, as well as cutting their hair, fingernails, changing their diapers, attending speech therapy and everything else that goes into working with special needs children.

Here's my situation, though... It's been a year (I know my employer is happy with my abilities and how I work) and I need to know where (as in percentage, or dollar amount) should I begin the negotiations for a raise? I do feel I am being grossly underpaid, I work with TWIN TODDLER SPECIAL NEEDS children.... $9.74 an hour doesn't seem enough for that. I would have negotiated for more right from the start of my position, but the children have been diagnosed autistic within my past working year with them. When agreeing to the job I was informed they were typical, but slightly developmentally delayed due to being born so prematurely. Ideally I would like to initiate a conversation about how I'd like to receive a "raise" to bring me up to what I should be getting paid, and also lock down a fixed raise raise rate for the coming years. (I have agreed to stay 2 more years, at least-since planning ahead is important with autistic children, being that they need to be so routine.)

What are all your thoughts on; my current pay rate, what you think I should be paid, how much is average to " expect" as a yearly raise and any suggestions on good ways to bring this up? I have a great relationship with the Mum, love working with the boys and really don't want this to come to me looking for a new job, but I just don't think I'm getting paid enough for what I do. Thank you for all your comments!


Andrea said...

Your job is to keep the children safe happy and comfortable. You were hired as a nanny, not a maid. It is okay for you to do light housework such as laundry and cooking but when you are taking on other things such as cooking for the whole family and doing everyones laundry that is too much and that's when you must ask for a raise. You simply need to seperate what you were hired to do and what you are doing extra. Also explain how their autism is difficult and you feel that you are simply not being compensated properly for the hard work you are putting into your job. Or just say you need to cut back on your duties and are willing to keep your rate of pay the same. Or ask for a raise if they want you to continue to do what you're doing.

Andrea said...

Also tell them that you would have charged more knowing they had autism. And there are 2 of them. I have one completely normal kid 20 months old. I cook for him, and do his laundry. Sometimes dad's laundry too. Pick up after them and take home 733 per week after taxes. I was doing a lot more before for less and then I was forced to ask for a raise because i was doing heavy housework. When I told them I wanted either a raise or less responsibiliity they gave me both. it was nice. if you have a good relationship with the mom you work for that shouldnt be a problem.

LatisseLash said...

I would not tell a parent "I would have charged more knowing they have autism." That's a good way to lose your job, not to mention downright rude!

ChiNanny said...

While I wouldn't put it that way ("I would have charged more knowing they have autism.") I think it's fair to bring up that the job has difficulties that were not known when you were hired. Caring for two autistic children is far more difficult than two children who are slightly delayed.

I think it's fair to say to the mom something similar to what you posted here. That you have a lot of responsibility, have been there a year, and for the work you are doing, feel as though you deserve a raise.

Bloomfield babysitter said...

The problem is you agreed to a low wage for a lot of work to begin with. You should be making in the neighborhood of at least $15.00 per hour without any extra work beyond caring for the kids. Obviously you deserve a raise but how much can you reasonably ask for? Most people, regardless of their field, are lucky if they receive 10% but in your case that works out to less than $1.00 per hour. I think you need to sit down and think about what you want. I don't think you can expect more than a 20% raise at best even though that still leaves you underpaid.

I would talk to the mother. Have a heart to heart and be honest. You say she is well to do so what you could do is ask for a raise now and see if you can sit down again in six months, review the situation and possibly negotiate a raise again depending on your duties. You may find yourself free of one or both of the children during the course of the day depending on what home services the state you are in offer. Also, be aware that you may not have a job or may have a greatly reduced one when the children turn three as many states provide full time schooling for children on the spectrum and they become eligible for this immediately upon their third birthday. As for caring for children with autism being more difficult, as a mother of an autistic child and a nanny to one, I have to say it's not necessarily more difficult just very different. Given my experience with typical and autistic kids I prefer caring for the autistic ones.

In any event, I wish you the best of luck!

nyc mom said...

I disagree with Andrea on the nature of your job. Assuming the duties were presented to you honestly at hiring, you agreed to a Nanny/Housekeeper position. I would be frustrated as an employer if you were now feeling taken advantage of. However, if the duties have escalated during your employ, I think you have legitimate basis for a raise in that regard.

I also don't think that simply a change in label from developmentally disabled to autistic in and of itself warrants a raise. There is a school of thought that the rise in autism is simply a change in diagnosis, not a rise in the illness. Again, assuming the children's behavior has not changed significantly during your employ, it seems like you knew the position at hiring. But if there behavior has changed a lot, then a raise here is reasonable.

I do think you deserve an annual raise. It's true that many employers have not gotten raises and this makes it difficult to give one to nannies at times. However, that doesn't change the fact that after a year it is reasonable to ask for and have earned a raise. If your employer cannot afford it, she can tell you and you can make a decision about continuing the job. But you should definitely ask. A 3-5% raise is standard which is often $25/week. But for an outstanding nanny going up by $50/week is not uncommon. It sounds like you gross about $600/week now plus $25/week for transit pass (guessing at this based on NYC numbers). Only you can know if this is market for where you live. In NYC, netting $600 would be within the realm of normal for a nanny, though not on the upper end by any means. It is low for a Nanny/Hker position.

alex said...

I think you should address it as, one you have been working for a year, two they are special needs children and three you are doing a lot of work for not a lot of pay. If you have a great relationship with the mom, just ask her if you can sit down with her when the boys are in bed and discuss the situation. Tell her how much you love working for them, do not plan on leaving but that you would have asked for more money had you known how much work you would be doing.

MidwestManny said...

If you truly want a raise and not to get fired don't focus on the fact that their children are autistic! You do deserve a change in pay rate as your job duties are those of a house manager not nanny. As a house manager and manny of three I make $15 an hour and I don't do laundry or deep cleaning. All three of my kiddos have levels of developmental delays or mental illness and require a lot of supervision. I wouldn't dream of asking my boss for a raise because one of the children was newly diagnosed with yet another illness. You shouldn't either. If you do, you will only sound heartless and rude. As far as any yearly raises are concerned, those should be based on job duties, job performance, and employer's financial security. I am so disgusted when some of the holiday bonus stories come out, as certain nannies feel they are owed bonuses and gifts. Nannies shouldn't be underpaid or overworked but they should also enjoy their job and charges for their own satisfaction and not a hope of gifts or money.

Nanny in San Diego said...

I disagree w/Bloomfield that just because you "agreed" to a low rate means you are stuck w/it. I think your employer is getting a great deal w/you and is taking advantage of it to the fullest. You agreeing to her low rate does not excuse her behavior.

em said...

Wow-nanny+housekeeper+cook is just never a good idea. I mean the tasks of housekeeping are never ending.It's like you are the mom.
Quite ridiculous. This mom is getting away with mighty murder.

If you think she doesn't know you deserve a raise then you are kidding yourself. She is wondering why you have put up with it, but she chalks it down to low self esteem, and she's glad she got so lucky.
I really hate when nannies accept all of this nonsense from their employers.
On this job they initially tried to sneak a lot of things in on the contract. I simply revised it and took out all of those pesky little housekeeping duties. They had the option to hire or not hire me and they hired me.
Never feel like you can't get another job- people know when you are desperate and they prey on that.

Shame on this mom for taking advantage of you, and next time please don't allow it.

Now simply request a meeting with her-friendly and non confrontational.
Be sure to write all your points down, so you don't forget something because bringing it up again will not look good on you.
You can highlight all the things that you do, in fact you can tell her what a normal nanny does and give her the reason you agreed to do all these extras for her, then tell her you love the children and would love to remain in her employ if your needs can be met.
Be very firm about what you want, and also know what you are comfortable leaving the table with.
Be prepared to walk away from the job if necessary.

I highly doubt anybody else- short of desperation will take this job, so you have a good ground to stand on.
Not to mention of course the tremendous respect she will have for you when you take a stand for yourself- that is after she is done boiling over in rage- the nerve of these employers!

talesfromthe(nanny)hood said...

I do agree with what Andrea said in part. Look at your original work agreement, and then list out any and all responsibilities that are in addition to what the WA listed. Then go to the mom and ask to sit down in the next week for a performance review. You might also google "nanny performance review" to find a review sheet she can fill out.

Then when you sit down, outline how you have taken on extra tasks, and where you go above and beyond the current job description each day. Discuss the challenges presented in your job POSITIVELY, and emphasize how you meet those challenges.

You also need to decide what your absolute "walk away" point is WRT salary. If you want a 20% raise, will you accept a 10% raise, or is that where you choose to look for other work?

You need to approach this like an interview, selling your abilities, your proficiencies, and your familiarity with the family to get the raise you want. Again, POSITIVE, not negative examples of the job challenges are your best bet.

Good luck!

P.S. Based on your post, I would ask for a 20% raise IF a lot of what you do is "above and beyond" the job description in yur WA. If what you are doing is simply what you are expected to do, I wouldn't ask for more than 10%.

MinuteMuggle said...

My advice would be that whatever you say, please be sensitive to the fact that the children are autistic. Yes, absolutely it is often more challenging to work with autistic kids than non-special needs kids, especially twins. But still, please be sensitive to that. Be careful how you word it. As the parent of an autistic child, tact and kindness are always appreciated and go a long way.

Village said...

First, I would call a nanny agency. See what you can get with your experience, somewhere else, just for nanny care. You can't go into real negotiations unless you are ready to walk, and you need a job. So get one lined up, or on the tarmac, before your conversation with the mother.

I would frame the discussions this way. You have three jobs, nanny, cooking, cleaning. I would set up a pay scale for each. For instance, tell the mother you charge $10 an hour to nanny. This includes their laundry and their meals ONLY. If she wants a cook and maid, that is also $10 an hour. For the work you are doing, you should be getting $20 an hour. Tell her it's probably cheaper in the end to send out the laundry, get a cleaner once a week, and pay you $7.50 an hour to cook, and shop, I assume. Your fall back position is $15 hour for nanny and cooking. No laundry which goes out, and no cleaning as there is now a weekly housekeeper. When she finds out how much weekly housekeepers are, she will be in for a shock.

You are not really looking for a raise. You are looking for fair payment for services. You need to price your services, and then sell them. Don't get into a raise discussion, because that is not what this is about. But I can't stress strongly enough, you have to be ready to walk to play hardball (which is the only way you can win IMHO), and if you HAVE to have a job, you need one lined up. You have to negotiate from a position of strength.

You also may need to consider whether you really want to keep this job. WHY? The mother is using you, you are grossly underpaid and under appreciated, and frankly, if I may say so, the job sounds like a bitch. Why don't you be kind to yourself, and find another you might really like?

cali mom said...

I just have to ask, are nanny jobs REALLY so plentiful in this shitty economy that a phone call to an agency will get you a new job lined up within a week or two? No other industry is experiencing that kind of easy pickings right now but maybe nannies are even more in demand when everyone else's jobs disappear?

OP, I would say it's hugely important whether all the work you are doing is in your original contract, or if it's been added on over time. If it was in the original job description, you don't have much room to demand drastic changes now, (and I have to wonder why you would have agreed to all that if it was laid out at the beginning) though you ARE being grossly underpaid.

If all the extra tasks you are doing have just been piled on bit by bit, you need to stop doing them. If this is the case, talk to the mom and tell her that you need to stick more closely to the arrangement you agreed to at the beginning, or that IF she wants you to continue to act as 4 people (nanny, housekeeper, cook, house manager) you need more pay for the work. if she s indeed well off, she should be able to have a housecleaning service come in once a week with no problem, and she can certainly manage to feed herself and her own kids on the weekend?!?! WHY would you prepare all the food for them to eat when you are not even there?

Without knowing what was in your starting agreement and what's been slipped in, I don't know really more than this how to approach it, but you ARE being taken advantage of.