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.
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?"
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 »
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.
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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