Would This Be Fair to a Nanny?

Updated on August 07, 2012
J.T. asks from Oradell, NJ
27 answers

When we go away, we pay our nanny full wage and also pay for our dog to go to a kennel type place. Taking care of our dog some is part of the nanny's daily responsibility though and has been for several years. Since she is getting a lot of paid vacation these days from us going away plus days of her choosing - and this year she's taking a week at the worst possible time for us which I told her but let her go anyway - I'm starting to wonder if I should kind of require she take care of our dog some while we're away. I'd hate to make her stick around for a week or something just to take care of our dog but then perhaps ask her to take one of the days unpaid? Her choice: "work" the days she's being paid or forfeit a day but then we'll put the dog in the kennel. After this month she'll have gotten 22 paid days in vacation so far this year plus a few more to come likely in 2012 in addition to 5 sick days we pay and major holidays. So she gets ample vacation. What do you think?

ETA: We don't have any kind contract anymore...

ETA2: how did this turn into me saying I wasn't going to pay her at all anymore when we go away? The SWH was obviously mostly sarcastic though end of the day, she can quit if we're not paying her enough anymore. btw- we pay more monthly than Riley quotes and there is NO shortage of nannies these days where we are. Times have definitely changed. Unemployment is way higher so lots of candidates. Same for my job. We do give her a car too and our kids aren't even home half the time, literally. I agree the whole dog thing probably isn't worth it or a great idea but amazing how people can take one thought and turn it into me screwing over our nanny. But I will renegotiate the "contract" as I know many mothers in the area that do not pay when they go on vacation, nevermind 5 weeks a year. If our nanny can easily find another job that pays as much and is as easy as ours is, that is totally her right. We have been very good to her over the years and in many ways she to us yet she is by no means a perfect nanny.

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So What Happened?

Jane makes an interesting point. It's on US that we pay her when we go away on vacation. So I guess we'll just stop paying her when we go away on vacation. It's of course her right to quit. I'm sure there are lots of jobs she can get 5 weeks paid vacation a year plus holidays and sick and an hourly rate at the upper end of normal for the job and our area plus a bonus at year end equating to about 2 weeks pay. We really have been so petty with her.

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answers from Spokane on

Talk to her. See if she'd like to watch the dog while you're on vacation and if she can't/won't maybe explain you can't afford to pay her full wage and kennel the dog so you'll need to deduct kennel costs from her wage.
If it's about $ that may be a solution.
If it's just about not wanting to pay her while you're on vacation for doing nothing, well......if it's something you have always done then I don't know how you can change that now.

2 moms found this helpful

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answers from Kansas City on

I think if the Nanny is good to YOU and your kids, then you have to pay to keep her happy. How would you feel if she quit over this? You are the one choosing to go on your vacations and pay her when you leave - that is on you. I think it is petty of you to think of making her take care of your dog, just so you feel like you are not losing out on money, or getting ripped off by her. You are not. Sounds like you must have enough money not to worry about this, since you go on vacation frequently and pay her anyway. I would just let her have another week and not worry about it. That will keep her happy, and will keep you with a nanny that you like.

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answers from Washington DC on

I've never had a nanny and I've never been one, but that sounds perfectly fair to me!! 22 paid vacation days, plus 5 sick days, plus major holidays?? That's A LOT!!!! My first job out of college only gave me 10 vacation days (plus all that other stuff). Granted, I was bottom of the totem pole. But still. I imagine your nanny sees that? I realize your nanny is a very important person in your life. But I think you are being more than fair. Assuming she's not jetting off on a vacation during all those same times as you, then she should come over a couple times a day to take care of the dog. I mean, if you weren't going away she'd be at your house ALL day long caring for your kids, right? Hanging out with the dog for an hour and getting her normal pay sounds like a vacation to me! I would think she'd be more than happy to help you on this one.

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answers from St. Cloud on

Was she hired to take care of the kids or the dog? Unless there's something special in her contract/agreement about caring for the dog, I'd let the kennel do their job. I think it'd be like asking her to finish cleaning up the dirty dishes you left behind before starting your vacation. If it's something like, the kennel doesn't open until Monday at 8am and you leave for vacation on Sunday at 6pm...could she bring the dog to the kennel that's a little different.

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answers from Los Angeles on

I think you missed Jane's point. She didn't say to stop paying her, she said if you like her and want to keep her happy, pay her as usual and don't make her take care of the dog. I share that sentiment 100%.

Your nanny's primary responsibility is to take care of your children. THAT is what you hired her to do. If you didn't have kids, would you have hired her to care for your dog? I doubt it. Therefore, if the kids are on vacation, they nanny should not be expected to come to work.

Pay for the nanny when you go away and pay to board the dog in a kennel.

It does sound like you give her ample vacation time. I'm not sure of the 22 days you're talking about how many are because she asks for time off versus how many are because you go on vacation. I think it is reasonable to give her either one or two weeks of paid vacation time at her choosing (5 or 10 working days) and to continue to pay her when you go away. Many families I know give one week paid of her choosing plus give her as much advance notice as possible of their own vacations so she can plan to use that time for something fun as well.

Perhaps you need to consider writing up a new contract so you aren't faced with this. I do think that expecting her to care for the dog while you are away is petty.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Holy cow! I'll work for you. At any rate I am too far away but you sound like ideal employers.
Now, do you have any kind of contract? Or is this kind of word of mouth?
How hard is it for her to take care of your dog? All she has to do is feed it and walk it and love it a bit, right? It doesn't wear diapers or go to school. So if she's in the neighborhood, what the heck, show her this letter And let her know I was thinking of moving your way. yikes! 22 paid days of vacation?

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answers from Green Bay on

I think that you have crossed the line between employer and friend. Unfortunately, when it comes to the person watching our kids it's really easy to do. Treating your employee like your friend is actually a really bad thing. Being friendly with them is not. She now feels she has the right to go on Vacation whenever she wants. She also feels she has the right to get paid whether she watches your child or not. Because, she's part of the "family". So when you break it to her, your going to have to do it like a friend at first. Explain that you trust her more with the dog than you do the kennel. You don't want your dog to be exposed to the diseases that are in kennels. Your dog is getting older and more susceptible to them. You are at the point where you have a choice. You can not pay her when you are on vacation, and pay someone else to watch your dog. Or she can house sit and watch the dog. You would prefer that she does it and get's the money, but you understand if she doesn't want the responsibility. This makes it friendly, but reminds her in a gentle way that this is a business relationship and your first priority is for the good of your family not necessarily for your employee.

Hope it goes well.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Atlanta on

If she is a full-time nanny, then she should have to clear her vacation with you in advance. My husband works in corporate, and his bosses are usually good about vacations, but there have been times when we have requested time off and been turned down because it is a very busy time for the company (BTW, 22 paid vacation days plus holidays and sick days is a GOOD DEAL! That's the vacation time my husband's boss gets, and he's in the upper-levels of the corporation!). If she took a week off during a bad time for you, you should have told her you weren't able to give her that time. Something else you could do is try to schedule vacations together, so that you don't need her services while she's gone. Perhaps this new system would lessen some of the resentment.

Do you have a signed contract? Is there anything in there about responsibilities to the dog? If so, I think deducting one day of pay for kenneling the dog sounds like a reasonable compromise. If not, though, you may have to rework the contract to get what you're looking for. Other commenters are right that you would risk losing her, and you're right that she'd have a hard time matching the deal she has with your family, so you might be able to reach an agreement. Good luck!

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answers from Dallas on

Really good childcare is hard to find, especialy a good nanny. If your kids are attached to this nanny, you like her, and you don't want to hire another one, then stick to the status quo. When YOU go on vacation, you still pay your nanny as you are keeping her on reserve to be there when you get back. She has no control over when or how much you go on vacation. The only actual vacation she gets is what has been agreed upon for her amount of vacation time and the dates she'll take it.

The 22 days you've been gone this year is equal to about $700 in boarding expense for a small dog, right? I'm betting you pay our nanny at least $100 a day, so the cost between the two is not comparable. Sure, during the work day, your nanny could go over and let the dog out a time or two during the day, but she wouldn't be there overnight to care for it (unless she's a live-in and on-duty 24/7). So, you'd still need a kennel or to pay a petsitter or housesitter for overnight care.

Personally, I think making a big deal ou of caring for the dog sounds kind of petty. And, I think not paying for the time that you are out of town with the kids sounds like a good way to lose your nanny, and also sounds pretty petty, too. Unless you've told her that you are paying 11 months of the year and that she'll have 1 month of the year without pay on dates of YOUR choosing, it doesn't sound right. Are you looking for ways to get your nanny to quit? The scenario described doesn't sound like a great way to treat someone you value and trust to provide top-notch care for your children.

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answers from Charlotte on

J., here's my feeling. If you weren't going on vacation, you would be paying her to work. However, just because you are going on vacation doesn't mean she still shouldn't work. She should be cleaning your house from top to bottom, rearranging your closets, disinfecting the kids' toys, organizing the pantry, all of that. And YES, taking care of your dog. She should be working the same hours in your house.

I know she's not used to this, but quite frankly, you've given her an inflated idea of her worth to you by allowing her so much paid leeway.

Time to tell her that though you will still pay her the same wage, two things will change. You will have to okay her vacation schedule in a way that doesn't cause you problems, and she will need to work while you are away, in the way that I've mentioned.

If she doesn't like this idea, start interviewing other people and make sure that they understand that with the perks of working for you, it IS work.

I really hope you do this, because what you've allowed is for you guys to be taken advantage of.


3 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

You don't say how long she has worked for you. If this isn't working for you, then you need to have a conversation with her. 22 days is a lot of paid time off. I only get 15! I don't know what other type work she is requested to do. Light housekeeping? If so, then I don't understand why she wouldn't be there when you are away. Seems that she would have things to do like pick up the mail, water plants and yes, care for the dog. It might not require all day, but certainly some.

I feel you are very generous with your nanny.

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answers from Chicago on

If you are the ones choosing to go on vacation she should still be paid. She is available to care for the kids, but you decided to leave. Just like a daycare center would expect you to pay. I doubt many people would be happy if their employer chose to close the company here and there and not pay the employees. A nanny is mainly responsible for caring for your children. I don't think it is fair for you to expect her to change her main job responsibilities because you are going on vacation. It sounds very petty to me.

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answers from Seattle on

Wow! Snarky swh.

Yes. You have been very generous. But that still does not justify not paying her when you take a vacation, unless you have prearranged this months in advance. A better solution would be to ask her to take one of her paid weeks off when your family goes away. Then she gets to pick a week off, giving you lots of lead time so you can coordinate a vacation. Extra time off because you go away, too bad.

Asking her to take care of the dog does sound a bit petty. That's not her job. It's a task she does that is an accessory to her real responsibility. Other accessory tasks could include tidying up the kids room, doing the kids laundry, cooking, etc.

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answers from Dallas on

I'm on the fence with this question. On one hand, you want to make sure you treat her with dignity and respect. On the other hand, she is paid to work for you X number of days a year, and so SHOULD.

If you are happy with her and she has done a good job taking care of your children, I don't think you should change the arrangement. She gets paid, essentially, an annual salary to take care of your children. She counts depends on that money. Docking her when YOU go on vacation is not fair - you SHOULD pay her when you leave town - just like I still pay daycare when we go on vacation.

On the other hand, she has X number of paid days that are dedicated to your family. If the family is not around, she can still watch the dog. Maybe the dog can go to her house? If she does not want to... then you have to decide if you want to be petty about the kennel bill and take it out of her salary.

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answers from San Francisco on

It sounds reasonable to me that she should come over and walk the dog, feed it, and take in the mail while you're gone. For full pay, that's not much work! It sounds like she has a pretty good deal, and I'm sure she knows it. If I understand correctly, she gets paid sick days, paid vacation days (of her choosing, with your approval), as well as these weeks when your family is gone. If you are paying her a full salary for those weeks when your family is gone, it's not unreasonable to ask her to work doing some of her normal work activities. If she becomes upset over that, she's very foolish indeed.

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answers from San Francisco on

No. You haven't had a problem with it up until now. I wouldn't rock the boat. Good nannies are hard to come by. If you love your nanny and she treats your children the way you want them to be treated, treat her with respect and appreciation also. This is petty and nitpicky. Who cares if she has gotten paid 22 days in vacation? You went on vacation..... Value her for what she is worth.

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answers from Washington DC on

I think you HAVE to pay her when you're away. I pay my regular sitters regardless of whether we need them or not, I'm asking for their time and they commit it to our family, so they are paid. If I can give 24 hours notice, I don't pay for a date night, but otherwise they are paid. It's unfair to a nanny to be forced to take leave unpaid because you do.

If you like her, and I'm guessing you do since you've had her for several years, you pay her.

I'm sure your vacation time does not always line up with what's best for your job, so it's unfair to expect her to take the same.

Based on your agreement with her, if she is unpaid for her time off, then that's what it is, but if YOU make it so SHE can't work, I think you should absolutely still pay her. It's really your choice to give her that much vacation, not her choice to take it.

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answers from New Orleans on

She's getting a LOT of paid holidays. If she takes care of the dog a bit already, why not ask her to do it while you're away? Doesn't hurt to ask nicely. I don't think you're being petty.

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answers from Portland on

First, get back on track with a contract, and if you both agree, review it annually.

When I nannied for a family, it was written in that I had two weeks paid vacation time which I would take **in conjunction with the family's vacations/trips**. At that point, if I wanted more vacation time (or sick/personal time), I took it unpaid. However, much like your agreement, if the family wasn't available for care (due to extra vacations/ extreme illness which prevented me from being present--and we had those conditions in writing) then I was paid for the time I wasn't able to do my job.

If it were me, I'd board the dog this time around, and talk to her about writing a new contract, then present it to her. It's always a balance between paying a nanny a living wage for a job and figuring out what works for everyone. I think what you are offering right now is pretty generous, but it's obviously time to retool the agreement and get everyone on the same page. Find out what she thinks and if she's averse to this possible new arrangement. (PS-- I know you probably really appreciate your nanny, but getting on paper is ALWAYS the best way to go!)

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answers from New York on

I never had a nanny full time, only part time. We never had a contract. I did not pay for vacation time. I couldn't afford it. I didn't take alot of vacation either. But there were times like after I gave birth when I did not have her come for a few weeks because I wasn't working and wanted only family there and money was so tight.

I never nickle and dimed her about sick days or this and that. I paid her regularly. She was very good to us. I wish I could have afforded to pay her more and pay vacation for her but I couldn't.

I think you should have a contract. I think you ARE being fair but you really need a contract which has it all laid out otherwise inevitably BOTH parties will feel wronged in some way.

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answers from Cleveland on

I'm confused. People are so adamant that you pay her when you go on vacation but that's what you've been doing. I think your original question was whether it'd be ok to ask her to take care of your dog sometimes though since she's getting so much paid vacation. 22 days already this year is a ton! Many people only get 10 paid days. I've also seen people on here who say they don't pay when they go away. Not sure everyone reads questions before they reply obnoxiously. Anyway, we have a nanny too so I can relate some. It's a tough call. It depends some on how much you like her. I suppose she could be offended and quit. But it sounds like she has a good deal so probably not but you never know. It seems fair maybe for when you just go away for a short time so she's not going to travel anyway most likely. I see what you mean that you are paying her. Why can't she do a few hours of work if she's getting paid for 8 or 10?...

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answers from Seattle on

In our area, yes. What you mention IS standard for nannies;

2 weeks paid their own
All weeks paid family leaves
(ranges from 0 days to 3 or 4 months)
Sick days

Also a 'nanny car'
Gas cards
Health insurance
Private school referrals for nanny's kids (and sometimes tuition paid for)... All sorts of perks that vary family to family (weekly massage, yacht club / marina access, personal trainers, etc.)

$30 per hour part time
$2500-3500 per month full time

How do I know this?

1) people used to try and 'poach' me all the time when my son was little. Most just handed out their cards, and talked up what they could offer, a few emailed me actual 'sheets' with benefits.

2) most of my friends are dual income families, about half of which have nannies or au pairs (the other half have grandparents or would work opposite shifts or state subsidized daycare).

It's a SELLERS market, in childcare.
If you don't keep your nanny happy... They get poached. Period. Because good wages, good hours, and perks/nice families are the norm.

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answers from Houston on

Dang, I wanna work for you!

Yes, that is perfectly fine to expect her to watch the dog. Just don't spring it on her suddenly. Let her know well in advance that you have to change things up and when you are on vacation she'll be expected to watch the dog. Obviously its just to walk it, feed it and make sure it isn't making any messes. That should only be a couple of times a day so she should still have a little freedom to paint the town if she wants.

Or, just don't pay her if you kennel the dog.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Hartford on

You need a new contract, and it should be something that your nanny also finds fair.

I wouldn't inform her that she needs to take care of your dog while you're away rather than using a kennel, since you're taking a vacation and thus giving her one. That's time she's entitled to use as she pleases.

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answers from Oklahoma City on

I would tell her that she gets X amount of weeks off during the year with pay. That she is going to have to understand that you are having too many costs and that you need to cut back.

I would also wonder just how many weeks per year you are traveling without her going along. Some families take the nanny along to help with the kids so the parents can have some adult time on vacation too. It's always nice to get an evening to go out without the kids.

I would probably plan on taking her some and letting her take the week off with pay for x amount of weeks then the other weeks are just without pay but really trying to make it equitable for her. She must be a good nanny! You are really going out of your way for her.

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answers from Minneapolis on

When I was a full time nanny (8 years with the same family), they did 6-8 weeks of vacation a year. If they chose to take time off, and didn't need me (I did travel a few times with them over those years), I got paid.

How would it be fair for the nanny to lose that much pay because YOU decided to go on vacation? Now suddenly she is told, "oh we are going out of town at the end of the month, so no pay for you for the week". To her that probably means part of her rent, car payment or insurance! I loved my nanny job, but every penny mattered.

When I was a nanny, they did have a dog, and often, if they left town as a family, I was asked if I wanted the dog duties, which meant staying at their house. It also meant MORE money for me. They paid me what the kennel would cost them, per day, on top of my paycheck. My then boyfriend, eventually hubby, and I lived in tiny apartments, so staying in their nice house, with a laundry room right there, a hot tub outside, parking in a garage in winter, etc was like a vacation for us!

It was a farther drive for him to work, but I did extra stuff (cleaning out kids stuff, sorting seasonal things, walking the dog, getting groceries before their return date as per their list, etc). Sometimes they left me a list, other times they did not! One time we even had my whole family of 25 people there for Christmas, at their urging, while they were in another state with their family.

I was off contract really the last 7 years I worked for them. We sort of winged things and it was mutually beneficial. I quit when my own child was 3 years old, their youngest was starting first grade, and it was time for a change for all of us. It was hard on all of us. We never had an adversarial relationship. They recently attended my daughters graduation party. We still communicate!

The relationship is what you make it.
Best wishes.



answers from Boston on

I think I want to come work for you!

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