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need advice from both nannies & employers please!

(42 Posts)
starmucks Fri 03-Jul-09 21:03:17

We hired a new nanny who started with us three weeks ago. So far everything seemed fine, our son is relaxed with her and she's fairly pro-active around the house. Yesterday she had a hospital appointment which took all day. As she'd flagged this when she started, we didn't think much of it. Then this morning she informed us that she's going to need an operation which will probably be in the next two months and will need a month off to recupperate. She said she was sorry as she thought she would only need two weeks off. So clearly she knew it was coming for some time.

Shouldn't she have told us about the possibility of this when she accepted the job? I'm feeling very pissed off with her to be honest and am not sure how to take things going forwards. She's still in her probationary period, so technically we could simply say it's not going to work out and all move on. The thing is I'm due with DC2 in two weeks and it took 3 months to find someone suitable in the first place. I'm not sure we could deal with the stress and hassle involved in hiring someone new. On the other hand, our previous nanny had health issues and ended up being totally unrealiable which was equally stressful. I normally work FT.

Any suggestions on what we should do?

Simplyme Fri 03-Jul-09 21:09:55

oh boy! Not sure what I'd do in your situation. Have to say I think it was very unfair of your nanny not to say something! I know times are hard and people want jobs but that is something that you should have been told about!

Even taking 2 weeks off for op without telling you was wrong imo especially as you are due to have a baby yourself. You could hire a temp to help you out whilst she is away but you might be paying 2 wages unless she takes unpaid sick leave? Or you could find another nanny but you have to decide if this ill health is likely to be resolved by the op or an ongoing problem? Where are you based?

limonchik Fri 03-Jul-09 21:13:25

She probably should have warned you, but from her point of view if she did tell you at interview, you probably wouldn't have given her the job. It's a tough time to be out of work at the moment, so I understood why she did it.

Maybe you need to have a more detailed chat with her about her health and how it might impact on her ability to do the job?

frAKKINPannikin Fri 03-Jul-09 21:24:03

Personally I would have warned you about the possibility - I try to be upfront about any major upheavals I can forsee in the next year. That honesty has cost me jobs in the past but I'd rather that someone had the right nanny for their needs than take me and me inconvenience them.

starmucks Fri 03-Jul-09 21:26:06

I understand why she didn't tell us, but by not telling us, I now feel that she's been underhanded and is maybe untrustworthy. We're not a big corporate, just a couple of working parents, so it is a big deal for us. I can't afford two sets of salaries. We definitely need to have a sit down and establish if this is going to be an ongoing problem. We're based in London, but we really struggled to find a suitable person.

frAKKINPannikin Fri 03-Jul-09 21:29:03

Bugger, hit post.

I would try to chat with her honestly as limonchik says. If she's going to be off work for a long time then let her go - you need a reliable nanny especially for your DC as you have another one on the way which is stressful enough as it is!

Giving her notice would be reasonable as she wasn't honest and open with you at interview. But then did you ask about any health issues?

However, it's not her fault she has this health problem and if she's otherwise good it may be worth the hassle of keeping her rather than finding another nanny.

What is the operation she'll need (in anonymised non-specific terms)? Is she really completely unable to work?

Simplyme Fri 03-Jul-09 21:32:39

Why did you struggle to find someone if you don't mind me asking? Is it weird hours or location or something? If you feel you can't trust her then you really need to think of alternatives but if it was such a struggle to hire her then it might be worth seeing what you can do to hold on to her.

Since she knew she was't entirely upfront about the op at the interview then she might be prepared to take statutory sick pay only?

foxinsocks Fri 03-Jul-09 21:34:09

nah, I think it's fair enough that she didn't tell you tbh

sounds like it was only at that appointment that she found out how major it was going to be

I certainly wouldn't say anything until I knew exactly what the outcome was and it really does sound like she only knew that at the appointment

But can see why you are feeling pissed off tbh. It's hard being a nanny employer as you only have one employee so you rely so much on them!

starmucks Fri 03-Jul-09 21:35:51

She didn't really specify, she said it was bowel problem. In fairness it was about a three minute conversation at 7.15am this morning. Once she made the announcement I said we'd have to talk about it later. Today was my last day in work and I had a mountain of stuff to get through before leaving, I've also been struggling to sleep in the heat so didn't feel up to a big chat. By the time I got home this evening she'd already left and hadn't raised it with my DH.

starmucks Fri 03-Jul-09 21:46:59

I think there was a number of reasons we struggled to find someone. The first is that initially let our old nanny be involved in the process and that really confused matters. The second is that we didn't realise that despite the crummy economic climate you still need to move quickly with the nannies that seem suitable - they are snapped up very quickly. So while we paused, they accepted other roles. Another reason was a couple candidats we really liked were given negative feedback from previous employers. We live in West London - prime buggy territory so we didn't struggle attracting applicants, just finding one we thought would fit in with the family.

You're all right on needing to discuss it properly though. If we do keep her, her contract does stipulate after three sick days she's on statutory sickness pay - I have no idea how much that is.

callaird Fri 03-Jul-09 22:07:58

I'm a nanny and I think she should have mentioned it. Like you say, you now have doubts about her as she was not honest with you at the interview stage.

Maybe I am a bit up myself confident of myself, but I believe that if an employer really wants me to look after their children, they will take me on and work around any holidays/operations (touch wood, have never needed an operation!) but I would definately have been up front if I knew I had to take time off soon after starting a position.

I have 2 weeks holiday over christmas written into my contract (my bosses wanted it in to make MB take time off over Christmas!!!) so when discussing the contract during second interview I told them that although I would have just had two weeks off I would need at least a long weekend off a week later to go and see ex-charges who's birthday is 9th Jan (they live abroad), they are fine with this and I know I don't have to worry about asking for time off because I was upfront with them from the start!

magicOC Fri 03-Jul-09 22:24:43

Depends how sure of this op she was.

In my situation, I waited to be put on a list for an op for 5yrs then had to wait on that list for 18months so what was the point of saying at an interview " I may, at some time, maybe a few years down the line, need to have an op", or indeed I am also on the bone marrow register and could be called tomorrow to donate, then again I may never be called.

I do sympathise with you tho, not a great situation to be in, but, I wouldn't write her off if she is great in other ways, especially if you took a while to find her.

sharkchaser Sat 04-Jul-09 10:57:33

I'm also a nanny and I think what she did was atrocious (?) I started a new job 13 months ago (June 08) and told them that I was getting married the following April (09) and that I'd need 3 weeks off and was this ok? Best to be honest and up front about everything, no matter how small.

MrAnchovy Sat 04-Jul-09 12:56:22

Good grief, I thought I was a cold-hearted bastard.

Put yourself in the poor girl's position. She has a chronic disorder of the digestive system, a problem which is notoriously difficult to diagnose and treat. She has been told for some time that she might need an operation at some stage in the future, and because it is likely to be a quite a serious operation it will take at least a couple of weeks to recover. For the time being she is OK, but she has to go for a check-up every six months to see if her disease has worsened.

She has to live with this hanging over her, and copes by realising that there is nothing she can do about it and no point in planning for the worst - one day she might get bad news, and if she does, she will deal with it when it comes.

Well now it has come, and it is even worse than she had feared. 'Some time in the future' has turned into an urgent priority, and 'a couple of weeks' recouperation has become a month.

What should you do?

1. Stop assuming she knew what was coming and deliberately witheld this information from you

2. Ask her what you can do to support her through this difficult and worrying time (does she have family near?)

3. Plan for your child care while she is off sick - will you be able to manage your son and a new baby yourself? If so, this might be financially a good thing for you.

4. Tell her you can only afford to pay SSP while she is off. Check with your payroll provider how much this is going to be and whether you will get any back from your PAYE payments.

I do have sympathy for your position (I am a nanny employer myself); you didn't ask for this but nor did she.

frAKKINPannikin Sat 04-Jul-09 14:24:41

Fair points MrAnchovy but I feel that nannies have a duty, if not a legal one then a moral one, to say whether they're facing any health issues. It's a standard question on any agency form. No-one's saying she asked for this but it would have been courteous to mention it ESPECIALLY as the OP has a baby due soon.

Also, we don't know that it's chronic/under routine observation. She may well have known it was coming - there was a thread on another message board a while back about a nanny who knew that she was due an operation and what should she tell employers (with no consensus and valid points on both sides).

starmucks I'm assuming the negative feedback was so negative you'd never consider taking the other candidates on/there was more than one bad reference? If they were still looking would you consider them for temp work where you could supervise (providing they had some kind of plausible, preferably verifiable reason for the bad reference as sometimes there can be sour grapes)? If she only started a few weeks ago there's a chance some of your previous candidates could be looking.

nannynick Sat 04-Jul-09 16:21:27

You knew about the hospital appointment but didn't ask about it - is that right?
She thought she would only need two weeks off... were you aware that she may need two weeks off in the near future?

>Shouldn't she have told us about the possibility of this when she accepted the job?

Morally I feel she should have told you if she knew it was very likely to occur early into the job. But if she needed time off at some future point, without any idea of when... then I don't feel she should pre-warn you about that, as it may have been many months or years away.

>I'm feeling very pissed off with her to be honest and am not sure how to take things going forwards.

I feel you are right to be pissed off. However is this a breakdown of trust issue, or just you being annoyed that she needs time off so soon into the job?

>our previous nanny had health issues and ended up being totally unrealiable which was equally stressful.

Your past experience may be affecting your judgement. Your last nanny was unreliable, doesn't mean this one will be. Sure they may need some time off sick, but once recuperated they may be very reliable.

Will nanny need the time off, or just reduced duties? Could be worth asking her - as you may be on maternity leave during the period she needs reduced duties, so shared care of the children may work.

Blondeshavemorefun Sat 04-Jul-09 16:23:33

it would have been more professional for your nanny to mention there was a POSSIBILTY of needing time off at the interview - but tbh she prob didnt know the op was going to be in the next 2mths - often waiting lists are months/years long - and tbh would have offered her the job if she had said

least it is planned - so you can make other arrangements

i got very ill with a blood clot 2.5years ago,couldnt breathe,got rushed to hospital, nearly died sadas my lung had collasped and ending up having 3weeks off work

my mb/db were fantastic, as i had only been there 6mths and my friends all helped them out - my mb paid me full pay as well as paying my friends

least you are on ml and CAN manage without a nanny, though obv help is nice smile

AtheneNoctua Sat 04-Jul-09 16:57:11

I would ask more about what the condition is, what the sugery is that is being planned, and do a bit of research to find out recovery times. It might be 4 weeks is a text book figure and she might atually be fine in less time. For example, sectionees are always told be the midwives that they can't drive for 6 weeks. I have had two sections and neither time did I go anywhere near 6 weeks without driving. 2 weeks first time and 3 weeks second time.

Also, some bowel/colon problems can require a lot more than a month to recover from. SO, I'd make sure it is really only a month.

If I were in your position, I think I would welcome the break in pay for a month whilst I was on maternity leave. So this might not be all bad.

Blondeshavemorefun Sat 04-Jul-09 17:10:42

if you drive before 6weeks after having a sunroof- c section then your insurance isnt valid

friend drove after 4weeks, someone hit her car, and turned out insurance wouldnt pay out, even as wasnt her fault,as she medically shouldnt have been driving

just to be warned xx

i agree pay her ssp (think it is refundable from government) and then try and manage without childcare while on ml - as athene said you can save money, esp as you wont be working

it could be worse - you could be at work and HAVE to find childcare

maybe someone on here can help you temp wise?

starmucks Sat 04-Jul-09 18:33:37

Wow MrAnchovy - you seem to more about my nanny's condition than I do. If your right, she's clearly not fit to work. And unfortunately I have neither the financial nor emotional resources to support her. Unlike me she has family close by and they seem to be very close, so probably best that we let her go.

Nannynick - I didn't ask for details on her appointment because I didnt' want to pry. We did however, given the history with our previous nanny, ask if she had health issues and she said no. Our previous nanny was unrealiable because she was unwell, not for any other reason. She never mentioned the possibility of needing 2 weeks off at any point.

Thanks everyone for posting. It's really good to get a 360 view on the situation and how to handle it. I am still totally undecided. Obviously we need to have a big chat, understand the seriousness of her condition and see if its really in everyone's best interest, including her own, that she stays with us.

nannynick Sat 04-Jul-09 19:12:40

So does that mean she lied at the interview then? You asked if she had health issues, she said no... well what is this if it isn't a health issue?

Good luck with whatever you decide to do. If her health is going to be a problem long term, then certainly I feel it may be best to find a replacement now.

AtheneNoctua Sat 04-Jul-09 23:36:04

Oh... you asked about health issues and she neglected to disclose this. That was indeed deceitful. I think I'd cut her loose, to be honest -- after seeking legal advise to make sure I couldn't be sued later on.

Does she knoe that time off is unpaid (or SSP which is virtually the same thing)?

Maria2007 Sun 05-Jul-09 08:31:14

To be honest, I'd be feeling very uncomfortable with this behaviour. OK I do understand that health problems are very tricky & you often can't predict when you'll need time off. But, sorry, if a major operation (with a 1 month or even 2 weeks recuperation time) is in the horizon sometime soon, you don't try for a job with a new mother who specifically will want help in the first 1-2 months with a newborn. And you definitely let any mother know about this possibility. This behaviour is simply not on. I do understand that in the current climate people really need to get jobs & may choose not to be completely honest because of that; which doesn't make it right though that she was not fully honest, iyswIm.

If I, as a soon to be mother of a newborn, had chosen to get some help for those difficult 1-2 months, I would be very upset if exactly during those first 1-2 months I wasn't able to get the help I wanted & had looked so much for.

OnceWasSquiffy Sun 05-Jul-09 21:47:02

The question really is what is the stess of trying to replace her, versus the stress of keeping her?

Stress of replacing you already know about. Stress of keeping is combination of lack of trust (will need to measure how much a breach it was depending on what exactly she said), faith that this will be a one-off and not something chronic and ongoing (and TBH I would come out and ask for full details on exactly what is/isn't going on - what's the benfit of being 'polite' about it, huh?), and stress of dealing with one month of you and new baby without a nanny.

It is a real pain for you to deal with, but I would sure as hell rather be in your position than your nanny's.

starmucks Mon 06-Jul-09 21:48:09

Well was all geared for the "big chat" today. Thought I'd open up with an innocuous "so how was your week-end?" to which she replied that it hadn't been greatest, and didn't know if she should tell me, but felt it was best to be honest. Then she told me she'd had an abortion Saturday. Not quite the conversation I had prepared myself for and tbh put me totally on the back foot. Managed to ascertain that she's okay with her decison and physically feels absolutely fine.

After that bombshell it really didn't feel right to have a big, inquisitive conversation about what I thought would be the conversation at hand - her "unforeseen surgery" and time off work. I did say that we wouldn't be able to pay her other than SMP as would need to find a replacement for her to cover her absense. She seemed fine with that. The rest of the conversation was fairly confused so still not really sure if she knew about the surgery at the time of taking the job. She said it would be keyhole and should not result in any ongoing problems. Who knows. I'm still reeling from it all.

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