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WIBU to ask our nanny not to smoke before work?

(285 Posts)
RelaxMax Fri 11-Aug-17 09:08:57

We have a new nanny - going ok so far, but she obviously smokes just before starting work, and on her lunch break. She very obviously smells of smoke when she comes in, and there's a fainter smell all day.

I hate the smell of smoke but more importantly I've read that third hand smoke on clothing can be harmful to young children and we have a 6 month old.

So I'm not sure what to do - as an employer can I just tell her not to smoke on her working days because of the smell and risk? Or is it none of my business what she does outside working hours?

LizTrussedTurkey Fri 11-Aug-17 09:14:05

Treat it as a personal hygiene issue, you'd have to say something if she wasn't washing. She obviously needs her nicotine fix and she's not likely to stop just because you say so.

Say something like "X, we've noticed that when you come to work there's a very strong odour of cigarette smoke that lingers in the house all day. What you do outside work is your own business, but I don't want the house and children smelling of smoke - so please could you take extra care to stand upwind, wash your hands and face and put your jacket in a sealed bag when you come inside. I understand if you don't notice it, but as we don't smoke the smell is very strong to us, so anything you can do to reduce the odour clinging to our home would be appreciated."

If she's the right person, she'll be horrified and work hard to get rid of the smell. If she's defensive, you're unlikely to get anywhere.

FizzyGreenWater Fri 11-Aug-17 09:14:38

That's a really difficult one - because for me the instant answer is that I couldn't keep her on. I absolutely would not be able to accept someone caring for a baby who smelled of smoke. With friends/family it tends to be a contentious issue. With a nanny, it's an absolute NO for me!

No point in going on about levels of smoking/washing hands. She smells of it, the chemicals are on her. She is a smoker and therefore you can't expect (or trust) that she would stick by what to her may be completely unattainable expectations (eg don't smoke through the time you are working).

If she is having one during the day then she will stink of it for a short time while she is working. No no no.

Did you know she smoked?!

FizzyGreenWater Fri 11-Aug-17 09:14:54

Before you took her on I mean. Sorry posted too soon.

RiverTam Fri 11-Aug-17 09:16:52

I don't think I could have a nanny who smoked.

maddiemookins16mum Fri 11-Aug-17 09:17:57

I wouldn't be happy (and I'm a smoker and ex Nanny - but was an non smoker back then).

Questioningeverything Fri 11-Aug-17 09:18:28

Same as above- it'd be a no for me. In a nursery fine, you're not in my home making it smell. Nor picking up my tiny baby who is in your sole care. I'd have to terminate employment and specify when advertising a non-smoking nanny

Writerwannabe83 Fri 11-Aug-17 09:19:32

I wouldn't hire a Nanny who smoked, especially with a 6 month old.

It's a tough situation OP.....I suppose you could ask her not to smoke. Are you sure she's only doing it before work and during lunch and not popping out during the day too?

GinaFordCortina Fri 11-Aug-17 09:20:23

I think you should have specified beforehand. Surely if she's a smoker she's smokin during her breaks too?

EsmereldaMargaretNoteSpelling Fri 11-Aug-17 09:21:39

I'm another who wouldn't keep her on. It's a health issue for your children. I'd never knowingly employ a smoker for any job tbh.

Invisimamma Fri 11-Aug-17 09:21:47

Nursery staff aren't allowed to smoke in their uniforms, so could you ask her to change her clothes when she arrives?

And certainly no smoking on shift.

HarrietKettleWasHere Fri 11-Aug-17 09:22:09

Most nanny jobs I've gone for have explicitly said non-smokers only.

I did actually have a mild and short lived smoking habit once. (PA job with older children so no baby) I never ever smoked before or during working hours, only after work so obviously was showered and hair washed and clean clothes for the next morning. I'd have been mortified if I thought my employer could smell fags. In fact it was partly paranoia of that that made me give up.

That said if she's got an addiction and does smoke as part of her day it'll be tricky to give up. It's not very compatible with nannying/nursery work really though is it?

OVienna Fri 11-Aug-17 09:26:40

So - we hired a nanny who smoked who said she wouldn't do it during the day. She did. If you can smell it on her and she is doing it during her 'break' I would wonder if that is the only time. A neighbour saw ours smoking and pushing the push chair. It really didn't work for us.

I think rather then telling her she is bringing a bad smell into the house I might focus on the practical side of things and say - can't control what you do before and after work but reflecting on things, we need there to be no smoking whatsoever during the work day.

Bluntness100 Fri 11-Aug-17 09:27:18

I would have no issue with this, it's simoly an odour and she's not smoking near your child. I don't believe for one moment the smell of cigarettes on someone is harmful to others health. However I think you should have specified you wished a non smoker. Once you say to her she can't even smoke before work, and not on her breaks, then the position will be untenable, so I think you should find yourself a new nanny as that will be the ultimate outcome anyway.

I do think it is unreasonable as an employer to put these demands on someone in terms of what they do in their personal time. As such, find a non smoker and let her go.

OVienna Fri 11-Aug-17 09:31:06

Our nanny - who I admit may just have been cheeky - took the view that 'breaks' were basically fag breaks. She actually did this in front of my mum. Yours may be less forward and actually only do it away from the children. But it's hard to be sure. I think chances are things will slip.

Neutrogena Fri 11-Aug-17 09:32:26

'I've read that third hand smoke on clothing can be harmful to young children and we have a 6 month old.

Can you point me to where you read this?
I believe this was not proven at all as per

vasseve1 Fri 11-Aug-17 09:34:55

I agree PP I think it is more than likely that she would be smoking during the day as well. Perhaps this should have been established before you hired her.

nannynick Fri 11-Aug-17 09:36:11

Try the soft approach of mentioning it and requesting measures are put in place to reduce it - such as change of clothes.

It sound as though you are incompatible on this topic. Frequently review how things are going during probation and terminate if you can't find something that works for both of you.

Nanny having a break - lucky them, I only get that now that the children are much older. When babies it was full on all day, until baby had a nap!

ImCatbug Fri 11-Aug-17 09:36:14

I'm a nanny and a smoker and I don't think this is acceptable. If I ever smoke before work I do it before I have a shower and get dressed so there is no chance I smell of smoke, and I never smoke while wearing clothes I will wear at work (including coats and scarves) because I don't want the smell lingering. I might have a cigarette when I finish work, on my way home, but never while I'm working.
Can you ask her that if she does smoke before/during work that she wears a jacket that covers her and then take it off before entering the house, and maybe put it in a bag? And then wash hands/spray face and hair with deodorant or something to remove the smoke smell?

AwaywiththePixies27 Fri 11-Aug-17 09:37:53

Tricky one. DD and I are both asthmatics so it'd be a major problem to us. I wouldn't be too happy about someone caring for my six month old smelling of it too.

It sounds like she's having a quick cigarette before starting work hence why she's stinking smelling of it when she comes in.

What LizTrussedTurkey suggested to say is good.

pictish Fri 11-Aug-17 09:39:21


IfNot Fri 11-Aug-17 09:40:07

You can't tell her what to do in her own time! Christ. My ex childminder smokes. She said she never did it in front of the children. She might have on occasion, I don't know. So what. She was a brilliant childminder. The woman had a fag, she didn't turn up with a crack pipe!
Sometimes I wonder how people cope with real life in all its imperfections..

FizzyGreenWater Fri 11-Aug-17 09:44:21

You will be in the probation period, just call a halt now.

Can totally understand those saying it's only the odd cigarette fgs, but it is a health hazard and to be honest for me the main thing would be that the smell is just foul. Utterly dirty. And yes you will still smell it on her even if she follows all protocols. It's just something I wouldn't want around my baby, full stop - it would turn my stomach.

Start over and specify a non-smoker.

Serialweightwatcher Fri 11-Aug-17 09:44:34

*You can't tell her what to do in her own time! Christ. My ex childminder smokes. She said she never did it in front of the children. She might have on occasion, I don't know. So what. She was a brilliant childminder. The woman had a fag, she didn't turn up with a crack pipe!
Sometimes I wonder how people cope with real life in all its imperfections..*


ChardonnaysPrettySister Fri 11-Aug-17 09:47:47

I wouldn't even hire a nanny who smokes.

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