If having a nanny for childcare is considered a luxury, then taking your nanny on vacation with you could be considered an extravagance … and an expensive one at that. When your children’s caregiver joins your trip, you get an extra set of hands and an opportunity for you and your partner to escape for a little bit on your own.
Our friends at GTM, Aunt Ann’s preferred household payroll service, provide all the information you need to consider before approaching your nanny about taking them on your vacation.
It’s your vacation, not theirs.
If your nanny is working, then it’s not really a vacation for them.
Think of it this way… a caregiver going on vacation with their nanny family is like an employee in the traditional workforce taking a business trip. Your company may send you somewhere nice and sunny or to a hip and up-and-coming city. You may even get some downtime to explore a bustling downtown area or relax on a beach. But it’s still a work trip.
In fact, some nannies will tell you that working during a family vacation can be more exhausting than caring for your children at home.
You’ve also picked the destination. It’s a place you want to go with your children. Your nanny doesn’t have a say in where you go. While you may think it’s the most wonderful vacation ever, it may not be what your nanny enjoys.
Communicate expectations and responsibilities.
Good communications with your nanny are essential for a strong work relationship in your home. The same holds true for your vacation planning. Discuss with your nanny exactly what your expectations will be for them including their schedule and responsibilities. That way they’re clear on their obligations and you’re not disappointed that your vacation didn’t go as anticipated. Review and agree on compensation, accommodations, and itinerary.
Hours worked = hours paid.
Let’s just get this out of the way… a “free vacation” does not equal pay for working during your trip. Traveling to fun or even exotic destinations can be a nice perk but it’s not a replacement for their wages. When your nanny returns home, they still need to pay their bills and buy groceries. Their landlord probably won’t take a postcard in place of rent.
With that said, all hours your nanny is working should be paid. Any hours worked over 40 during the week is considered overtime and are paid at time and a half. If you pay your nanny guaranteed hours, that pay rate applies (even if they work fewer hours) plus additional pay if they go above those hours. Do not pay your nanny a flat rate for the vacation. They are still hourly employees whether they’re working in your home or watching your kids on the beach. Any wage and labor laws that relate to your nanny’s employment in your home also apply when you’re on vacation.
You may want to bring a small notebook or use a note-keeping app on your phone to track when your nanny is on and off the clock. Confirm these hours with your nanny daily so there are no surprises come payday.
Travel time is paid time.
By law, your employee is to be paid for the time they spend going to and from your destination. Traveling for your vacation is not the same as their daily commute and needs to be compensated. For some families, traveling is the toughest part of the vacation. You may want your nanny’s help during those hours. Going back to the business analogy, you wouldn’t expect your travel time for a company trip to go unpaid if you’re an hourly employee.
All travel expenses are covered.
As we said at the top of this post, taking your nanny on vacation is expensive. You’ll need to pay for their flights, meals, accommodations, activities, and other travel-related expenses. Again, if you took a business trip, your company would pay for your travel, meals, and hotel room. Even meals your nanny takes on their own should be covered. Remember, your nanny wouldn’t incur these costs if you hadn’t asked them to join you, so you need to pay these expenses.
If you go to a museum, amusement park or some other attraction and ask your nanny to join you and be on the clock, then you’ll need to pay their entrance fees. If an excursion is optional – meaning you’re not expecting your nanny to work if they come – then you don’t have to pay for them to get in or for their time. In this case, they could decide to do something else but they are choosing to join you.
Sharing a room with your children.
One way to save money on your vacation is to have your nanny share a room with the kids. But this may not be a great idea. Your nanny needs downtime – as we’ll get to in a moment – and sharing a room with the children she’s been with all day won’t allow them to have a break. They’ll also need to be in the room when your kids go to bed, which could be hours before your nanny’s ready to sleep. Your nanny could turn down your request to join your vacation if they don’t get their own room.
Also, will you expect your nanny to help your children if they wake up in the middle of the night? By law, your nanny needs to get at least five consecutive hours of uninterrupted sleep and a total of eight hours of rest time or else the entire night becomes paid hours. You may be better off providing your nanny their own room.
Make sure your nanny gets downtime.
During a normal workweek, your nanny is relieved of their duties at some point and can go home and relax. They’ll need similar downtime when you’re on vacation or else they’ll completely burn out before the trip is over. Maybe they’ll have the evenings free or they can take a couple of afternoons or mornings off to do what they please. Whatever you work out with your nanny, be clear when they are off the clock. Communicate explicitly that they are free to take time for themselves to avoid any confusion of when they’re supposed to be working and when they’re relieved of their duties.
Any hours when they are not responsible for your children is unpaid time.
This is not PTO for your nanny.
Your nanny’s paid time off (PTO) is for use at their discretion. You can’t force your nanny to take PTO and work for you while you’re on vacation. If you take a work trip, you’re not expected to take PTO so neither should your nanny.
Give them a day off when you return.
It may seem odd to give someone a paid day off when they just got back from “vacation.” But your nanny probably could use it especially if you return on a Sunday and they’re expected to be back at work on Monday morning. This could also have some overtime implications if your nanny works Sunday when they normally have that day off, and then a full workweek.
What if they say no?
Believe it or not, your nanny may not think your family vacation is going to be as awesome as you think it will be. They could very well pass on the opportunity. Maybe it’s a destination that doesn’t excite them or it seems like too much of a hassle. If they decide not to join you, they should still get compensated at their normal weekly pay or guaranteed hours.