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Au-Pair responsibilities when a kid is sick(8 Posts)
So I'm working as an Au-Pair in Russia: 20-25 hours of childcare for 300euros a month.
This week, the 4yo has been off sick two days, and I've cancelled all plans (my language lessons, English teaching work etc) to entertain the sick child, then work my standard 4-8pm shift. Thus working approx 40 hours this week.
My contract says "In case one of the kids is sick and stays at home, the Au Pair should be flexible with her schedule so she cam stay at home with the kid during daytime".
I interpret that to mean the parents would ASK me if/ when I could do extra hours of childminding if a child is sick - and pay an overtime hourly rate. Or perhaps I work extra hours these days, in exchange for a few hours off elsewhere, as that s what "flexible" means - no overall increase in hours, just a change of schedule.
They interpret it to mean they ASSUME I will cancel all my plans and stay home all day with the sick child - for no extra money. They say their last nanny worked from 3-8pm, but would also work all day, if a child was sick - all for the same standard monthly wage. (I've never heard of such a kind/ flexible nanny!)
What's the general rule-of-thumb in this situation? I don't think it's fair that I'm assumed to be 24-hour back-up, and will cancel all my plans for no extra money, while the parents make no sacrifice/ change to their routine. (They both work full-time, although one in an office a 90-minute commute away, and the other from home, with occasional meetings elsewhere).
I'd really appreciate any suggestions: who is being unreasonable?
I have never stopped Au Pairs attending prepaid English lesson etc. because DD was sick. I have asked them look after her if they gave no other plans. My Au Pairs have very short hours ( sometimes as low as 9 hours a week) so for one day I don't always pay rather more as my contract is up to 25 hours per week. If it goes over 25 hours I do pay more usually boosting them to AP plus 35 hours per week.
Sounds outrageous to me. I'm no expert but I don't know any childcare contract that requires the cater to work extra for nothing! I don't know what the market is in Russia or if there are other advantages to the job, but if you are happy to work the hours I'd tell them you will do it if you are paid a decent overtime rate. Just because they hid an unfair term in your contract doesn't mean you have to do it!
We ask our au pairs to be flexible if one of the children are sick, if I'm working I would ask them to stay with them. But if I wasn't then I wouldn't. But, I pay an extra hourly rate for the extra time they have worked.
Last week DD was ill ALL week and our au pair worked a full day on the Wednesday and then a few odd extra hours Thursday/Friday.
Monday/Tuesday she was vomiting which I don't think its an au pairs job to deal with, so I stayed with her.
She did cancel something on the Wednesday as i would have had to cancel an entire clinic if I didn't go in. Its a bit of give and take, we always pay extra if our au pair works extra hours and I would offer to pay for a language class if our au pair ever missed one (that's only happened once in the last 3 years though).
I would certainly have a chat with them and say that if you work the extra hours you would expect to get paid for them.
I would expect my au-pair to miss class and stay home with child who was off school sick. This is in our contract. I wouldn't pay extra, on the grounds that the whole thing only works assuming there's some give & take flexibility (to me that's the point of 'au-pair' living ad if part of family). It's also an advantage (to me) of having an au-pair vs after school clubs etc.
The caveats to this being that it would be a day or two with a child who is not severely ill, and it would be a very unusual occurrence. (We are on fourth year of au-pairs, two children, and not neither of them had a day off ill over that period - so I KNOW it's not a frequent occurrence).
This happened to me before Christmas. One of our children was, for the first time ever, off school for a day sick. Our au pair covered without question, even though it meant cancelling working a lunchtime shift for her second job.
We were very grateful, but didn't pay extra - we offer a good overall package, reasonable hours and have a lot of give and take in the relationship.
On the basis that it happens very rarely I would expect an au pair to cover, in the same way that I am taking days off later this year so she can attend a wedding and a family function during her normal working days.
Having live in childcare is all about flexibility and teamwork. Quibbling over exact hours worked./overtime rates wouldn't cut it for me.
For me I think a lot depends on how often it happens, and whether there is an assumption that you'll drop everything for no extra pay. I think although I agree that there should be some give and take in a host / au pair relationship, I am mindful of the inherent hierarchy too: this is my house, my home country. I am much older than my au pairs (sob), and have more money too, as well as being in a kind of loco parentis for them. This makes me responsible and places a particular responsibility on me to avoid taking advantage of them!
Hence, as a one off I might be thrilled if an au pair offered to look after a sick child, but I wouldn't assume, and I would pay for classes missed, and I would be really grateful. I might pay extra, or get a present, or give some extra time off, depending on how things were going and what I thought they might prefer.
If I was desperate (child who'd been ill and where I'd covered a day or more myself and / or my husband had too but neither of us could do more) then I would ask if they could help, and would probably if I'm honest expect the answer to be yes! But if I was asking then I would also ask if they'd prefer money or time off in return.
So I think your contract is rubbish, actually. They evidently don't expect 'flexibility' from you, but just that you should always be available, at any time, for no extra pay. That's not the kind of give and take that other posters have described, I think that's just taking the piss, frankly.
Might it be a cultural thing though? I don't know much about childcare or home / family norms in Russia, I have to admit!
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