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nanny pregnant before we hired her

(28 Posts)
mothered Wed 14-Nov-12 23:59:41

Help,
Our nanny has just revealed she is well into her second trimester. Was over 3 months pregnant when we hired her but did not disclose it. There were a few teething problems before this over trust etc. The problem is we have very demanding twins, 16 months, and she will be leaving them when they are about 19.5 months. She insists she wants to come back and will only take a few months off.
Questions I have are: *how are we meant to afford maternity pay and a temporary nanny rate (if indeed we are even liable) and
*how far into her last trimester can she work on health and safety grounds; right up until she drops?! If you are a nanny who has worked during pregnancy, what issues did you experience (I know everyone is different) and when did you stop work? Did you go back? I have very inflexible employers and work long hours. The reason we hired a nanny was so there were minimal days off due to childcare crises but this is already slipping as she has been off ill a few times.
*What should happens when our kids get ill with infectious bugs etc - we do not want to put her at risk obvs.
*And what will the impact be on our children of a temp after three months, or six months even if they then change back? What if the temp is more effective than the nanny and the kids have bonded with her? How vital a time is this age group for development etc? Friends have told me that I seem to be spending more time worrying about the nanny's rights than our kids'.
Advice appreciated to a pushover mum.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Sat 17-Nov-12 17:12:34

I don't think you can force her to start earlier, though if she is off sick with a pregnancy related illness in the 4 weeks before the EDD, the maternity leave automatically starts then, otherwise the latest start date is the EDD.

Has she any accrued holiday by then, if so, maybe encourage her to take it off before starting ML (what does your contract say about who chooses holiday dates?)

LittleBairn Sat 17-Nov-12 15:56:08

You would have to check it out legally but yes I think you could force her to start leave early if you did a health and safety assessment and found it in her best interest and your children's that she set an earlier date.
By the sounds of its probably because she needs the money, but that's not practical.

The kids I look after are 3,4 and 5 it's a nanny share and in 10 years of nannying the best job I ever had I am delighted that I will end my nanny career on such a high.
I'm not going back because I would have been redundant by about August as all the kids will be in full time school but would have done holidays.
We actually started to TTC hoping I would be pregnant by August I got pregnant straight away blush I was with them for about 18 months before I got preganant so they are genuinely delighted I'm moving onto the next stage in my life.

IMO it's easier having walkers/older kids because I can talk about it and they understand that they need to be more careful no jumping on me etc.
Plus it's a lot more physical with toddlers espically Twins, not matter how light the buggy is as they gets older and heavier it becomes really hard to manover the bugger even when not pregnant.
Your twins are only going to be getting more active meaning more running around after them as they go in opposite directions! I would point this out to her when speaking about leaving dates.

Just wanted to point out if you do hire a temp and it works out well then if your nanny decided not to return there is a high chance she would be happy to stay causing less disruption for your children. I know plenty of nannies who have found permant jobs this way.

mothered Sat 17-Nov-12 15:14:38

LittleBairn you sound incredibly sensible! Luckily our nanny does not have a long commute. Are you coming back with your baby when you finish maternity leave? How old are the kids you look after? And is it harder to look after non-walkers or just-walkers when you are pregnant? Hope all goes smoothly with the pregnancy and the job xx

mothered Sat 17-Nov-12 15:12:08

Can we insist that she starts mat leave earlier than her full nine months - she has said she wants to work right up until it is due! And do we also have a legal right to advertise for up to 12 months - what happens if she gives us notice that she does indeed want to return within three? Many thanks again for all your encouragement!

2plus1 Sat 17-Nov-12 13:09:46

Hi Mothered, our nanny originally decided that she would take 4 months mat leave and then return with her baby. I advised her that my three would be disadvantaged in activites etc, logistics would be difficult, would have to re-baby proof house, section baby from toddlers toys (small parts etc), have a dog to consider (which she suggested could go outside for the day!!) with a young baby about, so refused her wish to return with baby. She had no other childcare arranged so eventually, just prior to mat leave, decided not to return post baby. At least your nanny has considered alternative childcare but yes you may find her less flexible depending who is looking after her child ie if it is with family they may be flexible. Do you have approximate hours put into the contract that cover potential lateness on your part? As for length of mat leave I would advertise a mat leave temp post as 'up to a year'. That way the temp knows it is a cover post, but could become permanent which is what we did. If you allow a temp to work longer than 12 months it is no longer considered a temp contract.

The hours issue was one we came up against aswell. Our contract was three long days a week so we could not use nurseries, childminders locally from 0700 til 2030. Generally, hubs was home about 1830 and would let her go at 1900 but she was virtually out the door on the assumption that when he got home she could go. We would expect that she stays until told she could leave, there was never any handover on what the children had done all day. If she had to stay til 2000 or 2030 when I got home (hubs away) then she was really miffed and that was within contracted hours! Unfortunately, there are times when I cannot get out on time and this should be an expected part of sole charge nannying. It doesn't happen very often except if an emergency comes in. I imagine your nanny is tired and probably feeling pregnant by the end of the day.

LittleBairn Sat 17-Nov-12 12:59:43

As a nanny ( pregnant too) I would be very weary over the fact she intends to return so soon from ML. I've known a fair few nannies that have honestly thought their bosses would change their minds and let the baby come to work with them, one tactic is going back to work early, usually the mum boss feels guilty and allows them to bring the baby. So I would make it very clear, in writing, under no circumstance can the baby return with her.

I've also looked after toddler twins, it would be very hard work heavily pregnant she may be very unrealistic how long she can cope for, although have no choice due to finances.
Does she have a long commute? Mine is quite long hence why I'm planning on leaving around 32 weeks as I imagine I'll be so exhausted I wouldn't be able to fulfil my duties. I would insist she give you a leaving date.

mothered Sat 17-Nov-12 10:01:41

Wow thanks so much everyone! Especially twoplus one for that very comprehensive post. Did your nanny end up coming back after her mat leave? Ours says she only wants to take three months off which seems a tad too short! I was very gung ho before we had ours too but once they arrive, it is a different story. She has already said she doesn't want to bring baby back with her (three would just be too much at that age) so at least we don't have to cross that bridge. But she has been annoyed - quite rightly - when OH was half hour late a few times, more so than when she was not pregnant! But when either of us has to stay late at work, we can't really turn around to our bosses and say 'tough' so it will be a worry post-mat leave if she cannot afford us the same flexibility. We do pay her overtime obvs. Many thanks again for feedback!

2plus1 Fri 16-Nov-12 21:21:30

Hi Mothered. We were in a similar position to you early this year with our then new nanny. She was with us for just 5.5wks when she revealed she was 11wks pregnant. At that time we were about to dismiss her for poor standard of working, not fulfilling her contractual duties and breaching our privacy. However, despite the legitimate reasons for dismissal, we couldn't dismiss her as we would be wide open to a discrimination case against us. Sadly, the employment law is totally on her side regardless of your concerns for your children.

So given your OP I can probably answer some of your Qs.
1) how are we meant to afford maternity pay and a temporary nanny rate (if indeed we are even liable). You are not liable for any SMP payments to her as she would have to work for you for 6 months at the time she is 25wks pregnant. If you have written in her contract about maternity payments then you may be liable to that maternity pay but I assume you have not included an occupational mat pay scheme!!! She may be eligible for MA if she can fulfill the criteria on previous employment duration and salary. She will need you to sign her MATB1 form (given at 20 wks by MW) confirming that you will not be paying her SMP and she can claim MA from the jobcentre. During mat leave you will not pay her anything so you can pay a temp instead. (BTW if you had to pay SMP then you can claim 105% back from HMRC, so not out of pocket).
2)how far into her last trimester can she work on health and safety grounds; right up until she drops?! Firstly, you need to conduct a H&S review for a pregnant employee. This outlines percieved risks and suggestions for reducing them. On the gov website it will detail areas that may increase risk to the mother and baby ie lifting (no legal weight is stipulated but provide proper technique for lifting children or get them to climb into buggy etc), long hours (where pos reduce), lone working (maybe have a text system in place where you text and she needs to respond), lengthy standing (I am sure you have sofas for putting feet up during nap times), comfort breaks (she works in a home so just make sure she can have a snack if needed), night work (prob not an issue here). Our main issue was if the nanny decided she wouldn't lift our three (more multiples lol) in/out of bath, highchairs, buggy and expected to be put on full pay at home while I had to pay for a temp (non affordable option). I spoke to an employment lawyer and she had never heard of an employee spending her pregnancy at home on full pay and would be difficult for her to win a tribunal case based on our circumstance. We minimised the risks of lifting by just strip washing children on the floor rather than bathing, changed nappies on the mat on the sofa/floor, fed the children on their little stools at our coffee table if she wouldn't lift into highchairs and taught the children to climb into the buggy seats themselves. We had the lightest and easiest double buggy (nipper 360) so that wasn't an issue. Our nanny worked will 36 wks (her choice) and should prob have stopped at 32wks as our children were very limited in activities. She needs to put it in writing to you and needs to give either 6 or 8 wks notice of changes. BTW our nanny worked 3 days a week 0700-2030 so long days but no work on the other days. I arranged her days off for the antenatal appts as a couple of hours time off was impractical for us. If she is signed off work (GP or gynae) then it is SSP (claimed back from HMRC) or 36wk onwards would be MA.
3) *What should happens when our kids get ill with infectious bugs etc - we do not want to put her at risk obvs. One of our children had suspected chicken pox so we had to send the nanny home on full pay for 2 days until we confirmed it was another virus with similar non spotty rash. Nothing you can do about that one but children would prob prefer to be with mummy!
4) *And what will the impact be on our children of a temp after three months, or six months even if they then change back? Children are very resiliant and will be ok. We have another nanny now and the children rarely even mention the pregnant nanny at all.
5) What if the temp is more effective than the nanny and the kids have bonded with her? Make sure you advertise the temp job as maternity cover, very important. If they are good then maybe if your pregnant nanny doesn't return then you are all sorted! There are nannies that do maternity cover to fill in between jobs so you should get a few applicants. Legally, if your nanny is returning to work you have to let her return to her job. Basically, if she returns within 6months she is entitled to the exact same job Tand Cs. If it is up to a year then she can return to her job but the T and Cs may be changed if the business needs have changed. After 12 months mat leave then she has no rights. If she has no idea when she goes on ML then it is assumed she will take 12 months off. She must notify you in writing of her return date or if she is not returning. If she takes ML she will acrue annual leave and BH as usual which you will either have to tag onto the ML period or pay her the leave as wages. Obviously, if she does not intend to return getting that in writing before ML means no extra hol to pay and also you can employ someone else on a permanent contract.
Lastly, I would add that she may wish to return to work with her baby. Please consider what impact that baby may have on your home, your childrens activities, logistics of buggies, equipment etc. Do not agree to anything verbally or in writing unless you are sure. She would need to write to you requesting the return with baby or eg hours change and you have to consider if this meets with your nanny role. She would be requesting a change in T and Cs so you do not have to agree to this. If you decline put it in writing with your reasons ie 'hours requested do not meet with the needs of the business' or 'we do not feel that bringing your baby to work will suit the needs of the family and the existing role is for a sole-charge nanny' etc.
If I can be of any other help just let me know! PS good luck lol

Welovecouscous Thu 15-Nov-12 21:25:44

Calmly, whatever you think of the rights and wrongs of it, you need to appreciate that you can't sack a woman for being pg, probationary period or not. If you suggest people do that you are really landing them with a potential lawsuit!

calmlychaotic Thu 15-Nov-12 21:03:13

im sorry i didnt mean to upset or offend anyone. just reread it and it doesnt read well i apologise, i was meaning that OP says nanny was over 3 months pregannt wen she started and is now in 2nd trimester so she cant have been working for her long at all. Which is why i asked about probabtionary period as she has aleady had unrelated teething problems regarding trust, she doesnt seem happy with her anyway, its not like her posts read that she really likes this nanny and is happy for her being pregnant so seems awkward for both parties. I have come accross the situation before a couple of times women getting jobs then announcing pregnancies, it really messed up my friends small business so i take a negative view, perhaps unfairly in this case.

gruber Thu 15-Nov-12 13:58:27

In terms of ability to perform while pregnant, it depends. 16month twins are hard work- are they walking yet? If not, what will she do once she can't safely carry them?

I'm a nanny, currently 32 wks pregnant. Have not had any time off for antenatal appointments (scheduled them for my day off- I work 4 days), & only 1 sick day (caught d & v bug from my charges). however, I would say I've had an easy pregnancy and tiredness is just kicking in now at 32 weeks.

In terms of doing my job, I have a very long day too (sounds similar to your set-up) where I arrive 8am & leave 6.45. So far I am fine. My charges are 18months and 4.5 years. Thankfully the 18month old is a reliable walker so I haven't had to carry her for quite a while or do too much lifting.

In your situation I'd be most worried about lifting the twins up for nappy changes, into car seats, in/out of buggies etc. What does she do on a weekly basis? E.g. I am still out & about at toddler groups, playdates etc but long walks are off! We are doing more painting, playdough etc as I slow down. Is this feasible at your house? Is she a crafty nanny or does she have to do lots of physical chores? All this will affect you.

Worth having a frank & open chat with her sooner rather than later. She had to let you know about leave etc by 25 weeks. As others have said, I don't think she is entitled to SMP but can claim MA. The government reimburses you for this so you are not out of pocket.

We (my employers & I) planned for me to stop at 34 weeks- so far this feels about right. Long days are getting harder, especially running around after toddlers!

Karoleann Thu 15-Nov-12 11:30:35

I personally wouldn't worry at all. I wouldn't want a live in nanny (don't fancy the idea of having someone in my house), but if your OH is away a lot then it may work out better.
I would suggest that if discretionary only sick pay is her in contract that you stop paying any sick pay - that may lesson the sick days. You do need to provide time off for scans and antenatal appointments though.

With a temp nanny, just get someone on a six month contract, your nanny is unlikely to want to come back before then and even if she does the temp nanny will have a month notice clause anyway.

We went through four nannies in the space of a year last year,( one relationship breakdown, a higher paid nanny share for another, then we moved and last was just a summer nanny). My three adapted fine, the only problem we had was three of them had very similar names and the two eldest kept calling the last nanny, by the other nannies name.

LadyHarrietdeSpook Thu 15-Nov-12 09:57:05

I've had two employees concurrently (one live in) and there are lots of factors to consider. As I think Squiffy has too.

I mean, I think Squiffy's suggestion is a very sensible one and also a route that I am biased towards personally (au pair plus nursery) as something which makes sense for parents on lots of levels. (Although Squiffy seems much more relaxed than I am about having someone in the house all the time!)

However, one thing I would want to know in THIS situation is whether if you hire an au pair while the nanny is still there, then later turn around and say, sorry we need a live in or we're sticking with live in AP plus nursery so we're making you redundant (and I don't know what she'd qualify for, if anything, based on her length of service with you - maybe just holiday pay) whether there is any question of constructive dismissal. I don't know enough about the law, which is why I would be asking though.

At one point I tried to engage with the legal people at NannyTax on this situation - what would happen if I decided I wanted to let the nanny go because the job wasn't really enough for two people. It wasn't a situation they were very familiar with and I felt like the guy was sort of speaking off the top of his head.

I am not suggesting that this is the scenario Squiffy is proposing but it's something that in the fullness of time you might want to consider the implications of.

StillSquiffy Thu 15-Nov-12 08:35:49

calmlychaotic if OP followed your advice she would be looking at a very strong sex discrim claim which would cost her a fortune to get closure on. I would say more about my thoughts on what you have said, but then my post would be deleted.

OP: These things happen, and clearly you are in a difficult position, not least because of the trust concerns. However your nanny is rightly protected in employment law. I think that by far the least stressful way of dealing with this is to hire a reasonably experienced au pair alongside the nanny, ASAP. That way the AP can step in if the nanny does have time off sick, and can also offer flexibility at the start/end of the days. I know you may not want live-in, but I think this is the short term answer. Then you can see if there are any nursery spaces to cover you for when the nanny leaves. Then the AP will be able to do the wrap around care and take oyur kids to/from nursery. This way you get a short term fix that allows you the breathing space you need to see whether the nanny will return and when.

I know you prefer to not have live-in, but if you can open yourself to the possibility, it really will make your life much easier. Then, if you decide it's OK having someone live in (and it really is. Ask around, or start another post to pose the qn of what it's like) you can then replace the AP with a full time live-in nanny should your current nanny decide not to return.

In an ideal world we would not have to keep switching our kids between carers, but I have found that mine have been fine with good quality care and with switching occasionally, and they were only unhappy when one of the care settings turned out to be a bit rubbish. The situation you are in can't be undone, so best to make the most of it.

notnagging Thu 15-Nov-12 08:11:09

If she was not with you for 26 weeks before she got pregnant she is not entitled to the same maternity rights.

Welovecouscous Thu 15-Nov-12 07:58:55

Calmly dismissing someone for pg is automatically unfair dismissal regardless of length of service afaik.

Op if I were you I would get quick advice from a local solicitor. They would often give a free half hour first advice if you ask, as well. If you want to go down the redundancy route they can advise you on the least risky approach.

calmlychaotic Thu 15-Nov-12 07:38:06

Did you do a probationary period? Is she still in it? If it was me i would be looking to replace her and if a live in would suit you better you could make her redundant. Appreciate that's not the best for her but will she want to leave a new baby when she has a child friendly job. She says that now but might change her mind when the time comes so you struggle to cover her maternity leave and she then quits anyway. She wasn't honest about being pregnant so why will she be honest about her plans when its born. That sounds harsh i know.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Thu 15-Nov-12 01:20:19

I think it's quite unlikely you will need to sign her off, try not to worry too much about that.

Another helpful link, specifically about nannies:
www.nannytax.co.uk/parents/employment-guide/your-nannys-rights/statutory-maternity-pay

mothered Thu 15-Nov-12 00:31:07

other issue is that dh is going to have to travel more for work (we are pretty much co-parents rather than me doing all the post-work childcare) so will need someone even more flexible in future with paid overtime etc. Am worried about the ACAS rule in TheDoctrineofSnatch link which says if an employee's pregnancy becomes health and safety issue we have to remove the risks (the DTs?!) or offer full time, alternative paid employment or sign her off. Er, how does that work for a normal family?

fraktion Thu 15-Nov-12 00:24:15

Not really. Many nannies know that their employers will have to seek alternative child are when they are on ML. She could only sue if you went on to employ a nanny in the near future. You could always try a CM/nursery for the duration of her ML but that doesn't seem an option for you so you're looking at a temp nanny. You could equally try a live in for a fuxed period of time and re-evaluate.

mothered Thu 15-Nov-12 00:21:50

Very useful link TheDoctrineOfSnatch. She has said she only wants three or four months off. That's what I said too but you just don't know till they arrive! So can we still legally look for 12 months cover?

mothered Thu 15-Nov-12 00:19:44

Many thanks fraktion. She has said up front that she does not want to take baby to work (would not be against this in principle if we only had the one toddler for her to look after). She says pregnancy was unplanned etc. I have been nothing but happy for her in person, obvs! I know I would be pretty p*ssed if my bosses were as stressed when I became pregnant. Can't help thinking nannying a bit different though. I don't really want a zombie looking after them and I just remember how knackered I was in my deskbound job. We have been cooking more etc to lighten the burden on her but the hours are sadly non-negotiable.
Thanks for your tip on another form of childcare. Only prob is the hours we work mean we get back way too late for nurseries and CMs. We don't want a live-in. But perhaps we will have to consider it. If we suddenly announce change in childcare needs however, surely she will smell a rat and - possibly - sue?!
She has grown on us in some ways (ha - quite literally) but it may not be tenable long term.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Thu 15-Nov-12 00:16:37

X-posted with fraktion.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Thu 15-Nov-12 00:15:51

I think jack is broadly right - She has to be employed for 26 weeks before week 25 of her pregnancy:

www.acas.org.uk/index.aspx?articleid=1753

She may qualify for maternity allowance, (not paid by you)The default assumption is that she will have a year off and needs to give eight weeks notice of any intent to return sooner , so you could employ a new nanny for a year with, say, a four week notice period for the cover.

Do you know if she wants to bring the baby to work with her? If so, it is up to you if you wish to accept this proposed change and also would normally result in a lower hourly rate.

fraktion Thu 15-Nov-12 00:10:22

Well you're in a tricky situation.

She has a right to take may leave, she has a right to come back to work.

She doesn't have the right to SMP as she was pregmant when she started with you but can claim MA, she doesn't have the right to bring her baby along.

If you don't want her baby to come back with her you need to make that clear very soon as it will probably be a factor in her decision.

Unfortunately for you the law doesn't take into account how well your DTs will bond with the temp nanny and how this change will affect them and there is essentially nothing you can do about it. I would not be best pleased and unless a nanny is absolutely essential for you I would consider switching permanently to another form of childcare and making nanny redundant. It seems a nanny isn't as bombproof as you hoped so revising the arrangemt may not be that drastic.

She should be able to work up to about 36, potentially 37 weeks, she should have given you notice of her intention to take ML. If your DC are ill it would depend what it was. Some illnesses should be avoided by pregnant women. Others would be inconvenient for her but her GP/MW may not sign her off on occupational health grounds.

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