For some nannies, especially those newer to the field, it can be a little tough to bring up money with an employer. Not just salary, either, but the occasional amounts you spend in the course of doing your job that you feel should be covered by your employer. What do they owe you, after all? What do they have to cover, and what are you expected to pay for out of your own pocket? What’s the best way to handle these issues when they come up? If you’re a nanny, you should talk with your employer about their coverage in these areas:
Petty Cash for Outings
This is basically anything you do out and about with the kids in your care as part of your job. For instance, if you take the children to a park or museum and have to pay for things like parking, admission and food, then those ancillary costs should be reimbursed because they’re part of the assigned childcare. A great way to have them cover these petty cash needs without worrying about actual physical cash is to rely on a prepaid debit card. (Visa, MasterCard and American Express all sell these.) This lets employers reload the card with funds as needed while also keeping precise track of how much is on the card at a given time. Talk to your employer early on, or even during the interview process, about how they’d like to proceed.
Driving yourself to and from the home you work in is a normal living expense that’s up to you to cover, but if you use your car to execute specific nanny-related duties — errands, market runs, picking up and transporting the kids, etc. — then you should be reimbursed for your mileage. The best way to establish a fair mileage rate is to use the guide set forth by the IRS. (Here’s a PDF of their 2013 guidelines.) Their standard mileage rate is 56.5 cents per mile in 2013, and it usually increases every year to keep up with living costs. You can use an app like TripLog to keep an accurate count of your mileage, too, so you and your employer are always on the same page.
Work Expenses When Traveling
This is related to the first item on the list. Any traveling you do for your work as a nanny — accompanying the family on trips or vacations, meals out while on the clock, etc. — should be covered by your employer. Many families take nannies with them on vacations to help them enjoy their time away from home, and if that happens to you, your employer should pick up travel and lodging costs. If they arrange for you to have nights off, that’s fine. You’ll be on your own then. But if you’re away from the home and still performing job duties, you need to be paid for them.
Sometimes you might wind up purchasing things for the family when you’re running errands. This would include household items, food or other items that the family’s asked you to pick up even though they don’t have anything to do with your duties. You need to be reimbursed for these items ASAP. Don’t just cover them with your petty cash and forget about them. Many families will volunteer to give you money for these things up front, but if they don’t, politely (but clearly) ask them what their method of payment or reimbursement will be. Remember: you’re an employee. It’s your job to care for the kids, not act as a sometimes family member.
Although your hourly rate will vary by employer, you should know that live-out nannies and live-in nannies in some states are entitled to overtime. Overtime is 1.5 times your base hourly wage rate for all hours worked over 40 in a 7-day workweek, and though you might not think much of it — maybe an hour or two here or there just feels normal, like part of the job — you’re entitled to every cent, and your employer needs to cover that expense. This is another good topic to bring up early on, preferably during the interview process, to make sure everyone understands the set-up and so no one will feel inappropriately used. It’s also important to note that all nannies must be paid at least minimum wage for every hour worked, so when negotiating your salary be sure that your base hourly wage rate reflects at least minimum wage.