As we continue to navigate this uncertain and constantly-changing health pandemic, we have been receiving many questions about whether you should pay your nanny during the coronavirus crisis. Once again our partners at GTM Payroll Services have very helpful guidance on this.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact more and more families, household employers may be wondering how they should pay their nannies during this time. We’ll break down the different scenarios you may find yourself in as well as some government programs that may be available for your caregiver.
Before deciding a course of action, make sure you’re following what’s been agreed to in your nanny contract for paid sick leave. It’s also a good idea to discuss the situation with your nanny and listen to their questions and concerns.
Your nanny becomes sick or develops symptoms
Your nanny develops coronavirus symptoms or becomes aware that they may have had contact with an infected individual. With the risk of spreading the virus to your family, you may not want your nanny to come to your home and be around your children.
If your nanny is sick for a short period of time, their paid sick leave and PTO may provide income while they’re out. You could also continue to pay their regular hours and let them preserve their sick leave if you know they’ll be back to work soon.
If your nanny will be out for an extended period of time due to the virus, how will they be paid? They could very quickly use up their paid sick time and vacation time and still be out of commission. Would you continue to pay them while they are out sick or help them out financially?
Remember that if your nanny does stay home, you may need to pay for back-up care in their absence.
A parent or child becomes sick or develops symptoms
What if you, your spouse, a child or another member of your household is exposed or has the symptoms of coronavirus? As a safety precaution, you may need to self-quarantine and your nanny would not be able to come to work.
If you ask your nanny to stay home because someone in your home is ill or you decide to self-quarantine your family, you could stop paying your nanny.
Before doing so, you’ll need to consider:
- guaranteed hours in your nanny contract
- relationship you have with your caregiver
- state and local sick leave laws
Guaranteed hours mean your nanny is paid for a certain amount of hours each week whether they work all of them or not. If your nanny gets 40 guaranteed hours each week and you tell them to stay home, you’ll still need to pay them for those hours.
Even without guaranteed hours, it may be a good idea to continue paying your nanny.
To cut off their pay – at a time when perhaps they need it the most – could jeopardize the relationship you have with your caregiver. They may decide to look for employment elsewhere and you’ll be stuck trying to find a new nanny once your quarantine is over.
Your child’s school closes/working from home
If your children are in school, you may only have a part-time nanny for after school. Is your nanny available to work full-time, if your children’s school closes due to coronavirus? Let’s say your nanny is available or you find back-up care. What guidelines will you put in place to help reduce the chance of exposure? You may want to place restrictions on playdates, public outings and/or socializing with friends.
As a precaution and to encourage “social distancing,” many businesses are asking their employees to work from home. So, you may find yourself at home with young children.
You could still have your nanny report to work as usual, but you’ll need to establish some parameters with your children. Even though you (and maybe even your spouse) are home, it’s still a workday for you and you may not be able to spend all day with them. You could plan to have lunch together or maybe take a short break at some point in the day. Also, you need to let your nanny do their job. You trust them to care for your children when you’re not there and it should be no different when you’re working from home.
Again, if you decide to keep your nanny at home to avoid the risk of exposure and to practice “social distancing,” consult your nanny contract for guaranteed hours. You may also want to pay your nanny during this time to ease their concerns and maintain a healthy employee relationship.
You need to shelter-in-place
Parts of California (including San Fransisco) are under shelter-in-place orders, which means you must stay in your home and not leave unless for a designated exception like picking up medicine, visiting your doctor, or outdoor activities (providing proper social distancing is observed). New York City and potentially other areas may soon issue similar orders.
Unless you have a live-in nanny or decide to have your caregiver move in with you during the order, your nanny will be home and you may be without child care.
As with self-quarantining, you could decide to stop paying your nanny. And for the same reasons we mentioned above, it may be a good idea to continue providing your nanny their pay under a shelter-in-place order.
A good rule of thumb for paying your nanny
A simple rule to follow during this situation… If you’re being paid by your employer during the coronavirus pandemic, then you should consider paying your nanny whether they’re working for you or not. It’s considered the “good human” approach.
Your nanny may also be eligible for certain government programs if they are unable to work or you ask them not to come in.
Families First Coronavirus Response Act
At the federal level, President Trump just signed a coronavirus relief bill – the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.
The legislation would require employers with fewer than 500 employees to provide two weeks of paid sick days to workers at their regular rate of pay. Leave must be made available to workers who are symptomatic or are under an order or advice to quarantine or self-isolate, who have to care for a family member under such an order or advice, or who have a child whose school or child care provider or facility has closed or is unavailable due to the coronavirus.
Also, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) would be temporarily amended to provide paid leave to employees working for a business with fewer than 500 employees. Following the first 10 days of missed work, employees who require further days of leave will be covered under the FMLA for up to 12 weeks, collecting at least two-thirds of their monthly pay.
The bill also delivers funding for economic assistance, requires health plans to cover COVID-19 testing at no charge, and provides additional money to state unemployment programs.
Employers would also be able to claim a quarterly tax credit against payroll taxes for payments for sick days and family and medical leave due to the coronavirus outbreak up to an amount that does not exceed their total payroll taxes paid in that quarter.
Benefits for employees would expire on December 31, 2020.
Mandated paid sick leave
States and cities that mandate paid sick leave should provide paid time off for an employee who has contracted COVID-19. Check your state and city labor agency websites for information on paid sick leave. Our household employment wage laws by state provide links to your state’s labor agency.
Your nanny may also be able to recover some of their lost wages if your state requires disability insurance, which covers accidents and illnesses that occur outside of work.
If you feel the best course of action is to let your nanny go, they may be eligible for unemployment benefits. You need to have been paying your nanny legally and contributing federal and state unemployment taxes.
A New England Nanny is remaining open during this crisis, with our staff working remotely. We are still here to handle your care needs, but as you might imagine, with schools closed the demand for our child care services is very high. We are doing our best to fulfill all requests during this challenging time. Please call (518) 348-0400 and let us know how we can help.