So, here I am again. Still having the same issues with the nanny that so many of you advised me to fire 18 months ago. And you were so right! We are going to let her go on Friday, but I would really appreciate any input you have. My previous posts were entitled “Thinking Of Letting Our Nanny Go” and “Let Our Nanny Go and Feeling Sick” in case you want to read the saga.
So things improved for a while, in terms of reliability and timekeeping. Until they slipped again – due to car trouble, traffic, etc. But it all came to a head this week. Briefly, nanny’s former BIL was killed in an accident. She texted me very early last Friday to say that she couldn’t come in and had to be with family. I told her that was fine, and how sorry we were, etc. She was paid for that full day.
On Tuesday she told me that the funeral was going to be on Thursday at 10am in the neighboring state. Big problem – I had my very first court appearance (I am an attorney) at 9am in our state. There was no way that nanny could work and get to the service. Our backup was also unavailable so my husband and I were scrambling. The plan was for him to take the kids to his office (he is self-employed) for an hour that morning, and I would pick them up afterwards. Not ideal – by a long chalk – but doable. At lunchtime on Tuesday she said that she could in fact work Thursday and she was OK with missing the service as long as she could get to the internment and also be at the wake the previous evening. I specifically said, “Don’t miss the service for us” but she said it was fine. I was grateful and told her so.
On Tuesday lunchtime she asked if she could finish at 2pm the next day to travel to the wake. I said fine. She then said that 1pm would be better – again, I said fine. I went to the office and got some work done, and left about 3 hours’ work for the next morning, my preparation for court. At 9pm I get a text message – nanny won’t be in tomorrow. I called her and told her that if she’d asked a few hours earlier I could have accommodated her request, but as she knew I was in court, and had to go to the office to prepare, and I really needed her to come in. I even said I could be home by 12:30. She was obviously unhappy but agreed to come in.
When I awoke I saw a text message that she sent at 1am. Nanny wasn’t coming in because she was very upset, former BIL had been like a brother to her, etc, etc. I was furious, and had to take my 15 month old son to the office with me. Not good. I was so upset that I didn’t even respond to the text. The next day she came in but as I was rushing out we didn’t have chance to speak. Monday was our first opportunity to talk. I told her that I found her actions on Tuesday night/Wednesday unacceptable, because I couldn’t rely on her, I reiterated that if she’d given me more notice she could have had the full day off, but that she couldn’t ever do that again. I was expecting an embarrassed apology. I was wrong. Apparently I am the one at fault, because I have no compassion. I was repeatedly told, “It was a funeral” and when I said, “No, it was the day before the funeral” I had another “he was like my brother…” She said that none of her previous employers would have expected her to work that day (neither would have I, if I’d had any idea that she wanted the day off while I was still able to give it to her). She then said that my husband wouldn’t have treated his office staff that way (to which I responded that he has 40 staff, so 39 people to step in if someone doesn’t show. I don’t have that.) The conversation became heated and so unpleasant that I actually said something along the lines of “Maybe we both need to be looking for other arrangements”. She just said, okay, and things have been tense ever since.
Although I am absolutely dreading the conversation, I feel that it’s time to let her go (actually, I think it was time 18 months ago and I should have listened to all the great advice that people here gave me). But I am finding it so hard to separate the emotional from the practical. Was I really a monster for not giving her the day off on Wednesday with such short notice? I feel bad about her loss, but I also specifically told her I needed her to come in and I feel that she was deliberately defiant, for want of a better word.
She has been our nanny for over 4 years, and our daughter is close to her (and vice versa). But she is now in preschool 3 days a week, so she doesn’t spend as much time with nanny as she once did. My 15 month old won’t care, I don’t think. My husband asked what my ideal is – and truthfully, it would be that nanny resigns. I don’t think she will, but that would ensure that our relationship ends but without any unpleasantness. I am so conflict-averse, I feel ill at the thought of our conversation. I’m not at all concerned about our future childcare situation – I feel that this experience has made me a better employer and I’ll know what mistakes to avoid next time – but I am concerned about nanny’s ability to get another job. Despite our differences, I care about her and don't want to see her in a tight sport. That’s the only thing I’m worried about, to be honest. We will give her 6 weeks’ severance and a good reference. Has anyone BTDT – any advice for handling it? Am I doing the right thing?
Mama to my monkey since March 2008, wife to my husband since February 2004. After three early losses, we were successful with IVF!
A death in the family takes priority over someone else's work schedule. You just deal with it however you can. More than "He was like a brother to me" attitude, I would have rather she been more supportive of his wife. (her sister I assume)
BUT, she said she would work. You offered to figure something out, and she waited until the last minute to fall apart. I understand why she fell apart, but she was given permission by you to bail out, then she just said "No...I'll be fine". That's not fair to you.
In the future, it wouldn't hurt for you to have a back up for these types of things. Maybe an in home provider that is willing to take drop ins for emergencies only (if she has room) Or if there are fill in nannies for those times when your full time nanny needs to be gone, or sick.
Having been to 6 funerals this year, I would have insisted that she take a few days off. Sometimes the loss of a loved one doesn't 'hit you' until a few days later. Its unfortunate that she didn't realize how she would feel closer to the time of the funeral, and that it made childcare very difficult. Most employers offer 3-5 days of bearevment for the loss of a family member. I'm not sure how it works with all employers, but I think most of them are fairly flexible. In her case, she may have been sensitive to the fact that you would have a hard time finding backup childcare, so agreed to work even though she would have rather taken a few days off.
Do you have some kind of written contract with her(I assume there is something in writing)? If she stays with you, maybe you can revise this contract to dock pay every time she is late, devise a system for written reprimands (after 3 reprimands for over 20 minutes late to work, employee will be terminated), or something similar. That way it will be documented and agreed on by both of you. If she does have problems with late arrival or other unsatisfactory issues, you can terminate her with fewer hard feelings. Personally, I would avoid terminating her over the bearevment issue, if you can.
Alternate childcare is always a great idea. You never know when a nanny/babysitter might end up in the hospital, or with some other issue that would prevent them from coming in. That being said, I haven't found anyone reliable for my own kids. I do have my kids in a small daycare, which is a little better. If one teacher is sick, there are others there to cover the shift. If daycare is closed for any reason (snow, etc...) or a kid is sick, DH and I fight over who has to take a sick or vacation day. Not really a great set-up, but we haven't found anything better.
Good luck! :)
" rel="http://files.mothering.com/images/smilies/familybed2.gif"> DD1 12/05, DD2 12/08
Computer Engineer- I write better in 1's and 0's. ;-)
I agree with KSLaura, that it's important to have good backup care in care your nanny has things come up. I also think that it's not a good idea to expect someone to come to work right after the death of a loved one. And her flakiness this time can be directly attributed to that.
Midwife (CPM, LDM) and homeschooling mama to:
13yo ds 10yo dd 8yo ds and 6yo ds and 1yo ds
If this were the first incident, it would be one thing. It isn't about the funeral, and quit second guessing yourself. I'd be interviewing candidates now.
Tracey, mama of 5 beloved children here with me on Earth and one precious son I will meet again in Heaven 6/17/09 - 9/6/09.
I think you're doing the right thing. I was a nanny for 9 years and you sound incredibly fair to me...especially the 6 weeks severance--wow!--very generous. As any nanny knows, you have to be very clear about time off and even in tough situations can't be wishy-washy and leave families in a lurch at the last minute for something you were aware of well beforehand. My best friend passed away a few years ago and I figured out right away any schedule changes and stuck to it. Flaky is flaky, no matter the situation.
I think in the context of your previous posts, you should fire her and find someone else. I understand why she was upset but in a childcare situation, you have to maintain predictable hours. I am baffled why you think she deserves six weeks of severance pay though. I can understand two but six, why?
I wouldnt give any severance, seriously. She got fired for cause. Why severance for that? I'd sure "love" to get fired for cause and get paid for 6 weeks! I'm a college professor and I hear ALL the excuses in the world why a student can't meet their obligations. I realized after a few years that I cannot get involved in their craziness and that I need to hold up to the rules of the class (aka the contract) and NOT be bent to their emotions. So yeah, I might sound "cold" for my comments but I've had thousands of students and these sort of continual issues I've finally been able to separate from expectations for school/employment/etc. Just today my nanny called and said her car wouldnt start. I let her have the day off and she said "I WILL be there tomorrow." That's what I'd expect from my employee.
Agree with everyone and just have to add that bereavement leave at my employer applies only to immediate family: children, siblings, parents, grandparents. That's not to say that one doesn't feel great loss upon the death of others but that firms have to draw the line somewhere. As an employer, you are entitled to professional behavior. She is not a volunteer.
Mother of two since 2007 and 2009. Hoping third time's a charm in 2012.
I didn't see prev. posts but I agree if she flakes out a lot she needs to go. You need someone you can rely on and that ain't her. nak.
People aren't thinking clearly around deaths or emergencies. Sometimes you have to insist on the rational course to help them out. No job is worth missing a funeral for.
It sounds like you and your husband have high pressure jobs and need to have a back up plan. I know how hard that can be to find. If it were me, I would offer the sub position at a very high premium so that you make it worth someone,s while to drop everything.
If this had been her mother or a similar relationship, I would agree that you should have insisted on her taking time and giving her another chance. But an EX-BIL? Wouldn't even qualify for leave at my job. And late night texting at the last minute after agreeing to a schedule? Not acceptable either. Given the history here, I would definitely giver her notice and search for a new nanny. And unless you have something in writing, I think 4 weeks would be a generous amount of severance (1 week per year isn't unusual). And think twice about how you will frame a reference -- you don't want the next family to experience the same problems but of course you want to be fair to her as well.
Going forward, you are going to have to find a backup plan. Here there are agencies that can do same-day placement if you already have them "on retainer" and a couple of drop-ins accepted childcare centers. You probably need to locate something like that for just these sorts of issues.
ETA: You might also look for some confirmation of the death. It wouldn't be the first time "death in the family" had been used as an excuse when no death had occurred. My employer requires proof. If there isn't any, your decision will be much easier!
My firm uses http://www.brighthorizons.com/ My experience with in home care / infant wasn't very good and most people at my found have found it to be good. I believe their center-based care is probably more reliable.