What's Your Policy for Nanny/in-home Sitter When Your Kids Are Sick?

Updated on February 19, 2011
K.M. asks from Plano, TX
13 answers

If your kids are sick, do you still expect your regular sitter or nanny to come to work and take care of them? Here's what happened....my son threw up in the middle of the night and though he didn't feel 100% the next day, he had no other symptoms - no fever, no further vomiting etc. The sitter came and left and then called me that evening saying she felt sick to her stomach and that in the future, she would appreciate a call from me in the morning if the kids are sick so she won't have to expose herself to it (meaning we'd then be left to find another sitter at the last minute). She then told me that her other babysitting jobs/school attendance the next day were in jeopardy if she gets sick. I told her that kids are often sick (mine go to daycare part-time and haven't been going long, so they seem to get everything, and that them being sick sometimes is part of the risks of childcare and I can't call her everytime they have a sniffle or a symptom. She said they wouldn't be able to go to daycare if they were sick and I said that's right, they couldn't go If they were having symptoms during the day. Even so, daycare is an issue of exposing it to other kids, not the adults. I think that she should be expected to show up everyday unless they have something that we know is very contagious. i.e. chickenpox that she hasn't had etc. She said she needed to express her concern, but I didn't have to listen and we ended it at that. It ticked me off big time, but then I wondered if my thinking is wrong?

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answers from Dallas on

You have to abide by the rules your sitter has set up or find a replacement. You said if they have symptoms during the day they shouldn't go to daycare, but I've never heard of a school or daycare that the 24 hour rule wasn't in place for vomiting and/or fever. If your child threw up or had fever during the night, they should not go to school the next day. You stated that not going is to protect other children, but not adults from exposure. As a former teacher, I wouldn't want to be exposed either. Many childcare workers and teachers have children of our own that we want to protect from sickness, too. I think you are being a bit selfish. Don't you care if someone else gets sick because of exposure to your child? If my child was sick, I(or my husband) would take the day off to stay home with them.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

i think in the event of fever, vomiting, and diarrhea, you should not expect anyone to watch your child for 24hrs AFTER the last of those symptoms. yep, kids getting sick is part of being a kid, and missing a day or work(as the PARENT) is part of that. and it's not just "daytime symptoms" that keep kiddos out of daycare, the "rule" is 24 hours AFTER symptoms for a return, so if little johnny pukes during the night, NO daycare the following day. and it's for the safety of everyone, parents, teachers, children.



answers from Dallas on

There is a yes and a no to this question. I have nannied for several years, and now I am a mom of 4, so I can speak from both sides. If the child had a simple cold, even a low grade fever, then I agree that she should care for him. However, stomach virus or fever over maybe 101, no..it is really not reasonable to expect that. You pay her more to only care for your child each time she is there, not to care for a sick child. You pay a nanny so that you dont have to have your child exposed to all that day care has, including sickness. But, unless you specifically requested "sick care" in your contract, then honestly, you should have given her the day off. Or at least called her and given her the option. Especially when vomitting is the problem. It is miserable to take care of your own kids throwing up, but it is worse to do it with someone else's child, and even worse to then get it yourself. It looks like now is the time for you to have a conversation with her about the specific times you feel like she should work, but allow her to express her own thoughts as well. Then, these types of situations wont occur again. ~A.~



answers from Jonesboro on

Even after working in a hospital for years, caring for very sick people, I would not appreciate going in to take care of a child who was sick without the situation being presented ahead of time. In the hospital, for an illness like the stomach flu, you would be using "droplet precautions". You would gown and glove before entering the room. You would not share a bathroom with the patient, etc, etc! This is how nurses can stay well AND keep other patients well, and their families also.

These options are not normally available in a private home. Your nanny will not be able to come in to work for you or anyone else, if she is sick next.

Open communication on expectations is a good thing.



answers from Dallas on

I absolutely would not take my sick child to the in home care if there are other children. I would give the nanny the option. I don't believe in paying the childcare services if your child can not attend because they are sick...to me it is counter intuitive...because if you pay them when your kids are sick, it would be to your sitter's advantage that your child is sick. Right?


answers from Dallas on

If my daughter were sick, no I wouldn't expect someone to care for her as if it were a regular day. If she threw up overnight, but seemed ok in the morning, I'd still call and let her sitter know, and I'd keep her home with me that day. Like a previous poster said, 24 hours is standard for keeping your child away.
Of course a runny nose and regular cold aren't reasons for calling your nanny, but throwing up/flu symptoms definitely are.



answers from Cleveland on

In my opinion...if your children are sick...meaning, vomiting, fever anything contagious(there is a chart of communicable diseases that you can research or ask for at your day care) you should definitely, make your nanny aware of this and allow her to make her decision on whether or not she wants to be exposed. It is a tough call, but as a mom and a preschool teacher for many many years...i believe that it is your responsibility as a parent to call off work or have your husband call off and stay home to take care of your sick child. She has a great point, you wouldn't be able to take them to daycare, vomiting( until 24 hrs free of any sort of symptoms) so yes, your nanny is correct in expressing her feelings to you, think about it, if you expect her to be around your kids when they are sick, odds are that she will become sick, and then who would you have to watch your kids then. good luck



answers from Wichita Falls on

IMO part of being a nanny is understanding that you're going to be taking care of kids who may be sick... it's one of the advantages of paying extra to have someone come in your home to take care of your kids only. If she would prefer to take the day off (unpaid), I would be ok with that too - and just stay home with my sick kid. There is no way I would pay her for work that she refused to do because the kid(s) are not 100% well.

I realize that these things go around, but somehow I manage to do a full clinical day at the hospital around sick people, come home to a sick kid, and through the miracle of handwashing avoid spreading anything to the other kids or to myself.

Go figure. Maybe your nanny just needs to learn how to wash her hands.



answers from Dallas on

Hello K.,

I have a private sitter that cares for my son in her house, he is the only child at this time there. If there was more than one child I would have said no due to the fact that a daycare if your child has been sick within 24 hours they would perfer you keep your child home until they have been free of fever for 24 hours. I understand she keeps your child in your home but all the same she can be a carrier. We pay her in advance for the week she will be watching our little one and therefore if he is sick she is still paid. now unles you have it set up to where you pay her for 1 hour or 10 hours a day a set price then she is entitled to that income unles you have it stated she works by the hour. I would not expect anybody to work with a child that has been sick within 24 hours, I would ask her would she mind sitting before hand let her know he has been sick, I also know that some people that have been very sick or has been through a major illness can't be around sick children due to the fact they could get it.

Have a great day.



answers from Dallas on

I would follow the 24-hr rule just like the schools and day-cares do.

It would be nice to give your care giver the option to come over.

HOWEVER, if my child is sick, I want to be the one caring for her.



answers from Dallas on

As a parent, former daycare worker, and doing child care now: YES you should let the nanny know what is going on, and give her that option. I remember that when I was working in a daycare, even though they definately needed me there, they wouldn't let me come to work (it meant bringing my son with me) if he'd had a recent fever. The pediatrician AND daycares will tell you the 24 hour rule for fevers. It's the parent's job to deal with a possibly contagious situation like a virus, and to soothe your child when he/she is hurting. Be fair to everyone involved. You would pay much more for a fulltime nanny that watched only your child, and you would have sick care covered then. If she's trying to make a living by watching other children, you need to understand the possibility of passing stuff to other children. Sometimes, it's just an issue of respect. I personally would watch the 2 children (because they're SIBLINGS)I watch, even if they had a low grade fever, IF there weren't other symptoms involved...depending on what was going around. But knowing the situation ahead of time, I could be prepared. I would be even more diligent than usual about sanitizing, washing, there would be a quiet area prepared for calmer activities, we wouldn't be running to the park, I'd wash the sheets/blankys asap, etc. And sometimes, it just feels better to know you were given the information. You shouldn't be mad or offended at all. Especially since she showed the maturity and respect for you to TALK to you about it.



answers from Dallas on

in my opinion you should give her the option, especially since it sounds like she cares for other children other days, she could be a carrier. i babysat for years & the parents would always call & tell me the child's symptoms & ask if i still wanted to come, the same goes for her as well, if she has had a cold or anything she should call you & let you know & give you the choice. i think it is courtesy especially since it sounds like she is not a full time nanny for you. i would just say that if you would send them to daycare/school (like clear runny nose with no fever) then it's fine, if not then give her the option.



answers from Dallas on


I am wondering why it "ticked you off big time" You dont have to agree but your nanny has a right to choose the terms of her employment as well, if you both dont agree then it doesnt have to work out, it is after all "at will" employment. I dont think you should expect to have your nanny come to work if your child is ill, unless it is a small common cold.

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