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How to Handle Holidays for Nannies

Jun 20, 2008
If you have a nanny or housekeeper whose work schedule falls on any holidays, you must decide how to handle the holiday with your domestic help.

How do you handle the many holidays for domestic help? Do you give them time off for Labor Day, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, New Year's Eve and New Year's Day?

Here are the options:

1) Provide the day off as paid
2) Provide the day off as unpaid
3) Employee works with regular pay
4) Employee works with overtime pay

The holidays mentioned above are mostly considered standard federal holidays. However, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur being Jewish holidays are not usually provided to domestic help. On the other hand, the other holidays such as Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Day, New Year's Eve and Day must be considered one way or another and discussed with your employee.

So your first decision is to decide which option you want to provide to your nanny or housekeeper. You can treat each holiday individually depending on your needs and your generosity. It is completely discretionary in the household industry to give holidays as a benefit.

You should be aware, however, that the standard practice for domestic help is to provide all 6 major federal holidays (New Year's Day, Memorial Day, July 4th, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas Day) off with pay. You may choose to give the day off unpaid for those who want to celebrate with family members. Therefore, the employee would not be paid for the day, but would be happy to be able to take it off. Again, you simply need to think carefully about the individual holiday with respect to your needs, your budget and how you want to structure a benefit package for your employee. This is best decided at the inception of hiring an employee and should be documented in an employee/employer agreement.

Here are some questions that domestic employers frequently ask with respect to holidays that might apply to you along with my advice.

Question: In a corporate setting, usually the day after Thanksgiving is also provided as paid. However, I do not think this should apply to household help. What is the standard practice?

Response: True in an office setting, although very often the day after Thanksgiving is provided as paid, this is not standard practice for household employees. However, keep in mind that if you decide to take these days off for a long weekend and do not need your employee, it would be only fair for you to pay for these days that the employee is forced not to work.

Question: On Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, I often have a big party and desperately need my housekeeper's assistance. She, however, celebrates on these days and wants them off. How do I handle the fact that I need her but she doesn't want to work?

Response: For most of the Christian world, and especially the Christian Latin people, Christmas Eve is one of the most important holidays of the year. If your employee must have this day off (paid or unpaid), you can always consider finding additional help who is available to work on this holiday. Agencies usually have a list of employees that work holidays. You would have to pay more when hiring on these days for temporary help, but it would be well worth it in order to keep your full time employee happy. Question: I don't really like providing paid holidays, but I know that I should provide at least one or two as a perk to the job. If only selecting a few, which of the standard holidays should I provide as paid?

Response: If you are unwilling or unable to provide your employee with ALL the Federal Holidays as paid, the ones that you most definitely should consider are: Christmas Day, New Year's Day. These are the most common holidays provided to employees.

Question: It really upsets me that an immigrant who is not a legal resident wants some of these federal holidays off and paid. Why should these be considered "their" holidays?

Response: First of all, we are all immigrants to some degree and certainly those of us who are legal to work here and contributing to the workforce, should be allowed to join in on the celebrations of national holidays. It is not a question as to whether or not the holiday can be labeled as "mine" and "not yours" depending on your heritage or immigration status. The fact remains that we are all here to work and hopefully integrate together into this country in every manner. Acknowledging that an employee who has not yet reached citizen status should not be granted the right to celebrate a national holiday does not encourage integration.

There are many different approaches to handling holidays for your nanny and housekeeper and you may choose to handle each one differently. Whatever your choices, please be sure to discuss each one with your employee at the onset of hiring and to document the manner in which you plan to handle holidays so that there are no misunderstandings.
About the Author
Marta Perrone, author of How to Find, Hire, Train and Maintain Household Help. Free report: Top 10 Mistakes Household Employers Make When Recruiting Help.
http://www.domesticpublications.com, http://domestic-connections.com, http://martaperrone.com
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