Nanny Leaving Abruptly

Parent Q&A

Explain Nanny’s poor behavior to previous reference? May 1, 2021 (18 responses below)
Keep in contact w/departed nanny or no? Sep 25, 2019 (7 responses below)
  • We have continually had trouble with our part time nanny who quit today abruptly because she was upset that we had confronted some performance issues we needed to be addressed. Namely, not giving adequate notice when changing schedule or taking days off, and misusing paid days off by taking sick days for personal healthcare that could easily be scheduled outside of work hours with no notice or regard to our schedule. She additionally pressured us to pay her for extra vacation days and a holiday that were not named in our agreement. We communicated that since the terms of our arrangement had been broken so many times, we would feel more comfortable proceeding in an hourly arrangement going forward because we couldn’t afford to pay a part time nanny to take so much time off when we weren’t receiving the benefit of sufficient notice and ability to control our schedules. We hoped this conversation would help her to see our point of view as a family needing support and that she would rise to the occasion, but she was argumentative and hostile and then quit abruptly a few days later with no notice.

    Fortunately we had prepared contingencies for her departure and knew this outcome was possible when confronting her performance issues, but we felt forced to confront her performance because she had repeatedly made it difficult for us to complete our work obligations. In addition, she broke COVID protocol by attending a wedding when it was expressly not permitted by California law or our arrangement and took very little initiative when it came to caring for our son, it was a constant source of stress and work for me.

    At the end of this, we feel we have been exploited. We were as generous as was financially possible, paid an above market hourly rate and gave paid time off (for a part time job!). We gave a generous holiday bonus after a very short time being employed and allowed her to bring her daughter to our home to help ease the challenge COVID presented to all of us this last year. At no point was the slightest courtesy or consideration returned and we were treated like managers at an hourly shift job.

    We spoke with her reference when interviewing candidates who had been happy with her, but had not employed her for a very long period of time. Her positive reference was the reason we hired her over another candidate. My question is, would you convey this story back to her reference to hopefully save another family from this type of experience? We feel strongly this is not a person with the basic maturity level to support working professionals.

    What worked for someone else didn’t work work for you. Her reference had a positive experience and there’s no reason for your negative experience to affect theirs. Maybe this nanny will work out for someone else and maybe they won’t  but unless they committed a crime, it’s just a difference of experience. Move on and let them as well. Maybe they will learn from it as will you.

    I do not think it would be appropriate for you to contact her prior reference.  The point of references is that each employer is relaying their experience with the employee.  Obviously they did not have the same experience as you.  It is not your place to try to ensure she does not get another position with a family.  You can only relate your own experience.  By the way, next time please consider paying hourly as that is the legal way to pay a nanny.  Salary is a no-no and a former employee could take legal action against you for doing so.  

    I would be cautious about what you say to another party about her. It could be considered slander, and if it interferes with her future job prospects, you could be on the hook for damages. For what it's worth, in California, employers must permit employees to use paid sick leave for medical appointments, so if you tell her prior reference that she "misused paid sick days," you may be saying something that isn't true. 

  • Keep in contact w/departed nanny or no?

    (7 replies)

    I have a dilemma and I'm hoping to get some unbiased opinion.

    My son was VERY close with his full time nanny of 11 months. How close? We hung out with her family on the weekends sometimes, and our kids played together all of summer 2018. Meaning, instead of putting her son in camp, she just brought him along, and I still paid her the full rate. Well, in January of this year, out of the blue, she told us she has to go take care of an ill friend. My partner and I were totally caught off guard, did not see this coming at all. At first I was understanding, she's a kind person, she needs to take care of a friend during her final days/months/years.. and I assumed she was giving us our agreed upon 1 months notice. But NO, she was gone in 8 days and left us scrambling. We had no way to prepare our son for her sudden departure, we were in the middle a house move, and our lives were thrown into total chaos. I don't think I've forgiven her, because I feel like she totally disregarded my son's well-being and threw my son's affections away. My son asked about her a lot in the early months - when she was going to come visit, he wants to show her this and that... but he's asking less often. But he still brings her up, and I can tell he misses her. He'll say "(nanny's name) got me this book/truck/toy" or "(nanny's name) used to read/play this with me" or "(nanny's name) and I used to come here (library/park/etc)".. Since her quitting, she and I have had a couple of superficial text exchanges. From our side, we've said she can come visit if convenient, when she's not caring for her friend. But she's not put any effort into asking to see him or any weekend play dates with her son. I just feel like she totally kicked us to the curb, and it hurts.

    So if you were me, would you put any effort into contacting her and seeing if she wants to see your child? I feel like my son doesn't quite understand her leaving, but it may be just as confusing for her to show up one time or a couple of times, and then disappear again. I just don't know what's the best way to go about this and could use some insights.

    I'm sorry your former nanny put you in a difficult position. At the same time, it sounds like she had her own urgent personal priorities to fulfill. If someone you loved was seriously ill and needed your care, would you think twice about leaving an employer in a lurch? The difficult thing about the nanny-employer relationship is the interweaving of a an economic exchange relationship with a personal relationship. While you have the right to your own feelings about the inconvenience this caused you, your complaint seems to not just be that the conduct was inconvenient or had fallout,  but that it's personally disloyal. But no one has the moral right to expect their employee to put a boss or client's logistical and emotional needs above the urgent needs of their own close friend or family member.

    As for the question of whether you should reach out more than you already have:  only if you can get clear of your own resentment and accept that your nanny has her own life and needs that might not involve taking care of you and your child.

    Consider your child's feelings before deciding. Young kids get very attached to people in their lives - much more so than we do as adults. Reach out to her and if you still don't get much of a response, then let it drop. It is confusing, but even seeing her one or two times might help with the closure.

    I would say yes it is worth it for closure for your son. Then she can explain to him what happened. We had a nanny depart somewhat abruptly to return to her home country. We set up a few Skype calls and had her visit us when she returned to the US a year later and I think it helped my son transition better than her just disappearing and him never seeing her again.