The working life of a nanny or child caregiver can be unpredictable. One moment your employer arrives home late and the next they are asking you to work on the weekend! Before you know it you’ve clocked up a 65 hour week but your pay slip says 40.
If this sounds familiar then you need to take action. There are laws in place to protect your rights at work. You are entitled to a minimum wage and to overtime payments for additional hours worked. Legislation on the minimum wage and overtime has regional variations. For more information check with the Ministry of Labour for your province.
Even when you know your rights it can still be a difficult task to speak to your employer about any salary issues you may have. We’ve identified four potentially sensitive wage discussions you might face as a nanny and provided suggestions for solving them.
You Work Extra Hours Unpaid
Solution: Remember, you’re not asking for anything more than you deserve. Start the discussion with your employer with this type of opener: “When I applied for this job, we talked about being paid $X for five days. But lately I’ve been working Y-hour days, without overtime. With the extra hours, my salary doesn’t meet the provincial Minimum Wage. Can we talk about renegotiating my salary or changing my hours?”
Your Working Hours Are Unpredictable
Solution: Busy parents often have busy work schedules, which is exactly why they need a dependable nanny like you. But you wouldn’t show up late without calling, and parents should extend the same professional courtesy to you. However, if these parents need a more flexible nanny, you might not be the right fit for them. Try making it work by saying, “I enjoy taking care of your children, but I’ve noticed the day ending an hour or two later than we originally discussed. I know unexpected delays can happen occasionally, but I need to know when you’ll be late because sometimes I have other plans. I also need to be paid for this time.”
You Work Longer Hours to Help with Events
Solution: Remember, you’re a professional and your time is important. Let them know you expect to be paid more because you went over your normal 40-hour week. Bring up the event and the pay. You might say, “I’m glad I could help with the kids during the party on Saturday, but I noticed I wasn’t paid overtime. Since that was beyond my normal week, I would like to clear this up.”
If it’s a child’s birthday party, and you’re invited as a guest, but you still help out (because you don’t really fit in the bouncy castle), don’t expect to be paid. You’re being a helpful guest.
You Pay for Gas When Driving the Children
Solution: If your employer says they only need you to do it for a week, you have the right to say no if it makes you uncomfortable. If they ask you to drive on a regular basis, you need to have a discussion about extra insurance coverage, gas and mileage. But if you don’t want to use your car, then don’t. Try saying, “I’m happy to drive the kids, but only in your car. If anything happened, I would be liable.”
There are a couple of steps you can take to head off any future problems. Whether you’re starting a new job or already a year into one, draw up a contract that specifies your expected hours, salary, holidays, benefits and overtime stipulations.
In the end, don’t be afraid to tell your employer when something isn’t working. Hopefully, you have a good relationship where you both want to make the situation work for the family. Then start keeping good records of your hours, your mileage or whatever might be in question. Create time sheets and receipts for each week. When you’re underpaid, bring it up. If you’re inconvenienced by repeated late hours, tell them. If you’re the right caregiver, your employer should want to pay you for the time you are devoting and eliminate any possible problems.
Your Next Steps: