Your Caregiver Questions, Answered
Being a parent is hard enough and when you add being an employer on behalf of your family, things can get even trickier. For many families, caregivers are a huge part of your life (as well as your child’s). We chatted with Lindsay Bell from Bell Family Company on common questions that come up while navigating the nanny-waters.
1. How do you handle holidays with your nanny? Do they get paid time off? Should they be expected to work?
As the family is the employer they make the ultimate decision regarding holidays and PTO. We help guide them on what is legal and the industry standard. Holidays should be determined up front in the family nanny agreement upon offer so it is super clear what the paid days off are and the unpaid days. Paid holidays usually follow the federal holiday schedule. Any working holidays are typically paid at time and a half. Depending on your nanny, she may prefer certain holidays off over others so there is typically room to negotiate what works best for both parties.
2. How do you determine sick days and vacation days?
Vacation and sick days should be determined up front in the family nanny agreement upon offer so it is clear what is allotted. A typical arrangement for vacation days is two weeks off paid; the nanny’s chooses one week and the family chooses one week. That said if the hours are full-time and the nanny is counting on her salary every week, most families will pay her when they take extra vacation days.
3. What is the protocal for baby number two?
It’s always best honest to be upfront with your nanny upon hire if you plan on having additional children. You want to make certain the nanny you hire is comfortable with multiple children at a time otherwise you may have to do the search again! Typically families will offer a new hourly rate or increase the salary as new children are born. Schedule a time to speak with your nanny about the changes ahead so she feels prepared.
3. My child will start school in the fall and I won’t need my nanny for the first part of the day, but I don’t want to lose her for the afternoons and early evenings. What do I do?
Very common problem! We have seen families continue to pay the nanny full-time hours to keep her for the afternoon with the kids and change her job description so she is more of a parent’s helper in the morning (helping around the home, errands, etc). It’s important to discuss this with the current nanny and make sure both parties agree to the new duties and discuss the expectations. Some families will cut the nanny’s hours and use her just for the afternoons and then help the nanny pair the job with a new morning position through a friend’s family or through a company like ours. More commonly the nanny begins to look for a new full-time job and the family hires a new nanny that better fits their needs for after school hours. An After School Nanny commits for one school year (typically late August or early September) through mid-June. Depending on the nanny and her availability the family may keep her for the following school year or need to find a new nanny.
4. I love the idea of a nanny share, but also need my caregiver to have flexibility, as my schedule changes. What do I do?
Really think if you want to go the nanny share route. To make that work, so many things must align with the second family: location, parenting style, do they have pets/is that okay with you, etc. In my experience, nanny shares are difficult to sustain as it involves two sets of parents, their children and one nanny to be on the same page. If you are looking for a short term solution it may be easier. One of the most common requests parents make is wanting flexibility. It sounds great, but a nanny needs a schedule to commit to and should be guaranteed those hours. As she may be able to stay late/start early here and there, she does need her own life, too. And you want her to have that, it will make her happier, healthier and rested for the next day! Remember with a nanny share the other parent in the share will say the same thing ‘ I want flexibility,’ and to make a nanny share work the parents will actually need to be the ones that need to be flexible with one another.
5. How would you suggest giving your caregiver feedback (both positive and constructive)?
All employees need feedback in order to grow and thrive at their job. We recommend setting a date weekly or monthly to check in after a nanny starts with a new family. This will give the time and space to discuss things that are working or need improvement. It’s important to make sure you are available for open communication so you both feel comfortable with discussing sensitive or delicate matters. It’s also very important to meet on neutral turf (not at the house, for example) or around the children. If you have regular check-ins it won’t carry a negative tone and it will feel natural. Write out bullet points before hand if that helps prep you for the conversation. It’s always better to give feedback in person versus email or text. I recommend the sandwich tactic- You want to start with what she does well, then what she needs to improve on then thank her for her willingness, openness and show her that she is appreciated. One of the biggest complaints we hear from nannies is that they don’t feel appreciated by their families. Find ways that show her how much you value her and appreciate all of her hard work and dedication. Remember her birthday or special holidays she celebrates, give her a gift card, a day off, a simple hand written thank you note also goes a long way!
6. We’re moving and the commute for our nanny is going to increase. What is the appropriate compensation for her increased time?
In Manhattan and Brooklyn most nannies are offered a monthly metro card as part of their compensation package. If this if already offered to your nanny then the change shouldn’t really matter. If the nanny is now required to take additional modes of transportation, for example a train (LIRR, metro north) then the family should offer to pay for a monthly pass to cover the new route. If your nanny says the commute is too far for her and you don’t want to lose her, families can offer to pay for one hour of travel (most common) or cover the full amount. Try to be understanding as your nanny gets used to the new commute, there may be hiccups along the way.
Lindsay is from small town Ohio, where family and family values reign supreme. As the oldest of five girls, Lindsay learned early on about responsibility, leadership, and the importance of being a great role model. Her strong family network is the foundation for her fun-loving nature and love of children, and the base of the Bell Family brand.
In 2005, she moved to New York City with $300 in her pocket, and began doing what she knew best: babysitting. Then Lucky Lil’ Darlings was born. Lucky Lil’ Darlings since expanded to include hundreds of terrific families and the best family-care providers in the business. After growing to be one of the largest sitter referral services in New York, Lindsay purchased New York Nanny Center in 2013, and the two sister companies merged into American Bell Family Company, LLC.
Bell Family has a well-established, solid reputation for quality, excellence, and care. Each family care provider has been carefully selected through our unique process, which includes a national background check, interview, reference checks, social media screening, and a mandatory direct referral.
Bell Family is a tight-knit, loyal network; every family must be referred and pass through our screening process before joining.