As we all navigate the unknown in response to COVID-19, we want to address the question on many minds. That is, how does the pandemic impact your domestic staff like your nanny, housekeeper, estate manager, and beyond? Should they continue to come to work?
First, acknowledge that the recommendations for managing your personal safety are changing regularly. This is mostly because the virus is new and therefore all of the risks are not currently known. We are sharing some information from The New York Times, but you should check local and federal government updates regularly. In many states, parents working in essential roles are allowed to have domestic staff continue to work in their home.
Things To Keep In Mind
The most important thing to remember as you work through this situation is the safety of your family and nanny. So leaning into clear communication will be crucial, now more than ever. Have a direct conversation with your childcare provider about your role, and what works best for everyone involved. Weekly check-ins are always a great idea, but particularly right now. Create a work environment for your domestic staff that welcomes open and honest discussions. And, continue to check in with them often to reassess the situation.
If your babysitter is still legally allowed to work and you want [them] to work, keep in mind that every person who comes into your home could bring germs and also be exposed to your family’s germs, so it’s important to minimize potential risk. So, educate yourself by reading the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance for businesses and employers.
If you hire a nanny, you are an employer and your house is a workplace. Among other things, you’ll want to routinely clean frequently touched surfaces in your home. You should also actively encourage your caregiver to stay home if they’re sick.
“It’s really on the parent to broach the topic — to sit down and have a conversation about keeping everyone safe,” said Lindsay Imai Hong, the director of the California chapter of Hand in Hand: The Domestic Employers Network.
What Else Can You Do?
Share guidelines and other important information with your caregiver, too. For instance, the government now advises Americans to avoid gatherings of more than 10 people. Talk to your [nanny] about how the infection spreads and how they can reduce risk by washing their hands, using hand sanitizer and not touching their face. Make sure they understand the symptoms of COVID-19. Also, tell them to inform you immediately — and stay home — if they develop symptoms, such as fever or cough. And of course, be open with your caregiver about your own situation.
Offer paid time off to nannies who get sick or are under mandatory quarantine. Keep in mind that if your caregiver isn’t working for you, they may have no source of income. If you pay your [nanny] legally, and you can’t afford to pay when they’re not working, see if they are eligible for short-term disability or unemployment benefits. Eligibility varies, but some state governments are expanding benefits during the pandemic.” — The New York Times
This is such a difficult time for all of us. As an employer, it is imperative that parents understand the impact that their decisions around childcare will have on their nanny.
SOURCE: Adventure Nannies