By Mary Frost
Brooklyn Daily Eagle Park Slope Group Surveys More Than 1,000 Employers
BROOKLYN — A recent survey found that nannies in Brooklyn earn almost $15 an hour – twice the minimum wage – and receive an average of 11 paid days off a year plus paid holidays.
That may sound pretty good in today’s economy, but there’s a downside. The survey also found that most nannies are working off the books, and the overwhelming majority of nannies who work more than 40 hours a week (that’s half of all nannies) do not receive overtime.
The survey was conducted by Park Slope Parents, a group of more than 4,000 Brooklyn families. More than 1,000 Brooklyn employers of nannies participated in the survey.
Nannies who watch one child average $14.22 an hour; those minding two children average $15.96; and those looking after three kids average $16.32 an hour. Those paid on the books make roughly two dollars an hour more than nannies paid off the books.
On top of the 11 days paid time off, more than eight in 10 employers give their nannies paid time off on Thanksgiving, Christmas, July 4, New Year’s Day, Memorial Day and Labor Day. Four in 10 employers pay for a nanny’s Metrocard, which costs the employer more than $1,500 a year.
In the Brooklyn Eagle’s own informal survey in Brooklyn Heights, eight out of 10 respondents thought $15 an hour sounded about right.
“That sounds fair,” said one woman. “This is somebody you’re entrusting with your child. You don’t want them to be struggling or disgruntled. And I’m all for paid vacation days.”
No one surveyed thought it was too much – even if it was more than they earned. “It’s OK,” said one. “They’re taking care of your children.” She added, “We gotta go into the nanny business.”
Two out of 10 didn’t think it was enough. “Fifteen dollars an hour is fair, but no insurance – that’s bad,” said one mom. Another mother said, “The hourly rate sounds OK, but the time off doesn’t. Child care can be very stressful.”
Not a Bed of Roses
Besides the stresses of child care, there are a few more downsides to the job: According to the survey, only four in 10 employers have a written agreement with their nannies.
Even more important, since less than one-quarter are paid any of their income on the books, nannies receive no Social Security benefits from their work situation.
The Wage Theft Protection Act (WPA) requires employers to document, among other things, pay rates and designated paydays. The Domestic Worker’s Bill of Rights (DWBR) requires that employers pay one-and-a-half the hourly wage for work above 40 hours and three paid days off after one year of employment.
Priscilla Gonzalez, director of Domestic Workers United, said in a statement, “A worker is entitled to the rights and protections afforded to all domestic workers, whether or not she’s paid on the books. Domestic workers play a critical role in the community, as they care for the most important elements of their employers’ lives. Their terms of employment should meet an equally high standard. Undercutting wages [and] denying paid time off, notice of termination, and severance devalue the critical function that nannies and other domestic workers perform.”
“The situation is complex,” said Dr. Susan Fox, founder of Park Slope Parents. “Paying on the books is more costly and more complicated than paying off the books. On top of that, many nannies are not legally able to work on the books. However, the best thing to do for all parties is to pay your nanny on the books [and it’s the law]. “Nannies not paid on the books have no documented work history [required for student loans, insurance applications, mortgages and more], no Social Security or Medicare benefits when they are older, no unemployment insurance or disability benefits.”
The report, “The Park Slope Parents Nanny Compensation Survey 2011,” is currently available at www.parkslopeparents.com/docs/NannySurvey2011.FINAL.pdf.