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#61 of 90 Old 03-02-2008, 01:35 AM
 
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Originally Posted by therdogg View Post
well, contracts can be enforced whether signed or unsigned (some limitations on whether they need to be written or not to be enforced depending on how long is for, well even then the actual contract doesn't need to be written, just need a written memoranda of its existence, signed by the person against whom it is to be enforced, but that's kind of technical.....). You can't just state a certain amount of damages though, like "if you quit you owe me $1200). That would be a penalty. However, they would have to pay your reasonably foreseeable damages- if you made it clear that their flaking might mean a direct economic loss for you they might have to pay for resulting actual losses stemming from their breach. You would be limited to collecting money damages-- you can't actually force them to work for you.

You definitely do not need a notary or witnesses, although if someone is planning on perjuring themselves in court and claiming they didn't really sign it, I guess a witness or two can't hurt for impeachment purposes....
Again, good luck with getting any professional nanny willing to touch something like that with a 100 foot pole.

And good luck getting something like that through an actual court. There's lots of things that are probably technically doable.

But jeez, you know...if I ever found out that a potential employer had gone that far, vs. just canning the person...I'd steer clear of them. Just a little too control freak and eager to intimidate for my tastes.

Also, please understand that the clauses cited earlier about "abandonment" are not going to be typically applied to a child care situation. Where you're get your rear handed to you is as a corrections officer where you can be legally held at your post for up to 72 hours without break or relief in an emergency--BTDT, with certain social service positions like managing a group home--BTDT, ect. The reason why that can happen is that while you are KIND of an at-will employee if you work for a certain type of privatized agency or a state facility, there are certain times where that status is suspended (like a riot or other unforseen emergency).
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#62 of 90 Old 03-02-2008, 01:55 AM
 
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I just wanted to add my 2 cents. There was so much I could quote from previous posts but then my thing would be pages long. I've been in childcare for 12 years a nanny for going on 5. I just want to say about not being able to rely on nannies. I have ALWAYS been reliable. I 've had only probably 3 sick days in 5 years. But the thing that got me was that are you kidding me? If I had a penny for everytime a parent was late or called and said "I"m gonna run to the store real fast." Or "Sorry I'm late I had a call." I've never ONE ask is it ok first. What if I had an appt that I had to schedule late just so I could get to the doctor. Or I had a babysitting gig right after work.

It's just not nannies that do things like that. I had one family that wanted to be "flexible" like maybe stay late and I Said fine. I had no idea that flexible was working from 5:30 am and kids didn't get up till 6:30 and then not leaving till midnight. Lets say I didn't stay there long. Oh and Monday-Saturday. Exactly when was I to have my own time?

You have to understand being a nanny is job too. And they have things too. They are not at your beck and call 24/7. Thats why you set hours and when you say 8-5. You should be AT home at 5 to relieve her. Not 5:30 b/c you wanted to chat it up with friends or have a drink after work. And if you want to then you should pay overtime and let her know with enough notice.

Wife to Chiro DH, TTC #1 since May 07 Hoping for a after many losses
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#63 of 90 Old 03-02-2008, 02:29 AM
 
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[QUOTE=Tigerchild;10671538]Again, good luck with getting any professional nanny willing to touch something like that with a 100 foot pole.

well, they might if the protections are even on both sides. for example, if the employer finds she doesn't need the nanny, she might agree to pay one month severance pay. and also agrees to pay vacation/sick. and health insurance.

teachers sign such contracts all the time.
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#64 of 90 Old 03-02-2008, 03:13 AM
 
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I just wanted to add my 2 cents. There was so much I could quote from previous posts but then my thing would be pages long. I've been in childcare for 12 years a nanny for going on 5. I just want to say about not being able to rely on nannies. I have ALWAYS been reliable. I 've had only probably 3 sick days in 5 years. But the thing that got me was that are you kidding me? If I had a penny for everytime a parent was late or called and said "I"m gonna run to the store real fast." Or "Sorry I'm late I had a call." I've never ONE ask is it ok first. What if I had an appt that I had to schedule late just so I could get to the doctor. Or I had a babysitting gig right after work.
I agree completely. This is irresponsible of the employers, and I wouldn't put up with it. Most daycares don't. Get something in your next contract and enforce it.

For the nannies who've responded to my post: I've been a licensed childcare provider, so I'm not entirely blind when it comes to issues to do with caring for other people's children. Regardless, I think you guys need to understand is that it's not the employer's job to understand you. In any job. They're hiring you to do a specific thing. If you can do it, great. If not, sorry. Yes, I understand service in people's homes is hard. (It's no treat for many of us having you there either, btw, but we do it because we think it's better than fulltime daycare for the kids, or because we have strange work hours, or some other practical reason.) But frankly, if you don't want to do it, don't. Usually we have other options, and often they turn out to be fine for the kids and a lot less expensive. My last nanny cost almost 4x what the wonderful daycare does.

While nannying is not a white-collar job, often the woman who hires you does have a white-collar/professional career. We fight not only gender discrimination but discrimination against mothers daily. There's an assumption that mothers are less capable and less trustworthy in responsible jobs. When you flake, or quit without notice, you give our colleagues and bosses good reason to stereotype women and mothers. We miss work, we fall down in our academic programs, we're running out of meetings frantically trying to arrange childcare, we're up till 5 am trying to meet deadlines (and up again at 6:30 with the kids), we end up looking flaky and irresponsible. It endangers our jobs and paychecks. Do I expect you to care about that? No. (Although you should, because the stereotypes about women and people who take care of young children hurt you too.) And I certainly understand that working contract-only, with the nanny liable for damages if she's irresponsible, will put off a lot of potential nannies. I say good. Weed 'em out. It beats having trouble down the line and taking the hit for it.

Tigerchild, of course the language is enforceable. Businesses enforce it all the time. Homeowners enforce it against contractors who fail to get work done according to contract and deprive them of the use of home offices. My clients can sue me if I screw up and cost them money. If your contract has reasonable provisions for sick/personal days, and you've exhausted them, and you can't come up with a doctor's note saying "Miss X was ill with ________ from date to date", then sure, a judge will hold you to the contract you willingly signed and, apparantly, willingly broke. If it were me, btw, I'd get it notarized, just to do away with any gray.

Would a professional nanny touch it, well, I'm not so worried about that. It's serious work, childcare, and hard work, but rocket science it ain't, and I can run background checks too. What I see is that I can't afford to hire nannies who aren't willing to take responsibility for making sure the job gets done, or who are willing to leave me in the lurch. Unfortunately, there is no magic screening device that alerts you to the presence of flaky nannies. So the best you can do is, while hiring, to scare off the ones who aren't certain about being able to do the job, or who want something more casual. And then have the ability to try to pick up the lost income if the nanny does flake and leave you in trouble.
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#65 of 90 Old 03-02-2008, 03:16 AM
 
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[QUOTE=therdogg;10671780]
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Originally Posted by Tigerchild View Post
Again, good luck with getting any professional nanny willing to touch something like that with a 100 foot pole.

well, they might if the protections are even on both sides. for example, if the employer finds she doesn't need the nanny, she might agree to pay one month severance pay. and also agrees to pay vacation/sick. and health insurance.

teachers sign such contracts all the time.
Sure.
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#66 of 90 Old 03-02-2008, 12:34 PM
 
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So the best you can do is, while hiring, to scare off the ones who aren't certain about being able to do the job, or who want something more casual. And then have the ability to try to pick up the lost income if the nanny does flake and leave you in trouble.
The problem with this is that the nannies who are flakey are going to flake regardless of contract. The ones that don't and won't are the ones with the professional work ethic. And those folks can have their pick of families.

I've taken one chance on a family that presented me with a contract like the one you proposing. One. And I never have and never would again, because it was only the tip of the iceberg as far as the employer's dominating, arrogant, control-freak attitude. I stayed with them for a year, never missed a day, felt bad because I did get attached to their kid, but then after the proper 2 week notice I dumped them. I didn't like being treated like as if they at any minute expected me to be some lazy, uneducated person that they felt they had to babysit lest I go astray.

Now, you might not be that way (and this particular employer had a good heart, she wasn't a bad person, but she was a horrible boss as far as micromanaging. Everyone gets one of those in their life, I think.) But I can guarantee you that probably most nannies who have been around and don't know you are going to think that's a red flag. And why should they care? Because most of us professionals feel ethically and morally bound to that year contract because it's with more than just YOU, it's with your child as well. Generally smart people are only going to allow their ethics to be abused/taken advantage of ONCE in that way. After that, you learn to be a little more discriminating and intellectual in your interviewing of the family. A good nanny does NOT just dump an employer because of her own stupidity. Thus, we tend to be pretty careful about who we work for, to avoid personal entrapment.

For me (and a lot of other nannies that I've talked to anyway) that pretty much means steering clear of people who are going to take out their aggressions about the last "flaky nanny" on you, who are going to make sure to wave in your face that they're a real professional unlike you and by the way you're responsible for making up any lost income that they lose, and who are going to do the adult babysitting thing. If they wanted to be treated like a cubicle employee or a teacher in a school setting, to be honest, a lot of nannies could go get a job as one (and lots do after awhile because of the weird nature of the job, which is why nannies are in demand, employers are a glut).

As I said, write whateever you want in a contract. Until someone shows me their successful attempt at enforcing that kind of thing on a domestic employee, I remain doubtful. Mostly because of all the time you'd have to expend, minus your salary, to take it to court to get back 1 day's work (because PLEASE tell me if someone lied to you, you'd can her right away, right?!?! You would not keep someone who *lied* to you for 2 weeks just because your contract said so?).

A professional nanny is probably going to be "intimidated" by the "holy cow these people are high maintenance" factor--probably right out of accepting the job. If you're paying enough, have excellent benefits, and she likes you, she might give you a whirl. The flaky nanny will go "Huhwhat? Sure!! Um...okay!" and not give it a second thought.
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#67 of 90 Old 03-02-2008, 02:59 PM
 
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Interesting thread...

I've been a nanny-employer for 5 years now. I could write a book on my experiences with all of these various issues.

I do agree with the idea of "scaring off" the nanny wanna-bes with a clear agreement and expectations laid out. I've had hundreds, literally hundreds, of responses to my nanny ads over the years. Most were not what we wanted/needed.

We need a very serious, professional career nanny.

We've had other kinds of nannies:

~ Young woman going to college.
~ Someone "trying out" nannying after years in daycare.
~ Someone needing PT work to pay bills.
~ Someone who moved was only going to be in our area for one year attending school.

Even though all of these people were great with the kids, we found in the end, we wanted that professional career nanny. The other nannies were fine and very responsible, but the current pro nanny we have is totally dedicated to the profession, takes it very seriously, and brings a level of commitment to the job that I have not seen before.

About contracts/agreements - I've always had them. My agreement has evolved from a quick 3-page document, to a very long document (32 pages - I'm embarrassed to say! ) outlining all kinds of things about our family, our children, and our needs, and expectations about the position.

Interestingly enough, this document "scared off" most newbie nanny types, but ended up attracting a very professional career nanny who saw the document as helpful and interesting, rather than a massive micro-managing tool. She felt that we were the type of nanny-employers who had good experience doing this and didn't need to be "educated" on how to be good employers.

I do think it's important to be fair both ways in an agreement. Both parties should give notice to end the agreement, severance pay should be accounted for, things like that.
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#68 of 90 Old 03-02-2008, 04:04 PM
 
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For me (and a lot of other nannies that I've talked to anyway) that pretty much means steering clear of people who are going to take out their aggressions about the last "flaky nanny" on you, who are going to make sure to wave in your face that they're a real professional unlike you and by the way you're responsible for making up any lost income that they lose, and who are going to do the adult babysitting thing. If they wanted to be treated like a cubicle employee or a teacher in a school setting, to be honest, a lot of nannies could go get a job as one (and lots do after awhile because of the weird nature of the job, which is why nannies are in demand, employers are a glut).
Tigerchild, nobody is waving anything in people's faces about "professional". There's a range of terminal degrees -- MD, JD, DDS, etc. -- that lead to work not normally classed as white-collar. They're called professional degrees. Nobody is saying the nanny is not professional.

Also, nobody is treating the nanny like a cubicle employee when they ask her to sign a contract accepting liability for damages to the employer's income/career when she leaves them without childcare unexpectedly or with high frequency. That's why she's there: so the parent can work (or go to school).

I'm not a cubicle employee and wouldn't work like one. However, I understand that if I were irresponsible, I could cost my employers big money. That's why I incorporate; if I'm sued, I'm not personally liable.

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As I said, write whateever you want in a contract. Until someone shows me their successful attempt at enforcing that kind of thing on a domestic employee, I remain doubtful. Mostly because of all the time you'd have to expend, minus your salary, to take it to court to get back 1 day's work (because PLEASE tell me if someone lied to you, you'd can her right away, right?!?! You would not keep someone who *lied* to you for 2 weeks just because your contract said so?).
Well, I can't imagine a contract would go that way. But if a nanny's been reliable for a couple of months, and she suddenly gets flaky, you do tend to let things go and try to be understanding for a few days, and hope it's an aberration. Most employers will behave that way, whatever the job. I once fired a nanny after she disappeared to another town "for an emergency", and the emergency stretched a few days, with some broken promises about when she'd be back, and without responsible contact. I wanted to be understanding, but in the end it sounded like she'd rushed off to help a friend who'd been upset, and like no one was dying. She'd been nice, my daughter liked her, but after four or five days I fired her.

If a nanny up and quit, I'd expect to be without childcare for a week or two, maybe more. So sure, that'd lead to damages.The person who's held to the broken contract always has discretion to sue. There's no obligation to sue. For $700 -- well, frankly, small claims doesn't take that long. Yeah, I'd probably do it. For larger amounts, no question. I doubt I'd collect right away, but if the person has a taxed income, eventually you'll get your money.

As for enforcement, all I can say is spend some time around small claims. People come in with all kinds of contracts and agreements, on matters large, small, domestic, personal, business. All that matters there is dollar amount. Nannies are not immune from contract law.

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A professional nanny is probably going to be "intimidated" by the "holy cow these people are high maintenance" factor--probably right out of accepting the job. If you're paying enough, have excellent benefits, and she likes you, she might give you a whirl. The flaky nanny will go "Huhwhat? Sure!! Um...okay!" and not give it a second thought.
The flaky nanny will also not bother looking over the contract, or take the discussion of terms seriously, and will shrug and say, "Yeah, whatever, I'm sure it's OK." And then you're free to rescind the offer.

What surprises me here is the offense you're taking at the idea that nannies should be liable if they cause the employer to lose work and income. As special as the job is, most of us hire you so we can go to work, not so we can go play tennis. You're not like a shop assistant, or one of 47 helpdesk employees, or an employee in a big box store; if they vanish, the business doesn't close. If you vanish, we're in big trouble (and we're in big trouble at the same time we have to comfort a small child and try to assure them it's not their fault you left). I'd worry about a nanny who didn't understand that this is why employers try to protect themselves against losses.

Particularly when all the contract binds them to is "don't be flaky and fail to turn up chronically or for no reason; don't quit without adequate notice." I mean if you want freedom to flake or bail without liability, fine, but sure, I don't want to hire someone like that, either.
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#69 of 90 Old 03-02-2008, 04:31 PM
 
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What surprises me here is the offense you're taking at the idea that nannies should be liable if they cause the employer to lose work and income.... If you vanish, we're in big trouble...
Good point, I have to say.

I still feel it's my responsibility to have back-up childcare, but yeah, if our nanny just walked out one day - that would be difficult, work-wise.

I don't have anything in our agreement about this issue, but it's certainly an interesting point.

I do have it the other way around - if we were to give her immediate notice to leave (for any reason other than cause), we would owe her 4 week's severance.

But, if she up and left us - well, we are screwed.

Hmmm... doesn't seem fair.
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#70 of 90 Old 03-02-2008, 04:46 PM
 
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[QUOTE=therdogg;10671780]
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Again, good luck with getting any professional nanny willing to touch something like that with a 100 foot pole.

well, they might if the protections are even on both sides. for example, if the employer finds she doesn't need the nanny, she might agree to pay one month severance pay. and also agrees to pay vacation/sick. and health insurance.

teachers sign such contracts all the time.
I live and work as a school administrator in an "at will" state. Such contracts are not enforceable here. I've been left in the lurch by teachers before and it's not fun, but there's nothing you can put in a contract to prevent it.

In our local public school district (not where I teach) retirement benefits are based on the amount a teacher is making on the last day they work. Also health insurance is covered 100% for teachers during the summer, but not for retirees (they have to pay a percentage -- I don't know what). As a result there's a huge incentive for teachers to accept a job for the coming school year, and retire after the first day of summer institute. That way they get retirement payed on the new year's salary, and they don't have to start paying insurance until October. Principals then have about a week to get some one new hired, trained and placed in the classroom.
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#71 of 90 Old 03-02-2008, 05:43 PM
 
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Ah yes, I work in an "at will" state too. Your employer doesn't have to have a reason for firing and the employee is responsible for proofing "fault" on the employers part.

But, the tables turn the same way for employees. You don't have to have any reason to quit, nor do you "have to" give a two week notice.

I'm not saying contracts are not valid, but they are unrealistic and nearly impossible to enforce.

In my state you cannot garnish an employee's wage for credit card debt, or if you are head of household, or if your salary falls under the poverty line Federal guidelines).

The ONLY things you can garnish wages for in my state are child support and taxes. Nothing more- no judgments, checks, etc.

You couldn't enforce a nanny contract here.
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#72 of 90 Old 03-02-2008, 06:45 PM
 
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In my state you cannot garnish an employee's wage for credit card debt, or if you are head of household, or if your salary falls under the poverty line Federal guidelines).

The ONLY things you can garnish wages for in my state are child support and taxes. Nothing more- no judgments, checks, etc.
Really? That seems really lenient. We went through a small claims matter a while back, and where we were then (Ohio) you could start the proceedings to get a wage garnishment for a small claims judgment. It's not really that difficult to do - just a lot of paperwork. I find it odd that a state wouldn't even permit claimants to get the money through garnishment when the courts determined the money was owed. Why even have small claims court then if you're going on the honor system for the person to pay up?

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As I mentioned in a previous post, I have never hired or been a nanny. We did consider a nanny this past summer who had come recommended to us. After reading a brief document outlining our expectations, she backed away. In retrospect, I consider this a good thing since the flake factor was obviously there. We have no family in the immediate area to rely on for backup, and I just couldn't take the chance. She might have considered us "controlling," but I don't think our expectations were out of line.

I don't think a contract agreement is going to negate any flake factor, but I still feel that something should be in place so that expectations are written. Good interviewing might help. Open ended questions like:

If you were to decide to leave our employment, how much notice do you think is reasonable?

For what reasons would you consider leaving our employment?

Have you ever needed to take an unexpected leave from employment?

Have you ever been in a work situation that you felt was unworkable? What steps did you take to rectify the situation?

Other basic questions might give you a good insight as to what type of nanny/employee they'll be:

Why do you think you're a good nanny?

What do you like best about being a nanny?

How do you know when you've done a good job?

Tell me about a time when you've gone above and beyond the call of duty.

Tell me about a time when you made a mistake.

What are you looking for when you are choosing a family/work situation? (What is the ideal situation for you?)

What is one thing that I should know about you that I didn't ask about?

These are just some questions that popped into my head. I would guess that a professional & dedicated nanny would have well thought out answers and be able to communicate them effectively. A not-so-great nanny might have to think about her answers or give you info. that might raise some red flags. I would definitely ask some good questions before presenting any contract or document.

Just my thoughts.

Laura - Mom to ds (10) and dd (7) "Time stands still best in moments that look suspiciously like ordinary life." Brian Andreas.

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#74 of 90 Old 03-02-2008, 07:33 PM
 
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Really? That seems really lenient. We went through a small claims matter a while back, and where we were then (Ohio) you could start the proceedings to get a wage garnishment for a small claims judgment. It's not really that difficult to do - just a lot of paperwork. I find it odd that a state wouldn't even permit claimants to get the money through garnishment when the courts determined the money was owed. Why even have small claims court then if you're going on the honor system for the person to pay up?
In some cases you are given a certain amount to pay and if you do not then a bench warrant for your arrest is issued. You still have the option of paying for damages or you can go to jail. Even this is often waved. you can be arrested and then released on your own recognance.

Oddly enough my state is often really harsh for minor things, and very lenient in circumstances that you would think require a more severe fine or penalty.
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#75 of 90 Old 03-02-2008, 08:38 PM
 
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I don't think a contract agreement is going to negate any flake factor, but I still feel that something should be in place so that expectations are written.
No, nothing's going to negate a flake factor. A contract is only so that you can mitigate the damage if it's broken. If a nanny under contract flakes and I get an award for damages, she's still flaky, and it's still been disruptive, but at least some of the money loss is covered. It's a form of insurance, nothing more.
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Maybe we could post some real cases where damages have been recovered do to nanny's breaking a contract.

I think we might find that more employers break contracts than nannies.

I also think the langauge we are using is being used interchangeably.

There are au pairs (not professional nannies)

Live-Out caregivers (not professional nannies)

Live-in caregivers (not professional nannies)

Professional Nannies (whose sole purpose and profession is to care for children. Not do laundry, dishes, errands for parents, etc. These women are educated, have degrees and are serious business women.

The behavior illustrated in previous posts is not behaviors of serious, professional nannies.

And again, you can be "awarded" all the money in the world but it doesn't mean you will get it.

Can we find sources with cases where this has happened?
I really
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#77 of 90 Old 03-02-2008, 09:29 PM
 
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And again, you can be "awarded" all the money in the world but it doesn't mean you will get it.
This is where I think NC's laws may be different. In most states, you can place liens against the person's property and/or get wage garnishment once you have a judgment. Then of course there is the black mark on your credit, which in some states happens automatically once a judgment against you is found.

You still may not get your money, but you have a much better chance of doing so than in NC where it sounds from your description as if being awarded the money in small claims court means nothing in terms of recovering that money. In other places, though, there are ways to make it more likely you will get the money if it is awarded. I would imagine, too, that there would be some satisfaction for many people because they got the judgment, whether they actually recovered any costs or not.

It's us: DH , DS ; DD ; and me . Also there's the . And the 3 . I . Oh, and .
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#78 of 90 Old 03-02-2008, 10:02 PM
 
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Ah, well that makes sense. I guess I was driving with blinders on (I get all one track-minded sometimes and am totally unable to see outside of my little box. But I could see where just having that judgment and the credit damage it could have for the nanny would be good enough for me if I felt ripped off.
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#79 of 90 Old 03-02-2008, 11:16 PM
 
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What surprises me here is the offense you're taking at the idea that nannies should be liable if they cause the employer to lose work and income. As special as the job is, most of us hire you so we can go to work, not so we can go play tennis. You're not like a shop assistant, or one of 47 helpdesk employees, or an employee in a big box store; if they vanish, the business doesn't close. If you vanish, we're in big trouble (and we're in big trouble at the same time we have to comfort a small child and try to assure them it's not their fault you left). I'd worry about a nanny who didn't understand that this is why employers try to protect themselves against losses.
I'm not offended at the idea that employers need to protect themselves as best they can. That's half the reason why there's a contract, after all.

All I'm saying is if you expect your nanny to pay you your salary for the day if you don't like her reason for her absence, that's going a little over the top. You mentioned you'd basically charge her for your roughly $30+/hr pay. Well, that's not exactly fair, or enforceable. You SHOULD be able to deduct her pay from her next check, and/or charge her a fee (or perhaps what it would cost to bring in temporary help). But the assistant (or even the VP) doesn't pay back the CEO the CEO's cut of the the day if they miss a day. Does that make sense?

My other issue would be with pragmatic enforcement. While I understand and agree with "trial period" clauses in a contract, after that point...there has to be some degree of trust if I'm going to work for someone. If I call in sick, and especially if the employer is not providing health care benefits, if it's something like the flu that's going to be over with in 24-48 hours I'd rather not have to take additional time off and/or incur doctor's visit expense for a note. Either they trust me professionally, or they don't. I'm not paying someone $300+ a day for two days because I caught a virus that their kid probably gave me when I took care of them while they're ill. If they're going to demand that I take even more time off to provide a doctor's note, then decide whether or not to charge me for that too, speaks of a lot more control issues than I want to deal with.

I think if you want to avoid flakes, that you should fire them. Three strikes and your out policy or harsher. Hard lesson to learn for a newbie, but better they learn good habits early on. But demanding they pay you your salary plus lose out on theirs? Seems a little on the crazy side to me. Personal preference and all.

So yeah, probably you wouldn't like me as a nanny. I'm no flake (and luckily for me when I was nanny I had an immune system like teflon! Most of the time I ended up taking care of the parents while they were sick with the various kid bugs.). But there are a few things that cause me to raise my eyebrow, and I never held back from asking questions about what it was that the people actually wanted, and haggling over contract language to my liking.

I wouldn't be paying someone else's salary for them for any reason. It's just not how I roll. Just like I didn't think that the employer should have to pay me anything because their kid made me sick and I couldn't come to work. (Or, if they were late coming home without notice and I had to call in to my 2nd job, I didn't charge them what I would have been paid. Crap happens, as long as it wasn't habitual, what are they supposed to do about a freak traffic snarl? Not their fault.) If someone is dishonest, they should be canned. If the employer can't for whatever reason feel that they can trust their employee in their home after that "Get to know you" time, then to be honest, they should trust their gut and let her go.

Contracts aren't the way to weed out flakes. If someone is the type to call in sick and go to baja for the week, I can assure you, no amount of threatening her that she owes you $3000 will prevent someone from acting like a tool nor will it mean they'll just fork over the $$.
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#80 of 90 Old 03-02-2008, 11:41 PM
 
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As a former nanny, I have to say that contracts and outlines of expectations didn't bother me. In fact I liked having it written out what my expectations were, and I actually wish I had worked for more employers that did lay out expectations on paper. I think it would have been really telling to see what some of the not-so-great families would have put on paper.

The wonderful families I worked for knew that there was a supply and demand problem with nannies (in other words, good nannies are hard to come by and they get to be pretty choosy about who they will work for and what they will tolerate).

As a former nanny agency manager, it was quite funny to me when I would have somebody call me with their diva-like list of giant demands, long hours, huge expectations and low pay, and I would tell them thanks but no thanks, LOL. These were people who were NOT used to be turned down and they did not take it well.

But that is b/c we charged a fee up-front, and I'm sorry, but if you are looking for a nanny to work 6 am to 7 pm M-F, at least one night during the week, who will clean the house, and you have a nanny cam and are not going to tell the nanny, AND you want to pay $7/hr, with this crazy contract that pretty much showed how untrusting and control-freaky you would be with the nanny then I just can't help you.

Because I would have no nannies that would be interested, and then the parent would get frustrated w/ me b/c I took their up-front finders fee and am finding NO ONE. So it is better if you don't waste my time, and I wouldn't waste theirs.

We had way too many clients and not enough great nannies, so I could afford to turn people away, and I did.

And if a parent said they were looking for "Mary Poppins,".....well WOO BOY, that would be a giant red flag to me!
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#81 of 90 Old 03-03-2008, 01:51 AM
 
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I'm not offended at the idea that employers need to protect themselves as best they can. That's half the reason why there's a contract, after all.

All I'm saying is if you expect your nanny to pay you your salary for the day if you don't like her reason for her absence, that's going a little over the top. You mentioned you'd basically charge her for your roughly $30+/hr pay. Well, that's not exactly fair, or enforceable. You SHOULD be able to deduct her pay from her next check, and/or charge her a fee (or perhaps what it would cost to bring in temporary help). But the assistant (or even the VP) doesn't pay back the CEO the CEO's cut of the the day if they miss a day. Does that make sense?
Well, not quite, because it's not the same kind of working relationship. The VP is probably not working for the CEO; the VP is working for the company's owners, private or shareholders. If a VP flakes in a way that makes it impossible for the company to do business, then you'd better believe that the VP is going to be on the receiving end of lawsuits for hefty damages.

VPs don't usually have the power to stop a corporation in its tracks, though. Business will go on. Flaky and no-notice-quitting nannies, on the other hand, can certainly stop a mother from getting to work.

A better comparison is contracts with builders, website design firms, etc. Anyone whose service is essential to your being able to do business, to the point where you literally cannot do business if they don't perform as promised. And in that case, sure, people routinely sue others for loss of income because services were not provided as stated under contract.

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My other issue would be with pragmatic enforcement. While I understand and agree with "trial period" clauses in a contract, after that point...there has to be some degree of trust if I'm going to work for someone. If I call in sick, and especially if the employer is not providing health care benefits, if it's something like the flu that's going to be over with in 24-48 hours I'd rather not have to take additional time off and/or incur doctor's visit expense for a note. Either they trust me professionally, or they don't. I'm not paying someone $300+ a day for two days because I caught a virus that their kid probably gave me when I took care of them while they're ill. If they're going to demand that I take even more time off to provide a doctor's note, then decide whether or not to charge me for that too, speaks of a lot more control issues than I want to deal with.
Well, I don't know about anyone else, but I wouldn't hire someone under contract without including fairly generous sick/personal days. Things happen. People get sick, teeth break, cars break down, friends and parents need a hand. If the personal days are exhausted, though, and you're still sick or having trouble all the time, then I genuinely sympathize, but I gotta let you go. I'm a breadwinner, not a social services agency. (There was one girl a year or so ago who was real nice, and then kept vanishing to go take care of her dad, who was sick and going through a divorce. I really do sympathize, but I wasn't her mom, and the bills here don't magically get paid if I can't get to work. She was very upset when I fired her; she seemed to think I owed her support while she tended her dad.) If the theoretical nanny showed up with doctors' notes and it's clear that yeah, she was really sick, then no, I'm not going to go after the lost income. But it's up to the nanny. Otherwise I'd assume she had a choice about not showing up, and try to recover the income.

Again, I'm not sure what you're so upset about here. This is pretty routine in other parts of the work world, and it's often much harsher. I appreciate companies that go the personal-days route, because you don't have to run to the doctor to prove your illness every time, but plenty of businesses still do it the old way. And after you use up the sick time, sure, a boss who keeps you on will ask for doc notes, steer you towards FMLA, etc. I can promise you that the boss does not want a note saying, "My nanny left, I'm really sorry, I can't come in today because I don't have childcare."

People like me who run our own businesses don't have to bother with notes, but we also don't get sick days. The deadlines are the deadlines, and the clients don't care if we've had our heads temporarily severed; they want the job done. A month ago I was outside, four days into the flu, shoveling 11 inches of fresh snowfall out of the driveway so I could bring my daughter to daycare and get to work. If I could've stayed home and just gone to the doctor? Gee, that would've been pretty sweet.

I have limited sympathy on the health insurance issue, btw. I've paid for my own health insurance for the last 13 years despite a chronic illness and many years of income under $20K. Currently I pay $500/mo out of pocket for insurance for me and my daughter, but if it were just me on my own, I'd be able to find reasonable coverage for $90/mo.

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I think if you want to avoid flakes, that you should fire them. Three strikes and your out policy or harsher. Hard lesson to learn for a newbie, but better they learn good habits early on. But demanding they pay you your salary plus lose out on theirs? Seems a little on the crazy side to me. Personal preference and all.
Sure, you have to fire flakes. I don't hire nannies anymore; we have a saint of a daycare guy...man, he's wonderful, and so are all the other people working there. They've really helped raise my daughter, and they've done a great job. An I-can't-repay-them job. I'm almost sorry to send dd to kindergarten; in a lot of ways I think they teach better & more important stuff at the daycare, and it's just a nicer place. The food's sure better. Sigh. Anyway. For babysitters, I have a one-strike policy at this point. In general, if you call and cancel with less than 24 hrs notice, then I can see we'll have trouble again, and that's enough.

Paying for monetary damages that you cause your employer by breaking the contract...all I can tell you is that it's standard in professional contracts. You just incorporate and carry insurance. If you screw up somehow and get sued, your insurance will pay, not you.

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If someone is the type to call in sick and go to baja for the week, I can assure you, no amount of threatening her that she owes you $3000 will prevent someone from acting like a tool nor will it mean they'll just fork over the $$.
No. And no threatening is necessary. Contracts should never be about threats. It just means that you can go to the magistrate and get the money back now or later....ah, I think I see what this is about. I have a feeling you think that this is some sort of personal thing, and you're not used to mothers who don't care about that end of it, but do care about getting to work.
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#82 of 90 Old 03-03-2008, 02:05 AM
 
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I have been babysitting since I was 12 and have been a Professional Nanny for 15 years. I have training and I have a degree, I am NOT a babysitter. I am rather offended by the idea that so many of you think that being a Nanny is "just a job" and we'd all jump ship for more money. I don't think I've ever been hired by a parent who considered their child's Nanny "just another job". I have a huge professional AND personal interest in any family that I have worked for. I have attended the college graduations for some of "my children". I have NEVER left one Family for another over solely money. That being said I will not put up with non-sense. Good professional Nannies ARE hard to come by. Also I would NEVER EVER go to work for a Mother who considered it ethically okay to steal another family's Nanny. In doing that all you know is that your Nanny chose to work for you because you offered more money. I always spend 2 weeks with a family before signing a contract. A Nanny MUST be the right fit for each family and a family must be the right fit for each Nanny. I am friends with many other Professional Nannies and not one of them could be considered a flake. Parents that show up late with notice, parents who "are a little short this week" or who are "sure you don't mind cleaning a bit" are a bigger problem from my end. Of course I was not a flake as a teenage babysitter either. I worked for one family for 10 years, going on vacations and living with the children (4) while the parents were out of town. This job did pay well, but what kept me totally loyal to them was being treated with absolute respect, and insisted that their kids and other family do the same. I have had several job offers from parents who want a Professional Nanny but want to pay a babysitter

To the OP, I think asking your Nanny to join you for coffee and a chat would be very intelligent. She may have left for more money, or maybe not... Try something like "I hope you'll be very happy with family x, we really enjoyed your time with us. Is there any reason other than keeping twins that made you want to leave, and please be honest with me. We want to find a long term Nanny for DD and if there was anything that was problematic for you I'd love to know so that I can try to avoid that in the future." If you think money may have been a factor, you may want to check that what you are paying is in line with the average with your area.
Good Luck!

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#83 of 90 Old 03-03-2008, 02:04 PM
 
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If you get childcare you expect to have some unexpected days where you will not have anyone to cover things, it is the nature of childcare. People get sick or sometimes a person seems right but then turns out to be a flake. And while it would be great to have a contract that says they won't it would be a huge hassle to enforce it and if you did find someone else to cover for the nanny you might not be able to enforce it other than taking away the nannies pay for the days missed because you did not suffer any missed days at work and there was therefore no damage other than the annoyance of having a nanny flake off. To actually enforce the contract you would have to suffer damage and prove that it was from the nanny was being flaky. I do think it would be a sign that you don't have a flaky nanny if they do take sign the contract but it may take a while to find a nanny who will sign it and you may have to offer really nice wages to go along with a contract like that.
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#84 of 90 Old 03-03-2008, 02:27 PM
 
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BTW SC is another "right to work " state so that contract would be unenforceable here to.
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#85 of 90 Old 03-03-2008, 08:03 PM
 
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Well, this is an interesting question at law. In a practical sense, the obvious thing to do is shift liability to nanny agencies and/or take advantage of an insurance market, but that still leaves an interesting question.

Household employees cannot, by law, be independent contractors, which means that in at-will states there is (if I understand correctly) no legal way of holding them liable for business losses or damage to professional reputation. However, we have millions -- maybe tens of millions -- of working parents who depend on childcare providers so that they can work. There's no way around that one short of saying, "don't work" or "don't have children," and obviously that's not something that a court can get away with saying. If the childcare provider flakes or quits abruptly, the family may suffer economic damage as a direct result.

If that provider is a daycare center, the parents can sign a contract for services with the center, and have recourse if the center suddenly has erratic hours or closes for a week without notice. (And before you get into that one, yes, I've done it.) Then the situation is analogous to a contractor not finishing your office. But in many places there's also a chronic shortage of daycare-center infantcare slots, and there's ample evidence that the market won't take care of that problem. Hence the market for nannies, and you can't make a contract with them in at-will states.

Which means you have all these parents -- women, mostly -- trying to support their families, and entirely unprotected if a nanny up and quits. And it's a funny situation, because normally we're accustomed to drawing a sharp line between household and work. But in this case, they're joined at the hip. If the household help -- the nanny -- leaves, the mother can't work until she's found a replacement.

It's unreasonable to say to the mothers, "Don't hire nannies until you get a law, insurance policy, or agency contract that will cover your losses if the nanny flakes," because they must work. In general they don't have the power to press that bargain. So I don't think the market can take care of that one, either. Maybe what's needed is a law -- state law, I'd think -- developing insurance markets for this sort of thing, and requiring everyone to put something into the pot -- the employer, the employee, the nanny agencies, and the state itself. What would be especially interesting is that the claims would make the scope of the problem visible. If you have tens or hundreds of thousands of nanny-insurance claims each year in a state from women whose nannies have flaked/quit and directly cost them money or inflicted career damage, then you have the makings of public policy.

Huh. I'll have to talk about that with a friend who's a statehouse majority whip and a great big feminist, and see what she thinks.
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#86 of 90 Old 03-03-2008, 08:14 PM
 
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If a VP flakes in a way that makes it impossible for the company to do business, then you'd better believe that the VP is going to be on the receiving end of lawsuits for hefty damages.
Actually, more often than not, the vp gets a golden handshake and a hefty severance, rather than a lawsuit.
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#87 of 90 Old 03-03-2008, 08:25 PM
 
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As a great big feminist I am sure she would side with a nanny's right to not be beat down by her employer and some crazy scheme to hold a nanny who make what? 1200-2000 a month be responsible for someone's $70/hr wage for a week.

Also why not just dock her pay for the amount of time your nanny is absent. It's what most employers with hourly wage employees do.
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#88 of 90 Old 03-03-2008, 09:41 PM
 
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As a great big feminist I am sure she would side with a nanny's right to not be beat down by her employer and some crazy scheme to hold a nanny who make what? 1200-2000 a month be responsible for someone's $70/hr wage for a week.
As a great big feminist she would likely side with both. That's why an insurance plan that spreads both risk and responsibility, without being onerous to anyone, may be interesting to her. I would imagine that it could also create incentive for nannies to get professional and sign up with an agency, because an agency could then pay their insurance fee for them.

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Also why not just dock her pay for the amount of time your nanny is absent. It's what most employers with hourly wage employees do.
Because I'm not interested in punishing a nanny. I'm interested in recovering losses.

Most employers with hourly wage employers are not 100% dependent on their showing up for work in order to do business. They're in trouble if a large percentage of the employees fail to show up for a single shift, but the likelihood of that is much lower than the likelihood of a nanny failing to show. That's where the distinction lies.
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#89 of 90 Old 03-03-2008, 09:42 PM
 
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Actually, more often than not, the vp gets a golden handshake and a hefty severance, rather than a lawsuit.
Cf. Andy Fastow.

Not so much.
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#90 of 90 Old 03-03-2008, 09:56 PM
 
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Cf. Andy Fastow.

Not so much.



Okay, that's ONE.
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