Cancellation Policies, Minimum Hours and Holiday Rates for Sitters

img_6557Work Agreements for Babysitters

It’s a waste of a babysitter’s precious time when parents cancel, or reduce the number of hours they will work, at the last minute.

For underemployed nannies, babysitting jobs are often needed to pay the bills. For those who rely on babysitting jobs to make ends meet, last minute cancellations can be more than annoying, they can literally break the bank.

Babysitters should create a cancellation policy. The policy should be included in a contract in which the parents agree to give proper notice before cancelling a babysitting job. While implementing a cancellation fee childcare providers should also include the minimum amount of hours they will work for each babysitting job and their holiday rate to prevent resentment in the future.

Of course there are instances when waiving the cancellation fee is appropriate. It would seem cruel to expect parents to pay if they have an emergency such as a family member being very sick, there is a dangerous storm, or a death in the family.

The babysitter’s hourly rate, amount of notice required for cancellations, and the minimum percentage of compensation required will differ for each caregiver. We are just providing a sample below that each sitter can adjust their terms to their wishes.

A babysitter cancellation policy or work agreement isn’t meant to be a contract to take parents to court, but to spell out how you expect to be treated.

Here are 6 things to include in a babysitting work agreement:

1. Babysitter Name and Contact Information:

Put your name and contact information in a bold and large font at the top of the work agreement.

2. Hourly Rate:

List your typical hourly rate per child. You can also list your overnight rate.

3. Minimum Hours:

List the minimum amount of hours you are willing to work to make babysitting worthwhile to you. For example, I require a 4-hour minimum for all babysitting jobs. Reservations of 8-hours or more are require an 8-hour minimum.

4. Cancellation Policy:

Choose a cancellation policy that makes sense to you. I like at least a 72-hour notice to cancel a babysitting booking, otherwise a minimum 4-hour fee will still be paid.

5. Holiday Rates:

Sitters should also earn more than their standard hourly rate when their services are more in demand, like on holidays. A higher holiday rate is typically time-and-a-half or double the usual hourly rate. I charge time-and-a-half hourly rate when working some of the following holidays:

  • New Year’s Day
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day
  • Memorial Day Weekend
  • 4th of July
  • Labor Day Weekend
  • Columbus Day/Indigenous Peoples’ Day
  • Thanksgiving
  • Christmas Eve
  • Christmas Day
  • New Year’s Eve

6. Signature and Date:

Have parents and babysitter sign and date the work agreement to confirm they understand the babysitter’s minimum requirements.

How Nannies Should Respond When Someone Asks, “When Are You Going to Get a Real Job?”

“Find something you love to do, and you’ll never work a day in your life.” — Harvey MacKay

After working as a nanny for 25 years I know all to well that much of our society does not value nannies. As with most jobs in childcare in the United States, nannies are often undervalued. The hard work of domestic workers (anyone working in the home) are typically minimized as well.

Proof of this is that so many in-home childcare providers are often asked, “When are you going to get a real job?”

I have learned that when someone asks me this question they are one of two things: either ignorant or trying to attack me. More often than not, my friends and family simply don’t understand the important influence nannies have on the children they are helping to raise.

I don’t ever recommend getting to their level by insulting them back. Staying calm and respectful when responding works best. Finding out the person’s intentions will also help you know how best to answer them.

Here are some ways I have responded that might work for you:

1. “What would make you say that?”

First you need to figure out if the individual is uninformed about your career choice or if they are intentionally insulting you.

Perhaps they have a preconceived notions about nannies due to negative media coverage of abusive or husband-stealing nannies. Maybe they think you are just a glorified babysitter who sits on the sofa watching soap operas while the babies sleep all day. Do they feel you aren’t using your college degree to work in the career you spent a fortune being educated to do?

Knowing why they don’t think working as a nanny is a real job will help you respond to their misconceptions.

2. “I respectfully disagree.”

Once you know the reasons why they don’t respect your career choice you can correct their misunderstandings.

If it’s media coverage you can ensure them that those stories are rare and that you have never done those misdeeds or have met a nanny that has.

If they don’t think you work hard you can list the important job duties you complete daily and weekly. Explain you are an extension of the parents filling in as their substitute in their absence while they work.

You can explain how what you learned in college is used in your career as a nanny and that earning the degree has afforded you a higher paying nanny position than those who haven’t completed their degree.

3. “Find something you love to do, and you’ll never work a day in your life.”

I have repeated Harvey MacKay’s quote listed above dozens of times to those who don’t understand why I work as a nanny.

Everyone has a different calling and I was born to be a nanny.

Certain jobs require a certain personality and everyone a different personality. Not everyone is made to work as a nanny, but I am. I realize who I am and what jobs I am good at. I love working with children, teaching them, I am organized, self-motivated, creative, like to cook, and love helping parents run their home.

4. “I am the most important person the parents ever will hire.”

My first Mom Boss was the head of Human Resources at her company and hired people as part of her job. She told me over and over again that the nanny is the most important person she will ever hire. I am trusted to care for her children and home. Nothing is more important to her than that. Sometimes that’s all I need to say to put career naysayers in their place.

5. “I pay my bills on time. I couldn’t if it wasn’t a real job.”

I said this a few times when I wanted to end the conversation quickly.

6. “That is rude. Would you ask anyone else that question?”

Sometimes it’s fine to let people know their remark is hurtful and you feel insulted. I can’t imagine asking anyone when they will get a real job. All jobs have a purpose.

7. Do Nothing, Say Nothing

If you think that the person who insulted you is unworthy of your consideration, you have no reason to take offense or say anything at all. Sometimes, some people aren’t worth your time and energy.

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