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Do you have to? No, not from a legal standpoint. A sitter or an at-home caregiver is entitled to be paid only for the hours she actually works. Should you want to? Absolutely. Look at it this way: You expect your employer to pay you for sick days and vacation time, don't you? Taking care of your child is your sitter's job -- and she relies on her salary just as you need yours. So you certainly should pay her -- and not only for ethical reasons, but for personal ones too. Skimping on her salary sends the message that you don't respect her, and this could affect the quality of her work. Paying your sitter fairly (including giving her overtime, raises, and bonuses when she goes above and beyond) will earn her loyalty and goodwill -- which is priceless for your family. --Shana Aborn
Copyright © 2007. Used with permission from the November 2007 issue of Parents magazine. Updated 2009
The answers from our experts are for educational purposes only. Please always refer to your child's pediatrician and mental health expert for more in-depth advice.