Photo via Unsplash
We've already covered the protocol for when a family goes on vacation and chooses NOT to take their nanny, but how should a family go about traveling with their nanny? This is a question many parents and nannies have. Just like with most everything else, because there is no set law regarding this, a lot of parents and nannies simply do not know the industry standards when it comes to this topic. That being said, while I genuinely believe some people simply don't know, I'm not sure how that often results in parents totally low balling and trying to take advantage of their nanny. If parents would simply put themselves in their nanny's shoes, I think they would see what they are offering in a totally different light.
If you don't know the answer on how to compensate your nanny when traveling, research it thoroughly until you find out the answer. Cross reference your results to ensure you are truly offering what is fair and standard. You can even call up a local agency and I'm sure they would be happy to give you a brief overview of traveling with your nanny and refer you to resources for more information. Ignorance of the industry standards is not an excuse to take advantage of someone. A responsible employer researches throughly to ensure they are employing their nanny properly and fairly. By the same token, a responsible nanny researches the laws and industry standards of the nanny profession. Nannies, there are so many resources from articles like this one to private Facebook groups just for nannies. Make it a point to get educated so you can advocate for yourself.
Just like with the other vacation article, let's look at some real life examples to see what many nannies are having to deal with when traveling with their nanny families. Again parents, I ask that you read these scenarios and think about which of them sound like something you would be interested in...
Scenario 1 My nanny family asked me to travel with them to Maui for a month. They said my payment would be the "free vacation." When I told them I wouldn't be able to go because I couldn't afford to have a month with no income, they agreed to pay me enough to cover my bills, which was only about 1/3 of what I typically make in a month. I felt stuck, so I said yes. I won't do it again, that's for sure. It wasn't a vacation...I was working.
Scenario 2 A previous family I worked for was going on a vacation for 10 days and they wanted me to go with them. I was told they wouldn't pay me anything since they'd cover flight tickets, accommodation, etc. Plus, they said it woud be a nice vacation for me too. They even expected me to use my 10 days of PTO! At first I was seriously thinking about going, but then I realized how disrespectful this offer was and I refused to accept it. I told them I'd like to use my PTO however and whenever I wanted to. I explained that even though I loved their child, it was still a job for me and I would be working, so it was not a vacation. It wasn't easy telling them, but I was happy I stood up for myself. They then told me I was ungrateful, and that I should thank them for taking me abroad. I didn't work for them much longer.
Scenario 3 I was working overnights at a fixed rate for a single Dad. He told me that for 4th of July, he wanted to take his son to the beach house with family, but he had to work on the 4th. So, he had me drive his son the hour and a half to the beach house to meet up with the family and he would join us the next day. Normally, I would only have had the child from 6pm - 8am, but because of the travel and being "on vacation" at the beach, I had him from 4:30 pm - 7:30 pm the next day. He paid me the overnight rate with nothing more because I got to go on "vacation". He didn't even pay my gas to drive his child an hour and a half to the beach or my gas to get back home. I don't even like the beach. I think by the time you factor in the gas prices I wasn't reimbursed for, I probably made $15 for the entire 15 hours. I was too green to realize how much I was being taken advantage of.
Scenario 4 About a year ago my nanny family decided they were going on a cruise. The mom informed me they had bought me a ticket so I could go with and still work. I did NOT want go on a family vacation with them, but ended up not having a choice. They then informed me that since they bought my cruise ticket, they were not going to pay me for the week since I was getting to go on "vacation". I shared an interior cabin with the two-year-old twins I as in charge of, as well as two 16-year-olds and a 13-year-old. There were 5 of us in a tiny room! I was stuck in the cabin every afternoon while the twins napped and every night by 8pm when they went to bed. I also was caring for them the entire time they were awake. I literally had them 24/7. The family also took several excursions off the boat that I was required to attend (so I could take care of the twins), but I had to pay for them myself! It was an all around nightmare. On the ride home (I drove the mom & all the kids 9 hours), I finally just started crying and said I quit...I can't do this. The mom calmly told me "No, you can't quit. The kids love you". I still work for them to this day and I still have trouble standing up for myself because they are like family to me.
Hmm. I'm pretty sure no one reading this feels those scenarios sound like a vacation. But maybe that's just me.
PARENTS!! YOUR VACATION IS NOT A VACATION FOR YOUR NANNY. EVER. EVER. EVER.
Even if a nanny has a great time on your vacation and gets to do a lot of fun stuff, it is still a work trip for them. Period. End of discussion. Even if you and your nanny are super close and they love your kids and fun is had by all, it's still NOT a vacation for your nanny. Your nanny is working on the trip...even if you give them ample downtime. Your nanny is not on the trip with their OWN friends/family. Your nanny isn't choosing the destination of the vacation. Your nanny isn't choosing the vacation activities. Your nanny isn't choosing anything! Your nanny is being brought along for YOUR benefit and your benefit alone.
Parents, I really want you to think hard about how you would feel being asked to go on a work trip and not being compensated for it because your job told you it would be like a vacation, even though you would be working. Like literally, that's the exact opposite of a vacation. Vacation = no work. If one has to work, it's not a vacation -- even when it's a cool destination. Sure, getting to travel to cool destinations for work is certainly a nice perk, but it does not replace getting paid.
So, what is the industry standard when traveling with your nanny?
- Your nanny has guaranteed hours (they should, anyway), so they get paid for their normal work hours EVEN IF they work less. This is because your nanny RELIES on their normal weekly income to pay their bills. You taking them on YOUR vacation doesn't pause their bills for that month. If your nanny works more than their normal hours, they get paid for those as well, with applicable overtime (yes, even when traveling, overtime laws still apply and when traveling, legally a nanny must be paid for every hour worked). Oh and do not have your nanny use their PTO for the vacation. I mean, that should be common sense. PTO is for the nanny to use whenever and however they please -- definitely not for when they are traveling taking care of your kids.
- The family covers all of the nanny's travel expenses including: airfare/mileage, all meals, all lodging, and all excursions/activities. Your nanny should not be responsible to pay for any of these things. Remember, this is NOT your nanny's vacation. Look at it like a business trip. On business trips, the company pays for the airfare, the meals, the hotel, etc. It's simply ridiculous and unfair to expect your nanny to pay for these things. I mean seriously. In what world would you ever be okay with going on a business trip where you were required to go snorkeling, zip lining, to the zoo, and a museum...and pay for it out of your own pocket? If your nanny has the day off and chooses to go on an excursion on their own, then sure, your nanny should pay for that. But everything else, including meals when not working, should be covered by the family. This is because your nanny is not at home able to cook themselves dinner -- they are forced to order food/dine out -- an expense they would not incur if not on a work trip for your family.
- Your nanny must be paid for time spent traveling to and from the destination. This means that even if you have your nanny sit in a completely different row on the plane and they are not at all responsible for the kids, legally they must be paid their hourly rate for the travel time.
- Your nanny should receive an overnight stipend for every night of the trip. This usually ranges anywhere from $25-$200. The lower end is for when your nanny has private accommodations and is not responsible for the children at night. The higher end is for when your nanny either has to share a room with the kids or keeps the kids in their room for a night or two so the parents can have a completely kid free evening. You might think it's crazy to pay an overnight rate if your nanny has private accommodations and isn't responsible for the kids, but even still, your nanny has to be compensated in some way. They are away from the comfort of their own home. They might have to pay a petsitter while they are away. They are missing out on fun outings with friends and family. I know it's hard to believe since to you your vacation is soooooo great, but your nanny has to make a lot of sacrifices to accompany your family on your trip.
- Give your nanny some downtime. Traveling with families is hard work for a nanny. Everything is out of whack when traveling -- routines, sleeping arrangements, meals, etc., so the work that your nanny is doing with your kids on the vacation is significantly harder than the work they do with your kids at home. This is why it's so important they are compensated fairly and given enough time to rest and relax.
- Make sure everyone is on the same page before the trip. Discuss thoroughly what your nanny's schedule and roles will be and make sure everyone agrees to the compensation and working conditions. In fact, travel compensation should already be covered in your contract, but it's important to go over it again to make sure there is no confusion. Communication is key. If you expect your nanny to share a room with the kids, you need to ask them beforehand if that's okay. Your nanny might not want to do that and it's their right to say no. Do not assume anything and treat your nanny how you would like to be treated if you were in their position.
So parents everywhere, please...I beg you...shift your mentality. Your family vacation is not a vacation for your nanny. If I hear one more account of a family telling their nanny they aren't going to pay them or they are going to pay them less because they get to go on a nice "vacation", I just might scream. And nannies, please stop agreeing to this stuff. Say no. It's amazing how empowered you'll feel when you do.