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Pregnant nanny refusing to work

(68 Posts)
Octonought Mon 15-Dec-14 22:52:17

Advice please. My nanny is pregnant and refusing to come to work as my twins are unwell, in case it's flu as she hasn't had her flu jab, and claims she hasn't even been offered one (she's about 17w). I'm a bit surprised she hasn't been offered one as I know this is a target group for flu jabs hmm.
I'm livid about this. I don't qualify for a flu jab but choose to have one (which I pay for) as I work in a high risk profession for catching illness. She has had what I consider a lot of time off sick since she started, has been late without apologising (because it wasn't her fault!). This is despite the fact that I had called a friend at 8am to cover for my nanny until she arrived as not going to work is not an option for me - and she had been late or absent on 3 previous occasions in the previous weeks which was impacting on my job.
There have been other issues too which I won't go into here.
DH has had a massive row with her on the phone this evening after she texted me (again, despite having been told before that she needs to call me if she is going to be absent) to inform me that's she's not coming in the rest of the week as my girls have temperatures.
I'm at the end of my tether, this is our second nanny, and both our experiences have been disappointing. I have a nanny as I have a 3 preschool age children, not because I can afford the luxury. Right now, nursery seems like a much more attractive option....

MotherOfInsomniacToddlers Mon 15-Dec-14 23:06:11

I'm pregnant, I didn't "get offered" a flu jab I just rang up and asked for one. I've done that with all 3 pregnancies and my kids nasal sprays. Her fault for not being proactive about that.
Not sure how it works with a nanny looking after sick children pregnant or not though is that the done thing? Nurseries wouldn't have them if they were poorly?

Octonought Mon 15-Dec-14 23:11:41

Thanks Mother, It's fairly standard for nannies to look after sick kids. For us, it's the main benefit over using nurseries.

Cullercoats88 Mon 15-Dec-14 23:14:33

I wasn't offered flu jab until 28 weeks- I don't know if this is the norm across UK, but I suspect it may be.

Has the time she has had off all been since she was pregnant? Being late and not apologising isn't acceptable to me, and I would not be happy. How did you deal with this at the time? How long has she been with you, and how many days off has she had in total?

You said you have preschool children so the temperatures won't be down to teething, if nanny and children havent had chicken pox before, I could perhaps understand her hesitance to come back to work until the reason for temperature was discovered as chicken pox can be dangerous.

I can appreciate how hard it is to look after children whilst pregnant, I'm a CM, and I was absolutely exhausted in my first trimester, could this be apart of the problem do you think?

What does it say in your contract regarding sick days and sick pay? It may be worth sitting down with her and reviewing the contract and job requirements now she is pregnant. Can you be flexible with start time? Maybe she starts later and finishes later?

Are you happy with the care she provides otherwise?

Karoleann Mon 15-Dec-14 23:16:36

Maternal high temperatures (or hyperthermia) can actual damage a foetus, so your nanny is right in not wanting to expose herself to a child with a high temperature. As an employer you have a duty to protect her from this risk. If she wasn't pregnancy, I could expect her to work.

Everything else is unacceptable. You are entitled to sack someone for issues unrelated to their pregnancy and if you are unhappy with other aspects you are perfectly entitled to bring these up. I'd be very careful to document everything carefully as she is pregnant, but it doesn't mean that you should have to put up with poor performance.

Cullercoats88 Mon 15-Dec-14 23:17:28

Also nurseries tend to be less flexible when it comes to children's sickness, so I wouldn't use that as the only grounds to consider alternate care

Octonought Mon 15-Dec-14 23:23:56

Are you sure that was the flu jab and not whopping cough (which is only offered at 28+ weeks)? I work at a GP practice and we offer flu jabs from conception and I understand that should be standard practice, but maybe not.

It's not chicken pox, they have had a fever for a few days and no spots, so pretty confident.

Unfortunately, an earlier start or finish time is not an option as my work is not flexible.

She should be past the exhaustion phase now, and I keep asking her if it's all still ok , and she says yes. She does get about 2 hours during the day whilst the younger ones nap and the eldest is at preschool and she is not required to do anything during this time so can relax.

I think she looks after the kids ok, but there have been other issues and let-downs.

I'd love to hear some positive experiences of nannies to restore my faith...smile

Cullercoats88 Mon 15-Dec-14 23:43:05

Ahh perhaps you're right octonought, I wasn't offered it until then, and my midwife did both jabs on the same day...

You definitely need to have a frank chat with her and outline all issues that you both have. If you want to keep her on then you can try put together an action plan to implement changes, whether this be simple things like you buying anti-bac gel to prevent sickness spreading, to nanny ensuring she sets off to work earlier, and then enforcing verbal and written warning clauses if nanny doesn't adhere to what she agreed.

Nannies can be a wonderful childcare option. As with most jobs you have to find the right person as it isn't an easy occupation!! Don't let it put you off.

WeAreEternal Mon 15-Dec-14 23:59:45

I would be giving her notice, she sounds like a nightmare.

Nannies are supposed to make your life easier not complicate it more.

PowerPants Tue 16-Dec-14 01:09:21

Agree with WeAreEternal. She's being way too precious - how would she cope if she worked in a big hospital or a restaurant and was constantly exposed to coughing/sneezing customers?

I have had nannies for eight years - I would say 50% have been absolutely brilliant and part of the family and the other 50% like your nanny.

Knottyknitter Tue 16-Dec-14 01:37:35

I managed to 36+4 working on a children's ward with no time off. There were a few odd rashes I minimised contact with, but no one I isolated myself from. (I would have if Ebola had come to the uk, I suppose)

She can ask her mw to test her immunity to chicken pox, MMR, and parvovirus, then not worry about them.

Flu jab is advised to all pregnant women, whooping cough after 28/40. She should have had info about it at booking.

LittleBearPad Tue 16-Dec-14 02:34:51

She needs to ask for the flu jab. She's also being rather precious.

puffinsaregood Tue 16-Dec-14 06:59:53

She should not passively wait to be offered the flu jab as she may be waiting a long time! In my local area we can have the NHS flu jab at our GP, booking hospital or Boots, if you bring proof of your pregnancy e.g. scan report. I had mine at Boots at about 12 weeks.

As her employer you need to conduct a pregnancy risk assessment with her, establishing what she can and can't safely do. You can re do it later in pregnancy if her circumstances change e.g. back pain.

I am a HCP and at my risk assessment we agreed which types of patients it would be potentially unsafe for me to see. There are some illnesses that can be dangerous for the developing foetus e.g. chicken pox (if she does not have immunity from having had chicken pox herself). Also we agreed preventative measures e.g. not lifting heavy objects, regular walks around the office to aid circulation (rarely a problem as a Nanny I'm sure!).

You can probably find risk assessment templates online.

You do need to agree on what is reasonable though, and you probably need to have a frank discussion about this with your Nanny to reach a consensus that goes into your risk assessment. If your children were very unwell and likely had flu that is one thing, but if it is just a sniffle it is much more likely to just be a cold, and whilst a pregnant woman would feel lousy with a cold, it wouldn't be specifically dangerous to the foetus (unless she got very unwell for some reason).

Although it sounds like she is being unreasonable, emotionally I can understand her actions- I felt a fierce need to protect my unborn baby from even the tiniest risk, and I also felt so tired that I didn't want to risk even a cold. Luckily my job was pretty quiet and there were so many other staff that I could opt out of lots of things without causing problems, even though they weren't mandated in my risk assessment. Obviously a Nanny job isn't like that, you don't have ten other nannies pottering around the house, ready to leap in!

Hedgehogsbuzz1 Tue 16-Dec-14 07:02:31

The high temperature will only last a day or three maybe

Octonought Tue 16-Dec-14 07:38:09

Thanks everyone. Emotionally, I can understand her actions too but she really should have had a flu jab. And she really should have called me to discuss the situation rather than text me with a decision.

When swine flu broke out in 2009, I was pregnant and working on a respiratory ward. I had my flu jabs and was expected to carry on looking after patients with swine flu (although was given protective mask etc).

Having had the night to calm down, I think I'm still angry about other stuff that had happened in the past, and about her making a decision without discussing it and texting to tell me. I find that unprofessional and childish. She is paid a good wage and I expect her to be professional.

Octonought Tue 16-Dec-14 07:39:40

I should say, I have no family around to take over when she is sick as they live hundreds of miles away, so any time she has off sick is a disaster for me, and reflects on me at work.

YvesJutteau Tue 16-Dec-14 07:55:55

As her employer you should have carried out a risk assessment as soon as you were informed that she was pregnant, and things like contact with sick children should have been on it. You really need to do that ASAP.

Your problem now is that you are exasperated enough over all the non-pregnancy stuff to not want to keep her on, but if you are going to sack her you'd need to be very careful about distinguishing between pregnancy and non- pregnancy issues. If you can be presented as having sacked her for pregnancy- related reasons you could be in a significant legal pickle.

If you are contemplating sacking her, or even kicking off the disciplinary process, this is really one where you need specialist advice.

chasingtherainbow Tue 16-Dec-14 08:06:38

I think you'll have to separate the two issues. Precious pregnancy and being a crap nanny.

It is perfectly normal to be so precious in pregnancy and I think you'll have to just humour her on that one, so to speak.

However. . Everything else is unacceptable. I'd get rid of her now so you don't have however many more months left to put up with. You need a new, good nanny asap. You say your previous nanny was also disappointing. Are you vetting them enough to ensure they are a good match for your family past just being qualified? I don't mean that in a horrible way, but I can see how easy it would be to not realise the importance of a good match past you feeling confident that they can look after your children properly

Quite honestly, she sounds like she has little regard for the domino effect her absence causes and the stress. As a nanny we just don't have colleagues to cover our backs and pick up slack. We work through much more than any other employee ever does- I'm working through my 2nd miscarriage right now. I've worked through extreme morning sickness, a fractured foot, etc over the years. It's just what you sign up for.. Especially for the families who have absolutely no back up plan. I'd rather drag myself in and mind the kids from the sofa all day than not turn up at all.. and I'd never, ever text to inform my boss of my intention to not come in!

IDontDoIroning Tue 16-Dec-14 08:10:04

I think you need some professional HR advice.
Do a risk assessment straight away. As an adult surely she is responsible for her own health so if she wants a flu jab surely it's up to her to arrange one.
Personally I think that unless she has some serious complications she is being unreasonable. How on earth do mothers cope with second or subsequent Pregnancies babies and toddlers get all kinds of illnesses and if she's a fairly healthy adult herself her immune system will fight it off - obv there are issues like rubella but again she is responsible for her health and must take the advice of her midwife.
What sick pay arrangements do you have?
I wouldn't be paying her for any absences not supported by sickness documents. And I would be having a discussion with her about not following agreed procedures for communication / notification of absence. If you have a written warning process in your contract I would be looking to see if I can enforce it for this.
I would also be considering not paying her for this time off as it's an unauthorised absence not sickness.
In the long tern I don't think this nanny is right for you so you may want up consider how you can part compny in a legal and mutually acceptable way.

MunningCockery Tue 16-Dec-14 09:03:37

OP From your posts it sounds like you're now a GP having previously worked in a hospital - hence the more straightforward hours now but also the fact you are still exposed to 'risks' yourself. I am totally with you on the outrageousness of your nanny sending you a bloody text to inform you of a fait accompli, but I am a bit baffled as to why there wasn't a clear conv as soon as you knew she was upduffed vis vaccinations etc (IE given this appear to be your field of work so you're way ahead of many others who employ Nannies).

I agree re splitting the two issues - pregnancy-related (or claimed pregnancy related) and other matters apart but you do need to watch your back now she IS pregnant as frankly it doesn't sound as if she has any much regard for you so could be likely to be the litigious type who doesn't give a shit about actual reality leading to this point.

My honest view (having previously employed and depended upon nannies for over 10 years) is that you should get shot as soon as you can as this IS only going to get worse - you do realise that presumably? I empathise hugely as I know the process of finding the right nanny is bloody fraught and exhausting but better that than this continue IMHO. Sole caveat would be to ensure you don't expose yourself to snarky legal action. Good luck.

MunningCockery Tue 16-Dec-14 09:13:08

Only other thought - I ony ever tried a 'day' nanny once and it was a total fucking disaster. The ones that have worked (& are even now FB friends and with their own DCsmile ) were live-in, and Oz/Kiwi/Saffas - they seemed to have a 'just get on with it' (not 'just' vis illness but rainy days and whatever disasters variously struck with my mad hours) attitude and they knew I'd even out the hours &/or pay them extra where need be.

One of mine (they were all with me for over 2 years) and me found ourselves in a VERY shitty situation where I suddenly had an insane 23 hour trip to Chicago - as in, 23 hrs from taking off from LHR and landing back at LHRhmm - that was dumped on me right as she was preparing for a mates hen do.

We discussed it and she (thankfully) took the hit rather than me risking my job as she got how important her role was to our household and also that her livliehood depended upon my own (and she was a bloody star too!). THAT is the kind of nanny you want, not someone who has the fucking audacity to send you a TEXT (again, WTAF piss take is that?) essentially informing you that YOU can't work for the next four days and that every single person/patient YOU were due to be helping in that time can go fuck themselves. Gives me the rage TBH (can you tell??!)

MunningCockery Tue 16-Dec-14 09:16:43

<clearly over-invested in this blush and also makes me pine for my careersad ,nanny nightmares an'all>

Blondeshavemorefun Tue 16-Dec-14 09:39:15

How long have you employed Her? Seems strange you have had 2 nannies and both not been good - how do you find them? Do they have years of exp and good ref? Do you pay well?

As you have a medical background you should have suggested nanny gets the flu jab

Not working as kids have temp Seems a bit ott - a nanny is meant to look after sick children

Agree she should ring rather the text of not coming in.

Not sure I would miss my best friends hen do if been planned for ages which normally are / as suddenly my boss had to work.

Octonought Tue 16-Dec-14 14:49:28

Totally appreciate all the comments and loving the rage munning!

Medical or not, I don't really see it as my responsibility to make sure my nanny has a flu jab - she's an adult and in charge of her own health, and needs to take responsibility for that. It never occurred to me that she wouldn't have a flu jab. I'd be astonished if her midwife or GP have not informed her. She's seen her midwife several times now (I know because she's had the time off).

We got her through an agency and looked at her references, but in hind sight should probably have called them, lesson learnt.

Blondes: this is the same nanny that failed to get ofsted registered and you offered some great advice about that too, thanks. We pay her very well given that she's only got 2 years nanny experience (previously a few years nursery experience), offer more annual leave than required, and have even allowed her to take extra time off at new year (she didn't realise that she'd used up all her allowance, and wanted to visit family, headache for us but trying to keep her happy).

So don't think we are unreasonable employers, and are willing to talk things out (but not accept texting about important issues angry). I think fundamentally she just doesn't get the consequences of her actions and doesn't take responsibility when things do go wrong.

I'm seeking legal advice and speaking to her this evening....

NannyLA Tue 16-Dec-14 14:56:36

Do not agree with your comment re ' day nannies' not being reliable.. I am live out, nanny and have been for 20 yrs + , totally reliable ( references stating that). Also know many others live out nannies that are too..

There are also nightmare families as well as nannies, by the way!

Nannies should always phone not text..

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