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Nanny Vacations, Holidays, & Sick Days

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What Do With Nanny on ''Unpaid Holidays''

Sept 2008

I am again seeking advice about a nanny issue. When I hired my nanny a year ago, we agreed she would get two weeks paid vacation, six paid holidays (the majors), and six sick days (if needed). I do not have a written agreement with her (my first mistake). My problem is that I have more paid holidays than she does and I want to spend those days off with my children, so I really don't need her. In the past we have traded the unpaid holiday for other weekend or evening babysitting, but for an upcoming holiday she says she cannot trade because she works for another family on weekend evenings, and needs the days to be with her children. (Understandable.) But what do I do? I do not want to have to pay her for a day she is not working. This situation comes up several times a year (i.e., the day after Thanksgiving, which is unpaid and she certainly expects off.) One thought is I could tell her to make up a day off with two weekday evenings of babysitting, and if she says no, then she won't get paid for the unpaid holiday. What have others done in this situation? Also, are there any folks in nanny shares who have figured out a good way to pay a nanny when one family takes off for vacation and the other one doesn't??


Our contract spells out that we will pay for our share when one family takes off for vacation while the other doesn't. We kind of treat it like going to daycare, where you have to pay no matter what. Another thing we did when we came up with our contract was to look at what holidays we get off and offer her paid days off then as well.

Maybe what you can do is to talk to your nanny and come up with a permanent solution that you then put in a contract. This way, you could spell out that she gets certain paid holidays and other holidays unpaid, or decide to pay her for all holidays you get off. When it's spelled out up front, they can't complain about it. anon


I think the standard practice is that if you have a paid day off, your nanny has a paid day off too. Doesn't seem fair to dock her a day of pay just because your employer is more generous than hers is. Employee who employs a nanny
It is totally unreasonable for you to not pay your nanny on a day that she would otherwise be scheduled to work, but you happen not to need her for whatever reason.

(Why didn't you simply agree to give her the same paid holidays YOU get? That would be normal and expected.)

The fact that she's been willing to work extra hours for you without extra pay, in order to ''make up for'' holidays that you've given her, is great. But it's not something you should demand that she do. I would expect a nanny to accept my being late getting home once in a while due to traffic jams or something, but not to be available any time I wanted a Saturday night sitter. (When we asked our nanny to babysit on weekends or evenings, we paid her by the hour -- on the spot, just as we would have paid any sitter. That wasn't part of her normal pay in any way.)

This woman is taking care of what is most precious to you in the world. You trust her -- or you wouldn't have hired her. Don't nickel and dime her. The resulting ill will and bad karma isn't worth the small change you'll save. Holly


Oh, yes, meant to add: You ask about nanny share situations. When we shared a nanny, each family paid the nanny a set amount, based on the hours she normally cared for each family's child, and how many of those hours were normally shared vs. one-on-one.

That amount did not change when either or both families went on vacation. We did always attempt to coordinate vacation schedules, and usually were able to at least overlap. But we paid our nanny the same amount if we were on vacation as we would if we were home, and the same amount if the other family was on vacation as we would if they were there. Honestly, it's the simplest and most fair way to do it. Holly


Pay your nanny as usual when you take a paid holiday and give her the day off. How would you feel if your boss told you that you had to take an UNPAID vacation day because she was taking a PAID vacation day? Your nanny is being very nice to make up those holidays at other times. anon
I'm not sure if I read your post correctly, but are you asking if you should pay your nanny when you decide to send her home because you want to spend time with your kids? Doesn't she have a reasonable expectation of a certain amount of regular income? It is standard protocol to pay caregivers when they expect to work, even if you decide you do not need them. They have agreed to work, you have agreed to pay. It might feel expensive, but it is the price for keeping her ''on retainer'' as it were. --anon
if she is supposed to work, you pay her, regardless of whether you have the day off. i'm wondering why isn't she automatically getting a holiday, like you are? what are the magic six holidays, anyway? if you want to spend your day off with your children, give her a [paid] day off. if you don't want to pay her for not working, then do errands or something nice for yourself. but you can't not pay her or make her trade for evening / weekend unpaid babysitting!!! be fair to your nanny
I treated each of our nannies over the years as salaried staff. Yes, their pay was based on an hourly rate, but this was a minimum guaranteed each week, because nannies need to be able to count on their income (all the more so because it is not a high- paying position). If I decided not to utilize the services on any particular day, I felt I still owed for that day, because the nanny was ready & willing to work, per our agreement. It seemed fair to me, because my boss can't send me home & not pay me on any random day. How long has this nanny been working for you? If this continues to be an issue for you, perhaps at some upcoming interval (end of the year?) when you might otherwise offer a raise, maybe instead or in addition offer additional paid holidays to account for the days you will be off hanging with the kids? And definitely get an agreement in writing. I wish I had done this, for other reasons.... More paid holidays for ALL!
I am a nanny and I've worked part-time with 3 different families over the past 5 years. My first family did not pay for me ''unpaid holidays.'' At that time, I didn't realize that some families paid their nannies for these days. Often times, this family would cut my shifts a few hours or tell me a day or two in advance that they would not need me ''after all.'' This really bothered me because I relied on that income and also -- it was never my choice to cut my shifts or eliminate work days.

I started working for my 2nd family a few years later and was SUPER surprised when they paid me for these so-called ''unpaid holidays''. At one point, the family was traveling for a whole month and they paid me for that month even though I wasn't working. They also paid me on the days the child got sick (and the mom always called me to inform me that she didn't expect me to take care of her ill child -- she had this luxury because she was a SAHM. Also, she didn't want to risk me getting sick and passing it onto the other children I came into contact with.)

Those were two different extremes. The last family I worked with also tried to pay me for unpaid holidays (e.g., 2 weeks pay when they went on vacation). This family was also financially strapped at times and would explain they couldn't pay me for certain days they requested I take off. I think proper etiquette is to pay your nanny for these days because she is planning to work them anyway. If you know weeks/months in advance and can arrange make-up days/shifts, that would be great for both parties, but if not, I think you should definitely compensate her for the time she would usually commit. After all, it is your choice not hers. Experienced Nanny


I think you should pay your nanny for the extra days off. How many days are we really talking about? 4 or 5 at the most? If you have a nanny to begin with, my assumption is that paying for a few extra days (especially ones you are getting paid for yourself) would not be a major financial burden for you. For her on the other hand, paid time off is an important benefit that adds to job satisfaction.

I think you should treat your employee (your nanny) like the employer you'd want for yourself. Our policy is that if I have a paid holiday, my nanny gets it too (in addition to the other benefits you mentioned).


Why are you only giving your nanny only 6 paid holidays? Our nanny works for us four days a week and I give her every holiday I get - Paid. I do not understand why you deserve these paid holidays and she does not. annonymous
I guess I'm a little confused by the ''unpaid holidays.'' Why does your nanny gets fewer paid holidays than you? We also do not have a written agreement with our nanny, but if it's a holiday for me, it's a holiday for her (and she gets 2 weeks paid vacation and any sick days she needs). We pay her a guaranteed weekly salary, based on a set number of hours, every single week no matter what, with extra pay for things like taking our older child to school, staying late or weekend babysitting. She is never expected to make up hours. We feel caring for our children is an incredibly important job and that she deserves to have a regular work schedule and a steady income she can count on, regardless of our schedule. Same goes in our nanny share - if your family is on vacation, you still pay just like you are there. Think of it like daycare - you still pay to hold your child's place even if they aren't there. Nannys deserve respect
Personally, I think with these questions it is important to think about what you would expect for yourself from your employer. Personally, I don't believe your nanny should be forced to take unpaid days off, or use her off time to ''make up'' time you didn't need her. If I understand your post correctly, she isn't working on your extra paid holidays not because she is refusing to work, but rather because you don't need her. You didn't negotiate that originally. You set a schedule with certain holidays, 2 weeks off and 6 sick days. If from the start she knew that there were be several unpaid or forced vacation days, that would be different. If there are some days she would normally work, but you don't need her, she should still be paid. anon
I guess for me the answer depends in part on what you all agreed to do on any other days that you don't need her - what if you and the baby are sick? What if you go on a vacation or just a day trip? Does she still get paid for that day or is she expected to take the day off without pay? And did you agree on any of this in the beginning (even if it's not in writing)?

When I was researching this stuff before starting our first nanny share, at first it felt frustrating to me to have to pay for her holidays, vacation and sick days and then also for MY vacation and holidays or sick days, but then I read a nanny's comment somewhere that said, 'Don't you still get paid when your boss is out sick or goes on vacation?' That really put it in perspective for me. Your nanny deserves to know what her regular weekly or monthly income is going to be and to have some guarantee of that income. If you end up not needing her on a day you have agreed to pay her, then you still pay her! IMO, that's the only fair thing to do.

In all my share situations, we have given the nanny two paid weeks of vacation and had the policy that we will all agree on one week (usually over the Christmas/New Year's holidays) and the other the nanny will take whenever she wants. We have all (families and nanny together) also tried to plan our vacations at the same time if we have flexibility, but otherwise if one family is gone for a week, we still pay our fair share of the share for that week. Otherwise either the other family gets screwed (by having to pay single kid rates) or the nanny does (by getting half her usual income). I just look at it as part of the cost of having such individualized care for your kid. next time, put it in writing


It's too bad this was unclear from the beginning, but I think it is pretty standard for nannies to expect to be allowed to earn a certain amount every week. I don't think you should try to negotiate other hours to ''make up'' the time. Maybe you should just consider it a raise and give her the same number of days off that you have-- you could make this explicit with her and then delay a monetary raise as you feel appropriate. Alternatively, you could negotiate with her to decrease her other paid days off (sick/vacation days) to compensate. Most nannies need a set weekly pay check to meet their own bills and it isn't like she can find work for those few days to make up the difference. I think it's possible that this misunderstanding arose because it is pretty standard for employers to pay their nannies for days the employers take off, so your nanny just assumed this is what would happen. -Having a nanny can get complicated
My daughter works as a Nanny. The family pays her in full when they decide they do not need her during her regular schedule because they decide to be with the children. This included a one week period when they had an unexpected trip out of the country. And they did so graciously with no paybacks expected.

I think the employee has an expected schedule and pay. not paying the employee is a violation of the contract, written or unwritten. The Nanny is to be treated fairly. Jim


When you first hired her, did you agree that if she did not work on a day (besides sick leave or holiday), either from her choice or yours, she would not be paid? I guess it depends on whether she's an independent contractor or employee. If she's an independent contractor (and it doesn't sound like it if she's getting holiday and paid sick time off), then I think it's OK not to pay her. Otherwise, like a person who pays for daycare or preschool, then she should be paid whether she works or not. And it doesn't seem fair that she should be expected to trade weekend or evening hours. Those should be paid separately as extra hours. Maybe you could just look at it like if you need her, then she should work on those days, otherwise she's just enjoying the same paid vacation days that you are (or take it out of her sick leave). Susan
If the nanny is taking a day off that is not a paid holiday per your agreement - written or not - she can't expect any pay. If you give the day off anyway, but clarify it is not a paid holiday, she should indeed babysit at another time.

When you are taking a day off with your child, you are basically taking vacation. This is not a free day at your nanny's discretion, and she should in any case have a reliable income. I.e. your vacation days should still be paid days for your nanny. Good luck


I certainly understand not wanting to pay the nanny for days you don't use, but still if you think about it from her point of view, you made an (unwritten) contract that she would get paid a certain amount for a certain amount of work. I don't think it's very fair for you to give her less work and less pay than you originally agreed upon. Especially since she can't very easily get paid work for those days you decide you don't need her. If she knew ahead of time how many unpaid days would be in her schedule, she might have found a family who could pay her for more days. But you've reserved her time, and now want to keep her as nanny without paying her for as many days as she expected. I have my daughter at a preschool and we pay a certain amount a month. If we keep her home one day, we still have to pay the preschool because they're keeping that spot open for her. I think the only fair thing to do is to rework the contract saying you'll pay her for 50 weeks out of the year (or whatever) and out of that she gets 2 weeks paid vacation, but she'll aslo have 2 weeks unpaid time off every year and let her decide if it's worth it. sarah
How much do you like your nanny? How happy do you want her to be? Personally, I'm thrilled to give my nanny days off like that, and that's what I do. I think the world of her, and quite frankly, I want her to feel like she's got a great deal in working with us. I think there's a lot to be said for employers (which you are) doing small things for employees (which she is) - it goes a long way. Good luck! Happy to make my nanny happy
Oh for goodness' sake. Sorry for the impatience, but it's not your nanny's fault you get extra paid holidays - and you're not willing to pay her? It's your choice to spend those extra days with your kids on days that she's normally scheduled to work for you.

Just think of what you pay her as a fixed salary amount; it's easier and more fair.

Similarly, if you can coordinate your vacations with the nanny and the other people in the share, great. But if not, your nanny should still get paid when YOU take a vacation. (Bonus: if your share family takes off for vacation and you're still using the nanny during that week, you should be able to pay the share rate, not the single-child rate.) good childcare is expensive


I'm sorry but I think if you take off extra days where the nanny expected to work, I think you should pay her and give her the day off. If it happens four times a year, how much is that really, if she's a good nanny. I can't afford a nanny, but as someone who has a great day care provider, I'm actually appalled at the way some families in this area (mostly those who can afford it) treat the people who care for their children. Give her the day off. Assume that you are paying her for her time and she's dedicated it to you and she should be paid fairly. If your boss paid you a salary but decided that on four certain days he didn't need you, would you still want to be paid? we need to be more respectful of those who care for our kids
My first thought: it's not too late to put your agreement in writing, and you should do so immediately. It puts both you and your nanny in a difficult situation to be figuring out pay as you go along. Second, in my opinion, you should pay her for any day you take off that isn't a requested vacation or sick day for her (that said, both of our former nannies were very willing to coordinate longer vacations with those of my family). Most nannies enter into a long-term position with the understanding they will be working certain hours for certain pay. If you decide not to use those hours, you are still obligated to pay for them, unless your (written) agreement specified otherwise. While it is nice if she has the flexibility to trade unused daytime hours for evening ones, she should not be required to. If my boss told me I was not needed on Monday during my regular work hours and I was to ''make up'' that time and Tuesday and Wednesday evening, I would be resentful at best and would leave the situation as soon as possible.

Childcare is expensive, and I definitely understand how it feels to pay for time that you aren't using. But from the perspective of fair employment practices, I think the answer is to pay her as you agreed. Fair pay= satisfied employee


I'm sure you'll get other posts along these lines... For a lot of people, hiring a nanny is their first time out as an employer, and for many of us (myself included) this lack of experience as a manager can result in some tensions and misunderstandings.

The bottom line is that if you like the way your nanny interacts with your child and want her to keep working for you, then keeping her happy is probably less costly (in terms of both money and stress) than trying to find someone new. If my employer told me that I didn't need to work on a scheduled day, but was expected to make up the time on what would ordinarily be my day off, I would not be motivated to stay with that employer for very long. Nor would I be very receptive to the idea of taking a pay cut if my employer had less need for my services than we originally negotiated. So that's something to take into consideration.

Your employer pays you for days when you are not working. Is this really so different? You will probably need to renegotiate your agreement with her. Since you have fewer workdays than she does, why not give her more time off? Can you afford to keep her wages the same if she works fewer hours? If not, can she afford to have her wages drop? What other solutions can you come up with? (Maybe a share with another family so her hourly wage is higher and your costs go down? Maybe she babysits for a regularly scheduled ''date night'' but there's no rearranging of her schedule around your vacation days?)

I learned these things the hard way. I had a nanny whom I and my daughter very much liked, but my budget was tight and I focused too much on my own costs without putting myself in her shoes often enough. So when the opportunity to work for another family presented itself, she gracefully made an exit. How would you want your boss to handle your vacation?


It sounds like for next year, you should renegotiate a new contract with your nanny and talk with her ahead of time about the issue. Maybe then you could plan in advance how you will handle these extra holidays. You could let her know that they are unpaid and tell her the dates so that she can plan accordingly, or you could work out how she'll pay you back with extra evening time.

However, it seems like this year it's unfair to expect her to rearrange her schedule to offer evening babysitting or to ask her to take the day off without pay. If the tables were reversed, would you want your boss to be able to say: ''I don't need you here next Wednesday. You can take the day off unpaid, or you'll need to work two evenings for me.''

Again, I think that if you plan it in advance, then you have every right to set things up the way that works best for your family. I know it's hard to think of everything ahead of time, but please also think of this from your nanny's point of view. You are her job and her income, and it seems like she should be treated the same way you'd hope to be treated for your own job. anon


Let me ask you this: on the holidays that you and your spouse are not needed in the office, do you expect them to maintain your salary? Do you expect to take a paycut on those weeks because you are not needed those days? Or do you expect that you will have to scramble to try to make up the hours?

Really, would you be okay with this if your employers did this to you?

When you hire a nanny, the money is to reserve her for the agreed upon weekly hours - it is not to take here and there and interfere with her personal time when you feel like it. If you opt to not use some of those hours and spend them with your child, what a boon for your child! And it is only fair that your nanny's income and life be stable. It is not fair in the least that you are trying to change hings on her last minute and force her to make up for your whim.

Perhaps you should be giving her the same paid holidays you have (why are you cheaping out and giving her less than yourself?).

In a nanny share, each family must maintain their portion of the pay, whether it is used or not. It doesn't matter if someone goes on vacation - they can opt to, but still must meet their financial obligation to the nanny and to the share.


It seems you made a decision and now things have changed. My first reaction is that you should abide by your contract, whether it is in writing or not. It is not the fault of your babysitter that you ended up with more vacation days that you had planned. I think you should have a conversation with your nanny and try to reach and agreement that works for both, being aware that she needs a relatively stable schedule so she can work with other families. EP
I pay our nanny for days when I don't need her. I don't ask her to make it up the hours at another time. I am reserving a scheduled block of her time each week, 52 weeks out of the year. I assume she would be able to work for other families during time I have not paid to reserve. If I ask her to work outside the time I have reserved, I pay her for that time. I also assume that she would not be able to find other work on short notice if I don't need her for the time I have reserved (ie, she should not lose income if I don't need her on a given day). I am hoping that being employee-favorable in this area creates a situation that is employer-favorable in other areas (makes her more accepting of my occasional lateness, willing to do favors for us like let in the handyman, etc). Painful as it is to pay money for childcare and then do childcare myself, I got the sense when interviewing that that is the deal for nannies in this area. Best wishes. I feel your pain
Yes, you should of had at least an outline of your verbal agreement . I suggest sitting down with her now and discussing it again. Then put it in writing. Just tell her that you'd like to discuss each others understanding of it and resolve any current issues. When you actually write it down, you'll realize that there are details that will need to be finalized.

About pay/benefits: I always look to to the 'real' world and what is typical there. You don't say what her pay is based on. I assume from your post that you do not pay her a regular salary. If in fact you do, you are obligated to pay the full salary for any time you decide you do not need her, just as is typical in the 'real' world. Also, are we talking about actual holidys or just random dys that either of you pick.

If she is paid only per hour, have you agreed to pay for a min per wk minus the unpaid holidays? If yes, have you agreed to which holidys are paid and which unpaid? If yes to these, then you are obligated to pay accordingly, regardless. Did you discuss what options would be, or not be, available for unpaid holidys? Your agrmnt should have included a max of unpaid holidys in order to control how many dys you would not need her as well as the # that she would not be available. BTW, I have never heard of the day after T'dy being a holidy. Unless the original agrmnt included that as an extra day off (as I insist on now), it is vacation for her (which I did for the 1st few yrs).

If the agrmnt was that you decide which holidys are (not)worked then she is obligated to work them. If they are supposed to be mutually agreed upon, then you two need to come to an agrmnt each time. Unless originally agreed upon, you are not obligated to pay 'compensating time off' (CTO). If you offer her CTO and she is not available at those times then she has to accept that CTO is not available. You are not obligated to provide pay or CTO for those 6 unpaid holidys.

All-in-all, you get 6 holidys to not pay her, everything else gets paid whether or not you need her. She should not be working CTO for time that is unpaid. Remember, she has bills to pay whether or not you need her.

Be sure to talk with her about this. It's these little resentments that build up to create an unpleasantness, for the children as well, and ultimately lead to an end of the relationship which is bad for everyone involved. Hope this was helpful nani of 25yrs


I didn't see the original question, but I think what you do with your nanny on holidays depends on your agreement with your nanny and the parameters of your relationship. If it's a full time, set amount of hours, then I agree she should be paid for the hours. But, if it's a part time relationship, I think it is unclear whether holidays should be paid. I think we've all worked part time jobs and not been paid for holidays, I know I wasn't paid for holidays until I was a salaried employee, so if you've hired someone on an hourly basis, then perhaps no pay for holidays is ok, but if you've hired someone full time, then I think it's not. It also depends on the experience of the caregiver -- if you are giving them their first opportunity to nanny, then I think salary and benefits can be lower, if they are experienced, pay and benefits should be comesurate. amy

Nanny share rate when one family is on vacation?

Jan 2006

We will be starting a part-time 2 days/week nanny-share with another family (their home) at the end of the month. Our nanny is terrific and each family has agreed to pay her $9/hour per child for the shared hours (each family has one toddler) so her take-home pay will be $18/hour for the shared hours. There are a few weeks in the upcoming months when we know one family will be on vacation and therefore only one child will be in the nanny- share for those days. My question is, does the family on vacation pay the full $9/hr rate even if their child is not participating in the nanny share that day/week, or a partial rate so that the nanny will earn at least a single-child rate for that day (say, $12hr)? Also, if this is the case I presume it would be the family on vacation that would pay the difference to the single child rate, not the family who still needs care (since it's not their ''fault'' the other family is on vacation?) I haven't been in a nanny-share before and wasn't sure what the norm is. Our nanny will be working for another family the other 3 days/wk. Thanks. nanny-share newbie


Your nanny should in NO way be financially set back because of your vacation plans. Her budget is undoubtedly tight and she is counting on a certain level of income. She is also taking care of your precious child(ren). DO NOT nickel and dime her. Sara
We have a two-day/week nanny share. Our agreement is that when one kid doesn't show up due to being sick or on vacation, they still pay their half of the hourly rate. We just figure it would be a little unfair to the nanny and the other family if one family ends up taking a bunch of vacations, it's not in their control. And with kids getting sick, everyone gets sick, so that should even out (in theory).

Also, you need to figure out what you do when the nanny is sick or on vacation. Does the nanny get paid then?

Ultimately, what you do is negotiable between you, the nanny and the other family. And write down whatever your agreement is in case people start to forget.


My daughter is in a nanny share, and our agreement is that we guarantee the nanny a certain number of hours per week whether we use them or not. So I pay the nanny when we're on vacation, when my daughter is home sick, etc. I might pay the nanny more if I use her for extra hours, but I would never pay her less than her guaranteed minimum amount.

I don't actually know if that is ''standard'', but it seems reasonable that the nanny's pay be consistent from week to week. But talk to the other parents, and the nanny, just to make certain everyone's on the same page. Carrie


We and our share family each pay our nanny $8/hr/child for regularly scheduled share hours, regardless of whether our child is there or not. This means if one family goes on vacation for a week, both families continue to pay her exactly the same as if both kids were there. This provides her a certain income every week that she can always count on getting. Michelle
I'm sure you will get many responses on this. When you are on vacation, you are still obligated to pay the nanny her full fee, just like you would a pre-school, private school, gym membership or anything else. The family going on vacation should pay as usual. Anon
In the two nanny share arrangements I have been in, both families commit to paying the full weekly amount regardless of time taken off. This includes a week off for the nanny during christmas, any national holidays and nanny sick days.

There were times it seemed a bit unfair, but it was ultimately worth it. As a result our nanny and both families never have the stress of having to pay more or get paid less because because one family is taking time off.

(If you think this is bad wait till you get to preschool where you pay for 2 weeks of christmas vacation and then an extra hourly rate if you need holiday care)


The nanny depends upon two families for her income. Therefore, if one family leaves the share (even for a day) they should be willing to provide their half to the nanny during their absence. If they like the nanny and the job she does for them, it is a small price to pay to secure her services. Are any other benefits provided? Paid vacation and sick days? If not, paying the nanny when their child is absent from the share situation is the least that should be done to show they care for their employee! If your paycheck stopped when your boss was ill or out of town how would that work for you? A nanny who knows
I have been in a share with a number of different families. We guarantee our nanny the share rate ($18) even when one or the other family is on vacation. So if my family went on vacation, we would still pay our $9 an hour (and if the other family went on vacation, they would still pay $9 an hour). This way no family is on the hook for another's vacation AND the nanny has a salary she can depend on. I think this is not an uncommon way to do things, and seems most fair to us and the families we have worked with. Treat your nanny well!
Pay her the full rate! Do you get vacation pay? Sick pay? Do you get partial pay when your boss is out? When your workload reduces? On slow days? She is giving her TIME and committment to both families. Why should she be cheated when a child is absent for ANY reason? As your children enter other care as they age - pre-school, after school care, day camps, etc. you'll find that you are paying for the privelege of holding that space. Yeah, it feels expensive, but isn't your time, experience, talent, skills worth $$ as well as those of the woman you hired to look after your child??? Member of a Village
The vacationing family should pay the nanny her usual rate while on vacation (e.g, you pay $9 and the other family pays $9). Nannys should be treated like any valued employee. Paying a nanny less when you go on vacation (or not paying her while she goes on vacation unless it exceeds some agreed-upon time) is unfair and we would complain if our employers did the same thing. I'm sure many nannys rely on the expected income and to reduce it when an employer goes on vacation may be a real burden even if they don't express it (they may just carry on the resentment, which is worse for the relationship). In a nanny share for almost 3 years
We have had a nanny share for three years, and this is our rule: The family going on vacation should 1) give proper notice, say two weeks. If you are allowing vacation accrual with your nanny than you might be able to continue to pay the normal rate depending on how much vacation your nanny has accrued. Otherwise, you would pay the one child rate, whatever was communicated or decided upon ($12 is what you had listed). Here is what the options could look like: 1) You pay the $12 one child rate while the other family is out. 2) You pay $9 the two child rate for the entire vacation because the other family is paying the nanny her vacation pay during their time away. Or 3) You pay $9 for a portion of the time the nanny has accrued, and $12 for the remaining time. It sounds like you may want to discuss this with the other family. We have always allowed one vacation day for every 6 weeks of work for our nanny. We also always ask her if she wants to take her vacation pay when we go on vacation, sometimes she doesn't sometimes she does. Hope this helps. Kathie
In our nanny share we always paid whether on vacation or not. Basically we committed to 52 weeks per year and gave our nanny 2-3 weeks paid vacation. All the families tried to schedule our vacations at the same time as the nanny's but if they didn't coincide we still paid. The nanny should not have to take a pay cut due to a family being out of town. keep your nanny happy
Here's what we have in our contract:

TIME OFF DURING PARENTS' VACATION AND TRAVEL: If the parents and children take vacation or travel during time that is not concurrent with the Childcare Provider's vacation, the Childcare Provider will be paid at the normal rate (as if both children were present) for the normal working days the family is gone.

This means the family that's on vacation pays what they would normally pay if their child was in care. In our situation, our Childcare Provider gets two weeks of paid vacation, so we try to all coordinate vacations, but understand that sometimes difficult to do.

Unless it was agreed to up front, you don't want your provider to lose pay because you are taking time away. It's just not fair. -Love my provider and want to keep her happy


Hello. Yes. Both families should pay for the hours that they have contracted or agreed upon with the nanny regardless if the child is present or not, ie vacation, sick, grandparents visit, doctor's appt., etc. Your nanny is counting on a certain number of hours and pay to live on. As is it not the other family's ''fault'' if one family goes on vacation, neither is it the nanny's ''fault'' - she should not have to lose pay because one family takes days off of the agreement. Your nanny loves, protects, nurtures, and teaches your child while you are away. Do what you can to show her that you respect her and value her as a member of your parenting team. Anon
Hi.. As a nanny who has worked in a number of shares I have always worked with a contract to cover situations like this. I would usually request that ( like a preschool) when one family is on vacation or has a sick child that they would still be responsible for payment in full for those hours since I need to be able to rely on a steady income and not have it fluctuate due to circumstances beyond my control ( we decided to stay home today etc...) I also would get paid for an agreed upon number of my own vacation and sick days- varying depending on the number of hours worked.

It really is invaluable to get all of this out on the table in written form before you start your relationship with the provider and the other family. Suprises can lead to resentment which can sour the relationship very quickly. Really good childcare providers treat their jobs a s a profession and should be offered the same benefits as people in ''regular'' jobs get...

A share is a wonderful way for the kids to develop a close relationship and have a ''best buddy'' while learning to negotiate and work things out through play. Good luck.... anonomous


Our nanny gets paid her full share salary when we are on vacation. A nanny has to rely on a steady income. In a daycare center you would also have to continue payments. Our nanny gets 3 weeks of paid vacation herself, but it doesn't matter if our and her vacation are at the same time for the payment.

The other family keeps paying their share. Of course they don't have to pick up the missing amount. Only paying a little bit more for one child like $12 instead of $9 would seriously impact her income. I would advise against it if you want to keep your nanny (happy). Also struggling with payments


Our nanny gets paid her full share salary when we are on vacation. A nanny has to rely on a steady income. In a daycare center you would also have to continue payments.

Our nanny gets 3 weeks of paid vacation herself, but it doesn't matter if our and her vacation are at the same time for the payment.

The other family keeps paying their share. Of course they don't have to pick up the missing amount. Only paying a little bit more for one child like $12 instead of $9 would seriously impact her income. I would advise against it if you want to keep your nanny (happy). Also struggling with payments


In our share situation, we continue to pay original rates when one family is on vacation. Our nanny continues to make her same salary regardless. In fact, if the other family wants to use her on a day that is usually ours, we still pay our full rate (14) and they pay their full rate (14) rather than anyone paying share rates (9) or coming up with a new scenario... the idea being that she has paid time off when we are away and if she chooses to work during that time, she would make additional money. Anonymous
Why should the nanny's salary go down because you are on vacation? I think that unless you negoticate with her otherwise before you hire her, you are responsible for paying her whether you are on vacation or not, at her normal (2-child) rate. That has certainly been how we have handled it in our nanny shares. -
You each pay the same amount you normally would, even when one family is on vacation. (Or one child is sick, or has a doctor's appointment, or for whatever other reason you don't use the childcare on a given day/time.)

After all, you don't stop paying your rent or your mortgage when you spend a week in a hotel on vacation. Your nanny is reserving certain days and times for you and deserves to be paid for it when you occasionally don't use it. It's not as if she can just go get another job for that day or week. I am sure there are people out there who don't pay their nannies when they're on vacation, but the small amount you'd save isn't worth the price of your good relationship with both the nanny and the other family in the share.

Your nanny may be able and willing, at least sometimes, to ''trade'' you for a different day or time than usual, if that is something you are interested in. We always paid ours extra for evening babysitting but sometimes asked ours to come a little earlier or stay a little later than usual, without paying more, and figured it all washed out with the times we had her come later or not at all, or leave early. Your nanny may not have that flexibility but if she does it can work out well and feel fair for everyone. Holly


Paying Nanny While Vacationing

My husband, daughter and I will be visiting relatives in Europe for the entire month of July. I'm wondering what the standard procedure is for paying a nanny during such an extended trip. I've given her more than a month's lead time, and made it clear that I would prefer she find short-term work, but if she cannot, is it standard practice to pay a childcare worker even when the child is away? Is this comparable to paying rent on your house while you're away from it, or is it an unusual request? I would appreciate hearing from parents who have been in this situation. What solutions did you work out? Thanks.
Although it is expensive, we have always paid our nanny while we are away. We try to treat our nanny as a professional and expect her to behave as one in return. That means we believe we should provide paid vacation time. We do, however, ask that that time be when we are also away. When our nanny has taken vacation while we were in town, it has been unpaid.
You only need to pay the Nanny while you are on vacation if you expect her to work for you again on your return. If you leave her for a month without any income, I would think she would look for another long-term job. One-month Nanny positions are not common.

Several years ago when my husband was doing his under grad work in NY state, we had a nanny. She did expect payment over the summer when we were not in need of her services. So I think this is fairly common. I guess perhaps she was more of an in home day care provider and was licensed so maybe this doesn't apply at all, but she did work out a special deal with us so we paid something like half time for the summer. Many years ago when I worked as a nanny, my family paid me "vacation pay" for the weeks that they were home with their child which I considered a gift at the time. In return since I was familiar with their home and cat, I would pick up mail and feed the cat at least every couple of days. Hope this helps.


I am a firm believer in compensating regular employees for days not worked if the change was due to your vacation schedule or illness. In some cases what I have done is worked out a deal with the babysitter or housecleaner that she or I could try to find someone else to employ them for the days that we were gone, in which case I was off the hook for paying. But if substitute work wasn't easily found, then I had to pay. Sure, you don't enjoy paying for work not done, but from the employee's perspective, they can't afford to lose income just because the employer is able to travel, gets sick, changes plans, etc. If you value and respect your employee, then this is a time for the Golden Rule...
Paying child care workers: I am not sure there is a norm, but here are some thoughts. We pay our nanny a salary, with paid legal holidays. We expect flexible hours for that, and do not generally keep track of weekly hours or pay more or less for more or less work (within reason). She is never stinting with time when we need it (and we try not to take advantage of that). In exchange for her flexibility, we pay 52 weeks a year, whether we need her or not. That seems only fair; if we expect her to give us full time work (whatever that means, as we need it), we also should pay her for full time work when we don't need it. She has bills to pay too, and if this is her full-time job, she needs to be able to rely on her income coming in. (It also seems fair to give a paid vacation; we all need one).

If she takes time off and we need to pay for alternate child care, however, we won't pay her for that time. If you have a pay-by-the-hour relationship (especially less than full time), and pay for every extra minute of work, the relationship may not require pay during vacation. But if your child care provider is good, you will get far more loyalty (and good care in the future) if you pay her for whatever income she can't make up during your absence. Money is always an issue, but we have found that being generous in benefits to child-care workers is worth the sacrifices it takes (if you can possibly make them): we have gotten great care, long-term commitments, and continuing friendship.


We always pay our nanny when we do not use her either for a day or an extended holiday on our part (three weeks). If there has been sufficient notice we have asked her to use that time as her vacation time, but otherwise we just pay her. We feel she has set aside her time for our employ and just because we don't use her, she has saved that time. She doesn't make huge amounts of money that she can afford not being paid. Finding part-time work is quite a burden. Our nanny is wonderful and we don't want to lose her.
What we've done is agree up front to 2 weeks paid vacation per year and required that these be taken when we are on vacation. Given a committed, wonderful nanny who worked for us full-time (no competing job (demands), we would, for the two weeks beyond that, pay her/him and ask her/him to make up the time on occasional weekend days and evening sitting for weeknight dates. I would hesitate to ask them to go for for a month or even 2 weeks without income based on my decision to take a long vacation.
My opinion is that if you are happy with your sitter and want to retain her/him, you should pay your sitter for the month you will be away. A quick poll among my friends who highly value their sitters is unanimous on this point of view. Perhaps your sitter can care for your plants or pets in your absence. If that doesn't justify the expense, then consider the inconvenience and emotional cost to you and your child(ren) of replacing your sitter. Most childcare workers cannot afford the loss of one month's income (in fact, few of us could afford not to get paid for a month!) and it would be extremely difficult to find a temporary job that coincided with the time period when your family will be gone, even with a lot of lead time. I say this because we have a part-time sitter and we have had to spend a lot of time and energy to find another family who could employ our sitter on the days she does not for for us, so that she would have 40 hours total (in order not to lose her another family offering full-time employment). When we go out of town for long weekends and don't need our sitter on her regularly scheduled days, we pay her. We also give our sitter 2 weeks paid vacation per year (one week around the Christmas holidays when we're on vacation, and one week off at another time that she chooses). Hope this helps.
My experiance has been that the nanny would be paid while you are gone. If she is your full-time nanny, she is probably relying on the income you pay her. I tried to put myselft in my nanny's shoes when a similar situation came up for us. If I worked in a small business, and the manager closed the business down for a month, how on earth would I come up with a comperable income during that time. Also, you might look at it this way, if she workedin a traditional job, even in a small business, she would be given vacation time every year. Everyone needs some downtime, even nannies......oh, one more thing, if you give her the opportunity to work for someone else she may decide to stay......
In my experience, the childcare provider is paid regardless of your vacation plans. She provides a service to you and has to eat and pay rent whether you are on vacation or not.
I'm not sure what standard practice is, however, my approach has always been to continue payment, for several reasons (not necessarily in this order). First, the loss of a month's salary to my child care worker was always more significant than the cost to me. Second, I wanted her to be generous with my child, so I was willing to be generous with my money. Third, I think a happy child care worker is a better child care worker. Fourth, if she accepts a "short-term" alternative, it could turn into a long-term situation, requiring me to find someone new (and stability was always an important factor to me). Fifth, I would think of it as her paid vacation, similar to the paid vacation I got at my job (and although it's a lot of time off for vacation, that was compensation for the fact that she didn't get to choose the time herself). And finally, I do think of it like rent or as a salaried position. If I got home an hour early, I wouldn't dock her an hour pay. She made a commitment to me, and wanted to treat her payment as a commitment to her.
I feel that absolutely you must pay her! Perhaps you could make a deal with her that it will also count as her vacation, so as not to pay her for any other vacation time during the year. If your child were at a center, you would have to pay. How would you feel to be laid off from work for a month w/o pay and then asked to come back? I know I would resent it and would look for another (permanent) position.
Your nanny is your employee and should get a paid vacation just like everyone else. If she works close to full time and has been with you more than one year, she should have two weeks paid. If she has been with you less than one year, then she should get something less (one week?). The difference between the length of your vacation and hers (the difference being two or three weeks) is the part you need to negotiate.

If you want to keep her, then the burden is on you to be flexible. Perhaps you can think of some projects around your house that she could do to fill up the two weeks in question (the other two weeks are her paid vaction). Or perhaps you could "lend" her to some friends. Or you could "donate" her time to a non-profit and take a tax break as an in-kind contribution. It would be a nice gesture to let her (him?) pick the non-profit. Some families take their nannies with them on vacation. Hope these suggestions help.


We have gone away quite a few times in the four months that we have employed our nanny and have always assumed that it is our responsibility to pay her for time that we choose to go away (our contract also allows her two weeks' paid vacation per year). We just had a problem, though, in which we came back a day earlier than expected from a vacation and asked her to come in (we had left it open about whether we'd need her that day). She did, but three days later, she told us -- at the *end* of the day -- that she would be taking the next day off to make up for the day we called her in, and she refused even to discuss it. We paid her, as usual, but now we find ourselves feeling angry and like we've been taken advantage of. Since Spanish is her first language, and we only speak English, it's hard to communicate, so we're wondering how in the world we should deal with this, both now and in the future. She's a wonderful nanny, and I would hate to have something like this ruin our relationship. Thank you.
I would like to say that as a babysitter myself its good to know that some people still care for this issue. I have been sitting for the last 2 years and during all this time the family that I was working with never paid me any vacations or holidays, and whenever they wanted to take any day off they never paid me anything. I speak spanish as well english and I'm a c.p.r, infection diseases and first aid certificated. I never complain but one day, she decided to put her son in a day child care so that he can learn to be with other kids and that was it. She found a place and she didn't care about what is going to happen to me. The reason I never said anything was because me and my family got so attached to the kid and for us $ wasn't the issue. I have 2 kid's of my own and I know how hard is to find a good babysitter. You know how she treats me every time her day care is closed? She is always calling me to help her pick her son up from his daycare and keep him with me until she finish working, and taking him to his home whenever she is ready. So you see how some people take advantage of people like me. We don't see kids as a business, we think of him as if he was our son too. That is why I'm really touched to see how some people like you still care for your baysitter. Thank you from the bottom of my heart from all the baysitters like me.

Vacations and Part-time Nanny

Does anyone have experience with going away on a trip, and how they handled it with a weekly sitter? We use a sitter part time, one day a week. I informed my sitter a few weeks ago that we would be gone one week, and thus not need her that one day we use her. ( I told her three weeks before our trip, as well). She just shared with me, that she always gets paid for a full days work whenever her families go away. We have a wonderful sitter, and she is an incredible caregiver, so I'm not quite sure what to do. I've offered to make up the work, but it doesn't seem to make a difference. Has anyone else had a similar experience? I feel weird paying her for a full days work, when she didn't do any. At the same time, part time quality sitters are so hard to come by. Does anyone know if this is common practice? Thanks.
I don't know about common practice... Our family pays our sitter for each day that she is slated to work but does not because we either go on holiday or are sick. We also pay her for her sick days (she actually hasn't had any yet) and her holidays. And if I come home early, I pay her for the time she would have stayed, even if it is several extra hours. (As an aside, we give her a holiday bonus and present, plus treats such as symphony tickets, roses, candy, etc., although her favorite gifts are obviously always photos of our son, thus underscoring how wonderful she is!)

Yes, at first it seems like a lot to pay for nothing in exchange. I really struggled with childcare costs when we first started using a sitter when my son was an eight-month-old. But then I thought about how it isn't all for nothing. Since we ask her to come on specific days at certain times, she is actually an employee on retainer more than just a sitter who comes occasionally.

I also thought about how lost we would be without her, and that she deserved some stability in her payment since she brings so much stability to our lives! And I also thought about how important it is to me, both financially and as far as feeling appreciated, to have paid days off at my own job. And that she should certainly have that same treatment, because she is doing some really crucial work, and doing it well.

You'll need to make your own decision, of course, but if you think this may jeopardize your relationship with her, reconsider. Having a sitter you trust and that your child likes is golden and not always easy to find again. (I could tell you about that, too ... but won't!)


I think it depends on the agreement/contract that you have made with the sitter. My sitter charges by the week if you are full time and day by day if you are only occassional. My son has been going only 1 day a week (considered occassional) on a day one of the weekly kids doesn't come for the past year, so I have not been expected to pay for vacation, sick or holidays... but my sitter is being paid by the other families those days since they are on the weekly rate.

I don't really see a problem with the sitter being paid for holidays or days that I choose not to send my child. After all, I get sick and vacation and holiday pay for days that I don't work. I don't think that childcare workers are any less entitled to paid day's off, or should have to suffer fluctuations in their income just because I as a parent choose to keep my child home, or go on vacation, or whatever. I expect my sitter to be there so that I can go to work, and she expects me to bring my child so she can work...


Just went on two trips (1 week each) that I had planned even before I hired our nanny and we paid her time during both. I know your nanny comes only one day a week, but from all I can tell, it's worth paying her & keeping her happy if you like her. Most of the people I've spoken to told me to do whatever it takes to keep my nanny comfortable and happy or they'll use the time your away to look for another job. Good luck-
What we did with our sitter was try to find a replacement employment opportunity the period of lost income. To ensure her continued relationship with your family, it might be a nice concession to pay her half of her normal pay for the time you do not need her with the understanding that when she took HER vacation time, you would pay her either half or full wage. Hope this is useful.
OK, I just have to comment on these nanny questions... When my second child was born, the cost of daycare for two pre-schoolers exceeded my take-home pay, so I decided to quit my job and stay home. By taking care of another infant, and dropping daycare for my kids, I was able to break even. I cared for Brian for three years. I can tell you that it was the hardest job I have ever had. Although I became very attached to Brian, my initial motivation was *not* a love of other people's children - we needed the money! Taking care of Brian was how we paid the rent and bought the groceries. His mom and I drew up a contract, which included vacation and holidays. I had a regular income I could depend on, and she had a terrific babysitter.

Several people have questioned whether it is really necessary to pay the regular babysitter if for some reason they don't need them temporarily. I do not understand how a working parent, who is presumably in a superior financial position, can justify withholding the salary of her less-well-off babysitter whenever she likes. I would not want to work for somebody who'd do that and you probably wouldn't either. The fact that the nanny works for you only one day a week isn't relevant - it is a regular job for her and she depends on that income. If you don't pay her, she can't pay her bills. When you get to preschool, you will see that the rules are: you pay by the week/month/year whether your child will be coming or not. PG&E still wants the same amount of money regardless of how many kids show up!

To the mom who came back a day early and asked the nanny to come in that day - I think your nanny should be able to make personal plans for the days you are gone, and should not have to leave her own schedule up in the air pending your decision on a return date. You should give her definite dates she is off as much in advance as possible, and then stick to them. Maybe her surprise announcement of a day off was a not-so-subtle way of protesting your assumption that she'd leave her days open for you just in case you came back early.

Just to repeat what others have said - if you like your babysitter, and you want to keep her, then you need to treat her with the same respect and consideration you'd expect from your own employer. Ginger


Nanny Sick Leave

Feb 2002

What is a reasonable amount of annual sick leave to provide for a live-in nanny that works 20 hours/week? Evan


We give our nanny 2 prorated weeks of ''personal leave'' per year which she can take as sick time or vacation time. When she worked for us 2 days/wk, she earned 2 weeks at 2 days/wk or a total of 4 days/year (accrued at a rate of 1 day/3 mo.). After a year, we were using her 3 days/wk and increased her leave to 6 days/yr (it now accrues at 1 day/2 mo worked). We also gave her a raise after a year from $14/hr for two children (from two different families) to $15/hr.
We give our full-time nanny 5 sick days a year, but she hasn't ever used any. According to the nanny survey we did in this newsletter a few months ago (see http://parents.berkeley.edu), about 2/3 of respondents pay for nanny sick days -- 34% said they do not pay for nanny sick days, 38% said they pay 1-5 sick days, 21% said they pay for ''as many as needed'', and 7% pay for more than 6 days/year. So the equivalent of a week, in your case half a week, seems like a general guide. Ginger
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