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Childcare

Travelling with a Nanny

62 replies

NannyClaire · 10/05/2007 17:41

Hi, I'm a newly employed nanny to three children who are French but live in London.

Basically, we discussed me travelling with them but not the terms, and now things are getting a little strange.

They seem to view me accompanying them as a treat for me, whereas I am happy to travel for work, and over the moon to go to such a lovely place as their holiday home, I think they should recognise that it is work for me and I'm away from my own partner. They do not think it's fair to pay extra for me to travel with them and have offered 50 hours per week when I will be there 24/7.

They also consider it more appropriate for the children to entertain themselves on holiday, and for me to take on more of a cleaning / housekeeping role. I see this as more of an au pair role, and while I'm happy to help out I do think I am being asked to change my role and not get any recognition for it.

I am not a very experienced nanny - I have some experience with children during my life, a Level 2 Certificate and worked in schools during the training year, but this is my first post with a family. However, I feel I'm not being treated as a professional adult here - I'm inexperienced, but still a "grown up". I am very willing to be flexible about cleaning duties, and I don't feel as though we are able to communicate very easily. I have agreed to do the extra laundry duties and so on - but feel as though asking for a day off would be stepping out of line!

Any thoughts?

OP posts:
NannyClaire · 10/05/2007 17:44

Ach... nah I am being unfair. It's not that I think they are asking too much with the cleaning. I am just nervous about what people think it is acceptable for a nanny to do while she is travelling, and what they think it is fair for the nanny to ask in return.

I know she appreciates that more housework is a change to my role. I'm not a huge fan of housework but I'm keen to help her as much as I am to spend time with her children, so we can all get on well. It's part and parcel of being with a family. I'd just like some kind of feedback about where other people consider suitable boundaries might be.

Thoughts?

OP posts:
MrsSchadenfreude · 10/05/2007 18:34

I think you should expect to have weekends/evenings off, unless they need you to babysit, in which case they can pay extra.

jura · 10/05/2007 18:52

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

annetteljones · 10/05/2007 21:16

I employ a nanny (well, atcually 2 nannies covering different days but that's not relevant!). I think your employer is being TOTALLY unreasonable. In the same way that I don't see travelling in my job as in any way a perk, neither would I expect my nannies to see it as a treat either. Like you say it is the exact opposite - you are away from your family and friends, you are aware from your life and that is no way a treat. Okay so you might be someone hot and fabulous but hell you are still working! One of my nannies used to work for another lady for the two days she doesn't work for me ... and that lady asked her to use her annual leave from my job to go with them to France on the basis that she shouldn't mind taking the leave cos it was a holiday for her - no way! My nannies do far more housework than I expect of them and I am sooooo grateful, your employer should be too.

I find it REALLY annoying when employers treat their nannies differently from the way they work treat their staff at work. They deserve the same treatment, IMHO they deserve better.

You are a professional adult, you deserve to be treated like one. If she wants an au pair she should employ one and the basis of work when travelling should be discussed and AGREED and in your contract or Ts & Cs.

Vent over! hope you sort it out.

NannyClaire · 10/05/2007 21:50

Thanks for that, it's really reassuring to know that I am not losing my mind! If they need a housekeeper, then they should have stated that. I think the last nanny was so much of an all rounder that they never really considered her out of the ordinary - and now they are resenting my requests.

I really would like this to work out, but there have been a couple of other issues such as tax where they have been quite inflexible ("None of our other nannies declared their tax, we're not prepared to pay more. None of our friends either, it's normal that you underdeclare.")

I am beginning to suspect my inexperience may be being used against me here!


I am so loathe to walk away from something, firstly for the sake of the kids because I really do get on with them, especially the eldest. Secondly, I don't think it would look very good to a prospective employer that I managed only 2 or 3 months in my first role with a family.

I am really keen to sit down with her and put forward a list of "My Ideals" as has been suggested to me elsewhere.


I'll have to post it here for people's thoughts, if the majority think I'm being reasonable then I'm just going to have to keep that in mind and go for it!

Bear in mind my inexperience - I am Level 2 qualified (Distinction in every module though!), but they knew that. They are paying me £7 per hour gross. I'd say I do a pretty good job of being adaptable when plans change at the last minute, as is their wont (especially plans of a bath/dinner routine when children are mysteriously missing or there are extra bodies waiting to be collected!)

Anyway, this is all really really great, especially as you are on the most part Mums and not other Nannies replying. It's really what the employer feels is reasonable that I don't want to exceed - I genuinely want everyone to be happy!

OP posts:
annetteljones · 10/05/2007 22:14

The tax thing shocks me as well, they are exposing you to a big risk there as well as it is legally your responsibility to make sure you pay enough tax as well as your employers to pay it. Do they pay your full NI? That is really important as well.

I think you should talk through it with her. Hopefully you can sort it out. If the lady is a reasonable person then she will understand. If not then you could start to look round for something else, like you say it will be difficult to explain to another employer and you will probably need a reference.

You might be inexperienced but you are not being unreasonable AND you now know what other Mum's think about it. So if your employer makes comments like "none of our friends do it this way ..." you can say "well, I have friends who employ nannies and they don't work in this way".

I think £7 gross is a bargain rate for them in London, your qualification level is reasonable and you are obviously a bright and caring person.

I put the care of the most precious thing in my life, my daughter, into the hands of my nannies. That means that I HUGELY value their services, I can't pay them massive salaries (but more than you are on!) otherwise it wouldn't be worth my going out to work but I do try to make their working life as pleasant as possible and in my view their primary role is to care for my little girl and I wouldn't want anything to interfere with that.

Let us know how you get on & good luck!

ScottishThistle · 10/05/2007 22:19

You're a Nanny not a Cleaner!

Under no circumstances would I go on holiday with a family as a Cleaner!

I'm a professional Nanny & would be deeply offended to be treated in such a way!

NannyClaire · 11/05/2007 08:46

They have a cleaner who comes once a week, who they're saying might have to come more often, I think that's fair. It'd mean I'm doing less serious cleaning stuff (like that COOKER......) and just keep a kind of maintenence level going til she comes next.

Can I stress I'm quite happy to DO the laundry and stuff, if there are clear expectations? What I'm not happy about is the presumption that I'll do everything and anything, and be grateful I'm "sharing their home" - and for no extra pay (a 50 hour week for being there 7 days, we HAVE to agree how much time off I get and I'm pretty sure it won't be 2 days a week)


As far as the Tax goes, I'm registered self employed now and I'm left to decide how much or how little income I declare. This is really not great for me, as I am running a huge risk if I underdeclare, but I'm not practically able to support myself on £7 an hour in London. I pay the NI out of my £7. The rest....well, that's between me and the taxman.

At the moment I feel as though as soon as I have the extra experience I need to be taken seriously by the Nanny Agencies, I'm outta there. I'm also wondering if I shouldn't go for a load more jobs in Nurseries (I was offered some when I did my jobhunt - I got offered 5 nanny positions and 2 nurseries, so I know I'm desirable!) and return to college so when I DO take a nanny job, it's with someone who wants the best and is willing to pay for a "real professional"

I have been completely shocked to be honest, at how casually people treat the "staff" that look after their children. I know it can't be everyone with this attitude!

OP posts:
jura · 11/05/2007 10:39

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MrsWobble · 11/05/2007 11:03

also, if you're worried what future employers might think then if you explain their refusal to properly sort the tax position then any employer will understand the short period of employment - at least any employer that you would want to work for would.

NannyClaire · 11/05/2007 13:04

My "WISH LIST" of requests:

OK, here is a list of points I am going to put to my employer a requests for when we travel in summer.


If I arrive on 21st July and depart on or around the 25th August we consider this 5 weeks
If I arrive on 21st July and depart on or around the 2ns September we consider this 6 weeks

I am being offered pay for 50 hours per week based on 10 hours per day, 5 days a week.

I'll be beginning work no later than 9am and finishing no later than 10pm. This accounts for relaxed periods during the day, meal times etc. averaging 10 hours per day.

If working 5 weeks, I would like to take 2x breaks - 1 of 3 days, and one of 2 days
If working 6 weeks, I would like to take 2x breaks - 2x 3 days each

I would like to begin work late on Sundays, i.e. I join the family when I feel ready to wake up and leave my room.

I would like 1 afternoon/evening off per week - i.e. once the children have had lunch and the smallest is settled, I will not be required to work until the following morning.

All laundry etc I am happy to help with, keeping kitchen superficially clean between Cleaner's visits, and tidying toys with the help of the children.


Does everyone think this is fair? Basically, point by point -

I've been told I should eat with the children or alone, not eat with the adults unless I'm specifically asked. Mealtimes won't be THAT relaxed for me, and I'd prefer to eat with the kids and then hang out with them anyway.

The weekend breaks, one will be with my boyfriend in his parent's apartment in Nice, the other might be me alone in the apartment or in a hotel, just to get away for a couple days! So I won't be on call. It means I won't work for more than 2 week constantly in their house, I think it'll help me keep my sanity. For example, if I left once the children were asleep Thursday night and returned Sunday night, I'd count that as 3 days.

A lie in on Sunday ! Just to wake up in my own time as opposed to an alarm!

The afternoon/eve would probably begin around 3pm if the schedule we kept last time is anything to go by! Once I start off anywhere, I would like a couple hours to investigate, either the village, or go for a long walk without having to return to cook dinner for the children that evening. 2 hours sunbathing is not enough of a break for me :-/ This day would be completely flexible to fit in with the family's plans. I'd only disappear off when they didn't need me.

Thoughts?



As far as the self employment issue goes, this was all hazy at the start as well. They are loathe to register as an employer and grant me maternity pay, sick pay etc. This I understood when I started work with them. I agreed to be paid cash in hand. I knew I was making my bed, I guess..... again, I think it was my inexperience leading me to believe "It's normal, all our other friends pay cash in hand..." -
I am torn between feeling miffed and standing by my word, and standing by my word wins here. Silly me! But having this kind of discussion really makes it clearer to me what I should and should not accept in my next job, so thank you for your comments

OP posts:
ChocolateFace · 11/05/2007 13:12

Please, Please make sure in your next job you aren't paid cash in hand, or even part cash. For NI easons, and just incase you do become PG, Your maternity pay will be affected. (smile] If the parents are French in your current job you may have to be extra frim with them . Do you have nanny friends. Can you point out what is normal for them?

MrsFogi · 11/05/2007 13:23

That's not 10 hours per day - my nanny does 8-7 and I expect her to take time out to relax during the day (eg when dd is happy playing by herself/sleeping)and eating with dd counts as work as far as I'm concerned (certainly tires me out when I'm not working!). 10 hours should be 10 hours from when you start not 10 hours not counting any minute you are not working hard/going to the loo, that's slavery!

Bink · 11/05/2007 13:27

I was on the other thread ... I didn't realise you had your own thread too.

Some thoughts about your situation.

Tax/pay: I am not sure what worlds the family you work for move in, but in my experience what is "usual" for people like me (City/lawyer/business people, in London, both parents working, "sole charge" nanny) is to register as an employer, sign up truthfully with a payroll agency, and pay, on the nail (with a bit of agony, as it is so much), the tax & NI that the payroll agencies say we must pay.

£7/hr gross is low, unless you are live-in, which might be OK (though it would make it even more ridiculous to say you have to be "self-employed") - or perhaps if your role is more of a "mother's help" (ie shared charge) than sole-charge nanny. What is your role?

Travelling: there's a bit of chalking up to experience here (of course you know that!). Was it discussed at interview? Were you given a chance to negotiate terms, or even say that you were OK with it in principle but it would depend on the detail? They may be working on the understanding that you have already signed up to this as part of your job and the goalposts are already set (and not negotiable).

I'm going to have a think about what I would think reasonable if we were going, with a nanny, to a second home abroad for 6 weeks, & (to ease your eyes) post my thoughts on that separately.

NannyClaire · 11/05/2007 13:30

Nope.... I don't have much contact with other nannies yet! The ones I do know are through her nanny... or through message boards! I was a DVD Programmer in Soho til 2 years ago.
I did regular afterschool babysitting in my youth, and have 3 lovely godchildren who I take care of sometimes.... so I knew what I was getting myself into kid wise. I must say I get on really well with the daughter and the middle child is a lovely little mite too when he controls his temper - the youngest is now jumping out of his chair to cuddle me bye bye now, so I am really happy to be working with the children.

I found it very hard getting a Nanny job, so decided to take the under-the-counter route for a year or so rather than work through another year's NVQ. Living with my Mum while I was at college, 3 hours away from my lovely boyfriend - and working 2 crappy part time jobs, volunteering in schools AND doing all my assignments was driving me batty!

This time next year I will have the experience required by agencies to start putting me forward and negotiating on my behalf. And I won't accept cash in hand!

OP posts:
NannyClaire · 11/05/2007 13:35

Bink -
I'm happy with my £7 per hour, though the NI and tax comes out of it afterwards, I do the paperwork myself. It's low - but this is my first nanny job (I have great references from schools and nurseries I've volunteered in for experience, and I got Distinctions in every unit of my Level 2 Cert. but it's still "only" a Level 2)

There is a lot of sole charge, but Mum flits about most days. Sometimes she works out of the house, sometimes she is "Do Not Disturb" on the top floor and sometimes she'll just come and hang out. She tends to take the lead with organising, though I am working on that (I would like a calendar so I can suggest activities for afternoons we're together, as I feel I could come up with more interesting stuff for the kids if I had a bit of notice about where we'll be, when!).

OP posts:
Judy1234 · 11/05/2007 13:51

Good list. You need to have it agreed by email or in writing what you will do and when. If they are asking you to be away in their second home and it's longer than they explained when you started it might be fair for them to pay your flights home for a few weekends in that period to see your partner or his flights out to see you. If it was clear when you started that might be different.

We never travelled with our nanny, just agreed in advance what weeks she'd have as holiday and fixed ours around that.

Obviously you aren't self employed. Just be careful about that. Just this week I saw someone - a company - which had someone clearly employed classed as self employed, tax office investigated and now they're (the employer) taking £18k off her pay over the next however many years for the tax to recoup it as the contract says the employee has to pay that. They said well she would have paid the self employed tax anyway and tax people can set that off but this lady apparently didn't pay a penny of tax.

NKF · 11/05/2007 13:57

Finishing at 10pm at night! Is this serious?

NKF · 11/05/2007 13:58

Is not eating with the adults normal for nannies?

Judy1234 · 11/05/2007 14:02

We only for a few months (when she was covering for our live out nanny's first maternity leave stint) had a live in and she didn't eat with us but that was as much because we weren't eating together ourselves at that point as anything. Depends on your relationship. Just because you work for someone doesn't mean you want to eat with them on both sides.

10pm ,.... well a lot of working parents work those hours but I think its hdoule be defined like when my daughters work in ski resorts - you might be working to 10 doing an evening meal but you have 2 - 4 off to ski or rest etc. What you don't want to be is on 24 hour call and you need clear days each week when you're off too,.

Anna8888 · 11/05/2007 14:12

NannyClaire - the parents are French, right?

I live in Paris and, in my quite vast experience of the issue, French parents who employ a "nounou" expect her to be a lot more versatile and biddable (servile) than English parents do with a nanny, who is a trained professional. So probably quite a lot of issues stem from a cultural gap.

Why don't you write down your English professional expectations of your job, tell your employers that you know that things are very different in France, and have an open discussion about different cultural expectations? Try to depersonalise the discussion as much as possible in the first instance, and in the second try to reach an agreement that suits both parties.

NKF · 11/05/2007 14:15

Anna - I think American families can be like that too. When I was in New York recently, I heard many nannies described as "humble" as if it was a positive thing.

Anna8888 · 11/05/2007 14:18

NKF - yes, childcare as a job is held in higher esteem in the UK than in most places, probably because of the long tradition of trained nannies.

Lots of cultures think childcare = being a maid.

jura · 11/05/2007 14:38

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

NannyClaire · 11/05/2007 14:40

No, I registered myself as Self Employed. I fill in a return and I have just had my first bill for my NI wheee!

There is no way I would expose myself to the nightmare of being " in limbo "

I worked in Germany (for a huge International Media company) and returning home proved a bit tricky with the taxes as I was registered for German taxes while I was there.

As I've said, I've got a bit of life experience under my belt and consider myself a proper grown up who has chosen childcare as a profession. I'm in the early stages, but I am serious about this.

Looks like I'm learning "hands on" styl-ie ;-)

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