Many Nannies Show Up for Work, Even When Scared of Being Infected During the Coronavirus Pandemic

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I need an income. What are people not understanding about that?

In late March into early April, 2020, How to Be the Best Nanny Blog asked 256 nannies about their jobs during the coronavirus pandemic. We learned there is a lot of fear and confusion for many nannies experiencing shelter-in-place or stay-at-home orders during the coronavirus pandemic. We also learned that most of the nannies that took our poll are still working, despite fearing getting sick.

A lot of the confusion is figuring out if nannies are considered essential workers or not. When a state implements a stay-at-home order only essential workers are supposed to go to work. Each state has their own definition of essential workers and some of those lists have been updated and changed. Some states list at-home childcare services as being essential, while other states are not as clear.

As a nanny that took our survey said, “My boss is an essential worker. That makes me an essential worker too. Therefore, I have no problem showing up for work.”

One-hundred-and-eighty-three of the nannies that responded to the poll, (74% of the in-home childcare workers), answered they are still going to work despite stay-at-home orders made by their state and local governments. Many are getting a lot of pressure from friends and family to stay home and not go to work. But, as one nanny said, “I need an income to survive. What are people not getting about that?”

Of course there are some parents and nannies that are being creative in ways to keep the child care providers both safe and employed. One nanny says she is sheltering in place with her nanny family to lessen spreading the virus and that still allows her to work. Another nanny explained she is working by, “helping with distance learning via FaceTime,” to earn her regular income without having to physically go to work.

Many domestic workers worry they will get infected when they go to work, but fear they won’t get paid or may even laid-off if they don’t show up for work in-person. Of the nannies still showing up for work that took our survey, 60% admitted to being afraid of being infected by going to work rather than just staying home during this health crisis.

When asked, “If you had the choice would you prefer to stay home or go to work during coronavirus “shelter in place” orders?” 68% of the nannies that took our poll answered they would rather just stay at home. So the dilemma for many nannies is risking getting sick and losing a paycheck.

In the survey we learned that even being older, having underlying medical conditions, or compromised immune systems themselves, it’s often the nannies that are running the errands to get food and toiletries at stores potentially exposing themselves to Covid-19 — not their employers. In-home childcare providers are not only at risk of being infected when they shop for themselves and their own families, but then again when shopping for their employers. Domestic workers are also at risk every time they handle another family’s (or many other family’s) groceries, sheets, clothing, and help to clean their kitchens, bathrooms, and toys.

Some good news for nannies is that 63% of the people that took our survey do know nannies that are being paid to stay home temporarily due to the coronavirus pandemic.

But, 53% of the people that took the poll also know nannies that have been furloughed or fired due to the coronavirus pandemic because the parents have been furloughed.

A big problem facing some nannies that have been furloughed or laid-off is if they are paid in cash it is difficult to prove income and collect unemployment benefits.

If you are a nanny with a tight budget and suddenly not earning a paycheck due to the coronavirus, contact The National Domestic Workers Alliance. They have raised more than $3 million for its Coronavirus Care Fund to support workers through the crisis, according to the organization. The application does not require a Social Security number and provides $400 in emergency assistance for care workers, nannies, and house cleaners in financial hardship. If you have a secure income please consider donating to the Coronavirus Care Fund by clicking here.

During this healthcare crisis nannies need to weigh their need for a paycheck and the risk that going to work poses for them and their families. Each family that hires a nanny, and each in-home childcare provider has different needs.

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