Cash for care! How much should you pay your nanny?

Our chil­dren’s nan­nies and child­car­ers work long hours and shoul­der huge re­spon­si­bil­ity. So how do you find the bal­ance be­tween how much you can af­ford to pay, and what is a fair wage? Lori Co­hen finds out

Your Baby & Toddler - - Contents -

ONE MIL­LION. That’s the amaz­ing num­ber of women work­ing as do­mes­tic work­ers and nan­nies in South Africa, ac­cord­ing to the In­ter­na­tional Labour Or­gan­i­sa­tion. They pro­vide an es­sen­tial ser­vice – car­ing for our chil­dren so we are able to work out­side the home to sup­port our fam­i­lies – and know­ing the right wage to pay as a first-time mom can be con­fus­ing. There are the (very low) min­i­mum wage fig­ures re­leased by the Depart­ment of Labour, and then the more “re­al­is­tic” fig­ure you hear your friends and fam­ily are pay­ing.

The dis­crep­ancy be­tween the min­i­mum wage and a liv­ing wage is some­thing that re­quires thought, says founder of nan­, Lara Schoen­feld. “The min­i­mum wage is ridicu­lous for some­one spend­ing a lot of time and money get­ting to work ev­ery day and of­ten pay­ing other peo­ple to care for her chil­dren. I con­sider a liv­ing wage to be some­thing that al­lows one to live fru­gally but with dig­nity. Seventy-five per­cent of care­givers are the only bread­win­ners in their house­hold – we have an eth­i­cal re­spon­si­bil­ity to look af­ter the peo­ple work­ing for us,” says Lara.

“If you in­vest in her she will re­ward you with loy­alty and sta­bil­ity.”

MAK­ING THE NUM­BERS WORK There are other so­lu­tions to ex­plore such as pay­ing a proper hourly rate for fewer hours, so that your nanny can look for ad­di­tional em­ploy­ment, or con­sider shar­ing a nanny with a friend.

“By both con­tribut­ing you will be able to pay her a de­cent salary.” Lara says she is also of­ten con­tacted by par­ents look­ing to hire a nanny as an al­ter­na­tive to crèche be­cause they are find­ing the doc­tors’ bills are adding up be­cause their child is at­tend­ing a crèche and there­fore of­ten ill.

“If you con­sider this as a fac­tor the nanny is of­ten not more ex­pen­sive than a crèche, plus you don’t have to take leave if your child is ill.”

Hav­ing a nur­tur­ing per­son to care for your child and stim­u­late them with play, so­cial­is­ing and song beats any gim­micky plas­tic toy you can buy from the store, con­tin­ues Lara. If you are un­able to pay what is con­sid­ered a “liv­ing wage”, rather cut down on ex­pen­sive ed­u­ca­tional toys, clothes and other ac­ces­sories for your child.

“In ten years’ time, your child prob­a­bly won’t re­mem­ber how cute he looked in that lit­tle out­fit, but he will def­i­nitely be im­pacted by how he was treated ev­ery day,” says Lara.

Mom-of-two Michelle Mor­gan says that when she em­ployed a nanny three years ago, she paid R6 000. Although the amount re­quired some sac­ri­fices on her part she says not only do you “get what you pay for” in terms of a happy and val­ued employee, but the amount you pay should be con­sid­ered an in­vest­ment in your child rather than a grudge pay­ment.

“You are en­trust­ing your most pre­cious bun­dle to some­one else, so make sure that this some­one else is well looked af­ter. It’s only for a few years (prob­a­bly) and then the lit­tle ones have to head off to school and the need for a full-time nanny di­min­ishes,” she says.

THE LAW VS. BE­ING ETH­I­CAL Re­search con­ducted on Face­book par­ent­ing net­work pages re­veals that some nan­nies are pre­pared to work for as lit­tle as R700 a month. Opin­ions range from “at least it is some­thing” to oth­ers who feel that it is a “foot in the door” and that with the ex­pe­ri­ence they will later be able to ex­plore work that is bet­ter paid.

But pay­ing any­one be­low the


min­i­mum wage is il­le­gal. Lara says she is of­ten sur­prised when some­one says they can­not pay a fair wage, but “they are of­ten the same peo­ple who eat out at restau­rants, get take-out and en­joy other lux­u­ries. How can that be an ex­cuse?”

Ce­leste Bar­low, founder of Happy Helpers Nanny Re­cruit­ment Agency, says she only works with peo­ple who can of­fer a fair wage, which she feels ranges be­tween R4 500 and R6 500 a month based on the worker’s ex­pe­ri­ence and qual­i­fi­ca­tions, which could in­clude cook­ing, first aid and CPR and child­care cer­ti­fi­ca­tion and new­born ex­pe­ri­ence.

She warns against bench­mark­ing a salary based on what your friends or fam­ily mem­bers are pay­ing their nanny be­cause there are so many peo­ple out there pay­ing “shock­ing” salaries – rather do the re­search your­self. “Po­ten­tial em­ploy­ees nat­u­rally ask what salary they should pay, but it is a very emo­tive ques­tion. It’s like ask­ing how much you are will­ing to pay for your child’s ed­u­ca­tion,” she says.

For nan­nies who are “liv­ing in”, Ce­leste says that the wage should be the same as if they were to live out. “You wouldn’t charge a re­cep­tion­ist to pay to­wards the cost of her desk and phone you are pro­vid­ing her with, so why would your nanny pay for ac­com­mo­da­tion on your premises?

She has her own over­heads of her home to cover. The rea­son she is there is to be able to pro­vide you with a ser­vice at a time that is con­ve­nient for you, not be­cause she needs a place to stay,” says Ce­leste, who adds that a ba­sic stipend of food, over­time and babysit­ting pay should also be pro­vided as part of her pack­age.

Ul­ti­mately, a fair wage is all about choice, says Lara. “It’s not only an in­vest­ment in your child, it’s an in­vest­ment in the women of South Africa.”

WHAT IS THE CUR­RENT MIN­I­MUM WAGE? Namhla Duma, di­rec­tor at Pre­mium Do­mes­tic Ser­vices, ex­plains the cur­rent min­i­mum wage. “based on labour law as of 1 De­cem­ber 2016 to 30 Novem­ber 2017, do­mes­tic wages are R2 422.54 per month, R559.09 weekly and R12.42 per hour in Area A which are met­ro­pol­i­tan ar­eas (ur­ban ar­eas). In non-met­ro­pol­i­tan ar­eas that de­creases a lit­tle to R2 205.06 monthly, R508.93 weekly and R11.31 per hour,” ex­plains Namhla.

Th­ese fig­ures are for work­ers who work more than 27 ordinary hours per week. If the worker works fewer hours than those the rates are R1 701.06 monthly, R392.59 weekly and R14.54 hourly for Area A (ur­ban ar­eas) and R1 562.21 monthly, R360.54 weekly and R13.35 hours for Area B (non-ur­ban ar­eas). A list of the ar­eas and up­dated fig­ures for 2018 can be found on the web­site.

WHAT ARE THE PRO­POSED CHANGES TO COME INTO EF­FECT IN MAY 2018? “Based on a Cab­i­net meet­ing pro­posal, there has been an introducti­on to na­tional min­i­mum wages as of 1 May 2018 to R3 200 per month or R20 per hour. How­ever this ex­cludes do­mes­tic work­ers. The pro­posal for do­mes­tic work­ers has been set at R15 per hour with the prom­ise of an in­crease within two years pend­ing re­search by the na­tional min­i­mum wage com­mis­sion,” says Namhla.

WHAT ABOUT WORK­ING HOURS AND OVER­TIME? “Work­ing hours are 45 hours per week, nine hours a day if the worker works for five days or less in a week or eight hours a day if the worker works more than five days a week,” ex­plains Namhla. “Any­thing above this is con­sid­ered over­time. How­ever the over­time should not be more than 15 hours a week or more than three hours on any given day. Dou­ble pay is also ap­pli­ca­ble on a Sun­day or pub­lic hol­i­day.” YB

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