Daycare Dilemmas

Sitters & Salaries

Child Care: Tips for Choosing a Good Nanny
Child Care: Tips for Choosing a Good Nanny

Q. Child care is so expensive! Do we have to pay our in-home sitter for days when we don't need her -- like holidays or when one of the kids is sick and I stay home?

A. 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 rely on yours.

So you certainly should pay her -- and not only for ethical reasons, but for personal ones as well. "Skimping on her salary sends the message that you don't respect her, and this could affect the quality of her work," says Guy Maddalone, CEO of GTM Household Employment Experts, a payroll service in Clifton Park, New York. By contrast, paying your sitter fairly (including giving her overtime, raises, and even bonuses when she goes above and beyond) will earn her loyalty and goodwill -- which is priceless for your family.

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