Due to Covid-19 this has been a difficult year for everyone with both personal and professional lives being different in many ways. For many people, a side effect has been anxiety as they do their best to make decisions that will keep themselves and their families safe and healthy during this time. As businesses have been reopening each individual has had to make the decisions that feel the most comfortable and safe for themselves and their loved ones. While one person may feel comfortable going to the gym for a workout, another may not. As you begin to make decisions for your family, you may find yourself wondering if your Nanny is on the same page as you with the decisions that she is making in her off time. It is a good idea to have a sit-down meeting and discuss your current thoughts about Covid-19 and how you are handling it. Find out what your nanny’s point of view and feelings are on the subject. With a conversation like this it will be easier to find out if you and your nanny are on the same or similar pages. You may be concerned if she is exposed to too many people and she, in turn, may feel the same way if you have chosen to fully jump right back in. Definitely be considerate of each other’s thoughts on Covid-19 safety measures during her working hours. For example, you may be comfortable having the neighbor’s kids over for a playdate but she may not. Her feelings should be respected during her work day with what she is and is not comfortable doing regarding social activities at this time. The same goes for if you have chosen not to do play-dates for the time being. Keeping an open line of communication between you and your nanny is especially essential right now. During your sit-down meeting you can take note of if you and your Nanny are on the same page, a similar one, or not thinking alike at all. If either party feels uncomfortable with the other’s decisions to an extreme degree, it might then be in everyone’s best interest to part ways. Discuss severance pay and anything else in the contract that needs to be addressed and end things in a professional way.
Keep in mind that while communication is important, you cannot actually control what your nanny chooses to do with her non-working hours. It would be unacceptable to tell her that she can’t see her friends or family, that she can’t go out to a restaurant if she so chooses, or that she can’t go shopping. Your nanny, just like you, has her own life and loved ones to consider, and has to make the decisions that are best for her. Each person has their own comfort levels during this time as well as things that make them uncomfortable, and they have the right to make those personal decisions for themselves. Having a meeting can simply give you an idea if you are doing things in similar ways, but it doesn’t mean you should start asking for details of every minute of your nanny’s off time. A nanny’s off time is her personal time to do with as she so chooses.
It is also important to keep in mind that you cannot ask your nanny to go into quarantine for two weeks. Perhaps she spent the weekend visiting her Aunt and you are concerned upon her return, unless you are willing to pay her full pay around the clock at 24 hours per day, this is an unreasonable request. Your nanny is willing and able to come to work and should be allowed to do so. Asking her to stay home without pay and give up her personal life is not a reasonable request. It is for this reason that you would need to pay her for every single hour. You may have considered asking her to come and stay at your home for two solid weeks to keep tabs on things. This request is one that if you are considering asking, you will need to be prepared to pay her 24 hours a day for those 2 weeks as well. Just like when a Nanny works overnights, at this point you are paying for her time, her being away from her own home, and sacrificing her personal life. While you may request this, it should be a request that your nanny can turn down without risking her job if she is not comfortable with it.
In a healthy professional working relationship between parents and their nanny, communication should be a regular and normal part of the routine as is. During Covid-19 as you navigate these times together, keep these lines of communication open, while still being respectful of each other’s privacy. By having a meeting, and then agreeing to touch base on the topic once a month or if anything changes, you can best maintain knowing what page each other is on, and therefore be able to continue to make the healthiest and safest choices for yourselves and each other. Continue to be respectful of one another and work together as a team as much as possible, as this has truly been difficult for each and every person!
By: Anne-Marie Ferraro