Sick and Tired

Hot Topic: Should Nannies Take Sick Days?

When you’re sick but you can’t really afford to take a sick day?

Or you’re hesitant to call in sick last-minute because you know it will impact badly on the family.

What do you do? How sick is not quite bad enough to still be able to go to work, or so sick that you’re likely to give the plague to anyone who comes into contact?

More so, do you risk affecting your work ethic by taking a sick day?

This is can be a pretty weighty issue for some to deal with, especially when considering the potential ramifications and the chance that Boss Mums and Dads may not take too kindly to being thrown in the lurch.

Luckily, I work for two pretty amazing Bosses. Well, the entire family is pretty cool, but Boss Mum and Dad are definitely more friends than Bosses. Balancing the friend/boss dynamic and keeping personal information at bay is another thought entirely – coming soon to the blog. I’ve only been sick a couple of times since calling this family mine, and only really with migraines and minor colds. Unfortunately, being in close contact with small children means that you’re at direct risk of catching whatever icky-ness they’ve got going on.

The plus side of not having been struck down with anything major is that you’re still functioning enough to pick yourself up and go to work. This means that:

a) for those employed on an hourly rate and whom don’t have sick pay negotiated – you don’t miss out on a day’s pay! and,

b) going in to work whilst sick means that you don’t come off looking like – a dodgy person severely lacking in work ethic!

Of course the downside to this is that you’ve still got to go to work. You’ve still got to go to work and deal with the same old same old, the same routines, the same expectations and the same kids; all whilst pushing through your sickness.

Remember: they are just kids, do not forget yourself and snap. Their puppy dog eyes will bore deep into you and you’ll never rid yourself of the awful memory.

Working with kids whilst on struggle street can really be a tough gig. I know that my gift of patience, my ability to see the amusement amongst the drama, and to willingly listen with fevered excitement to a made up unfathomable story already told numerous times is severely compromised during these times. Ok, I know, I’ll accept. Worst. Nanny. Ever.

Because I have sole care of Baby Viv during the days and the three other ratbags (I mean darling girls) are at school during the day, I usually cope pretty well when sick. At Boss Mum’s insistence, I take a catnap on the couch next to Viv when she’s sleeping and I do a light superficial tidy up and leave the heavy-duty-disaster-zone-clean-up for another day (four kids remember, how I leave it in the evening is definitely not how I find it the next morning). I take the dog and Viv out for a long leisurely walk, because fresh air always helps, the older kids get treated to the rarity of mid-week play dates at friends houses and I fall back on a “here’s one I prepared earlier” meal for dinner.

Having the luxury of an ‘easy day’ is great, but it’s at the expense of maintaining a super organised and well planned household. Meals get pre-made, portioned and stored for later use, washing gets done when it’s there and not after it’s resembling Mt Everest and vacuuming is a daily occurrence. Not all nannies take this approach towards the job, but as a ‘career nanny’, I see it being that there certainly are great perks to the job, however you’ve got to earn them first.

For most people, the drawcard to being a nanny is the flexibility of work hours, that no two days are the same and that usually (certainly in Australia) it’s well paid. However, the downfall is that this field can also be unreliable and unpredictable. This job gives me the opportunity to be with kids all day, and to enable my self-induced Peter Pan syndrome, but it comes knowing that things like job security can change instantly. Here in Australia, most nanny’s are not employed on a contract. They’re hired on an hourly rate casual basis, with pay rate according to experience and capabilities, they’re rostered to work days that are subject to change at a moment’s notice, sick leave is not pre-arranged and holiday pay – what holiday pay?

This Christmas, I’m thankful. For the first time in my nanny career, I’ve negotiated an employment agreement and I’m given the luxury of job security. A minimum three-year contract, holiday pay, sick leave where appropriate and loads of benefits. Plus, I gain a second loving family. Living the dream!

So despite having won these benefits, I’m still going to work this week whilst sick. Unless I’m laid up on my death-bed or have something terribly dire and catching, I’m going to work.

And I’m there will bells on.

Because to me, it may be a job, but it’s also my passion. I have a relationship with these kids and their parents and I’m not going to let them down. Besides, a day at home would mean I’d miss out on all the family drama. Oops I mean fun.

Source My family is not always 'sane'.. so does that mean I'm not spectacular?

My family is not always ‘sane’.. so does that mean I’m not spectacular?

Such is the #nannylife.

What do you think, is the stigma of being sick and taking leave wrong? When is it OK to call upon your ‘sick-card’ and when should you just suck it up and ‘take one for the team’?

7 responses to “Sick and Tired

    • I completely agree. If you’re pretty much facing bed rest and/or have something that stops your from being able to work properly or inflict nasties on to other people, then it’s probably best not to show up to work.
      It’s truly great to work for lovely people isn’t it? Makes the work seem more like a fun day out then a job.

  1. I’m sorry to hear you are feeling unwell and hope that you are back to full steam ahead real soon.
    I can see how this is an issue for you when you are obviously so passionate, dedicated and responsible. The families are very lucky to have found you.Your role seems to be very demanding and complex, not just caring for the children but for the household as well. Not unlike that of a mother really, all the tasks that must be performed. And these must be performed whether one is sick or well – no sick days or relief for mothers either. Just a thought. Get well soon! It’s party time ahead!

    • It sure is a very demanding job that requires many roles, but it is oh so rewarding. And yes you’re right, it is much the same for mothers too. They say that nannies will be the best prepared first time mothers, not that I’m looking to cash in on the experience just yet.
      Enjoy the festive season. I hope smiles, happiness and good will is in abundance at your household!

      • Thank you for your good wishes. I’m intending there will be smiles and laughs a-plenty!
        I wish you and your loved ones all you have wished for me, and more!
        I thank you for the lovely conversations and exchanges of ideas we have shared this year. I look forward to more next year!
        Best wishes,

  2. I nannied for five years, and only took time off when I had flu and couldn’t get out of bed. The parents were stuck otherwise… What is interesting is that some parents were happy to bring their child to me when he or she was running a high temperature and would obviously be better off at home… The same parents would scream blue murder if other parents did the same, on the grounds that their child would catch whatever the other had… Point made? 😀
    Thank you so much for supporting my entry in the writing contest – much appreciated!

    • You make a very good point! It’s often ironic that some parents do not always enact the same standards that they profess to endorse. Double standards are pretty common in this field, but you’ve got to just smile and not take it too seriously. 🙂

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