You’ve decided to start looking at childcare jobs and now your task is to make sure it provides you with a good income.
Before you look for a position, we suggest that you work out your desired salary ahead of time, as well as the sort of job you’d like and have work experience in. Is it part-time, full-time, looking after one baby or a large brood? You’ll want to make sure the job you want falls into your preferred salary range.
2. Make sure your Resume is up to date
List all of your relevant childcare experience, and include any courses or workshops you’ve attended in the field, or certificates you’ve received. Your experience will help you stand out from other candidates, and may also help you negotiate a higher salary. We also recommend having written references, as these will help the family understand your work experience, and they will want to follow up on these by telephone.
3. Request a written contract
We encourage child caregivers to ask the family to write a formal job description or nanny contract that outlines duties and a work agreement that goes over salary, benefits and typical household routines (if your family doesn’t have one, ask for it). If you’re considering a job offer, take these documents home to peruse before accepting the position. Does it specify if and when you get a break each day, and how overtime will be handled? Will you be reimbursed for gas mileage, and is your working week clearly defined?
One of the most important things that a work agreement should spell out is a recurring time for both child caregiver and mom or dad to check in. If your agreement does not include this, suggest including formal meetings, perhaps once a month, so both sides can talk about any situations that arise – good or bad. It’s a good idea to also agree on dates for performance reviews, especially at the three-month mark. You can ask your employers to provide you with an example performance review ahead of time to prepare.
The work agreement should also detail any changes – such as an increase in hours or duties that typically comes with the arrival of a new baby- that would lead to an increase in salary. You should be comfortable with everything that is documented in the work agreement.
4. Compare expectations
Research sample work agreements to see what they look like or join a child caregiver support group and find out what other child caregivers’ documents contain. As a child caregiver, it’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with employment laws, to be sure that they’re met.
5. Highlight your strengths
If the family isn’t offering the salary you’d hoped for, highlight your strengths and experiences. Perhaps you speak French, or played a sport at university and can help the family’s children learn something new – it’s about promoting yourself, and what makes you unique.
6. Make sure to include benefits
Make sure that parents pay your tax and contribute to your CPP and EI funds, provide the statutory paid holidays, and receive compensation when ill (within reason). Parents should also offer an annual pay review.
7. Consider salary alternatives
If you’re not happy with the salary and benefits on offer, perhaps there are perks a family can provide to compensate for a reduced salary, such as a gym membership, cell phone contract or additional holiday time.
8. Suggest annual benchmarks & salary reviews
If you think you will be a good match for the family, but are still not fully satisfied with the salary on offer, ask the family if they’re interested in coming up with benchmarks that, if met, can lead to a salary increase. Monthly meetings can be useful in establishing regular communication – a big help when potentially serious issues arise. If a family isn’t paying you on time, for instance, you can request a meeting to discuss the issue, and state directly that you need to be paid on time.
9. Evaluate how you fit in with the family
As long as you’re able to pay your monthly bills, a pay cut is acceptable if the family and the job are exactly what you’re looking for. Don’t be shy about asking a family for recommendations you can ring up and chat to, to learn more about the family dynamic. In the end, a family and a child caregiver have to feel comfortable with each other to make it work.