By Jacalyn S Burke,
Summer is almost around the corner and with it comes a creeping feeling among nannies and employers that a conversation must be had to accommodate a new schedule, a new location or different duties.
It’s never easy but here are some tips for nannies and parents alike:
- Take the plunge and bring up the subject sooner rather than later. Before you know it the schedule will change and everyone needs some prep time.
- “I’m afraid my nanny will quit if I tell her that we won’t need her as much over the summer” or “I’m afraid they’ll fire me if they figure out I can’t work for less money or work away from home.”. These are common fears for sure, but they are often based on unfounded emotions rather than the power of negotiation. Most working relationships require some compromise and the sooner both parties begin talks – the better the outcome. Do it.
- Be honest about what you need. Then consider how far you can compromise. But be clear on what you can’t accommodate. For nannies with children, working away from home might not be an option. Ideally this should have come up during an interview but if it hasn’t – being willing to compromise can be the key to a healthy working relationship. Compromise isn’t a one-way street. Both parties should think about what they can deliver.
- Wages cannot drop without appropriate notice. If you as an employer need to reduce your employee’s hours and their salary without an appropriate form of notice you can fall foul of State laws governing domestic workers.
- Changing an employee’s duties without appropriate notice is also a sticky wicket. If for example, your kids are in camp all day long and you want to ask your nanny to cover some light-housework while the kids are out – you’ll need to ask her first. Don’t leave it to the last minute and assume she will take a hint.
- Help your nanny find local, temporary work. If you and your nanny cannot accommodate one another’s needs over the summer look for viable alternatives. You cannot expect your nanny to take an unpaid break from her job and then come back in September when you need her again. If she needs to stay local and have a fixed income help her to find a family who could use her help while you’re away. Or at least be ready to provide a reference.
- Your money is your business nannies. So be proactive in sourcing alternative work if or while your employers leave town. And no – you do not have to return to work for people who do not routinely compensate you when they are away but you do need to give them notice.
- Paid vacation is a worker’s right. Aside from summer camp or relocating to a country house for a few months while the kids are out of school – if you go away for a family vacation, you should pay your nanny while you’re away.