The spread of the coronavirus worldwide has caused employers and employees alike to adapt, sometimes rapidly, to changes to normal daily routines. Primary care physicians are using video chat to assess some patients presenting with flu-like symptoms rather than have them visit the office. Healthcare janitorial services have changed protocols. And many employers have banned corporate travel and liberalized remote-work policies. Airlines are cancelling flights and holiday and entertainment plans are being postponed or cancelled.
This time of uncertainty poses many questions from our clients, nannies, and senior caregivers alike. What follows is what we know and in some cases simply our thoughts on various scenarios.
Nannies who are employed by healthcare professionals, first responders and others in some areas are being asked to provide additional coverage because of the extra hours the employers are required to work. Additionally when a school closes down, many part time nannies are being asked to work additional hours with their school aged charges.
Your nanny’s availability is going to be personal depending on her other commitments – whether that be school or another job or her own family. For families whose nanny has their own children to care for, do consider temporarily allowing her to care for all children together, and especially providing her the means to retrieve her own children after school, etc.
DO remember that if your nanny is working extra hours, you need to add that time to her paycheck, including any applicable overtime.
A family may choose to temporarily furlough their nanny for many reasons including:
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does not require an employer to pay a non-exempt employee for time not worked. Bear in mind, however, that a family may have a legal obligation to keep paying employees because of an employment contract. Many families “guarantee” a minimum numbers of hours pay to their nanny who is otherwise able and willing to work. If it is the family’s choice not to have the nanny come in and the nanny has a guaranteed pay benefit, this will come into play.
If the nanny has no guarantee, the nanny should immediately initiate an unemployment claim. Unemployment compensation provides 40-70% income replacement when a worker’s employment ceases, even a lay off, through no fault of their own. The employer MUST timely respond to the State’s DOL inquiry about the terms of her job loss.
If your nanny is being paid off the books, be very careful. Your nanny could still file for unemployment and you will become liable for all state and federal employment taxes. This includes the FICA taxes you did not deduct from her pay.
Your nanny may become unavailable due to:
This is the most problematic and stressful situation for the nanny and her employer. While most nanny employers provide some number of sick or flexible paid leave days, this benefit may not be sufficient to provide income security for the length of time required.
There are a few states with state-administered temporary disability insurance programs, notably California, New York, Rhode Island and New Jersey, that have indicated that a worker who is medially unable to work due to coronavirus with proper documentation may be eligible for temporary disability insurance, which works as partial income replacement much like unemployment insurance. And in locales with Paid Family Leave laws, she may get some temporary income replacement to care for her ill family member. Unfortunately the majority of nannies do not have these programs available to help out at this time. Most states are providing some level of guidance on this topic via posts to their Department of Labor websites.
It bears repeating that good personal hygiene habits and frequent community disinfecting protocols can dramatically slow or prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
The one thing that is clear, no matter what state you live in, or how this virus moves through communities, communication is key. Have planning conversations with your employee/employer, and keep each other up to date on developments in a timely manner. The ability to make individualized care decisions has always been one of the many upsides to household employment.
“I would like to thank the whole team at SPN for all you guys do. In this midst of the heartbreak and hardships the COVID-19 crisis has imposed on our neighbors, our families, and our friends, I am also inspired and deeply moved by the compassion, resiliency, and the human spirit of the SPN team. Thank you for being there with us. We are here for you.”
"I would rate Stanford Park Nannies very highly! They provide a great flow of very qualified candidates, who are all prepared to pay taxes. They have a great vetting process and did not waste our time with those that weren’t a fit. In addition to our full-time search, they had the ability to quickly identify relevant interim/temp nannies as well!"
"SPN is a powerhouse agency of incredible women who embody experience, passion, and a heart for service!"
"SPN provides you with a current understanding of what should be expected of nannies and employers and they empower you by coaching you through it all. When I started to interview with families, they gave me great feedback—it felt like I had my own personal interviewing cheerleaders!"