Tag Archives: live-in

What can you expect from your nanny: Non-child care responsibilities.


housekeeping

Light housekeeping?!?

Parents hire nannies to take care of their children.  There is also an expectation that there will be some non-child care responsibilities related to the role, such as; taking care of any dishes used, some cooking here and there, some light cleaning associated to the children or family and possibly some laundry. 

From all the emails and comments I have received over the years, it is accurate to say that some parents forget that the primary responsibility for a nanny is child care and there is an expectation that their nannies are able to take care of the children in addition to what they refer to as “light housekeeping” responsibilities, which in reality means nanny and cleaning-lady. 

So what constitutes “light housekeeping?”   

In order to get a clearer idea of what nannies think light housekeeping is and what employers think light housekeeping is, I read an article created for NannyClassifieds.com called; “Is Light Housekeeping a Nanny Responsibility?”  The link to the original article is here;  http://www.nannyclassifieds.com/blog/is-light-housekeeping-is-a-nannys-responsibility/

According to this article, in the nanny world, light housekeeping typically means leaving the home in the same condition it was in when the nanny arrived / started her day there.  If there were no dishes in the sink in the morning, then there should be no dishes in the sink at the end of the day, and if the house was spotless in the morning, it should be the same by nightfall.  It is reasonable to expect your nanny to clean up the mess and restore the house to its original morning condition prior to the end of her workday.

The extras are the other things in addition to childcare which nannies are generally responsible for and are usually agreed upon in a written contract – a written approved contract if gone through the Canadian Live-In Caregiver program.  Some of these items include;

• Do the laundry for the children
• Keep the children’s play area as neat, tidy and organized as possible.
• Prepare breakfast for the children before school, lunch for school and snacks for the kids attending school.
• Prepare the same for any children who are at home or attend school part of the day.  
• Ensure that after meal preparation and after the actual meal the kitchen is clean again.
• Engage the children in activities such as arts and crafts and reading, and ensure once finished the area is tidy
• Pick up after the children
• Ensure the kids rooms, including drawers, bed and closets are clean
• Prepare the same for any children who are at home or attend school part of the day.
• Ensure that after meal preparation and after the actual meal the kitchen is clean again.
• Engage the children in activities such as arts and crafts and reading, and ensure once finished the area is tidy
• Prepare breakfast for the children before school, lunch for school and snacks for the kids attending school.

Some nannies may also take on additional household related tasks provided they have the time and it has been pre-arranged and agreed upon.  They may do the children’s grocery and clothes shopping, as well as purchase the supplies needed to properly stock the nursery.  In some cases, nannies may also be responsible for ordering age-appropriate supplies, toys, and arts and crafts, depending on the arrangement that was made.

According to the article, nannies typically do not:
• Do the parent’s laundry
• Clean the parent’s bathrooms
• Mop the floors
• Dust the furniture
• Prepare family meals regularly.

In each family and nanny work arrangement, light housekeeping should be clearly defined.  What is in the contract dictates what the family’s housekeeping expectations are, and what the nanny’s housekeeping responsibilities are. 

Many nannies do agree to take on additional non-childcare related housekeeping tasks.  They may do this because the children spend mornings in school or they simply enjoy cleaning and would gladly take on the housekeeping tasks in exchange for increased compensation.  If your nanny agrees to take on additional housekeeping tasks, she should be provided additional compensation for them and allowed adequate time to complete them when childcare is not her responsibility.  For these nannies/housekeepers, it should be stressed that when the children are in her care, childcare should be her main responsibility.  I think that is common sense, no?

Often times a nanny will go above and beyond the call of duty simply out of practicality. If a nanny is doing the dishes from lunch and her employer left a knife and dish in the sink after breakfast, for example, she’s likely going to wash them too, rather than simply leave them sitting there in the sink.  If a nanny is preparing one of her favorite homemade pasta recipes for the children’s dinner, she may make enough for the entire family, since it’s easier than tweaking the recipe for smaller portions.  Much in the same way most families when making their dinner will make enough for their nanny and have them eat with them whenever possible.  It’s give and take, and that mutual respect and understanding helps form and build the bond between the nanny and her employer.

Wen these random acts of kindness become expected by employers through, resentment and relationship problems in the nanny relationship can occur.  Light housekeeping is going to mean different things to different people.  Clearly articulating the duties and responsibilities that meet an employer’s definition of light housekeeping will help to prevent job creep and miscommunication over housekeeping related expectations.

How have you divided up responsibilities and how clear were you with your nanny on her duties outside of child care?

It’s amazing to me how many employers post comments in public message boards about how their nannies cook, clean, take care of the kids, and do all these other tasks not related to child care, and then the employer answers questions about wages and working hours, or working conditions which really casts them in a negative light.  Taking advantage of a nannies good will is never cool, and posting that in a public form is even less cool and quite questionable.  Especially in light of the fact that these message boards are trolled by agencies and organizations who protect nannies from being taken advantage of.

So to sum it all up…

Make sure what you are expecting your nanny to do outside of child care is clear and written in the contract.  Also remember that just because they came from worse working conditions in Hong Kong it doesn’t give you the right to treat them in any way that you yourself would not want to be treated in their shoes.

Karma.

Here is a link to the article; http://www.nannyclassifieds.com/blog/is-light-housekeeping-is-a-nannys-responsibility/

Oh boy, open permit season causes all kinds of headaches, eh?


Welcome to the wonderful world of hiring a live-in caregiver through the Canadian Live-In Caregiver Program (LCP). You’ve made your mind up that you need a nanny and you have done your homework and realized that a live-in nanny through this program is the cheapest way to go. You have moved past the idea that a complete stranger will be coming to live with you and raising, or helping in the raising of, your child(ren). You have met with, interviewed and assessed strangers, or sponsored from overseas – relying on the judgement of an agency (more strangers) and at the end of the day, this turns out to be the easiest part of the process. Who knew?

There is paperwork… Lots of paperwork and a really good agency will prepare that for you, or help you prepare it while at the same time educating you on the LCP and the same time preparing you for the interview with Service Canada, setting up the terms of the contract with the nanny, helping get your CRA payroll number in place and making sure all other paperwork is in good order.

The LCP, you see, has changed a lot since 2004 when we sponsored our first nanny and that is solely because people abuse the program and in turn they abuse the people that they have hired to look after their houses and their children. By forcing these nannies to work super long hours (the story goes that because in Hong Kong they are not treated well, in Canada they would not complain about a 12 hour day), or they treat them like prisoners not allowing them to come and go freely from the family home outside of working hours. Expecting them to be on call 24/7, or expecting them to look after your 3 children, and keep the house spotless and cook for the family. If you cannot do it, what makes you think they can? The abuses always make the news.

As a result, the Federal Conservative government has been tightening the screws on the LCP for the past five years, making the rules tighter on the employment side, requiring potential employers to provide contracts to the employees outlining overtime (after 44 hours worked per week) and the giving of 2 weeks notice (or payment in lieu) prior to termination. A lot of attention was paid to having these employees respected and treated accordingly.

Then came the attack on nanny agencies in effort to force out the illegitimate ones but also unnecessarily tightening the screws on the legitimate ones, requiring them to have lawyers and immigration consultants in their business’ as well. Driving up the costs to the agencies ultimately means it is more expensive to hire an agency and really are these people not seeking full-time nannies because they need to work in order to make ends meet?!?

Then came the regulation requiring the potential employer to pay for the airfare of the nanny to bring her to Canada. That has been a huge issue since in many cases, there is not a good fit between employer and employee and if the employee is released, the employer already forked out for their flight to Canada. Another burden to the employer, and potentially critical blow to the program. Or even worse when the nanny comes to Canada on the potential employer’s dime then they quit.

But the latest decision by the Minister of Immigration, Jason Kenney just before Christmas and if you employ(ed) a live-in caregiver who had completed their mandatory 2 years in the program, you know exactly what happened there and you have most certainly had to deal with it already. Not only did it come out of no-where but it’s impact was far and wide on may people.

Back in 2004 when we first hired our live-in caregiver we kept her employed until she received her open permit and knowing this we worked with her to ensure she had a post-nanny career option, and we had time to work with our amazing nanny agency to help us sponsor a nanny from overseas to ensure there was no gap in care for our children. The time between the applying for the open permit and the receiving of it was invaluable as it gave us time to get moving on our post-nanny plan.

By 2007, however, the regulations began to tighten for the LCP and it was taking longer to get the open permit, now up to 8 months. Fast forward to 2010, and it was taking well over a year with no end in sight. There was a backlog of 10,000 cases and speculation that none of the nannies in the system were going to be granted their open permits.

This uncertainty made it very difficult for employers to plan for life after their nannies and for the nannies it delayed their planning for their life after employer. None of the nannies could take courses at recognized institutions since they would be deemed to be a foreign student and those students pay a lot of money to take classes which is not feasible on a $23,000/year salary. They needed to know when they could take courses so they could pre-register and employers needed an idea of when they might be leaving for potentially greener pastures.

Then without warning the Federal government granted open permits to everybody in their systems just before Christmas, whether they were waiting over a year, or just a week and within no time there was a lot of chaos.

Nannies, working long hours for low pay through this program, living in someone elses house – usually in the basement – became free agents and wanted more money, and a live-out job, and a Metropass (if in Toronto). Probably different by community, but in our nook in the city there is a going rate for live-outs, apparently, and it entailed more money, and less working hours.

These caregivers needed to earn more to pay for their rent and food, so they could go to school and begin to prepare for their life in Canada they dreamed about when they made the decisions to leave their families and come here.

Not entirely fair to the employer now is it? One day you have a nanny, the next day they are expecting a huge raise and to live out and if you cannot afford the higher salary you get 2 weeks notice, and 2 weeks notice is not enough time to find a suitable replacement, let alone time to sponsor someone from overseas.

Not exactly fair to the caregiver either, I’ll tell you.

You see, my family and our caregiver have really bonded. I mean she looks after the most important things in the world to me, my children and she also teaches them, keeps them safe, keeps my house clean and keeps them fed. Whew. It’s a lot, and in return for this, we pay her, but not just monetarily. We also consider her to be part of the family and in doing to we have always encouraged her to consider life after being a caregiver, life with an open permit and what she wants to do when she grows up.

In my opinion, far too many nannies jump at their opportunity to leave their employer once they receive an open permit and they leave a happy, loving situation to make more money but become more miserable and for what benefit? Nobody wins that situation.

For years now, we have been working with our caregiver on what she needs to do to succeed post-nanny so she doesn’t leave us to work at Tim Horton’s the rest of her life (unless she wanted to) or to be a caregiver for another family – still nowhere near her career goals and dreams. We had already cut back hours for education, recommended courses and locations, and we will do whatever we can to help her hit the ground running full steam ahead into her next career when she’s ready to make that next step, and I strongly feel that as employers we should all be doing this. I do it for my staff that report to me at the office, why wouldn’t I do it for her?

Since we took the time to get to know her and build a relationship with her, we can help her prepare for life after us, and hopefully keep her a part of our children’s lives. Also gives us piece of mind for babysitting.

So if this sudden influx of open permits has caught you by surprise and you have managed to sort through the process think about how you would want to be treated if you were in their shoes, or if you cannot, think about how you would want to be treated if you were an employee working in an organization. Would you want your employer to talk with you about life after that job, career development and opportunities, or would you want them to work you to the bone – content that they are paying you – and then waiting for you to be offered another opportunity and threatening to leave before getting that better offer.

I think we all know the answer to that.

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