For a parent of a child with even a mild food allergy, it can be extremely daunting to leave your child with a new person, one who may slip and forget what snacks have hidden ingredients, or to double check with the kitchen staff at a new restaurant. For your peace of mind, here are some great tips to help ensure that you and your nanny are on the same page when it comes to how to feed your children.
Create a Work Agreement
Here at Kith & Kin, we're huge believers in work agreements! Putting details in writing allows both parents and nannies much greater peace of mind, so that uncertainties and misunderstandings don't arise down the road and all expectations are clear.
If you are the parent of a child with a food allergy, or if you just want to make sure your nanny is preparing a similar diet to what you already have in place for your child, putting the details in a contract can be extremely helpful. If there are certain food items or ingredients that your child must not eat, then lay those out in writing. If you only let your child have a sweet snack on certain special occasions, explain this in the contract.
While this might seem overbearing, remember that your nanny is not a mind-reader, and it always helps to have something to refer back to! Every family is a little different, and the way you approach your child's diet will not necessarily be the same as the family they have worked with before. Laying out all the specifics for your child's diet, will help avoid uncertainty for your nanny. Be sure to give your nanny a copy of the contract, and/or put it up somewhere in the kitchen where they can use it for reference if ever they have a question.
Give your Nanny a Sample Menu
If you are the parent of a child with a food allergy, you might have learned to prepare specific dishes in order to avoid certain ingredients. You also will be aware of which prepared foods have hidden ingredients that could be dangerous for your child's food allergy.
In order to ease your nanny into the food norms of your family, write out a sample menu for a week or two, and give it to them to refer or add to. Include the dishes that your child is used to, and you would normally prepare for them, along with ingredients and instructions for your nanny.
Providing a menu for the first few weeks will ease your nanny into your lifestyle and food preferences, and get them acquainted with the types of dishes and ingredients your child is used to. Eventually, these dishes and ingredients will become second nature to your nanny. Include suggestions for snacks and prepared foods that are OK with you. Also include a detailed list of foods and snacks that are not okay to feed your child with a food allergy.
Avoid Eating Out
The experience of eating a meal out a restaurant can be so stressful and tedious. Even the most well-meaning kitchen staff might not be aware of every ingredient in their dishes. While it can be easy for a nanny to grab a quick lunch in the middle of their day out with your child, if you are the parent of a child with a food allergy you know that sometimes it's best to avoid eating out all-together.
Explain this to your nanny, and make sure you always have meals or ingredients to prepare a quick and easy meal for your child on hand. If you know for certain of specific restaurants or dishes that are safe for your child to eat, write out a list of those and include it in your nanny's work agreement. After all, when it comes to having a child with a food allergy, you can't be too specific with your requests or requirements.
Post Emergency Information
Before the first day of work, make sure your child's nanny knows the specific protocol should they have an allergic reaction. Write down for your nanny the specific instructions that they should follow if your child shows signs of a reaction (and even talk about what those signs are).
If your child needs to be administered an epileptic-pen, make sure your nanny always carries one on their person and knows exactly how to use it - The Red Cross has special trainings for this, and it's prudent to pay for your nanny to attend.
Be sure to write down the contact information for which doctor to call, or which hospital to go to, in the case of an emergency, and have a copy of this in their diaper bag, backpack, and stored in a Note on your nanny's phone - anywhere that is easily accessible.
As with any case of a child with a special need or care, the most important piece of advice is to be, and constantly remain, as prepared as possible, while also preparing others in case Plan A falls through. By following these tips and strategies, your nanny will be ready and knowledgeable about what is safe and what is not. When in doubt, your nanny can pass on an item and substitute it for something else. If you have time to prepare your child's food, do. If not, provide your nanny with clear instructions on what to prepare for your child's meals. Leave many ready-to-go snacks for your nanny to give your child, if they're out for the day.
All of these tips will help set you up for success and ensure there are no misunderstandings or missteps in the event of an allergic reaction!
If you are the parent of a child with a food allergy, do you have any tips or advice of your own? Do you have any advice on how to get your new nanny on board with your family's dietary routine? Let us know in the comments section below!
- KITH & KIN
If you've ridden on the subway in recent weeks, you will have noticed numerous ads for the new raise in minimum wage here in NYC. As of December 31st, 2018, New York City employees will see the third raise in minimum wage since 2016. This newest increase is part of a law signed into action by Governor Cuomo, which promised a new minimum wage of $15/hour for all New York State employees by the end of 2019. This new minimum, however, is being enacted gradually and differentially - based on the employer's size and location. We'll break it down to what the new minimum wage in NYC might mean for you, the nannies of New York City!
If you work as a nanny here in NYC, chances are you are the sole employee for your nanny family, or one of a handful of domestic staff. The new minimum wage in NYC for employers with 10 or fewer employees is $13.50/hour. This rate will increase to $15/hr at the end of 2019. But, for now, if you are employed among less than 10 others you can expect to be making at minimum $13.50 an hour. If you are employed among more than 10 other employees, the new minimum wage is $15/hour.
What Does This Mean for NYC Nannies and Housekeepers?
Will Nannies Take a Minimum Wage?
It depends. While the new minimum wage for NYC employees is a commendable move in the right direction for workers' rights nationwide, the fact of the matter is that it is darn near impossible to survive here on $540/week, pre-tax, even with over time in place.
Qualified nanny professionals with experience, extra trainings, and credentials are often considering going the agency route when searching for new employment at a live-able salary, as referrals are often not at the level of professionalism they need, and the reputation of online sitter-services is poor, with the assertion from many being that these sites have normalized low hourly-rates, due to the amount of entry-level nannies using these services.
If you're an inexperienced sitter looking to break into the field and pick up some babysitting on the side, online sitter-services are often the route for you until you become more qualified. However, if you are a professional nanny, looking for a full-time role, then you do not need to compete with entry-level caretakers for cash-positions.
If you've been working as a nanny for at least two straight years, then you are no longer an entry-level employee. If you are CPR Certified, have education coursework, a background in teaching, experience with newborns, or any other marketable childcare assets, then you are well above minimum wage, in the $18-20/hr range.
Working with an agency ensures that your particular skillset and credentials will be highlighted to any potential employers. It also ensures that, at least through KITH & KIN, the families you're meeting will already have a standard of respect for their future employee, know their obligations on a living and viable "gross-pay" wage, guaranteed hours, sick and vacation time, and know from our first conversation that entry-level employees will not make it through our extensive nanny-vetting process. They also understand that they must be willing to give their nanny a certain standard of professional respect.
What if I Can't Afford to Pay a Nanny More than the New Minimum Wage in NYC?
For your job, either the job and experience expectations will need to decrease, or the childcare budget will have to rise. Unable to do one of those two things, some families have looked into nanny-shares, live-in au-pairs whom are younger and less experienced, or whole-group childcare centers. While each of those three options are not as convenient as an experienced career nanny, over the past few years without this rise, it has become, and will continue to become, harder to find qualified nannies whom are able to be vetted fully and still pay $15/hr.
We know first-hand the cost of living and childcare here in NYC is extremely high. This is the reason why so many families weigh their careers and relocation out of the city. It is a tough conversation to have!
If you are a family interested in hiring a nanny in NYC and the greater metro area, and are confused about rates and taxes, get in touch with us here. If you are a nanny with questions about your wages, we may be able to steer you to the right resource, so please get in touch here.
Have any additions questions about the new minimum wage in NYC? Ask us in the comments below!
- KITH & KIN
Please note: this blogpost covers domestic employees in New York State. It is intended to educate nannies and housekeepers on the benefits of accepting legally paid salaries; it is not to replace the advice of a lawyer, as the laws that are constantly changing. Please consult a reputable payroll company such as HomeWork Solutions for more information on your specific state's domestic employment laws and procedures.
We here at KITH & KIN often hear candidates state that they only want to be paid in cash, despite being able to accept legal pay, for many understandable reasons. While admittedly, it is the norm for many domestic workers to be paid illegally in cash (an estimated 75%!), there are a myriad of benefits and protections household employees lose out on by being paid in cash, and when accepting cash only for a nanny job, you are also assuming all risks for you and your family's future financial and health situation, especially should you find yourself out of work for a period of time -- a heavy and costly burden to bear!
With the advent of laws like Lulu and Leo's Law and many advocacy groups like the NDWA calling for better protections for both families and workers, the trend will be for more and more domestic workers to be paid in a legal manner. For this reason, we have compiled the benefits of legal pay. Here are our top 10 reasons why nannies and housekeepers should insist on being paid "on the books" right now.
1. "Professional pay" translates to "professional treatment", and further legitimizes your work as a professional career.
When you insist on being paid legally, this demonstrates to a family that you take your job seriously as a professional who needs to be compensated fairly and legally for your work. It shows that you are committed to your work supporting them, and that you are also relying on them to support you as you make a long-term living, just as you would in any other field.
When your employer agrees to pay legally, they are demonstrating their belief that you deserve legal protections and benefits, just as they receive in their work, too! Even though they may be offering a lot of great benefits like guaranteed minimum hours and paid time-off, they also believe that ethically, you deserve an extra level of protection as individual and professional.
2. You have secure income available, even if laid off.
Let’s say that on Sunday night, you get a text from your boss that tomorrow, you are no longer needed because a spot opened at daycare, and their child starts the next morning. Now, most parents would not leave you high and dry without notice, (especially if you have a solid work agreement in place before the job commences!), however you may never know your employer's private financial situation or debts. They may appear to have it all, and then the economy crashes overnight, or they find out they have lost every penny to a Ponzi scheme, and now they find themselves unable to pay you the $2500 buffer you were relying on. Stranger things have happened; you need to be protected from situations that are outside of your control.
While domestic employees in New York are hired “at-will”, meaning you may be terminated without notice or reason at any time, unemployment is there to provide you with a financial buffer while you search for a new job. If you’re laid off due to no fault of your own, and you are able to work in some industry, you are eligible - even in some instances of justifiable firing, you may still be eligible. This is only available to people who are paid legally in their most recent long-term position.
3. Medical costs or loss of income covered via Workmans Compensation if you’re injured on the job (State-by-State).
Even if you are outside of NYS, should you have an injury that leads to a long leave from work, you may be eligible to receive Disability coverage from the government as well. This would cover part of your income, and make sure that you are not in an even larger financial bind. If you are out of work because of an injury, but don't have traceable or substantial income reported, the income coverage would be significantly lowered, if available at all.
4. You are eligible for Paid Family-Leave.
The details and benefits will upgrade year to year, but beginning in 2019, you would be eligible for 10 weeks paid leave per year, up to 55% of your weekly salary, with a maximum of roughly $746/week; By 2021, 67% of your salary may be covered for up to 12 weeks. This is separate from FMLA, and is specific to New York State. For more information, click here.
5. Protection in the event you, or your bosses, get audited by the government.
Any employer who chooses to pay their employee 'under the table' runs the risk of being audited, particularly if all parents are working full-time, and they can't prove payments made for childcare. An audit will have their finances called into question by the government, and if your employer is audited, you too may be at risk for your portion of employment taxes. If your employer doesn't remit taxes on your behalf, you may be asked to account for those taxes by the government. While it is not the law that the employers withhold your portion of taxes in New York for you (you must request that they do this, and the majority do when using a payroll service), it is the law that you pay your portion. If it is not withheld, we recommend setting aside a conservative percentage based on your state in a separate savings account so you have enough to pay at the end of the year.
If you or your employers were to be audited, the government makes a habit of looking back several years, meaning you could be set up on a hefty payment plan to hand over whatever amount you would have owed in taxes from previous years.
6. Provides verifiable, traceable income to rent or buy a home, car or other big-ticket purchases.
Should the day come when you want to make a big "life-investment", be it purchasing a new home or car, or even renting a new apartment, you will often be required to provide proof of income; not just for present time, but also from the past two years! Lenders want to make sure you are a consistent earner and responsible spender, and you will need a paper trail to prove your track-record of financial credibility. Cash-employees will often have a difficult (likely impossible) time providing legitimate proof of income that would hold up to scrutiny. This can be a real hold-up, and potential block, if you are in the throes of purchasing a home.
Not buying a car, home, or renting an apartment now? Think two or three years ahead. Even if your credit is terrible, First Time Homebuyer Loans make this dream possible for more people, so as home prices continue to rise, now is a great time to get on the books and start accepting legal pay!
7. Easier mental leap to start your career with legal pay now, rather than years in.
Take it from us, the people who interview many qualified, career candidates who have been paid cash for years: it is very challenging for nannies and housekeeper to leap from a high dollar cash take-home salary per week to a far lower net wage. When you are not used to this, it will require a large lifestyle adjustment for yourself and family, when that time comes.
Talking to your employer about transitioning from a cash-salary, to an "on the books" salary is going to take a big shift. Essentially your employer will have to make a drastic increase in your pre-taxed (gross) pay-rate in order for you to be taking home the same amount as you were before, and it's possible that financially, they simply cannot swing it, as they will be paying 12-25% more than they are used to, depending on where you live.
If your employer isn't able to increase your rate enough for you to be taking home a net-salary that is comparable to your cash salary, meet in the middle! Start by taking a lower take-home wage, knowing that they are giving you a gross-wage raise. That being said, employees who are paid on the books, will also be eligible for a tax-return at the end of the fiscal year where you would get a portion of that back, so don't be too demanding of your employers if you really love your job in all other aspects.
8. You’re building your Social Security fund, and making sure you’re eligible for disability benefits, too.
The amount of taxable income which you report to the government each year makes up your 'covered income' and directly affects the amount of money you may receive each month when you retire. In other words, if you pay in for 45 years instead of 10, you will have far more to retire on. Therefore, for your future, it's better to start paying income taxes sooner rather than later!
9. Helps better protect you from “bad-apple” bosses.
Finding a boss who is willing to pay you on-the-books, means that your boss is more likely to view you as an employee with certain inalienable rights. A working agreement that is based on a clear contract and a taxed salary can protect you from various instances of employee discrimination, wrongful termination, harassment in the workplace, withholding of overtime, and various other workplace injustices.
Many employers who pay cash may hesitate to put anything in writing to avoid a paper trail of employment in the event they were to be audited -- this translates to no work agreement for you or contract for you to fall back on or reference.
10. Plainly, it’s the right thing to do!
Last of all, paying your taxes is the right thing to do! The money you pay in taxes goes to many places. In addition to paying the salaries of government workers, your tax dollars also help to support common resources that we all utilize, such as safe and well-maintained roads, police and fire departments, post-offices, public libraries and parks, as well as caring for your fellow neighbors and children who presently may not be able to care for themselves.
In conclusion, starting a job with mutual professional respect is the best foot to start on. By you and your employer insisting to operate according to the law affirms that this is a true, professional career, with the commitment to integrity and respect toward both parties.
But aren't nannies 1099 workers? On the family/employer side of things, there is sometimes confusion about the classification of domestic employees and who is responsible for their taxes. However, make no mistake: by law, nannies and housekeepers are classified as household employees of the family, unless they are hired through a company who is paying them as an employee; nannies and housekeepers are not contractors. Families must provide you a W-2 at the end of the year.
Have a question about being paid or hiring "on-the-books" versus in cash? Send us an email and we will do our best to direct you to where you may find your answer.
Earlier this summer, New York Senator Andrew Lanza and Assemblyman Steve Otis together announced a new piece of legislature which could have a profound effect on the childcare industry. The bill which they have proposed to Governor Cuomo essentially serves to criminalize the misrepresentation of a caregiver's qualifications or experience. If this bill is passed into law, not only will it provide much more concrete reassurance for parents who are seeking qualified childcare, it will also serve to legitimize the job market for nannies themselves who could have a greater precedent to demand better working rights as domestic employees.
This new passage of legislation will hold legally accountable anyone who is applying for an in-home childcare position, or providing a reference on behalf of the individual being considered. In either instance, an individual who is found to have provided a false written statement in support of oneself, or another person, for purposes of securing employment as a caregiver to children in the home, could now be found guilty of a Class A Misdemeanor and face up to 6 months imprisonment. The bill would target those who make false statements about the applicant’s background related to their ability to safely provide care.
To many, the introduction of such a bill might seem extraneous, something of a given. Unfortunately, this is far from the case. The supplying of false references, and mis-information by nanny candidates is rampant, common practice by applicants who lack actual experience or qualification in the field. For busy parents who do not have the time or resources to conduct thorough background checks and employment verification, these discrepancies fall quietly through the cracks. What is further, however, is that up until this point, there is no legal ramification holding nanny candidates, or fictitious references, accountable for providing false information in pursuit of employment.
Essentially, right now a nanny who you have hired based on false information, cannot be held accountable for misrepresenting their qualifications in a court of law. The consequences of these distortions of the truth become tragic when, as in the epithetic case of Lulu and Leo Krim, parents hire an unqualified and improperly vetted nanny based on false accounts of experience by the candidate and others. It is the Krim parents themselves who have worked tirelessly in the years since the deaths of their two young children to bring this new piece of legislation into reality. The 2012 murder of their children Lulu and Leo Krim at the hands of their caregiver who had no previous experience caring for children highlighted the need for greater scrutiny of those who seek these positions.
Assemblyman Otis, stated, "With this legislation, New York law will be clear that misrepresentation of qualifications for caregivers for children is against the law. With accurate information, the safety of families and children will be safeguarded.” Future parents can rest a little easier, when leaving their child in the hands of a hired caretaker, that the individual is who they say they are, and actually has the experience stated on their resume.
Additionally, this new bill provides that “caregiver” be defined as someone hired to provide fifteen or more hours of care per week in the home of such children or in the home of the caregiver, with the exception of those entities licensed under the social services law. For nannies, the definitional provisions of this new bill could actually be a professional asset. By giving a clear and explicit interpretation to the definition of domestic work, this law could lay a foundation for future legislation regarding caregiver and other in-home roles. Until 2010, when New York became the first state to enact a Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, domestic workers existed largely starved of any state-sanctioned workers rights. Even now, the rights for in-home employees are much less comprehensive than for workers of most other sectors. While Lulu and Leo's Law, on the one hand, aims to increase accountability by domestic workers by obliging them to provide factual resumes and references, this increased legitimacy for domestic workers will, in turn, give a greater precedent for these workers to demand certain legal rights from their employers and from the law. Every step to legitimize the scope of domestic work, is a step in the right direction!
Unfamiliar with Lulu and Leo's story? Read up on their organization here.
Are you a nanny here in NYC and wondering how the enactment of Lulu and Leo's law will affect you? Get in touch with us and ask us any questions and we're happy to try and answer them!
Are you ready to redo your professional nanny resume, and make sure its up to par? Check out our previous blog-post on How to Write a Nanny Resume Like a Champ
Last month, our founder, Christa, sat down for a conversation with the founder of the Prenatal Yoga Center, Deb Flashenberg, on her podcast Yoga | Birth | Babies. The episode is called NANNY 101. Shared within it are tips and tricks for hiring and employing a nanny or babysitter, whether temporarily or long-term. It's completely appropriate and helpful for nannies, too!
Have a listen here and catch some helpful gems!
Are you overwhelmed by the thought of how to hire a nanny in NYC?
Have you started the nanny search on your own, but need to run a nanny background check?
We are here to help you.
Send us an email and tell us about your family's needs - we'd love to help you hire a nanny in NYC, or help you vet your own candidates properly!
So what can done in these two scenarios? How can both parties stay happy with the arrangement, while simultaneously meeting their personal needs? We have some suggestions and pointers for both the employers (families) and employees (nannies).
For families who are able to keep offering full-time hours, but whose duties will change
For as many nannies in New York as there are, so are there numerous opinions and stances on being asked to do household tasks. Therefore, for both parties, it is extremely important to have a sit down chat about the duties, expectations, and any raises that come with the new responsibilities, if applicable. Voice any desires and concerns you may have in this meeting -- now is the time! In doing so, there is no bitterness when things have changed, and the employment won't end prematurely. Above all, stress an open door policy to discuss things as they come up.
For families who must reduce hours to part-time
This transition is wonderful because it may keep the care as consistent as possible for the child. As long as all of the duties and expectations are laid out, as well as benefits like vacation and holiday pay are defined, it can work very well for each party! But approach the conversation with some awareness.
Whatever you are able to offer and choose, remember that there are many factors in the decision to carry on or terminate a professional relationship. One thing is for sure: the impact on a child's life is an honor, is forever, and is irreplaceable!
Many parents who know they will be going to go back to work after their maternity/paternity leave feel overwhelmed by the childcare options, and don't know the pros and cons about each of the different routes they could take. We are here to help navigate this! Let's discuss the three most common child-minding options here in NYC.
A nanny is a professional caregiver who cares for children in your home. This option provides lots of one-on-one time and is highly personalized to your needs, as the nanny can keep the child safe and engaged in their own environment. A nanny may also do additional tasks related to the child, such as cooking, dishes, laundry, transportation, and activity and schedule planning. A nanny may speak multiple languages, or have multiple education degrees. The nanny may live-in like an au pair but it does not affect her pay and is more for the sake of convenience. Your child has the comforts that come with having a home base throughout the day -- the ability to be home for meals, playtime, and nap times is a huge plus to many families. A nanny can also structure the day exactly as you'd like. Know of a cool story time? Want your child to have extracurricular activities like music, sports, art, and play dates? Your child can do these things easily. Also, the relationship between a family and a nanny is incredibly special and unlike any other in that your child relies on this person just like they would a close relative, which creates a nice sense of security for your child. A nanny is also convenient for the family, too -- he or she will come to your home before you leave for work, and stay until you get home. No shuttling your children to a different location. No packing lunch and cleaning out a backpack each day. The nanny is an extension of you while you are out.
The number one downside is cost. Hiring a nanny is expensive -- depending on qualifications and education, a full-time nanny can cost between $45,000 and upwards of $120,000 or more in New York City. This person is your employee, and must be treated as such with guaranteed legal protections such as taxes withheld, overtime pay, and vacation and sick time. A nanny also works day in and day out in your home: they will see the good, the bad, and the ugly. Having a bad day? Be prepared to act professional in your home instead of relaxed and unfiltered. Many first-time families and some nannies also do not know how to navigate the close relationship with professional boundaries, and find themselves in sticky situations where expectations and personalities were mismatched. Luckily, with the right resources such as a nanny agency like us, and an accountant/tax withholding company, these expectations and pay requirements can be handled seamlessly to make the working relationship smooth and stress-free.
An Au Pair is someone foreign to the US, between the ages of 18-25, who comes abroad on a J1 visa to live with an American family and care for their children in exchange for housing and a small stipend for up to one year. This option is great when you want your child to learn another language and have exposure to other cultures and care. If you have space in your apartment or home to host a young woman for 6 months to a year, and you are really short on cash for childcare (legally an au pair is paid $195 a week for 45 hours of work or less) this is a great option. Each au pair also receives childcare training before they start to help fill in some gaps in learning and standard procedures. They often can feel like a "cool aunt" or a big sister to the children. If you are a stay or work at home parent, this may be a preferred route. However, this option has a lot of different important points to consider.
Having an au pair can be an incredibly rewarding experience, but it's crucial you have someone who has experience with the age of your child. Hosting someone who is an adult yet still quite young, you often must act as a parent, as their own parents are trusting you to care for them and watch out for their wellbeing in a new country. Some families think it can be like having a teenager in the city, especially if the au pair is from a rural environment in their home country come to a city, or vise versa. Also, sharing your space may feel invasive if you don't have much to spare (i.e. City apartment life), or aren't accustomed to having guests around. An au pair may feel like a babysitter, because that is often what they are. If you are wanting someone to help guide you in your parenting, or help you with behavioral or developmental issues your child is facing, most au pairs just won't have this skill set because they have not had the training or experience like many nannies or teachers in a center would have. Also bear in mind that an au pair will have a different cultural upbringing, and so it is important to discuss developmental theories and your personal behavioral approaches before hiring (potty training, time-outs, eating times and nutrition).
Daycare or Childcare Center
This option has many great pros. First, your child will have many opportunities for socialization. They will learn to share, to listen, and will have a jam-packed day, everyday, along with their naps and meals in the company of many other children and adults, and they also learn to get onto a set, reliable schedule. It takes a village to raise a child, and many parents who have their children in a whole group setting love the community aspect. It is also the semi-affordable option only if you're looking for care 40 hours a week or more (though many centers cost as much as a nanny, but have the structured extracurricular activities built in). The state mandates ratios so your child would never be left in an environment where a caregiver is overwhelmed with many children. Each center is different and has their own policies, but all child care centers must pass the same city safety inspections. But there are some downsides.
The most obvious concern is that your child may be sick, often. Even a properly sanitized environment will still have some germ sharing, and this may be a positive or a negative depending on how you look at it - they are building their lifelong immunities, but the frequency of illness may be higher than in private care, and if they are sick, they can't come for the day, which puts working parents in a hardship if they do not have access to last minute backup care. The other concern would be the amount of individual attention given to your child. This would certainly be less than a nanny or au pair. Of course, their basic needs like diapering and feeding will certainly be met, but the room teachers will be balancing all of the children and engaging with many at once. The variety of experiences they will have in the day will also be very structured and the majority of time will be spent at the site of care, instead of on field trips or outings as with a nanny or an au pair.
Whichever route you choose for your child, make sure it is an environment where they are happy, safe, and engaged with the world around them. Hopefully with this guide, you will have a clearer picture and are able to make the most informed personal decision for your family.
Until next time,
Last week, a large storm was forecasted to hit our city on Thursday early morning, long before any of us (without young children lurking in the night!) were to be awake. The DOE cancelled schools the night before, and many business followed suit. That morning, we woke up to high winds, unplowed streets and sidewalks, and widespread subway schedule changes, which lead to massive delays. Many parents were asking each other if they should tell their employee to stay home. And after the decision was made, several nannies and housekeepers were asking each other if it was normal for their pay to be docked for that day.
What a tricky situation! I myself was in a similar situation as a nanny during Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Here are my thoughts for employers and for employees on how to approach this extraordinary instance. Misunderstandings like this can often lead to bitterness and so it's important to address them head on.
For Employers (families)
First, a snow day school cancellation really throws a wrench into your daily plans as a parent, and likely into your employee's day too. Here are a couple of questions to ask yourself and comments I have heard, and then my personal suggestions about how to approach them.
1. Did your place of employment cancel work for the day, or will your employee's absence force you to take a vacation or sick day?
If the answer is no, I have to still go into work, consider what your day will look like. Is there a backup babysitter or family member you can call? Are you able to go into work later and come home earlier to allow your employee additional commute time? Is there any possibility that you could work from home? If there are no real solutions, you're really left with the choice to ask the nanny to come in or take a personal day for yourself. If it is a housekeeper, consider letting the work pile up, and perhaps ask your employee to work a couple addition hours to catch up, if the need arises.
2. "Well, my friend's nanny came in just fine, and mine could have too. . ."
Hindsight is 20/20. At 7:00am when you or your employee made the decision to cancel, the weather was much different than it was at 3pm.
Also bear in mind that Manhattan's busy sidewalks and streets are cleared much faster than the outer boroughs. For instance, from where I live in Flatbush, Brooklyn, a moderately busy area, many of my neighbors did not clear their sidewalks for 36 hours after the storm, and we did not see a plow until 11am the next day, well after the snow stopped falling. Simply because a friend's nanny came in from Brooklyn does not mean that your housekeeper would have been able to do the same, unless they lived on the same block.
If your employee has to take a bus to a train, this could have easily doubled or even tripled the commute. As frustrating as it may be for you to have to take over for the full day, your employee could have been facing an even more frustrating situation getting to and from work. If your employee made the decision to stay home, respect it. First of all, it is done. Second, remember that he or she may have their own children to attend to. Perhaps they aren't from New York and were fearful of getting injured from a slippery fall.
If this is really making you question your employee's integrity, it is a sign of a bigger issue of mistrust in your own mind. Look a bit deeper as to why you feel angry at her or him for not coming into work. Do you feel like they are just not making an effort anymore? Do you think they are a lazy person? It's crucial to discuss these feelings with a friend first, and look at the things they do that will prove you wrong. If you can think of loads of reasons to support your feeling, discuss this with them. Cite the specific ways they must improve their job performance.
3. . . . and so I'm going to dock her pay.
I understand the mentality here. Domestic employees are not salaried -- they are hourly employees and are paid an hourly rate plus overtime, so why would this work both ways in their favor? For a couple of reasons...
First, if you instructed your employee to not come in and did not inform him or her that they would not be paid for the day, there is no reason for them to believe you would be changing their weekly rate, and you should pay them. They did not request the day off, but it was instead offered without a known string attached.
Second, please remember that your employee relies on this income and does not have a back up for other work. It's similar to when you choose to take a vacation for a week: the caregiver is still depending on money and did not ask for an unpaid vacation herself. This employee will also feel blindsided. While it was likely just an oversight on your end, address your expectations going forward after you pay them for the day.
4. What if I don't want to pay my nanny for the day off because I had to pay for back up care so I could get myself to work (or because I just don't think it's right)?
In this situation, seek "Win,Win." If the additional $150 or so is monumental to you, suggest for the nanny to make up the hours. That way, your employee can still make the money he or she needs, you can get a night out, and the relationship isn't embittered over something small in the grand scheme of things. Everyone wins! If the day of pay isn't a big sacrifice to you financially, pay your nanny and take it as a lesson to be clearer with your expectations going forward in these rare instances before you make an insistence or offer.
The bottom line is that for the sake of your children, home, and sanity, a relationship that is respectful, healthy, open, and communicative is best. The number one reason I personally see employee-employer relationships fall completely apart, leading to resignation or termination, is that the expectations are either one-sided, mismatched, or not discussed, and bitterness sets in and poisons the partnership. We want to avoid that altogether! Little issues like this really are important to address.
For Employees (nannies and housekeepers)
If you're like any of my friends, it doesn't matter what your career is, the thought of a snow day on Thursday excited you! Here are few scenarios and how to best approach them if you're still conflicted about how the day was handled.
1. My boss was home all day. Why did I even come in?
2. I was told not to come in, but now I see the my paycheck is less than it is every week. My boss didn't tell me I wouldn't be paid and now I'm out a lot of money!
If this happened to you, you either need to let it go without resentment, or speak up immediately. Chances are, your boss wasn't being malicious. Since nannies are legally hourly employees (meaning, for every hour you work, you are paid) instead of salaried (meaning a flat rate paid for unlimited hours), your boss has every right not to pay you. However, you must bring this up with your boss if you rely on a set number every week to meet your bills.
Some nannies call these set hours a, "steady or guaranteed salary," meaning regardless if your boss goes on vacation or tells you not to come in, this is the minimum you are assured to make. Being a household employee, you reserve your time each week for them and do not leave your options open to other work; it's only fair that you can rely on them as well. No need to state anything personal or financial; no need to give your reasons. Simply explain that since you did not request the day off, and you were not told that your pay would be docked, you were not expected to be short on what was normal. Often just by communicating this, a parent will realize the miscommunication and pay you. It may not be. Simply ask, "How can we come up with a solution together?" This is respectful to your relationship with your employer because you're communicating a small issue without allowing it to bubble up, and doing so in a manner that shows you desire to work together.
If your employer does not offer to pay you for the day and you really need the money, offer to work a date night, if your schedule allows, so that you can make up the gap in pay. Also state the importance of clear communication before something is offered. This is a great time to discuss being paid a guaranteed/steady salary 52 weeks out of the year. Chances are if this is the first time your employer has told you not to come in and has not paid you, it won't be the last, so it is crucial to clarify your expectations, as they may be unaware of what yours are.
3. I had to come in but it was a total mess outside. I don't understand why my boss didn't just tell me to stay home like all the other nannies.
If it still wasn't clear to you why they had you come in, you may be feeling undervalued in your position, which is a sure sign that things are wrong in your professional relationship. It is best to gather your thoughts and maturely discuss your concerns with them. If you had your own child's care to arrange because of their school's snow day, express that to them. Remind them that you have your own obligations and home to take care of in the middle of a storm, and that while you are willing to bend over backward for them, you'd also appreciate some grace and understanding shown to you as well.
The bottom line is that for the sake of your job satisfaction, personal life, and sanity, a relationship that is respectful, healthy, open, and communicative is best. The number one reason I see employee-employer relationships fall completely apart, leading to resignation or termination, is that the expectations are either one-sided, mismatched, or not discussed, and bitterness sets in and poisons the partnership. We want to avoid that altogether! Little issues like this really are important to address.
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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Copyright, Kith and Kin NYC LLC, 2019. Licensed and bonded by the NY State Department of Consumer Affairs, License #2038511-DCA. Kith & Kin Household Staffing Agency seeks to pair exceptional caregivers with vibrant families. Candidates who are legally authorized to work in the United States, and meet our requirements are encouraged to send us your résumé if you are seeking a position as a Nanny, Manny, Housekeeper, Governess, Mother's Helper, or a Baby Nurse / Newborn Care Specialist in New York City, New York State. Kith and Kin Household Staffing Agency does not discriminate on the basis of race, creed, color, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender expression, age, height, weight, physical disabilities, veteran status, and marital status. We are a nanny agency in NYC that services the metro area.
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