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Traveling With or Without your Nanny (or other Household Employee)

When families with nannies go on vacation they face a decision: To bring their nanny along or not? Bringing your nanny along can help you relax but it isn’t always necessary.

Here are some things to think about in either situation:

Traveling with your Nanny

The first thing to keep in mind is that a vacation for you is a work trip for your nanny. Anything you would do on a work trip applies to your nanny while on vacation with you – think expense reports. Here are some more specifics to consider.

Set a Work Schedule in Advance – Being on vacation means a deviation from the everyday, so this schedule is going to be a little different than it is at home. Make sure to build in some down time for your nanny, especially if she isn’t usually a live-in employee. Make sure that all hours worked are compensated properly just as you would at home.

Plan for Added Expenses – When you take a work trip you expense everything to your employer right? Same deal here for your nanny. You pay for her travel, lodging, meals, etc. If your schedule works out so that your nanny has her normal days off (like a weekend) that’s great, if not, you may need to pay her overtime wages. Also consider other expenses she is incurring because of your trip, like boarding a pet, as you may choose to cover those even though it is not required.

Compensation – As mentioned above, this is a work trip for your nanny and she needs to be paid as such. Keep in mind that if you go out to dinner or a show and leave the nanny with your kids, she is considered to be on duty even if the kids are sleeping. Also, if you travel internationally home rules still apply. So don’t think that wages paid abroad don’t have to be reported and accounted for properly. Try your best to keep your regular pay frequency as well (easy to do with direct deposit). The biggest point to remember is that it can be helpful to talk about compensation up front.


Traveling without your Nanny

This situation is theoretically a little simpler. Legally speaking, nannies are hourly employees and are not due wages for hours not worked. So you don’t have to pay your nanny while you’re away. That said, check your contract to see what it says on the matter. It is industry standard to pay your nanny while you are away, and many nanny contracts use words like “guaranteed hours” or “salary” which would then likely obligate you to pay your nanny her regular weekly wage while you’re away. It is also common to see families and nannies coordinate vacations. Keep in mind, though, you cannot require your nanny to take PTO at a particular time unless this is stipulated in your written work agreement. Many families who provide guaranteed hours negotiate with their nanny to provide some services while they are away, such as cleaning and packing away out of season clothing, sorting through clothing that is outgrown for donation, and minor items like bringing in the mail and watering plants while they are out of town.

*Side note* we often talk through budgets with clients and usually do so based on annual numbers. That means that those numbers are including pay for your nanny while you are away, so you might have already budgeted for this without realizing it.