How to Keep Your Nanny (and You) Holiday Happy

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For many new parents the holidays are a time of both excitement and anxiety.  Holiday plans present a season of “firsts” which includes plenty of unique challenges for the newly expanded family.  If you’re like most people, you’ll be taking some time off around the holidays . . . but what about your nanny?  Hopefully  you and your nanny negotiated paid holidays and other time off  at hiring, and you have a signed contract that outlines your agreement.  If not, don’t panic—but do find time to sit down with your nanny today  and get on the same page about scheduling and expectations.  Although nannies’ terms of employment vary greatly, here are some FAQs on the subject of holidays to think about:

Do I have to pay my nanny for holidays?

The short answer here is “yes.”  If your nanny’s schedule coincides with a major national holiday (New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas) then she should have that day off and it should be paid.  If you have to work on that holiday then it’s best to discuss your needs with your nanny well in advance of the holiday, and be prepared for her not to be available .  If she does agree to work on a national holiday, some employers choose to pay overtime (i.e. time and a half).   Leave on all other holidays (MLK Day, President’s Day, various religious holidays, etc.) is at the discretion of you, the employer.  Again, the key here is to make sure you’ve outlined in advance which holidays will be granted so there are no surprises (or disappointments) on either side-don’t assume that just because you don’t celebrate a certain holiday she doesn’t, either.

Do I have to pay my nanny when I go on vacation?

Again, the short answer here is “yes.”  The key here, though, is in the contract.  Some families make it a requirement that the nanny take her vacation at the same time as the family so as to minimize costs.  If you know you always take one week off in December, for example, then you can require your nanny also take this week as of one her paid vacation weeks.   But if you haven’t set this up as an expectation,  don’t be surprised if your nanny’s vacation schedule doesn’t always match up with yours—and realize you’ll pay her salary regardless of which one of you takes vacation.

Do I have to give my nanny a bonus or a present?

A holiday bonus and/or gift is not required, but it does go a long way toward keeping your nanny happy.  Most families do give their nanny a bonus and/or gift at Christmas to acknowledge the amazing job she does, so if you’re feeling like your nanny doesn’t deserve a bonus, then maybe it’s time to consider making a change.  If you’re curious about what or how much to give, ask around, but note that bonuses vary greatly depending on the amount of hours worked and the circumstances of the employer.  The important thing is to make sure your nanny knows how much she is valued in whatever way feels right.  A happy nanny = a happy family.

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