4 Tricky Salary Situations to Discuss with the Family You Work For
Make sure you're getting paid for the work you do with these helpful solutions.
Julia Quinn-Szcesuil, Contributor
Articles> Advice for Babysitters and Nannies> 4 Tricky Salary Situations to Discuss with the Family You Work For
woman negotiating salary with employer

Working as a nanny or other type of caregiver can be unpredictable. The parents both work late one night and then they also need you on that weekend. In a blink, you have a 55-hour work week under your belt. What if your paycheck doesn't reflect the extra hours?

If you find you're working so many hours that you aren't even being paid minimum wage, there are laws in place to prevent that. According to Stephanie Breedlove, head of Care.com HomePay, managed by Breedlove, the Fair Labor Standards Act was amended in 1974 to specifically include domestic workers. Nannies, senior care aides, housekeepers, tutors -- that's you! If you work in a home, you're entitled to minimum wage and overtime protections. Minimum wages differs by state, so make sure you know what the requirements are where you work. Check this website for minimum wages by state.

But how do you solve a paycheck issue with your employer without offending anyone? We understand how hard it is to speak up. A couple of approaches will make these tricky conversations easier. "You have to view what you are doing as a professional job and that comes first," says career coach Marilyn Edelson of OnTrack Coaching. "Being professional comes before everything else."

Here are four awkward money conversations and suggestions for solving them.

  1. You're Working Longer Hours -- and Not Being Paid
    Solution
    : Remember, you're not asking for anything more than you deserve. Start the discussion with your employer with this type of opener: "When I applied for this job, we talked about being paid $X for five days.But lately I've been working Y-hour days, without overtime. With the extra hours,my salary doesn't meet our state's minimum wage. Can we talk about renegotiating my salary or changing my hours?"

  2. You're Driving the Kids -- and Need Money for Gas
    Solution
    : If they say they only need you to do it for a week, you have the right to say no if it makes you uncomfortable, says Edelson. If they ask you to drive on a regular basis, you need to have a discussion about extra insurance coverage, gas and mileage. But if you don't want to use your car, then don't. Try saying, "I'm happy to drive the kids, but only in your vehicle. If anything happened, I would be liable."

    For more information on this situation, read this article on How to Handle the Car Situation with Your Nanny

  3. You're Helping with Events -- Should You Get Paid?
    Solution
    : Remember, you're a professional and your time is important. Let them know you expect to be paid more because you went over your normal 40-hour week. Bring up the event and the pay. You might say, "I'm glad I could help with the kids during the party on Saturday, but I noticed I wasn't paid overtime. Since that was beyond my normal week, I would like to clear this up."

    Note: If it's a child's birthday party, and you're invited as a guest, but you still help out (because you don't really fit in the bounce house), don't expect to be paid. You're being a helpful guest.

  4. You're Working Unpredictable Hours -- Often at the Last Minute
    Solution
    : Busy parents often have busy work schedules, which is exactly why they need a dependable nanny like you. But you wouldn't show up late without calling, and parents should extend the same professional courtesy to you. However, if these parents need a more flexible nanny, you might not be the right fit for them. Try making it work by saying, "I enjoy taking care of your children, but I've noticed the day ending an hour or two later than we originally discussed. I know unexpected delays can happen occasionally, but I need to know when you'll be late because sometimes I have other plans. I also need to be paid for this time."

There are a couple of steps you can take to head off any future problems. Whether you're starting a new job or already a year into one, draw up a contract that specifies your expected hours, salary, holidays, benefits and overtime stipulations, suggests Edelson. "It is a lot easier to deal with things up front, instead of after the fact," she says. It also may be helpful to check out our free Nanny Tax Calculator so you can show the family you work for exactly how much you should be paid in taxes.

In the end, don't be afraid to tell your employer when something isn't working. Hopefully, you have a good relationship where you both want to make the situation work for the family. Then start keeping good records of your hours, your mileage or whatever might be in question. Create time sheets and receipts for each week. When you're underpaid, bring it up. If you're inconvenienced by repeated late hours, tell them. If you're the right caregiver, your employer should want to pay you for the time you are devoting and eliminate any possible problems.

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(20) Comments
Yrsa W.
Yrsa W.
It sounds to me like a lot of you need better employers. Don't be shy you need to stand up for yourself! Business is business, you need to take care of yourself first!
May 1, 2015 at 5:04 PM
Bobbie S.
Bobbie S.
What can you do if a family does not pay you? I worked a full week, tutored, did laundry, cleaning, chauffered, and am owed $700. Since I was paid weekly in cash, is there a way to collect. The family is upset because I quit due to the husband's job loss, resulting in me jobseeking, and then finding a teaching job.
October 11, 2014 at 12:43 AM
Cindy C.
Cindy C.
Hi! Do you have information about holidays and paid vacation? Can you ask vacation on your first year working for a family?
June 9, 2014 at 9:29 PM
Erica W.
Erica W.
I really found this article to be helpful. I liked when it said "you are not asking for anything more than you deserve". I have to keep this in mind. Because it is true, esp when you are using your own vehicle and paying for gas to do your job OR when they are late on a regular basis (all those 15 min add up). I've also been shorted on hours (about $8 because she didn't have change!) That is not ok! I have to learn to speak up and this actifule was very helpful!
March 19, 2014 at 12:46 PM
Care.com Member Care
Care.com Member Care
Hi Marsha! Great question! Conversations about gas reimbursement can get tricky - and it sounds like you've really been driving a lot! Here's a great article on how to reimburse a nanny for gas http://www.care.com/child-care-how-to-reimburse-a-nanny-for-gas-and-mileage-p1017-q31518687.html
I hope this helps!!
February 5, 2014 at 2:59 PM
Marsha C.
Marsha C.
Hello there~
Need some advice from other Nannys or from the Care.com offices. I drive over 100 miles twice a week to take my 3 nanny~kids to dance and music lessons. With auto costs/prices so high, I don't feel comfortable just charging for gas ($15/per time). Is there a proper formula I can use such as "cents per mile" that would be reasonable for this kind of work? I know the government rate varies from the 50 cent to 51.5 cents and so on, but I think that is too high to charge our Parents that we work for. PLEASE give me some much needed INPUT on this important matter. I did look for articles, etc., that would pertain to this, but found nothing.
THANKS much!
marsha
January 29, 2014 at 11:59 PM
Stephanie Breedlove
Stephanie Breedlove
Hi Christine!

According to the Fair Labor Standards Act, the family is allowed to deduct your meal time only if it is 30 minutes or longer and you are "relieved of all duties and free to leave." This doesn't usually apply to nannies unless a parent comes back home during the nanny's lunch hour to watch the kids. If you're in a situation where your lunch time is spent in the family's home alone with the children, you must still be paid for this time even if the children are napping because you are technically still on duty.
January 8, 2014 at 12:17 PM
Christine P.
Christine P.
Are employers required to pay for lunch hour? Meaning, I'm caring for a newborn and a 1 year old so naps arent regular and occasionally only last 15-25 mins. In other words, I'm caring for the children 45 hours a week but only get paid for 40, is this correct?
January 7, 2014 at 9:56 PM
Stephanie Breedlove
Stephanie Breedlove
Hi Jane!

There is no tax law forbidding you from being paid by check. Ultimately it's the family's responsibility as a household employer to be withholding and paying taxes. You should also be claiming this income on your taxes and if the family has not withheld all year, you will have to pay those taxes when you file your personal income tax return. Moving forward, the family needs to be following the IRS' payroll and tax requirements outlined in Publication 926.

What I'm more concerned about is if you're not being paid on the books, you won't have Social Security and Medicare credit being built up for retirement. You also won't have access to unemployment benefits if you are let go from the job due to no fault of your own. These benefits are very important to you and you should have access to them. I wish you the best of luck moving forward Jane and please let the family you work for know that Care.com HomePay can get the tax and payroll straightened out for both them and you.
November 11, 2013 at 10:54 AM
Jane G.
Jane G.
Is it safe for me to get paid by check if the employer doesn't claim me?
November 9, 2013 at 9:15 AM
Stephanie Breedlove
Stephanie Breedlove
Hi Robin!

My name is Stephanie Breedlove and I am the head of Care.com HomePay. A caregiver providing part-time or occasional care does not have to worry about taxes being withheld as long as they earn less than $1,800 during the calendar year from each family they work for. They will need to keep track of their earnings from each family though because the IRS requires all income to be reported on your income tax return. So if you earn $800, $900 and $600 doing occasional work for 3 families, you would need to report $2,300 as "Other Income" on your personal federal income tax return.

If you do earn $1,800 or more from any family you work for throughout the year, the family must withhold taxes on the entire amount of wages you earn and pay the appropriate employer taxes. That's why it's so important for both the caregiver and the family to keep track of the wages the caregiver earns. You don't want to be caught off-guard during tax season and end up doing a lot of additional work to catch up on your tax responsibilities.
October 28, 2013 at 11:19 AM
Robin V.
Robin V.
Are caregivers that only provide occasional care or part time care responsible for ensuring taxes are taken out?
October 26, 2013 at 6:29 PM
Laura L.
Laura L.
My question about the $5-$10 pay rate was finally answered!
And for all who have been treated badly, I feel for you. The women who interviewed with unreasonable/rude care seekers, GOOD FOR YOU for not taking the job!
October 1, 2013 at 3:20 PM
Kathryn D.
Kathryn D.
Just wondering in Goldsboro NC what the avg rate is for caring for 3 kids at the age of 5,12,14?
Transportation is also involved when their.
What would you charge say weekly from 20-30 hours?
How much for overnight stay?
3 children.
August 18, 2013 at 9:44 PM
Rosa C.
Rosa C.
I recently moved to Arizona and I'm wondering how much to charge for weekends and overnight. Thank you!
July 27, 2013 at 4:34 PM
Stephanie Breedlove
Stephanie Breedlove
Hi Bobbie D!

Unfortunately the large majority of families are still paying their household employees cash. This is against the tax laws set forth by the IRS and the penalties can be very, very expensive for families who are caught paying under the table. On top of that, an employee who has no taxes withheld is not contributing to a tangible employment history or building credit toward their retirement. This means things like a home mortgage or car loan are very difficult - if not impossible to obtain. I would suggest taking a look at the following page to understand how being paid legally benefits you both in the short and long-term.
http://www.breedlove.com/Answers/EmployeeInfo/WhyProfessionalPayPaysOff.aspx
July 24, 2013 at 9:54 AM
Bobbie D.
Bobbie D.
Great comments, I have a question about the family paying cash with no with holdings. does this happen?
July 23, 2013 at 2:55 PM
Julie L.
Julie L.
Wow. I've been in all four of these situations and each time I said something I was told, "if you don't like it, then leave." Not all families are willing to be reasonable with their nannies. Especially the ones who pay the most.
July 8, 2013 at 1:04 PM
Michaela B.
Michaela B.
To Daniell
I hope you know you can explain yourself on the review page to "tell your side" For the record you are lucky you learned the mom was nuts then as apposed to after you took a job. PS I would also report the Person $3 an hour is wrong any way you want to look at it.
To all above me thank you for your posts and good luck to all above me and to all reading this.
Michaela Bennett
July 2, 2013 at 2:17 AM
Catherine D.
Catherine D.
Hello everyone! I was wondering, what do you ask to get paid for overnight sleeping hours? I have heard other nannies say they charge their hourly, still, considering they still have to be there - the family is paying for their time. I agree with this, even though we are sleeping, we are still required to be there in case the child wakes up in the middle of the night, or in case of emergency. I, however, in the interest of fairness, have always charged a flat rate of 100 dollars for the overnight hours verses 15 dollars an hour. Am I short changing myself? There is only about a 20 dollar difference here.. I have twenty plus years experience as a professional nanny and substitute preschool teacher, just in case this helps in your answers.

Thanks so much!!! Just wanted to get other nannies take...
July 1, 2013 at 8:44 PM

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