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Nanny has racked up a £16 phone bill in 6 working days

(23 Posts)
pecanpie Mon 25-Jul-11 16:05:41

I have just logged into my BT account to pick up my latest bill. I noticed that the calls from 10 July which will be on the next bill already far exceed our usual landline spend for a whole month so thought I'd check it out. They include a call to a premium rate number and some calls to travel companies in the week my nanny was supposedly 'surprised' to go home to find out she was going off on hols again. There's a call to a debt collection agency etc. In the same time, a load of balls have been dropped at home - jobs haven't been done, important information hasn't been passed on etc and these calls have been made at times when DD is definitely not napping so in addition to everything else, I'm concerned about what was going on with DD during this time (particularly on her first day back at work after 2 weeks off!).

House rules explicitly state no personal calls on our landline - there have been odd calls here and there but it would have been ridiculous to bring them up. I really am very laid back in general, but various incidents over the past fortnight have now come to a head with this. I thought we'd covered everything I was upset about as an employer when we had a 'chat' this morning, but now I don't know how to react to this. My immediate reaction is she pays us back from next month's wages and I continue to check phone bills going forward if she's going to use our phone - which we really don't use very often at all. It's a bit of a hassle for me though and should be unecessary. Advice please.

fraktious Mon 25-Jul-11 16:48:52

You need to talk to her about it, that much is clear. She needs to know it's not acceptable (and that you know about it) and you need to make some effort to find out what's going on. She may be having personal problems, which aren't necessarily your business but may impact you IYSWIM. The premium rate phone numbers and debt collection agency would concern me.

I would also be inclined to give her a formal warning and insist she pays you back.

SenoritaViva Mon 25-Jul-11 16:54:59

I would speak to her and get to the bottom of things. I would insist she repays the amount to you.

I would explain to her that a) the landline is not to be used for personal calls and b) that she is expected to be doing her job and not making personal calls during work time. Explain that she has abused the trust of knowing where the boundaries are. Give her a warning and get her to sign a document stating that you have re explained your landline/personal calls expectations to her.

Strix Mon 25-Jul-11 19:43:18

Is she live in? If so I would have thought reasonable phone usage (although not during her work hours) was part of room and board. My nanny (au pair actually) gets a mobile phone with the job. I pay the monthly contract. If it went over, I would collect from her. But, last month she was allowed 600 minutes and used a whole 12.

I don't really think £16 is a huge phone bill, to be honest. But, I would be annoyed she was tending to personal business when I was paying her to look after my children.

Strix Mon 25-Jul-11 19:45:21

Oh, and I would take issue with her disregarding a house rule. So I wouldn't really get too upset about the phone bill itself, but would about the disregard for the houserules.

pecanpie Mon 25-Jul-11 19:55:25

She's live out. Reasonable telephone usage is not £8 on a premium rate call plus £8 of calls across 6 days when contractually she either a/shouldn't use the phone or b/should reimburse us. That's £16 of calls across 4 working days, which I don't agree is a small amount. We don't really use our landline/have free weekend calls, so usually total phonebill is £15-20 of which £13 is line rental.

Spoke to my nanny tax people who said it is worthy of a formal warning. Not my style, but was polar opposite of what DH wanted me to do to deal with it. I'm due with DC3 in November so he's keen not to rock the boat and leave us finding temp childcare to cover until I go off on mat leave...

So his conversation went something like this:
Hi I'm home, pleasantries about the day etc.

Me: I received the phonebill today. Normally, I don't mind if you make the odd phonecall while you're here
Nanny: oh yes, I forgot I called an 0800 number last week
Me: no nanny, there are £16 worth of phonecalls made over the past 2 weeks of which one is a premium rate number and cost £8.
Nanny: premium rate? What kind of number is that?
Me: 090 something. (it was for UPS - can't believe they have the cheek to use premium rate numbers!!)
Nanny: something about reimbursing me for the cost
Me: I know things are a bit tight for you, so not to worry this time, let's leave it at that but this can't happen again.

Am honestly starting to feel that we're being a bit of a pushover in addition to some other issues over the past couple of weeks (I mean, who likes finding live out nanny has washed hair, not a prob in itself, but left sopping wet towel on your bed and hairbrush full of her hair/extensions?). Things which affect the kids' schedules have been particularly problematic. Is DH making me too pushovery?

nannynick Mon 25-Jul-11 20:07:34

They are live-out - why are they washing their hair... maybe they are doing very messy play but it's a bit unlikely. Wet towel on bed, your hairbrush? full of hair, not looking good.

Make it clear about things you are unhappy about - just mention them to her for now if you want to keep the peace. However do keep an eye on things and clamp down on repeat offences.

Have they been employed by you long? What is happening when you go on maternity leave - will the job then be redundant, thus your nanny would look for other work and thus would like a glowing reference?

pecanpie Mon 25-Jul-11 20:17:58

Washing hair on the job - not so fussed if she finds time in the day, but just bothered by lack of respect for my personal space/stuff. Glad you appreciate the line crossing though!! The issue I would like to discuss is that she seems to be forgetting we have an employer/employee relationship - i could go as far as to say perhaps slightly our fault because we are laid back employers, but these things are just beyond most people's common sense.
She will have been employed by us for over a year by the time I go on mat leave- so appraisal and pay review due in very near future. Nannynick, how would my 'grievances' impact on a pay review? I feel I am duty bound to give some sort of increase...
I have actually lined up another job for her so that when we discuss not needing her/redundancy (will give 2 months notice but not broached subject yet) she's got another option ready and waiting, but I would feel irresponsible giving a glowing reference now. Bottom line is, I want to be a good employer and she really is great with the kids on the whole (DD2 in love), but I also have to do the right thing as an employer - just agreeing the right balance with DH.

Strix Mon 25-Jul-11 20:45:41

I was only thinking -- trying to giv her the benefit of the doubt -- that this was not such a big dea for a live in. But, since she is live-out I agree she did overstep her bounds.

And the we towel on the bed is definitely no on. Was the brush yours or hers?

It sounds like there is a whole lot of stuff boiling under the surface and this is not just about a phone bill. Perhaps you should have a performance review sooner rather than later. And I don't think you should feel obligated to give her a raise. Gie her one if you want to and you think her performance warrants one. But don't feel you have to.

nannynick Mon 25-Jul-11 20:46:29

I feel you need to raise grievances and give opportunity to improve, if you are then later going to use them as a reason for doing something / not doing something. At present, have you actually said to her about things that are not meeting your expectations?

A pay review does not mean an automatic pay increase. Did you get an increase in your pay packet? Their performance over the past year could certainly be taken into account when considering if a pay rise is in order.

Being laid back employers is great but if there is something nagging at you, then far better in my view to get that aired sooner than later. Your nanny may not know you are dissatisfied unless you actually tell them directly that you have disliked something they have done. The thing has been done, it's in the past, so what you are wanting is for it not to happen again. So by letting them know that you didn't like something, it gives them the opportunity to improve by not doing whatever it was again.

WideAwakeMum Mon 25-Jul-11 21:51:01

Sorry to hear about all this. I think that when we employ nannies we naturally are having to compromise in some way shape or form, but being able to trust a nanny to be professional is so important. I know it can feel like a big step to think about changing nannies, but perhaps now is the time to do so, and perhaps you might find that you never look back? Good luck with whatever you do!

mranchovy Mon 25-Jul-11 22:17:51

There's obviously a lot going on here which you are obviously not talking to her about so it will never get resolved.

IMHO you need to bring things to a head and raise all your issues (greivances is a term usually reserved for employees' issues) - the hair washing, the phone usage, the debt collector (this is not snooping - if she uses your phone you are entitled to know what for, apart from anything else if you don't have CLI blocking you now have your phone number on a debt collection agency's records and may well be pestered for ever), the dishonesty about the holiday and anything else.

Unless she has a damn good explanation for all of this, and agrees that things have got to change big time - and you believe her and want to keep her rather than try someone else - end the conversation with 'well I can't see any way forward for us, so we are going to give you notice that we are going to end your contract. We will confirm this in writing with you tomorrow.' Make sure you give her the correct amount of notice according to your contract, deal with any holiday under/over accrued and remind her of your grievance procedure and her right of appeal (or if you haven't got this in place, get your act together quick). If you aren't confident with this, or if you think she is likely to get legal on you, get a lawyer.

Dealing with this after 1 year's employment will be a lot harder.

pecanpie Mon 25-Jul-11 22:53:18

Thanks for your thoughts. She will be receiving redundancy notice end August, under a year from start of employment, so on balance, it seems best for everyone to just keep a closer eye on what's going on. I also need to speak to the person who was going to potentially pick up her employment to discuss rule setting etc. Bear in mind, we do have house rules etc, I just honestly think she forgets that she is an employee and that she is crossing some lines - or pushing it a bit too much.

I honestly doubt there's an opportunity for her to take any legal advice, ultimately, there will be no position in a few months' time as I will be unable to afford a nanny while on maternity leave.

mranchovy Mon 25-Jul-11 22:55:53

Oops, hadn't read your last post - didn't realise you were expecting to make her redundant in 4 months anyway.

In that case all you really need to consider is whether you can put up with her until then or part company now and get a temp in, which is going to cost a lot more and probably be more disruptive.

And forget about 'lining her up another job' - this is not your responsibility and if I can speak frankly I think you need to consider whether you have the employer/employee relationship correct. Why on earth would you line up a job with (presumably) a friend for a nanny you have doubts about?

mranchovy Mon 25-Jul-11 22:56:56

.. and I crossposted that with your last post blush

callaird Mon 25-Jul-11 23:01:18

How many hours/days does she work?

I'm a live-in nanny and work 7am - 7pm, Monday to Friday and so cannot make calls to many business lines when I am not working. That said, I would say to my boss that I had to call xxx today, let me know how much the call is and I will pay it back, none of them have ever asked for the money!

If it is a premium rate number it would cost an absolute fortune from a mobile, she still should have mentioned it to you though.

The washing hair thing - I've done that, getting up at 6am to do 12 hour days is tough! I do try to do it when the kids are napping though. Using your hair brush is disgusting though! But I wouldn't let any use my brush!

(I have seperate accommodation so can't use phone/shower there without taking the kids)

mranchovy Mon 25-Jul-11 23:08:36

I honestly doubt there's an opportunity for her to take any legal advice

Of course there is. That advice may well be "we can put a case forward forward for unfair dismissal and although you probably wouldn't win at an employment tribunal, it is always worth a try" as a result of which you will get a letter from a lawyer. And if you take advice then it may well be "tribunals are always a bit of a lottery and tend to favour the employee; it will cost you £1,000 to prepare and file a defence and even if you win you won't get awarded costs so you may as well offer her £500 to go away and be prepared to negotiate up to £1,000".

If she is dismissed before the year is up, the conversation goes like this: "we can't sue for unfair dismissal unless we can come up with some discrimination argument so all we can claim is wrongful dismissal which just gives you the right to your contractual notice - which the employer has given you/paid anyway."

pecanpie Tue 26-Jul-11 11:22:12

Now you're panicking me shock!

We're going to give her 2 months' notice of redundancy and keep her on till then, but with a log of any issues on our side at the same time. If she's made redundant, surely she can't sue for unfair dismissal?

pecanpie Tue 26-Jul-11 11:23:09

She'll have worked for us max 10 months when we confirm there's no job when the baby's born. Had initially planned to tell her there will be a job again when I return to work but not necessarily the case now...

MGMidget Tue 26-Jul-11 12:26:35

I believe the length of time that matters is how long she has been employed by the dismissal date. So if you give her notice after 10 months and she will work for you past the critical 12 month anniversary date of her start of employment then the right to claim unfair dismissal kicks in. That's my understanding anyway. At this stage though you probably just need to tackle her on the areas you are unhappy with but I would keep at the back of your mind the latest date you can terminate her employment without fear of an unfair dismissal claim, in case you have to resort to that.

starfishmummy Tue 26-Jul-11 12:45:24

I'm not an expert but I think the thing with redundancy is that its the job that is redundant not the person. So if you make her redundant because you will be at home and don't need a nanny thats one thing, but if you make her redundant and employ someone else straight away, then you could be on dodgy ground.

pecanpie Tue 26-Jul-11 14:06:17

Thanks Starfish. Definitely the job which is redundant!

mranchovy Tue 26-Jul-11 14:55:25

Sorry, didn't mean to cause panic, my message has got a bit confused due to crossposting etc.

What I wanted to get across was:

Putting up with her for a few months and then making her redundant (with approriate notice and compensation) is probably the best way to go. Do make the point that personal calls in work time are not allowed except in emergency though and ask her to pay back the costs otherwise this could escalate. Providing you go through a fair process with notice and compensation there's not much scope for a claim.

Terminating her employment now (with notice or pay in lieu) is also fairly safe but means you need an alternative for a couple of months which is likely to be difficult and/or expensive .

Going through a disciplinary process after the first year is going to be long-winded and uncertain, and you always leave yourself open to an unfair dismissal claim (unless you go to the trouble and expense of a compromise agreement) so is to be avoided if possible - but that is OK, you will avoid it because the position will be redundant.

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