The holiday season shakes up everyone’s schedule.
The kids are off from school, families travel and social calendars fill up with family get-togethers, holiday parties and school programs. So, naturally, your role as a care provider will be affected as well. You want to be flexible, but you must take your own needs and holiday plans into consideration.
“The employee needs to be clear about her role and all the tasks that fall into it,” says career expert, Jill Jacinto. Jacinto notes that although household employees’ jobs are not typical office jobs, they are still jobs, and your relationship with your employer needs to be professional.
What is the best way to approach scheduling and other holiday concerns with your employer? Jacinto, along with career counselor, Terry Wynne, suggest you broach the following topics with your employer as early as possible.
Jacinto notes that lack of communication is a main source of tension in an employment situation, and poor communication can only get worse as the relationship moves forward. Avoid uncomfortable situations by holding a holiday conversation with your employer well in advance, so both of you can make plans.
“Be polite,” Wynne encourages, “be respectful and ask instead of demand.”
How can you earn extra money?
If you need a little extra cash this time of year, Wynne suggests that you arrange for a convenient time to talk with your employer and express your desire to pick up extra work during the holiday season. Give some examples, such as coming in to assist with a party, helping on the weekends with the children, cooking holiday meals or wrapping presents. Know ahead of time what you feel is a fair rate of pay for different tasks.
If the family or company you work for doesn’t need additional help, maybe they know someone who does? Maybe someone’s cousin needs a New Year’s Eve babysitter, or your employer’s elderly mother needs her house cleaned before the big family party. See if they know of any opportunities that won’t impact the job you already do for your current employer.
When can you take holiday time off?
It is important to have enough time for yourself and your family too — especially during the holidays. Hopefully you have a nanny contract that spells out exactly what days you have off and how many extra holiday days you can take — and when you can take them.
No contract? Create one ASAP.
“Instead of learning you have to work Christmas a week in advance, sit down with your employer on Day 1 and map out the holiday schedule,” Jacinto suggests. “You might need to work one holiday, but don’t feel obligated to work every holiday. Part-time help can pitch in.”
As soon as you know your plans for the season, ask your employer if they’re acceptable. Wynne recommends putting it in writing and hand delivering it to the person you work for. Give as much advanced noticed as possible, so they can find backup care.
Do you get paid holidays?
Your contract should also talk about whether those days are paid or unpaid and any other employment benefits. If not, talk about this with your employer as well. It can be shocking if you take Christmas Day off and end up getting an unexpectedly smaller paycheck as a result.
How will your employer’s holiday schedule affect your job?
Find out what your employer’s plans are as well. Will they be leaving work early some days? Are they taking any days off — and will they still need your services? Will any holiday guests be staying — and how will they impact your job?
“Simply ask the employer what to expect during the family’s vacation time and if you will be needed any more often,” recommends Wynne. “Be sure to have the employer put [it] in writing, and sign and date any agreement for how much payment you will receive if other than your regular salary.”
Why didn’t you get a holiday bonus?
If you’ve received bonuses from this employer in the past and didn’t get one this year, it’s appropriate to ask if there’s a problem with your services. If you’re new to the household, the situation is stickier.
“A bonus is never to be 100 percent expected,” reminds Jacinto. “The nature of the word means it’s extra — an add on.” She suggests scheduling a time to sit down with your employer to discuss your progress. This will give you a better idea of how well your employer values your services. “Traditionally,” says Jacinto, “a bonus is handed out for an employee who has gone above and beyond numerous times throughout the year.”
When is your annual review?
It’s common for employees to have a review at least once a year. It might be on the anniversary of when you were hired, but some employers like to do it at the end of the year. If you haven’t scheduled one yet, now is a good time to discuss it. Wynne warns you must be prepared to receive constructive criticism. “The best reason [to ask for a review] is to show employers your worth to them and to be able to correct any dissatisfaction.”
Are your taxes in order?
Yes, most people don’t connect taxes with the holiday season, but taxes are a good thing to bring up while you’re talking about end of the year paperwork, reviews and bonuses.
What holiday activities are OK?
If you care for kids, talk to the parents about what types of holiday activities you should be doing. Is there anything the parents like to do with the kids as a family? Is there anything (like going to visit Santa at the shopping centre or making homemade ornaments) that they want you to take off their plate?
How should you talk about the holidays?
People use different terms to talk about the holidays. Some families are very religious, while some are not. When you take care of kids, it’s important that you know what message the parents want them to get. Make sure you and the parents use the same language, so kids don’t get confused. If there are young children, discuss with the parents what should you say if the kids ask you if Santa is real.