Logistics of Firing your Nanny (when it might not be a good situation)

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How to handle the logistics of letting your Nanny go - when the situation is not so good.

 

Original Poster:

"For a number of reasons we have decided to let our nanny go and have hired a new one. As per the suggestions of the PSP resource on hiring/firing a nanny we are waiting until the end of her last day to let her know and will be giving her 2 weeks of severance. We also know how we are going to present it and what we are going to say.

That said, we can't figure out the logistics of it. Because the plan is to do it at the end of her last day, that means it will be at the same time that I come home and as per every day the kids will be exuberant and want my attention to tell me all about their day. It is hard enough already for me to have a simple conversation with the nanny upon return back home because of the kids' desire for my attention - and they are very young so there is no way to explain to them in advance what is happening (in fact they have no idea since we don't want it to leak to the nanny). My husband has a work commitment and can't come home at the same time to deal with the kids.

We have considered doing it over the phone that evening or the next day but worry because she has a set of our keys. We could make sending her a severance check contingent on receiving our keys back, and we have no reason to think that there would be any foul play. But we also anticipate that she is going to be totally shocked, really angry and in a very stressful financial situation (which we of course are compassionate about but it doesn't validate keeping her on), and thus her having our keys makes us a bit uneasy.

Any experience/suggestions?

Thank you in advance!"

 

Responses:

 

Do it in person, and distract the kids:

"If you have employed this person, for more than 3 months, I think it's best to do this in person. It's a courtesy you owe them. If less than that time, I think I would just say you have visitors coming from out of town this weekend and need her set of keys as a spare set and then call her the next day. Can you plop your kids in front of TV for a bit? In the few times when I have to talk to my nanny, I placed headphones on them and had her watch something off the computer."

Don't give a reason:

"Make sure you give no reason for firing her. New York is a state which requires no cause for ending unemployment, but if you say something that could be construed as a discriminatory reason, she could try to do something with that (unlikely that there would be any legally actionable issue since most laws apply to employers with 3+ employees but still save yourself the drama by giving no reason).
If she is off the books, consider the possibility that she will file for unemployment, resulting in an audit for you unless you do back filing.  If you feel more comfortable, just change your locks. The key store on 5th ave was great when we had to do this following a babysitter turning threatening after a similar situation."

Put the kids in front of the TV, if you can:

"Hi. I'm sorry that you are in this situation. It's very difficult to end a nanny relationship as they become part of the family. I was going to suggest that you put on their favorite TV show or movie, one that they rarely get to watch. But you mention that they are very young so that likely won't work."

Tag team with your partner:

"If I were in your position, I think I would either postpone it until my husband could be there to help, even if that means doing it on a Monday, instead of a Friday. Or if that's not possible, then is there a close neighbor or family friend/relative that could take the children for a bit so you can have time to talk to your nanny? You didn't mention how long the nanny has been with your family or the seriousness of the reasons leading to her termination but I think she deserves an in-person meeting vs. over the phone."

Ask a friend or neighbor to stop by:

"Do you have a friend that the kids know who could come home with you and watch the kids for fifteen minutes while you talk w/ the nanny? If so you could step outside to have the convo privately with your nanny. Kids might be upset for 15 mins but that's not such a big deal in the overall scheme of things.  Good luck!"

Set the kids up with a snack or toy:

"Some ideas: Ask a friend/neighbor to get there to play with the kids - take them outside. Set the kids up with a video or favorite toy or snack. This calls for a lollipop or something drastic so that they'll be busy. Keep the conversation short and get your keys back. Sorry that you're dealing with this. Sending you support!"

Tell the nanny on a Sunday night:

"I have this experience already and after much thought, we elected to tell the nanny on Sunday night that we did not need her to come in the following day (or to continue), and sent her a check in the mail for a few weeks. This was largely because we found something over the weekend which led to this decision, so doing it the prior Friday was not an option. For you, it's not going to be an easy situation regardless of whether you do it over the phone or in person.  I would try to keep it short and sweet. Honestly, I would not worry about the keys - don't go through the hassle of having the severance contingent on receiving the keys - why bother leaving that open action out there?  Our nanny said she would mail back the keys along with other things and never did.  It's just likely not a priority to someone who has to find another job.  Change your locks for peace of mind and move on. Good luck as this is not easy on anyone."

Fire via the phone on the night before, arrange a meeting the next day to say bye to the kids:

"I think the nanny might want to say goodbye to your kids and certainly vice versa. What if you called her when she got home that night (don't leave a message), fire her over the phone where you have a little distance and don't have to be afraid, and ask her to meet you and the kids the next day, on the weekend at a mutually convenient time. You will give her severance pay, she will give you keys, and the kids can say their goodbyes and so can she ( and you? And thank her?).  If she loves them she will not take it out on them when she says goodbye.  Maybe let her choose what to tell them about her leaving so she can keep her pride- you can re- explain later if necessary. If she refuses to meet, then no severance pay - that's her choice. Use the money to change the locks on your doors."

Reconsider the last day:

"I think it might be best to consider changing what you plan to be her last day if at all possible such that your husband will be available for the children. I think you will want to be able to focus on the conversation (best for both you and your nanny) and as well you want to avoid a situation where either the nanny or children (or both) are visibly upset. Being let go can be very emotional and you do want to protect your children from the potential for an upsetting reaction from the nanny."

Give her a warning ahead of time:

"Have you given her any written or verbal warnings or feedback? If so, she may not be as shocked as you think. If not, then as her employer, you are in a tricky situation in terms of her reaction. Imagine yourself in her shoes. I'm imagining if you are moving swiftly then she must know something happened that was not ok, so that may muffle her reaction.

Phone a friend:

I'd suggest you call on a neighbor or a friend to come into the apartment with you and sit with your kids. Of course they are excited to see you but if you clearly communicate with them that you need to have a private conversation (and go behind a closed door) and so-and-so will sit with you for 10 minutes and hear all about your day, or watch  a show or read or book or whatever with you, they'll be ok with it. In fact, they have to be. And if they protest it doesn't matter, you need to have the conversation.

Don't stress about the keys - you can always have the lock changed.

Exchange the keys and severance at the same time:

"Based on the one time I let a nanny go (and she understood why) I gave her the severance and asked for keys at the same time. Don’t make one contingent on the other. The same day you let her go, get the keys and give her the money (in cash or cashiers check). I would not give her a regular check with your financial information on it. Regarding your children, you can send them to a neighbors, put them in front of a TV or wait until your husband is home. But don’t split up the tasks (the firing conversation, the keys and the severance) just because it’s not convenient with the kids. They will manage for 30 minutes doing something else."

Keep it short and sweet:

"I have this experience already and after much thought, we elected to tell the nanny on Sunday night that we did not need her to come in the following day (or to continue), and sent her a check in the mail for a few weeks.  This was largely because we found something over the weekend which led to this decision, so doing it the prior Friday was not an option.  For you, it's not going to be an easy situation regardless of whether you do it over the phone or in person.  I would try to keep it short and sweet.  Honestly, I would not worry about the keys - don't go through the hassle of having the severance contingent on receiving the keys - why bother leaving that open action out there?  Our nanny said she would mail back the keys along with other things and never did.  It's just likely not a priority to someone who has to find another job.  Change your locks for peace of mind and move on."