Is it common for nannies to increase their rate mid-agreement?

Hello!  We have an amazing nanny whom we adore and our baby adores.  We have been working with her for 6 months in Oakland in a share with another family.  Our nanny just informed us that she plans to increase our rate from $13 per family to $15 per family when she returns from her vacation (paid time off) in a week.  We signed a year agreement at the $13 per rate and we have done everything we agreed to in the agreement.  I pointed this out to her, and she said it's not uncommon to increase the rate after 3-6 months.  We're new parents and thus new to this whole world, but we are scratching our heads on this one.  We know these agreements aren't legally binding, yet it seems like this is a significant deviation from our good-faith agreement.  We'd be completely fine with the rate increase if we renewed our agreement after our one year concludes.  Is $13 way under for an Oakland nanny-share?  Any advice on how to handle this one?  Thank you!

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In my opinion this is not normal. You signed a one year contract at a set rate, so that is what you committed to and also expect to pay. If she had planned to increase the rate she should have said so upfront and have if included in the contract. It is also not normal in my opinion to want to increase a rate by 2 dollars, thats a hefty one. We started at $12 and increased to $13 after one year. I think the average is somewhere between $12.50 and $16 per hour, BPN does an annual survey, you should be able to find the results here. I also find her communication around this strange from the way you describe it. She can't just say "when I am back, its going to be this." If you don't agree she will leave? Or what is she implying here? I would try to talk to her, understand where she is coming from, if she needs some extra support maybe. Nannies also talk, and if she feels that others are getting paid more than she is, maybe she felt she negotiated badly and now feels she wants to increase her rate. So I would try to understand her reasons and then decide if you feel you would like to increase it a bit or not. I feel any increase over $0.50 to $1 an hour would be too much after 6 months. You can be sure she will bring it up again after the year ends, so keep in mind what you are ultimately able or willing to pay per hour.

Nowadays, $13 is too low for a nanny-share.  When I was doing this work 10 years ago, I was getting $18 an hour in CASH at the end of each week.  Being a nanny is hard, lonely, and often boring work, even for the best of us.  Please support your nanny as you would wish to be treated.  Many work without benefit of health insurance, and the meager earnings are quickly eaten up by steep Bay area rental fees.  IMHO, this is no place to be stingy.

It’s not uncommon and you have to consider the cost of living in this area.

I find  $15 very reasonable ( if thats under the table)  for a share and if you’d like this nanny I would agree to the raise but  maybe make an agreement that you will not raise her wage again  for at least another 12 months and at that time it will be a review situation . 

I think you’re right to be annoyed with your nanny. If she wanted a raise after six months she should have asked to include that in the agreement when you originally negotiated it. I mean, technically your agreement IS enforceable, but you have to consider that it’s probably not worth your time or damage to the relationship to take that stance. So that leaves you with a couple options: (1) tell your nanny you’re not giving her a raise until the agreement term ends, and risk her quitting and you having to find another nanny (because it’s  unlikely you’re going to sue her for breach of contract), or (2) pay her what she wants or see if she’ll agree to $14/hour. 

I faced a similar situation with a nanny and I honestly think nannies realize it’s a lot of work to find a replacement nanny and figure they have all the leverage. It’s pretty shady but there are downsides to every type of childcare. 

Hi, sorry to hear about the old nanny-switcheroo!  I'm not a nanny, but I have used them, and I actually am a contract lawyer (but not an employment lawyer), so I wonder why you would think the agreement is not legally binding?  From a contract law perspective, if you both understood the deal terms and agreed to them, it should be binding except to the extent that it would be considered unenforceable under law -- e.g., I think you can't enforce an agreement to work for a specified term if the employee wants to quit because of the 19th Amendment (no indentured servitude allowed) and stuff like that.  Demanding a higher wage than you initially agreed to is not the same thign as requesting a raise.  Some humans (including some nannies) are manipulative.  If you adore her and trust her and can afford it, you could consider giving her a raise, but you are definitely entitled to say "no."  If she quits, she quits.  Just my 2 cents.

In general, a written employment agreement is legally binding as long as it doesn't contain illegal provisions. So it really doesn't matter what's "common"; if she agreed to a certain wage for a one-year term, then she can't unilaterally raise her rates! (Wouldn't we all love to be able to go to our boss and say, "I'm raising my salary effective next week"?!)  However, if you don't agree to the raise, what happens?  Is she likely to quit?  How much of a problem would that be for you (and for your share family)? Does the agreement you signed say anything about what happens in the event that one party wants out, or if one party violates the agreement? It's almost certainly not worth the hassle and expense of suing her for breach of contract (though you *could* if she quit, your energy presumably would be better directed toward finding replacement childcare!), and given that you like the nanny otherwise, you may be best off by negotiating a raise and keeping her working.  But I don't think it's unusual for a nanny's wages to stay the same for a full year at the same job -- we gave ours a raise approximately annually -- and I personally would not be willing to simply pay whatever she demands.  I'd treat her "informing" you of an increase as her *request* for a raise, and negotiate. (Just as your boss might do if you asked for a raise, and offered a good rationale for why it's deserved.)  And then create a written amendment to your existing written agreement that specifies whatever deal you make.

Hi,  I was paying 15/kid with a two or three kid nanny share ten years ago.

We did an annual increase. We went from $12-13. I thought a full dollar was steep (inflation would have been about $12.25) but we liked her and we're also new parents. $15 is high. We're still at $13 and when a new family takes over in Sept. they might be at $14. Hope it works out for you. 

I’m curious to see what others will say, but this does seem pretty unusual and I would not be ok with it. For starters, as far as I know, $13 per family is already a good rate for her. And usually, after the initial rate is decided upon, the families decide what increase, if any, should be given after a year or longer. Interesting how she feels she can give herself a $4 per hour raise after just 6 months! That is a bold move. What does the other family think? 

I was a professional nanny for many years, I have never heard of someone expecting a raise after 3-6 months. I typically negotiated for a raise after at least a year or with the addition of another child.

I never would have agreed on a rate with the intention of requesting a significant increase a few months, it’s unfair to the parents and to the children that have already started bonding with the nanny. 

Since $15/hr per family is closer to industry standard for nanny share costs in this area, perhaps your nanny regrets signing the agreement for less. For the sake of retaining her and maintaining your relationship, I would offer to amend the agreement at $14/hr per family for the rest of the contracted time. After the year is completed, you can all look at signing a new agreement at $15/hr per family. 

No, it's not at all common to increase the rate a few months into the contract--I've never heard of anyone doing that! And $12-13 per family is the going rate for a two-child nannyshare in Oakland, so $15 per family would be quite high. That would typically be pay for a very experienced nanny or one who has been with a family for many years, and had raises over that time. (It is common to do a $1-$2/hour raise at the one-year anniversary.) You're in a tough spot given that you otherwise like the nanny, but I'd hold the line on this--talk to the other family so that you have a united front. Assuming they agree, I'd then say, "We've agreed to $13 per family for this contract year and unfortunately aren't in a position to raise the rate at this time. We're happy to discuss a raise at the one-year mark." And then be prepared for the possibility that you may need to walk away. If you agree, you're likely setting yourself up for problems in the months to come. I could see being flexible on this if you were paying below market and didn't have a contract, but neither is the case here. The point of a contract is to avoid problems like this. (In the same vein, you can't show up one day and tell the nanny you can now only afford $10 an hour.) Good luck--sorry you are dealing with this!

 Nine years ago I paid $20 for my half of nannyshare; I think $15 is reasonable for this area. I do find it odd that nanny is dictating price. I chose to pay generous higher price because I was once a nanny myself! I made $20 an hour plus a cottage and use of vehicle  25 years ago! I pay a 15 year old $20 an hour to watch my 9 year old now! 

Thank you all for your thoughtful replies.  The other family is on the same page with us.  We also felt she had leverage to drop this on us since we love her so much and it IS hard to find someone you love and trust to care for your child.  When she came back from vacation, I told her the issue was unresolved and that we weren't just going to raise her rate $2 per family because she demanded it, and we needed to sit down and talk with her and the other family.  Btw, I didn't mention in my initial post that we also pay her time and a half for any time she works over 40 hours per week, which is 5 hours of OT every week, so she's effectively making $27.44 per hour or $13.72 per family already, per our contract.  We have no problem with this, as that is what we agreed, but that makes her effective rate already close to $28 hour.  One parent from the other family and I laid all this out to her, including sharing my due diligence about rates in our neighborhood- of which the rate we are currently paying her is right in the middle- and she still came back with wanting $1 more and gave various other reasons which really had no bearing (in our opinion) about the terms we agreed to in the contract.  We ultimately agreed to $1 increase for our family just to keep the peace, but due to the other family's constraints, we agreed to this increase only if she didn't raise their rates.  We let her know that at the end of the contract term would be the time to raise her rates and she could consider this her notification to both families now.  So, it seems we have reached a conclusion.  Thanks for your help.