Did you know that household employers are not legally obligated to pay for ANY holidays or time off to their employees*? It is entirely up to the employer to decide if such a benefit will be offered or not. Clearly this is something that should be discussed when interviewing, and memorialized in a written work agreement. We know from experience this is a big concern for household employees. In some situations, applicants will even choose one job over another based on the holiday and paid time off in the job offer.
Full time household employees generally expect some baseline provision of paid holidays and vacation. Sadly, all too often both the family and the employee fail to discuss and agree to specific terms when interviewing, and may not have even put the agreement they made in writing. When holidays approach, such as the upcoming July 4th holiday which falls mid-week this year, these employees worry about whether they will be paid or not.
Our company receives many phone calls, especially around the major holidays, concerning paid time off. Common questions are: Will I receive pay on holidays? Will I be paid for those regular days when I am not needed due to holiday travel or entertainment? Will I even have the holiday off from work or will my employer require me to work?
Talking about vacation, paid holidays, and paid time off, right from the beginning, is critically important. Misunderstandings and miscommunication about these topics will affect your relationship with the nanny or any other household employee. Spelling out the policy for paid time off will help to avoid hurt feelings and uncomfortable situations. HomeWork Solutions recommends, as a best practice, to include this policy in your work agreement.
Families who do not plan to offer paid holidays should make this very clear at the time of hire.
Failing to plan for time off is never a good idea - yet it happens frequently. What are the norms?
Full time household workers typically receive a minimum of 7-8 paid Federal holidays per year. Additionally, most full time household workers expect to be paid for their regularly scheduled time every week, even if the family decides to take additional holiday time and the employee is not needed.
Permanent part time household workers are typically paid only when the Federal holiday (or its observance) falls on a regularly scheduled work day.
Federal holidays that fall on a Saturday are observed on the prior Friday, and those that fall on a Sunday are observed on the following Monday. Many families with different faith traditions sometimes 'move' the Christmas holiday, taking into account the faith tradition of their household employee. These arrangements ideally should be discussed and defined in the written work agreement.
Conclusion: All time off and compensation arrangements should be discussed and clearly documented in a written work agreement. Taking the time to be specific and have it in writing avoids misunderstandings later. Additionally, your nanny deserves to be able to plan for any reduction of her weekly income in advance. You would enjoy your vacations better, knowing there is no fussed nanny waiting for you at home!
*Federal law is referenced. A few localities and states mandate some paid time off.