Nanny Maternity Leave: What to Do When Your Nanny Gets Pregnant?
The new addition doesn't have to mean goodbye. Here are options when your care provider starts a brood of her own.
As a working mom, you probably spent a lot of time planning your maternity leave, your transition back to work and hiring a full-time nanny. Now that the tables are turned and you are an employer, have you thought about what you'd do if your nanny needs her own time to bond with a new baby?
If you have a good relationship with your nanny, finding out that she's pregnant might leave you conflicted: happy for her, but anxious about what it will mean for your family.
Will You Lose Your Nanny?
Possibly. Your nanny may simply decide to quit working after she has her baby. If so, hopefully she will tell you her plans with ample time for you to make other child care arrangements.
If she wants to continue working for you after she has her baby, you'll need to work together to come up with a plan. "If a nanny has been with a family for some time, I'd say there are certain expectations in place," says Michelle LaRowe, executive director of the International Nanny Association and author of Working Mom's 411: How to Manage Kids, Career and Home. "These expectations start with having an open and honest conversation without fear of immediate termination." To alleviate unnecessary stress and tension, talk through what will happen during the pregnancy and beyond ASAP. The first item to discuss is your nanny's maternity leave.
How Does a Nanny Maternity Leave Work?
"There really are no norms for nanny maternity leaves," says LaRowe. Mandated federal requirements for maternity leaves only apply to employers with more than 50 employees, so (assuming that doesn't apply to you) it's up to you and your nanny to agree upon an arrangement. Will she work up to her due date? How long will she take off? How will you cover the weeks that she is off? Keep in mind that it might be challenging to find a temporary replacement since a lot of nannies prefer to take longer-term positions.
"Most nannies and families who continue their relationship post-baby work hard to be flexible and make it a win-win situation for all," says LaRowe. While it may not be financially feasible, you may want to offer some form of paid leave, or at least agree that she can use any paid vacation time during the leave. Assuming you and she are paying nanny taxes, she may even be eligible for some disability benefits if you live in New York, California or Rhode Island.
If you can't afford paid leave, you may be able to help her in other ways, like lending her baby gear and clothes. In turn, she may be able to help you find her replacement, train the new nanny and help the children with the transition. (Get tips for saying goodbye to a nanny.)
Bringing the Baby to Work
If your nanny is planning to continue working for you after having the baby, she may ask if she can bring the baby to work. You'll want to take time to carefully think through if this situation will work for your family. "As a parent, you need to decide what's best for your child and weigh out the pros and cons of your nanny bringing her child to work with her," says LaRowe. "Perhaps the stability of having your long-term caregiver there is an incentive enough to continue the relationship. Maybe you like the thought of your child having a built-in playmate."
The age and number of kids you have will also factor in. Most nannies should be perfectly capable of watching several children at once, but twin toddlers and a newborn might be too much. And, as LaRowe points out, "Worrying about backup care if the nanny's child get sick, wondering how your child will react to shared attention or how the new mom's treatment of your child may be affected may be enough to say this isn't for you."
If you do decide to allow your nanny to bring her baby to work, here are some tips from LaRowe for making it work:
- Agree to a trial basis. This gives you and your nanny time to see if the arrangement practically works for both of you. Reevaluate the situation every 4-6 months.
- Communicate. Keep the lines of communication honest and open. Set aside time for a weekly meeting so things don't build up.
- Sign a work agreement. Create a new nanny contract to outline the expectations, roles and responsibilities of your relationship. Having things in writing eliminates confusion down the line. (View sample nanny contracts.)
- Set boundaries. Can your nanny use your baby gear? Where will the new baby nap? What is off limits?
- Have a backup plan. Now that your nanny has her own little one to worry about, it's going to be very important that you have a backup child care plan for your child, just in case. You may be really fortunate and have nearby friends/family who'd be willing to fill in as needed. If you don't, you're going to need to find a backup caregiver. Learn how services like Care.com Backup Care can help you find backup child care in a pinch.
This new arrangement might not be what you envisioned when you hired your nanny, but isn't that what parenthood is all about? Adjusting expectations? "If you have a quality nanny that you trust completely, it may be worth giving continuing the relationship a try," says LaRowe.