It's that time of year: it seems that everywhere you turn, someone is hacking, heaving, or deeply breathing. Illness strikes when we least expect it, and when it happens to the person who cares for our children, we feel the loss sorely and recognize just how much we rely on the caregivers in our lives to keep our family functioning smoothly!
But what happens when your caregiver does get sick? How should this be handled in your home? Here are some practical tips for handling the next coming weeks of the flu and blergy-wergy season with ease and kindness to all.
1. Offer paid sick days.
This typically goes without saying that one week of paid sick days are pretty standard in any full-time position. However, recently I saw a posting on a mom's Facebook group of which I am a part. A clearly frustrated and angry mother was lamenting that her nanny had been out for three days straight. She stated that, "We generously give her five days a year, and she's already used almost all of them!"
Here is a great place for parents to pause. First, imagine if your boss was irritated or bitter about providing you with five paid-time-off sick days per year. You may feel disregarded, and you may even consider seeking other employment where you are cared for on a more basic-needs level. After all, the most attractive job offers are the ones that are good for your long-term wellbeing and stability. If you feel yourself getting angry with your nanny for taking what is offered to her, please, do not offer it. When benefits are offered, it should be with no strings attached. A nanny should not be questioned about her personal bodily functions via text. He or she should not be interrogated about going to the doctor, especially if you do not provide health insurance or cover the cost of an urgent care facility, and they should also not be expected to give a hard commitment about when they will return. They are sick. Let them rest, wish them well, encourage them to keep you updated each afternoon or evening, and have your children make them a card. It will show you were supportive and not irritated. It will go a long way.
2. Consider your employee's feelings.
3. Discuss your employee's attendance if there is a recurring issue.
If you offer five sick days, but by two months they are all used up by several separate illnesses, consider having a friendly conversation. It is inappropriate to ask for specific personal health details, and it could be offensive if you appear like you are fishing for details in the, "I just noticed you've been out a lot -- are you healthy?" manner. A nanny's health is a private thing, but you are still the employer and hopefully have a work agreement in place that is very clear about what is offered.
After the last sick day as been taken and once your nanny is feeling better, well before your nanny calls in sick again, preemptively stating something along the lines of, "I wanted to remind you that your last paid sick day for the year was used on (x date). However, we obviously don't want you to come in when you are not well and needing to rest, and we also don't want our household to get sick either. If you can't financially handle taking the unpaid time off, we'd love to make up the hours by having you work a date night." This way, you're affirming your concern and care for him or her, but also sticking to what was agreed upon in a way that still will provide the nanny time to rest and earn the money that he or she needs.
Stay healthy, everyone!
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