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how do we handle this? Potential nanny dishonesty

(88 Posts)
HalfPastSeven Sat 16-Jul-11 15:54:37

Our nanny has been with us for years. She is great with the children and generally lovely. However, it looks like she may have been using "expenses" money for herself. Because she has been with us so long, we stopped checking receipts etc ages ago.

She has a card for one of our bank accounts which does not have loads of money in it, but has more than she needs for expenses (some other bills get paid out of that account). She is supposed to use that for expenses (e.g. when she buys food or takes the DC for trips etc)

Looking at the last couple of bank statements, it looks like she has been spending loads and I just can't understand what it is going on.

Obviously if she has been dishonest we wil have to let her go instantly and wont be abel to give her a reference. I feel quite sick about the whole thing.

What do you think is the best way to handle this - I dont want to accuse her of theft straight out just in case it is genuine expenses (although I find it hard to see that it could be) or if there has been a fraud on the account (although it is mainly local cash withdrawals ).

I do not use the account except for emergencies and nanny has DH's card.

cakeoholic Sat 16-Jul-11 16:08:54

If you have the bank statements can't you check and see where she is spending the money? I think you have to be sure if you can be before you speak to her.

How many children does she look after and what ages? What does she use the card for? I'm a nanny and have spent at least £200 in the last 2 weeks looking after 3 kids in the school hols and I get petrol money on top of that too so is it possible the amount could have all been spent on genuine things even if it seems a lot at first?

If you keep her on I would say you are not using the account for anything else and can you back to getting receipts or keeping a note of what money is spent so you can keep on top of it.

RandomMess Sat 16-Jul-11 16:13:39

Can you explain that with rising costs you need to tighten your belts and could she start keeping all the receipts again as you want to have a look at where all the cash is going and see where savings could be made.

Alternatively have a problem with the account/card and cancel the card and and start giving her weekly cash which by default will mean it is easier for you to ask what they have done that week.

I have to say coffee whilst out and about is £3+ each time, so buying drinks is £10 a go, plus cakes another £10...............it's easier to spend a lot whilst out and about if it's not actually your money IYSWIM

alarkaspree Sat 16-Jul-11 16:23:02

Could you maybe look back at what she's been doing with the children recently and see if you can work out what might account for a particularly high spend, e.g. trips out?

If you want to get to the bottom of the recent expenditure you're going to have to talk to her. It won't be comfortable but you don't have to accuse her of theft, you can just say there seems to be a lot of money going out of the account recently, does she remember making all those withdrawals, and can she give you an idea of what she's spent them on.

If you just want to avoid this issue in future then you can just ask her to start keeping receipts again. But it sounds from your OP as if you want some reassurance about the past as well.

FlubbaBubba Sat 16-Jul-11 16:25:52

I wouldn't pussyfoot around if you're sure it's her who's been spending. I would come right out and ask her to look at the bank statements with you and say "can you help clarify a few of these expenditures with me please" (or if you're feeling nicer, just say "I'm sure there's been a mistake because XYZ has been spent" and see what her answer is.

nannynick Sat 16-Jul-11 17:17:25

Why is the card being used for cash withdrawals - the whole point of using the card I would have thought is that it generates a trail of places it is used.

You have no evidence with with you can accuse your nanny of theft as you have no way of proving that the money was withdrawn by her or what it was spent on. The expenditures could be legitimate, the account could have been compromised.

What procedures do you currently have in place for tracking what your nanny does during the day - such as are there mileage records, does your nanny take photos whilst on outings? If like my boss you are quite easy going it can be a great thing as your nanny and your children can do whatever takes their fancy at that moment in time. However you do need a nanny who is concious of what is being spent, how much things are costing - thus a nanny who will hunt out the lower cost options, get the bargains, collect the vouchers, using annual passes, that sort of thing.

Consider how to move forwards... I would suggest:

1. You tell the nanny that there seems to be a high spend on the card and so that you and the bank are able to establish if the account is compromised, that you need your nanny to keep a tighter control of spending on the account - thus could they not use the card for cash withdrawals but that they can use the card (I assume it is a debit card of some kind) for paying for things directly. That way you also get on the statement a list of places the card is used.

2. If getting cash is unavoidable, then you give your nanny some cash, say £10 or £20 and ask them to keep a log (receipts if possible) of what it is spent on.

3. You develop some method that helps you know what your nanny does roughly during the week, such as logging travel journeys.

BecauseImWorthIt Sat 16-Jul-11 17:23:30

Say nothing to her until you're absolutely sure that she has been over-spending. You need to go through all the bank statements to work out what the money has been going on.

I would also (once you've gone through them to have a look) ask her to go through each statement and write against it what it was for. This will then give you the basis for a conversation about how much she's being spending and, more importantly, how much you want to spend in the future.

If she's been spending it on herself, she will have to come clean - and then you can decide what to do.

LaurieFairyCake Sat 16-Jul-11 17:30:57

I agree that you could say you realise stuff has gone up recently and you'd like her to work to a budget and keep receipts from now on - I wouldn't assume she was stealing yet, just that she has become slack about spending (easy to do if it's not your money grin).

It's madly expensive now to go out and about - I just took dd to the cinema (a 2d film, not 3d) and it was £15, plus £6 for cinema 'boxes' (drink/popcorn/smarties) the we stopped for tea and cake £14 - so £35 for an afternoon out with one child.

Oligo Sat 16-Jul-11 17:46:58

I once took two children to London for 7 days and we spent £1000 (not including accommodation) on eating out, taxis, sight seeing- aquarium, london eye, river duck thing, swimming, fairs, zoo, souveniers all sorts. And that was with me not being blind to my spending and sometimes having sandwiches and having lots of free playground time (albeit with ice lollies).

This type of spend (and activity level) was more than usual for the parents and they could afford it (and probably didn't notice so much when they spent it themselves) but it was unusual for me and they questioned why it was so high. But when they looked at the expenses it was other peoples (silly London) prices not my silly spending that caused it. The purpose of the trip was they wanted their children to experience all those things so spending a lot was very easily done.

I would never spend more than £20/week now with the family I work for, as you get to their budgets. Maybe nanny thinks if you haven't said anything you think it is reasonable to creep it up over time but surprised that she doesn't mention what they do.

fraktious Sat 16-Jul-11 18:14:29

I agree it's very easy to spend money with children, especially if you aren't keeping track (which is why cards are quote dangerous!) and over time it's also easy to become lax.

Saying you need to start budgeting a bit better is a good intro and then ask her to justify amounts on the statements so you can a) work out a revised level of expenditure to give her and b) see whether the expenses are in line with expectations. If she can't justify the expenses then you can start worrying but if she can then you'll be able to identify what's unnecessary.

I think this will need to be handled carefully and it may well be worth revisiting your contract to see what it says about dismissal.

create Sat 16-Jul-11 18:45:50

"I do not use the account except for emergencies and nanny has DH's card."

Really, you've given her your Dh's card and PIN No? First of all you need to stop that if there has been a fraud (by a another 3rd party) you wouldn't have a leg to stand on, as you have knowingly given access to someone who isn't the cardholder.

That's how you could put a stop to it actually - tell her you've been advised you shouldn't have given her the card and that you need to make other arrangements.

When you say spending is high, how high? When my DC were small it was easy to pass a day ion the holidays (esp if good weather) spending hardly anything, as they get older I seem to always have my hand in my pocket.

HalfPastSeven Sat 16-Jul-11 19:29:04

It is nearly all cash withdrawals at cashpoints in the area and a couple near where she lives. 2 kids who are school age and most of the time that the statements cover the kids have been at school.
we are talking more than one cash withdrawal of 100 in a week over several weeks. I can think of one large thing she would have paid for in that time. I do the main shop, she will do the odd top up.
Re fraud, if she has the card in her possession is there anyway someone else could fraudulently use it for cash withdrawals? Don't you need the actual card for cash withdrawals?

FlubbaBubba Sat 16-Jul-11 19:35:04

It def. sounds dodgy to me. sad

create Sat 16-Jul-11 19:42:12

Not necessarily HalfPast, cards can sometimes be cloned.

nannynick Sat 16-Jul-11 19:45:38

Makes sense that it would be used near where she lives or in local area of your home. Also makes sense that transactions are when children are at school as it is probably easier doing it without the children present and may have fitted with something else she was doing at the time.

Thing is, why use it at all for cash withdrawals? A lot of things these days can be paid for with a debit card.

Card could be cloned and used anywhere. Could be used locally to where the card is cloned so that it's harder to detect it being a clone card.

£100 per week for several weeks does sound a bit much to be going through, especially given it's been school term time not school holidays.

How about you tell her that there seems to be many transactions occurring on the card and thus you are no longer letting her have the card, so then all transactions that appear you know are not being made by anyone known to you. Then just give her cash as and when needed.

EldonAve Sat 16-Jul-11 19:47:52

Cancel the card and then sit down with her and the statements and ask what she spent the money on

Catsu Sat 16-Jul-11 20:02:09

It should be very easy to bring this up without being accusing towards your nanny, just make sure you go in with the 'account possibly been compromised' angle
Speak to her asap and tell her that you've discovered several hundered pound cash withdrawals in one week on the latest bank statements which doesnt seem right to you. You and DH are concerned that the card has been cloned and there is something going on that you may need to report to the bank. This is not necessarily anyones fault, many people have their cards cloned in seemingly innocent situations (like handing a card over in a restaurant and having it out of sight for a moment)
Ask the nanny to please go through the bank statement with you and check off which withdrawals she made herself so you can see what potentially fraudulent ones remain.
IF she says it wasnt her that made all the withdrawals, then you should go ahead and report to the bank/police as your card could have been cloned (hopefully the idea that you are reporting to police will prevent the nanny from lying to you if the money was taken by her!)
or IF the nanny says it was all her, then show her a comparison of how much she is spending over the last couple of months to her previous expenses spend (make sure you have the previous average spend to hand before you speak to her) and ask her to justify the huge increase and what it was spent on.
If she cant justify it then you will have to take action re her dishonesty.

HalfPastSeven Sat 16-Jul-11 20:25:43

Thanks for advice all. It is a nightmare. I will certainly go with the benefit of the doubt approach ( and I really hope there is an explanation) but so I am prepared for the worst, let's say she admits it was her and cannot explain the expenditure, what then? Presumably it is instant dismissal with no reference? I would feel quite sick about that because she has been fab over the years. On the other hand how could I trust her with my kids and in our house (with access to our papers) and how could I recommend her to anyone else, as fantastic as she has been.

And then there is the back up childcare to sort...

Ps if it a cloned card, how do they get the pin for a cash withdrawal?

nannynick Sat 16-Jul-11 21:20:12

I feel you would need to give a reference, though it may be very short and simply lay out how long they worked for you and invite people to call you.

It might be instant dismissal if it falls under the Gross Misconduct section of the contract. Theft is often mentioned under Gross Misconduct. You may be open to a wrongful dismissal claim if they feel they were not to blame. It may be hard for you to prove theft. So another option would be to give notice under the terms of the contract.

mercibucket Sat 16-Jul-11 21:26:19

don't jump to any conclusions yet - it is quite possible the card was cloned - you see it on tv all the time - there is a camera to record the pin number, or sometimes someone stood to one side of you - while the card details are copied. it makes it all the easier to speak to her as well if you start off by semi-believing that is what might have happened.

nannynick Sat 16-Jul-11 21:27:00

PIN can be recorded via various methods... hidden camera, false front on cash machine. See here (PDF) for a picture of a card reader. Also a BBC News article a false panel with video device.

EldonAve Sat 16-Jul-11 22:04:44

re PIN and cloning - surely they'd take out the max amount daily until they clear the account??

bubaluchy Sat 16-Jul-11 22:22:17

Does she give you change or any receipts at all.

You are well within your rights to ask (tactfully) what these withdrawals have gone on.

My boss (I'm a nanny),gives me her card but I have a nannying purse and a personal purse, the nannying one is quite large and every evening before I leave I put it on their kitchen table with all receipts used for the day and any cash or cards so that they can file their receipts away for tax purposes.

This keeps everything simple.

If she feels accused in any way, it will be a massive blow to her self esteem esp. if she has only been as slack as you have let the boundaries become yourselves.

Just tell her that you have to do a tax return and need to file away all receipts for your end of year assessment (or something like this) Then she won't feel awkward you could even roll your eyes about HMRC taking the personal element out of this potentially uncomfortable discussion, because if she no longer feels trusted by you it could be the beginning of the end.

Good luck smile

fraktious Sun 17-Jul-11 00:31:37

eldon large, unusual transactions are likely to be flagged up as fraudulent. Increased numbers of relatively small cash amounts will get through but still add up to a lot of cash.

The only time my card was used fraudulently (and I'm thankful it was only once because it was a hassle) I only knew because there was a £1.5k purchase of furniture. I know I didn't make that off my personal account. But if my/DH's joint account was cloned or a chequebook stolen we wouldn't necessarily pick up increased smallish withdrawals.

Laquitar Sun 17-Jul-11 16:40:48

I don't understand. You gave her the card and told her to use it. You didn't set up rules and budget. How can you call it 'theft' and 'dishonesty'?

OP: 'Nanny, have you withdraw cash?'
Nanny: Yes, for the music class/baby gym/coffee in the park cafe.
OP: Thats ok. Last month the bill was a bit high thu.
Nanny: Yes, thats because we went to Ritz for tea.
OP: I can't afford that.
Nanny: I didn't know. i assumed....

Silly and careless, yes. But it is not theft or dishonesty.

Maybe she met a new group of nannies, those who lunch out, and she joins them. Who knows?

You just need to talk to her and to set up a reasonable budget.

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