Hi – We have a nanny for our 2 ½ year old daughter. She has worked with us for over 2 years, part time for a while and then full time from about September 2009. We have always been happy with the way she deals with our daughter, but reliability has always been something of an issue. She has had a very trying year so far – she is going through a divorce that seems to get messier by the day, and she has also had significant health problems. She had a cancerous tumour removed in 2008, I believe.
The problem we have is that her personal circumstances are impacted her ability to do her job. For the last few months, it seems that barely a week passes without her either arriving late or leaving early for a variety of reasons: her kids are sick, her kids have a parent-teacher conference that she didn’t know about (she gave me an hour’s notice that she had to leave – evidently calling the teacher to reschedule the meeting didn’t occur to her), lawyer’s meetings, divorce hearings, dance recitals, medical appointments. If I see my phone flashing when I wake – I know exactly who it is and why.
In September of this year I started working part-time after graduating from law school. It’s project based, and – unfortunately – my work load is much less than expected (around 15-20 hours a week). We continued to keep the nanny on full-time because, quite honestly, it was worth paying her full-time to forego the hassle of trying to find a new nanny. (My husband is self-employed and works 80 hours a week; I was undergoing IVF treatment and then sick as a dog in the first trimester and simply couldn’t face the task.) So essentially she has been paid for 40 hours (at $18.50 an hour) while working around 25, since September. We also pay her 10 days sick per year and also public holidays. Honestly, I think we’re pretty generous. And yet, despite her having 15 hours a week free, she still manages to find reasons why she has to leave early or come in late. I actually remember her telling me that her previous boss was upset with her for making her (the nanny’s) problems, the employer’s problems. And I know exactly what she means. Every bump in our nanny’s road becomes a boulder in mine.
Now, it turns out that my workload probably won’t increase by much more. And honestly, I am starting to feel as though we are being taken advantage of. Now the kicker – she went for a checkup last week and it looks likely that her cancer may have returned. I can’t imagine how she is feeling, but already this week she asked to go home 4 hours early (“I’m just not in a good place right now”) and this morning said that she was still upset, and didn’t know if I wanted her to come in today because she’s “not sure she’ll be much use today anyway.” I told her that she needed to come in. I have 2 deadlines looming – and no backup childcare. I am at the start of my legal career and simply cannot afford to miss deadlines. My family is in England and I cannot just call someone to stop by so I can work.
I feel like a monster! I am deeply troubled by the idea that she may lose her job around the time that she finds out the cancer has returned, but frankly, I don’t know what we’re paying her for. I just can’t rely on her. Her attitude irritates me every day. So, in my position, would you let her go? Our provisional plan is to speak with her in early January, and give her a month’s pay in lieu of notice. January is a very quiet month in my job, so if it takes a few weeks to get a replacement, we can manage. Any advice or BTDT would be much appreciated.
UPDATE: So we had a talk - or rather I let rip, in all honesty - in December, and things improved for a while. There were still unscheduled absences, but usually with enough notice that it wasn't a big deal. Good news is that her lump was benign, so no concerns there.
But now things have started to slide again. Last week my parents were in town from overseas so the nanny worked a few hours, but only around 10. She agreed to work 7-10pm on my parents' last night, so we could go for dinner - and then a few hours before she was due to show, asked if she could work from 6-9pm instead because of a girls' night out. I told her no, because the reservations were made. She arrived at 7 but was clearly put out. Then today, I awoke to the sound of the bleeping phone. So I know that my 3-hour appointment scheduled for this morning needs to be rescheduled.. True enough, she sent me a text to ask if my daughter and I had been vaccinated against chickenpox, because she had been exposed to it. (We have, but I had to call the Dr.'s office to confirm before.) And by the time I had confirmed that my daughter wasn't at any risk from exposure, it didn't matter anyway. Because nanny informed me that because of a snowstorm (which, incidentally, had been forecast two days ago) and the traffic, it "wasn't looking good" that she would get here on time anyway. We had a brief, ill-tempered conversation about her general attitude, including my asking "why on earth are you not vaccinated when you're a nanny?" and after she said she was still only 5 miles from her house (she lives about 20 miles away) I told her not to bother coming in.
I am done. We are looking for a new nanny and I think we will let her go on Friday. Thanks for all the advice, I do appreciate it.
Edited by slylives - 3/23/11 at 8:52am