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Should your childcare provider get paid days off?

If you deserve benefits, your sitter does, too

by MaryP  |  36217 views  |  18 comments  |        Rate this now! 

In one of life's little synchronicities, my sister provides also childcare.

Well, I "provide childcare." My sister "babysits" (her word). Though our job descriptions don't vary much, there is a world of difference. Witness the following conversation.

Sis: "I just found out on Friday that little Simon won't be coming next week. He's going to his grandmother's."

Me: "Well, that's nice. It'll lighten your load."

Sis: "Yeah, but I really needed the money."

There is a pause. I am appalled. She allows pay-as-you-go! If the child isn't in attendance, for any reason, the parent does not pay. Good heavens.

Not too long ago, I saw an article in our local paper written by a mother who was encouraging other mothers to pay for missed days and holidays, just as she did. She even paid for the occasional sick day for her caregiver. While I agreed with her position, I regretted that she saw her behaviour as exceptional. This should be standard.

I know there are sub-standard childcare providers. I know there are women who plonk the kids down in front of a television and only call them away in order to feed them Kraft macaroni and cheese or hot dogs. I know that. I am not arguing that these women deserve any better treatment.

If, however, you have a caregiver you love, if you're aways telling her "I don't know how you do it!" and telling your co-workers, "Candy is so wonderful; we couldn't get by without her, then Candy deserves her benefits. Just like you. (If you don't get benefits, the whole equation may need to be re-balanced, but in this article I am considering only those full-time worker bees with paid holiday time.)

In a professionally-run home daycare, the only reason a parent does not pay for a day is if the caregiver takes more than her allotted vacation days. Parents also pay if their holidays don't coincide with the caregiver's. If your child is in a daycare center, you pay when you take holidays. Why should home care be different?

Because I've been doing this for about a gazillion years, I also get a set number of sick/discretionary days per year. ("Discretionary?" Well, you know how difficult it is to get errands done with one or two children in tow. I do it routinely with half-a-dozen ... but do you really want your child there when I get my annual pap smear?)

My sister and I will likely never see eye-to-eye on this. But I doubt it's a coincidence that for her "The kids are pretty near the only good part of this job." Who's going to burn out sooner?

If you want your caregiver to be around to see your kids to school (and maybe beyond), it's wise to do what you can to see that she receives some job satisfaction from you, too.

About the Author

Mother of three (teens), step-mother of five (teens), home daycare operator of five (todders), and STILL SANE!! NOTHING is impossible...

Read more by MaryP

18 comments so far...

  • Sharon I am so lucky I am not your daycare provider and the truth if you come to an interview I would not give you the spot unlike you I work 10 hours a day not 8 and yes the kids get a 1:30 hour nap but at that time we clean we prepare arts and crafts for next day activities and we are lucky if we have 30 minute break, once the kids leave I clean againa and cook for them for the next day . I work hard. And yes I am self employed and this is my business so in my contract I stated that I have paid vacations and Holidays so if parents do not like it they do not need to bring their kids to my daycare. I have a waiting list so I do need need the business of people that do not agree with my contract and my rules. I am not a nanny. I have two degrees so I think that maybe I am as educated as you or more. I am a graphic designer and have a bachelor degree in education. I speak 4 languages. and I read a lot, so I really get offennded that you assume that a daycare provider does not have an education. I would like to know how many languages do you know and if you teach any of those to your kids. Because we are daycare providers that doesn't mean that we do not have to pay mortages, electricity, water etc....... Maybe I am a lucky person, but all the Parents in my daycare are happy with my service and my rules. I am sad for your daycare provider since you have such a high concept of her and are very, very greatful with her for helping you care for your child with love and respect.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Pati on 19th April 2013

  • And one more thing, Tammy
    You feel work " gives me some time to catch my breath"?
    Ironically, you only feel this way because you work.
    Let me give you a hypothetical situation:
    You work 8 hr shifts,
    You spend 8 hrs sleeping
    Your drive time to/and from work/ daycare is 1.5 hrs
    You get a 30 min lunch beak
    You take 1 hr to prep for work
    You spend 30 minutes eating dinner
    You now have 4.5 hours to:
    Do the dishes
    Run errands
    Wash clothes
    Bath the children
    Sweep, mop, vacuum, dust
    And now your stressed, your child is demanding attention,
    So its because you spend your time working that you value your time working.
    If you where a stay at home mom, you would develop a routine. Your child wouldn't be starving for your attention, and you wouldn't be forced to condense your personal life into 4 hrs a day.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by sharon on 7th April 2012

  • Tammy..Yes I am speaking from my current child sleeps approx. 4-5 hrs while in the care of a provider, I never stated that daycare providers do not work, but again as a response to the article, it's comparing apples to oranges..Also let me point out that my vacation is based off time served(as with many). This like your family physician billing you for his or her vacation time. Also, remember your children act different w/ you. In a daycare setting they are surrounded by their peers, and often more occupied with playmates. I'm no psychologist, but as an experienced parent children tend to preoccupy each other, as this is how they learn.

    It's my opinion as a consumer and parent, that in home daycare providers should not get paid time off.
    They are self employed, and very well paid. Most in home providers in my area charge between 3 & 5 dollars an hour. Multiply that by 6 children at 45 hrs a week. They prefer you don't pack food, as they receive a monthly pay out from the federal gov. for nutritional meal programs, as i said before they do not work every hour they are paid ( as I am expected or I risk being sent home or even terminated), compared to many other business owners they have little expense: rental space, advertising, or even employing other people. And if they want paid vacation, then maybe they to should have have to wait 3 yrs before getting 2 weeks, and maybe they should be put through a 90 day probation or period before qualifying for paid holidays.

    Bottom line my provider makes more money than a lot people with degrees. She's not nearly as educated, and while some days may be more demanding than others, she is not working every hour she is paid. She is self employed, and if she chooses to vacation, I shouldn't pay for it.

    So where I get the idea? My idea is based off my experience as a mother. And here's a tip, When your over whelmed try taking your kids to the park, outside, or even the library. Children need physical and social stimulation. It's part of their development.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by sharon on 7th April 2012

  • Sharon..."the luxury of taking as many breaks as desired..." Do you actually care for your children yourself at all???? I am a full time working mom and my sister watches my kids. One of the things I love about going to work is it gives me some time to catch my breath, drink a cup of coffee, discuss grown up things with actual grown ups. When I am home with my kids, I am lucky if I get to pee without someone barging in on me! And brushing my teeth before noon is also a bonus! So, I am not sure where you get the notion that childcare is such a care free occupation with so much free time?

    I feel like childcare is an extremely undervalued and unappreciated occupation. I pay my sister according to the moto "if I get paid, you get paid." I get paid if I am sick, so should she. I get paid for holidays, so should she. We usually try and work out holidays so that a family member can fill in if her holidays don't coincide with mine. The only exception to this is if she takes a holiday and I cannot find another family member to help out or take leave myself. If I have to pay someone else to cover for her (which almost never happens), then I pay that person instead.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Tammy on 6th April 2012

  • Paid time off, provided by the parent? Really as a parent with a child currently in daycare, let me analyze.
    I'm an hourly employee. I must work every hour. This is expected. My wadges are based off an hourly rate, and the amount of hours I work.
    In home daycare provider's are payed an hourly rate for EVERY child in their care. My child arrives @ 5am. She sleeps until 7am. She then naps from 2pm - 4pm.
    The at home child care provider is self employed. She is not an in home nanny(that would be different).
    The daycare profits off many children.
    I'm not so lucky.
    I'm forced to vacation when my provider decides.
    Should our vacations not coincide , I must seek temporary daycare, and pay double fees?
    So clearly "If your child is in a daycare center, you pay when you take holidays. Why should home care be different? " is like comparing apples to oranges. Daycare providers make money off multiple children, and are not working every hour that they are payed. They are self employed, and have the luxury of taking as many breaks as desired. They can converse with friends, pay bills, watch t.v., and any other activity that is prohibited for the average hourly employee. They do not have to bear the cost of renting a business space, or even hiring employees. Why do you feel such entitlement for unrendered services? As a consumer, this is absurd.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by sharon on 5th April 2012

  • If we am hiring a childcare provider for our three children for only the summer, do I pay her for our family's pre-arranged week of vacation in July? Any other thoughts on summer caregiver benefits?

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Our3hounds on 31st January 2012

  • My clients pay for the childcare space I reserve exclusively for them, NOT for the days in which their children are in attendance. This is standard industry practice for commercial childcare centers and professional, home-based providers such as myself (who have to follow the same regulations and are subject to the same oversight as commercial centers).
    I am a state-licensed provider who is required to adhere to strict capacity limits, and therefore my availability is limited. It is not financially feasible for me to hold a spot for a family that does not consistently pay for that spot. Most providers who offer "pay as you go" services are stay-at-home moms, not professional caregivers. And most providers who offer "pay as you go" quickly find that their clients take every opportunity NOT to send their children to daycare, because they don't have to pay unless the child attends.
    This is my JOB - and like anyone else in the workforce, I have the right to expect continuity of income.
    I'm holding a space in care for each of my clients - and it is the RESERVED SPACE they are paying for, not the day-to-day utilization of that space.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by ProfessionalProvider on 7th January 2012

  • This logic is completely nonsensical. How can you justify charging for services that were never provided? The argument that if I receive benefits from my employer then so should my caregiver, simply does not make sense. I am not the caregiver's employer, nor am I in business with them trying to make a profit. I hired a caregiver to provide service.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by bgg on 5th January 2012

  • I am a mother of four watching (full time 5 days a week, 9 hours day), two little girls. In the summer I had them the entire day, now, one of them is in 3rd grade, the other in half day kindergarten. I stay very close to home, because I am the first person contacted by the school for any problems, etc. I am like the "parent" on the week days. I feed the little one breakfast and lunch (they do not send food) and both children snacks after school and an occasional dinner when they are late picking them up (pick up is 5 or 6). Last week the mother called me off unexpectantly.....the Grandmother was in town. I was not paid at all and they call me off for reasons like this quite often. Problem is, the mother is also a friend. I am paid $350/week. I do not get paid for any holidays or holiday days, or vacation, etc. If I don't have the girls, I am not paid. Please help me figure out if this is how it should be, or should I get paid some for the time they call me off? I would never charge them for my own vacations or sick days.....but, if I am called on a Sunday night and told I will not be working that week due to a family member visiting, that is tough, I am counting on that money in my monthly budget. Thank you!!!

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Mommy4 on 13th September 2010

  • From a legalistic standpoint, DCPs are independent contractors. They are self-employed. They shouldn't get time off like someone who has to adhere to the policies of a corporation. What's next, do us parents need to set up a 401K for them and do contribution matching? It's ridiculous!

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Dadman33 on 6th July 2010

  • If you want the benefits of a corporate world, join it. That's one perspective. Another is, if you want the benefits of self-employment, put up your shingle -- and have a good contract. This is, as I commented earlier, one of the examples of the free market: you charge what the market will bear. If your requested perks are too generous, you won't find clients. If, however, a self-employed person can manage to keep themselves in business and get paid holidays, whyever wouldn't she?

    Is two weeks really the average? For everyone? Regardless of experience and career? My clients all get 5 to 6 weeks, plus sick days. Is this perhaps a Canadian-American difference? (Two weeks? Really? Ugh.)

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by MaryP on 4th September 2008

  • My DCP allows herself 28 days of vacation/sick time per year but this includes the 6 major holidays. I still think this a bit obsurd since the average employer gives an employee 2 weeks vacation and sometimes no sick pay. It is difficult to accomodate her excessive vacation time, since I don't even get that much time off in a year and the vacation time that I have is spent giving her time off. I sort of understand the idea that she should get paid just like I do, but in all honesty, the downside to being self-employed (and that is what home daycares are) is that you only get paid when you work. A lawncare owner doesn't get paid unless he mows your lawn. The house cleaner doesn't get paid unless she cleans your house.A DCP doesn't get paid unless she watches your child (the exception I make is if I withhold my child from her). If a DCP wants the benefits that come along with the corporate world, then join it.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Mashed Taters on 21st August 2008