Monday’s Ramblings: Spotting Bad Employers
There are a million hoops for future nannies to jump through before they can land a position. There are background checks (yes, some agencies require multiple), a million references, and sometimes multiple levels of interviews. Well, what about the flip side? The parents get to know every detail of your life including your cousins middle name, but what do you know about them? Sure, they are entrusting you with their children’s lives, but are entrusting them with your own! Just because they have sippy cups in their sink and markers strewn across the floor doesn’t mean that you will get paid or be treated with any ounce of respect. And those aren’t even the worse of your worries. So, what do you do? Any parent that you ask for references from will raise their eyebrows at you and you’ll probably never hear from them again. Here are a few pointers so you don’t get caught in an unpleasant, or even dangerous, working situation.
1. Kindly request that the first meeting is on common grounds. How often do you tell the kids you care for: “Stranger Danger!”. Yet, we so rarely follow this ourselves. You don’t want to get yourself stuck in a questionable situation by going over to a stranger’s house, so get to know your interviewer a bit first at a coffee shop. And they won’t mind…how many moms jump at a chance to get some extra coffee in their morning?
2. Make sure they have a kid before you sign up! This just seems obvious, right?
3. Google future employer names. I had a friend who ended up working for this horrendous family. They skimped on payment, they abandoned her with the kids when she had prior obligations, and the kids were nightmarish little children raised by their parents’ alternative lifestyle and severe lack of morals. We found out later that if she had simply googled the parents’ names before she agreed to work for them, she would have found an article in the Chicago Tribune that detailed an egregious affair that represented the unprofessionalism and absurdity of this family. She also would’ve found a website dedicated to the complaints of other employees that worked for this family. Major warning signs were there had she only typed in their names into the world’s most beloved search engine.
4. Suggest a trial week. It’s actually extremely common for parents to start out their nannies with a one week trial, so if your potential family isn’t doing it, don’t be afraid to suggest it. It’s a good idea for both of you to feel out the relationship before an official commitment. Even going over for a few days a couple weeks in advance will give you some type of idea, and it still gives you ample time to back out in a very professional manner.
If you happen to already be in a bad situation and are afraid to quit for financial reasons or future reference reasons, know that your health (both emotional and physical) and safety are more important. The family can always find another nanny or put their kids in daycare, but you need to take care of yourself first and foremost.