PSP member dilemma:
“On the eve of this possibly big snow storm I have a question for you all... if schools are closed and your nanny needs to stay home to take care of her grand kids or kids (unless she brings them to work which ok every once in a while bc they are sweet and well behaved but means she is taking care of 4 children/babies of varying ages which is a lot)... do you pay her anyway? Make her take it as a vacation day? If my work lets us stay home... I get paid if I work remotely otherwise it's a vacation day. But given the nature of a nanny's work, if she doesn't come in then she's not working. Any pearls of wisdom?”
The consensus is: pay!
We've had this question come up and the predominant feeling is that you pay the nanny for a snow day UNLESS you've otherwise spelled it out (e.g., in the work agreement). For other emergencies (such as Hurricane Sandy) you may need to pay for a car service to get your nanny to work if public transit is not running.
Snow days are a good reminder if you don't have something in your work agreement to make that happen. If you don't have a nanny work agreement, you can find out more about that here.
“We definitely pay our Nanny for a snow day! We don't make her take a vacation day/sick day/etc. it's just understood that she can't control the weather and was relying on those wages. We try as much as possible to treat her wages like salaried wages. I often rely on Hand in Hand as a reference for good practices around employing domestic workers I highly recommend them!”
“Well, I know it is not the same, but our daycare is going to be closed and we are still paying for it (kind of)...”
“I also wanted to chime in on the nanny pay. We pay a weekly rate whether or not we use our nanny every day. There are days I tell her not to come in for whatever reason and still pay the full weekly rate. It's stipulated in our contract and my view is that she has set aside this time for us, and we pay her regardless of if we use it.”
“We are in the exact same boat-we pay our nanny a flat rate per week based on a guarantee of hours and pay that same amount even if we opt to use less. We don't have a contract with her but I feel that this consistency is important to her and also helps maintain that level of trust and employment happiness so that she never, ever leaves us!”
“We have twins too and our nanny is not here for the snow day. I assumed we would pay her. We give her a weekly salary and I don't see why she wouldn't be paid in full for the week as she did not request today off.”
“I'd pay my nanny for a snow day. I had a snow day today and my employer paid me, even though I couldn't get to the office. She didn't have much control over today, no reason to dock her pay. The only exception would be perhaps for a part-time sitter if you were able to cancel with enough notice. I use a part time sitter and she was coming in for an hour or so tonight but I don't need her so I will either ask if she can come tomorrow even though I don't really need her- so she gets that $ for a nearby day- or round up what I planned to pay her anyway, so we meet in the middle.”
And again, it depends and it would need to be spelled out in a work agreement ahead of time:
“In this case [that the nanny could not take care of her own childcare needs] you might think of it as her taking a paid personal day, which was spelled out in our work agreement bc OF COURSE we used the PSP template…”
Another PSP member similarly wrote to the list:
“With my full-time nanny, we paid her for the snow days, but I'm wondering if it's the same expectation for a part-time nanny? She's w/ us two days a week, 20 hours total.”
“My feeling is that if one of her scheduled work days is the snow day (tomorrow for example) then yes, plan to pay her. It’s not about part-time or full-time hours, it’s about the day they are booked to work with you. Same with cleaning person. Of course you can always ask about switching days or making up the day over the weekend, but that can get tricky because they may have other families they work for, etc. Good luck and safe storming.”
“Do you have a general agreement that she’s working weekly, the same days each week? If it’s a recurring, part-time gig and you haven’t spelled it out that it’s an “only when you work” situation then you should pay her.”
Finally, these types of discussions prompted one member to share with the Advice Group:
“By the way-- never underestimate the need to have every single aspect of the arrangement with your nanny spelled out exactly in the agreement. It is natural to want to avoid that because one wants to avoid formality with someone who is in one's home and takes care of one's children. But it really is important. Even small gestures should be part of a formal understanding. EG, around 8 or 9 years ago when cell phones were not absolutely sine qua non, I rarely used mine. Then the firm I worked for got me one anyway. So I gave the old one to our nanny, who had none, so we could call her. She was delighted; it was like a bonus fringe benefit. Then got laid off and needed the phone back. Of course she gave it back to me when I asked, but I could see she was not happy to part with it. It was uncomfortable because I had not spelled out that it was provisional, and she had come to think of it as her perk. Same thing with some extra monthly metrocards I was able to get pre-tax-- I gave them to her for a short while, then stopped when I couldn't come by the extras anymore. I hadn't spelled out that this was likely temporary, and I wonder whether she felt I was cutting back on a perk. We also never spelled out the sick day situation-- she was almost never sick, so it didn't become an issue-- I figured, being a generous, compassionate fellow, I would just give her days when she needed them. But I realize I never thought through what would happen if she had a long-term illness. My employer spells all that out, but I never did. After all, it would be awkward to spell out just at what point we would stop paying her when she was sick-- more comfortable not to think of it. But I see these things come up on the list now and then.”
Disclaimer: This post has been written for educational purposes only by Park Slope Parents and is not meant to be legal advice and should not be construed as legal advice or be relied upon. The post may contain errors, inaccuracies and/or omissions. We recommend checking with a professional for specific advice.