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Strawpole - would value all opinions!

(47 Posts)
Bellybee Sun 19-Dec-10 13:22:41

Hello. Is anyone able to advise whether a nanny would be expected to charge back as expenses any teas, drinks lunches etc she has when out and about with the children? I don't want to appear stingy, but this is my third nanny and neither of the previous 2 would have dreamed to assume that I would be paying for this stuff so it has taken me a little bit by surprise. I have also been charged occasionally for groceries which I just know were for my nanny (to eat in the house) and not my kids. We never actually agreed anything to do with eating verbally or in the contract, and I was surprised that she was freely cooking for herself here - I didn't mind at all, but was surprised as my 2 previous nannies always brought their own food so I thought this was the norm. I have felt a bit put out at being expensed for food out because a)she earns a lot (£12.50 per hour) and b)millions of people across the country work and buy their own lunch every day. Or am I being a real meanie and is she entitled to expect and assume these things? Thanks for your thoughts!

nbee84 Sun 19-Dec-10 13:32:03

Generally... A nanny gets lunch provided. It is good to eat the same as the children - sets a good example. She doesn't get a lunch break so cannot pop out to get a sandwich. If eating out with the children she should expect to eat to and for you to paya and the same for a cup of coffee when out with the children.

However... She should eat what you have in your house and should not be shopping for herself - unless you have run out of staples like bread, milk, ham etc. She should be mindful of what she is eating - ie not steak for lunch or a 3 course meal when out.

nannynick Sun 19-Dec-10 16:27:05

I feel it is unusual for a nanny to bring their own food to work. Due to the nature of the job, the nanny is usually involved in cooking meals for the children, so it makes sense to cook additional quantity so they can eat with the children.

Working for longer than 6 hours a day, an employee is entitled to a break of 20 minutes (see here). However nannies can't really have a break, as they can't leave children unattended. So there is a bit of give-and-take involved with regard to rest breaks, such as nanny having quieter moments during the day - such as to drink a cup of tea.

All my nanny employers and one employer in a different line of work, have provided tea/coffee for free. While it may be considered a perk, it's things like that which keep employees happy. If employees start providing their own, then they argue over whose is whose - not a problem in nannying, as you only usually have one nanny... but in other work environments it does become an issue, similarly whose going to wash up the mugs, whose stunk the staff room out with their microwave meal!

Nannying is different to working in a larger organisation, it's much more of a personal service. That I feel means it should come with some personal perks, as a way of compensating for the more negative sides of the job - such as long hours without a break, stinky nappies, vomiting children.

As a nanny I would not be happy if my employer didn't provide tea/coffee/lunch. All meals whilst on duty I feel is pretty normal - I occasionally have some toast for 2nd breakfast (having had breakfast at home at the crack of dawn). Same goes for afternoon tea - sometimes I will have some, sometimes I won't. Lunch however is always something I have and it is generally the same as I am trying to get the children to eat.

I get a weekly kitty for misc expenses. That I use for various things like paying for toddler groups, admission charges for museums/activity centres, swimming (I deduct a contribution towards the monthly membership I pay for the child), plus odds and ends - be they paper/pens or food related.

I deliberately do not track the expenditure as I know that if I add up all the things I pay for over the week, then it will exceed the budget. That's how I work though... some weeks we can spend a lot, others we can spend little. Keeping the kitty the same each week, with luck evens out over the year.

If we go swimming, I mentally deduct the contribution to the monthly membership. We then often have something to eat afterwards... I pay for that. I may make a mental note of how much the child's meal cost but don't tend to add on what I had.

Why don't I add that meal? Well, we could have gone home and had something. I choose to have it out. It's like when on outings... you can take a flask and sandwiches, or buy things out... or more often we tend to do combination of both - coffee much nicer if made just before consuming, rather than in a flask.

So it's all about give-and-take I feel. You as the employer need to be offering a desirable work environment, which includes food/drink whilst on the premises. Once off the premises it's more difficult, as could come home for lunch then back out again (but that would mean mileage claim goes up hugely).

Getting a bit long... not sure this answers your question or not. Does it help?

Blondeshavemorefun Sun 19-Dec-10 18:52:59

yes i charge everything i do/eat/use to my employers during working hours

i have written in my contract that i can have 3 meals a day and snacks and drinks

seen too many friends not allowed to have breakie/meals on a 12hr day hmm

office workers etc have a lunch break, nannys dont,so this is why i feel that the parents should provide the food

i generally eat what the kids do and write on list what i fancy (within reason)

we do have meals out for special occasions but again generally i will take a picnic/sandwich for meals out

often have friends over with dc same age for lunch, again mb provides, and we often eat out at friends, so swings and roundabout

things like sandwich/jacket/soup/pasta

IAmReallyFabNow Sun 19-Dec-10 18:55:30

When I was a nanny the parents would provide lunch but if I was out with the children and fancied a drink I would pay for it.

HowsTheSerenity Sun 19-Dec-10 19:12:25

I charge for everything. Well not my secret doughnuts while grocery shopping, but everything else. If I take the kids out to eat then my boss pays.

Like everyone else said, I work long days with little to no breaks, no office parties, christmas parties, strikes, you work when you are sickm your charges are sick etc...

I think providing snacks is very little in comparison.

lifeinagoldfishbowl Sun 19-Dec-10 19:15:04

I am a nanny

* Is anyone able to advise whether a nanny would be expected to charge back as expenses any teas, drinks lunches etc she has when out and about with the children?.

If out and about with the children we might stop of at a coffee shop and have a cup of tea/juice and a piece of cake. Occassionally I will take dc's out for tea if I know I am working a late ie pizza hut/harvester (as I think it is good for them to learn how to behave in a restaurant and how a restaurant works)or if we're out at the zoo for the day we may grab a lunch from their canteen. Sometimes we don't and we eat packed lunches. I am mindfull of what I spend and how much it costs my boss - however like NannyNick I get a flat rate kitty each week and some weeks we can spend a minimum of £3 all week going to several local activities so the next week we might splash out and have dinner out and about. The zoo doesn't cost us anything so again having a drink or lunch there is our only expenditure. My boss wants life to be like that of a child with a sahm so shopping trips with tea and cake/meals out so that dc's learn and experience new things.

* I have also been charged occasionally for groceries which I just know were for my nanny (to eat in the house) and not my kids.

If I am having a playdate or going to someone elses for a playdate I might pick up some bits flapjacks/fruit/cake etc or if theres a party at the toddler group; I pay out of the kitty or tell my boss to buy it. If I don't fancy what's in the fridge for lunch and buy something else then I pay myself. However if the groceries are running low or there's not a certain thing ie carrots or cheese that I need to cook lunches for me and dc's then I will buy and charge my boss.

*I was surprised that she was freely cooking for herself here.

I will freely cook at work whether my boss is there or not - I will grab myself a snack or a bowl of ice-cream on a hot summers afternoon, or make myself a sausage sandwich with a cup of tea in the morning whilst dc is at nursery. My bosses expect me to use the house like my own - always have even in liveout/live in jobs. In my last job my boss would come home at lunch and I would have dc in bed napping and would be cooking myself for lunch - sometimes she made me something too!

EColi Sun 19-Dec-10 19:40:13

Our nannies had their meals and snacks provided by us whether inside the house or out. I would say it's a standard thing to offer.

thebody Sun 19-Dec-10 20:17:02

not a nanny so not really qualified to answer but for what its worth as a cm if i choose to take the children to eat out then I pay for that...

actualy be interested to know what other cms do??

StarExpat Sun 19-Dec-10 22:17:36

Not a nanny but why don't you just give a weekly kitty and say she is welcome to all food in the house and can use the kitty for outings and food tea coffee as necessary but once it's gone it's gone and if it goes early in the week maybe that means bringing packed lunch for all on outings or eating and drinking at home?

Thebody I hope my cm would tell me if she did that as I wouldnt feel right about her paying for DS to have a meal out.

minderjinx Mon 20-Dec-10 10:42:46

Hello Thebody, Starexpat,

I sometimes take may "minded" children out for a snack or a meal too. I don't charge parents for that (or any other extras). It's more often than not when we're out for the day somewhere and it's nicer to have something warm than a picnic, and as you say, also helps to reach the children how to behave in public. We often get compliments on how good they are and that makes my day!

As a childminder, the question of charging for any extras can be a difficult issue as some parents are working with a much tighter budget than others. Also, for whatever reason, what would I do if one set of parents agreed to an extra expense and the other(s) couldn't or wouldn't pay? It wouldn't feel right doing it anyway but charging one and not another, but the alternative would mean all the children missed out. So, I avoid the issue by not charging extras. I guess you generally avoid those sorts of dilemma if you are working as a nanny for a single family.

GoldFrakkincenseAndMyrrh Mon 20-Dec-10 10:57:32

Typically I've charged everything to my bosses (except sneaky treats!) but I'd never abuse that or take the piss. If we were out I wouldn't head for the nearest Michelin starred restaurant thinking 'oh my boss will pay' - it's more likely to be from the cafe at soft play where they don't let you bring food in or a toasted sandwich.

Similarly nannies tend to eat what the children eat, which can mean that the children end up eating what the nanny fancies so yeah, I'd cook pretty freely but most of the time I look at the cupboards and go from there. If it's something really basic like bread, milk or veg I'll pick some up using the kitty money.

How much your nanny is paid isn't really relevant. If you provide a kitty you put guidelines in place for it's use, if you haven't then your nanny is doing what most would.

looneytune Mon 20-Dec-10 11:00:12

Another CM who pays for all these extra meals as it's my choice. But yes, I'd expect a kitty for a nanny, seems like the norm to me and CMs are SE so different to a nanny

veryoldmother Mon 20-Dec-10 11:08:06

I make it clear to any nanny I emplot that within reason (and by that I meane not foie gras etc!) I will pay for anything consumed on duty. In practice she eats with the children at lunchtime and its just the odd coffee or Pizza Express with the children as a treat. but I would expect to pay.

weathershore Mon 20-Dec-10 11:51:38

As a nanny i work an 11 to 12 hour day i do not have the time to go out to lunch and buy something. One of my charges has serious food allergies its just so much easier for eveyone to eat the same thing. Its part of my job to sit at the table and eat with the childen if we do go out then i do charge but then because of the allergies eating out is very rare indeed

Laquitar Mon 20-Dec-10 14:32:51

Yes kitty for going out and we provide meals. I have a food shopping list on the cupboard and she is free to add things for dcs or herself.
When i was nanny myself all my employers did the same.

Karoleann Mon 20-Dec-10 14:40:02

My nanny just helps herself to food from the fridge for lunch and if she's babysitting I buy something (like a pizza for her tea). We've a kitty for expenses but I wouldn't be happy with her spending the kitty money on drinks or food for herself and I would expect her to ask before buying any shopping.

MoonUnitAlpha Mon 20-Dec-10 17:51:18

I'm a nanny amd have always had lunch and drinks provided on duty. If I was at a soft play centre etc with the children at lucnh time and bought food, I would expect the kitty/expenses to cover mine too.

However, you are within your rights to tell the nanny that she and the children should only eat at home or take food with them.

nannynick Mon 20-Dec-10 19:05:37

It's all about compromise isn't it?

If I charged everything I and the children had whilst out, then I think my boss might stop us going out. The cost just piles up so quickly.

Lets say we go swimming... we then have a snack afterwards, child's current favourite is garlic bread with cucumber and carrot sticks, baked beans and sometimes a sausage. Add on a coffee for me and a hot chocolate or apple juice for him and the cost in total can be easily £11. Swimming if charged per visit is £6 (though I pay for a £15 monthly pass and claim it back via the kitty). So the swimming trip, before adding on mileage would be £17. Mileage could easily add on another £8... it's at least a 20 mile round trip.

While a nanny may like their employer to cover all costs, many parents are not in a position to do that. Parents who could not afford it would simply say that the nanny couldn't take the children out. How many nannies (or children) like being stuck at home all day, 5 days a week?

Maybe it's just the way I do things but I feel there needs to be a compromise. Parents cover some of the cost, nanny covers the rest. By having a fixed weekly kitty amount, in low expenditure weeks nanny gets the remaining money from the kitty, to help cover the things they have paid out for, or thing that will be paid out for later on.

Working parents don't always have large disposable incomes, they may be scraping by trying to work whilst having their children cared for by a nanny. Nannies I feel need to take that into account. If the cost of having a nanny becomes non-viable for the parents, then the nanny is out of work.

Personally I would prefer to have my job, than to charge my employer for everything I spent money on during my working week. But hey, that's just me. I'm a bit odd grin

Bellybee Mon 20-Dec-10 19:14:16

Hi everyone and thanks for your feedback (a lot of nanny feedback but not many mums!) Just in case I wasn't clear, I have no problems with my nanny eating at home, which seems to have been the main point discussed here. Many of you seem to be very "swings and roundabouts" about money, which I like and relate to, but my nanny is extremely precise - eg a petrol bill calculated on mileage etc will come back to me @ £0.41. No question of rounding it down, or even not charging me (I am more than happy to pay, but if I were a nanny I would feel a bit ridiculous charging back £0.41 to my boss with no receipt). Especially as I can actually be very generous when I feel like it. The problem is, I don't really feel like it when the other party is counting the pennies so precisely. And many of you have mentioned that you would pay for own drinks or lunch if you choose to eat out. Again, I would normally have offered, but am digging my heels in a bit because there was an assumption (no prior agreement) that I would pay. With my last nanies I used to constantly ask them if they were claiming enough expenses. With current nanny, I don't feel quite so inclined to be generous with the Xmas bonus. Sorry, that all sounds a bit bah humbug doesn't it...

MoonUnitAlpha Mon 20-Dec-10 19:19:22

You should have made these things clear in the contract really.

Personally, I prefer to keep the money side of the relationship as professional as possible, so I would claim exactly and always put the right change back in the kitty, note exactly what I spent etc.

Bellybee Mon 20-Dec-10 19:25:06

Yes Moonunit Alpha you are quite right, we should have - you live and learn! As it never came up before, it wasn't an issue I was expecting to face now...however I didn't mention that she is a very sweet person and really lovely with the children. Its probably a fundamental difference in mentality about money. I am more "swings and roundabouts" but this would always end up being in the nanny's favour. As it now stands, the money side is extremely professional and precise, with not a penny more and not a penny less.

lobsters Mon 20-Dec-10 19:25:35

I'm a MB. Our nanny eats lunch here with food we provide (although I did draw the line at the requests for Earl Grey tea, when we already had PG Tips, decaf tea, green tea, various fruit teas, and a nesspresso machine for coffee). We also buy her Special K for breakfast, according to her contract we only provide lunch, but it doesn't seem to cost much to keep her happy. TBH so far she has not wanted to eat out, I wouldn't mind her having the odd Costa or ice cream at the animal park, although if it was too often I'd probably say something

GoldFrakkincenseAndMyrrh Mon 20-Dec-10 19:26:14

I don't think it sounds bah humbug. FWIW I will expect my nanny to itemise expenditure but equally I will expect to pay for them to eat out/have a coffee on me. Not that there's much to do here so I won't be begrudging the occasional coffee!

If she's billing you for petrol she should be itemising her mileage.

I think it's just a case of miscommunication here. As you've seen most bosses don't have a problem with what she's doing so it's not like she's being out of line - and we'd be the first to recognise that. Maybe she was brought up to be careful with money which is why she itemises everything so carefully?

Bellybee Mon 20-Dec-10 19:33:16

Yes - I do see that its all perfectly in order. It was just the assumption that I didn't like, although it sounds like it was a not unreasonable assumption. Although a fair few nannies/ childminders here have said they would pay for own consumption when out. Tough situation - I suppose she will see that we live in a very nice house and think we have lots of money. Truth is, she earns far more than I do, so not sure why I need to buy teas and coffees on top of everything else when she can afford it better than I!!!

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