Guaranteed Hours: How Do They Work With Holidays?

Guaranteed hours are a pretty straight-forward benefit: if the nanny is available to work but the family chooses to not use her services, the nanny will still be paid for her guaranteed number of hours. But around holiday time, how this benefit works in the real world can get a little confusing. So here I’ve answered the most common questions I get from parents and nannies.

Are Guaranteed Hours Offered?
Providing guaranteed hours is not legally required. However it is a standard benefit in the nanny industry but it’s not an automatic thing. You should always cover what benefits are provided before the job starts.

Paid Holiday Hours Are Included in Guaranteed Hours
Let’s say a nanny typically works Monday through Friday 8 AM to 5 PM, 9 hours a day, and is guaranteed 45 hours a week. The nanny also gets Thanksgiving Day as a paid holiday and the family told her she could leave at noon on Black Friday. So the nanny will get paid for 31 hours worked (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday X 9 hours and Friday X 4 hours), 9 hours for the paid holiday, and 5 hours (the Friday afternoon off) under the guaranteed hours clause. For a total of 45 hours. She will NOT receive 45 guaranteed hours PLUS 9 paid holiday hours. An easy way to think about this is to remember that you can’t double dip paid time off. Either it’s contractual paid time off (holiday, bad weather day, sick day) OR it falls under the guaranteed hours clause. You don’t get both.

Who’s Asking?
Whether time is paid as part of a nanny’s guaranteed hours depends fully on whose decision it is for the nanny to not work. Let’s say Grandma and Grandpa are visiting for Christmas week and the family is planning to have additional relatives over for a big Christmas Eve feast. The nanny does not receive Christmas Eve as a paid holiday.

Scenario One: The nanny knows Grandma and Grandpa spend every waking minute focused on their only grandchild. She also knows that with aunts, uncles, and cousins there, she won’t be needed to do any real work. She shares her reservations with her mom boss and asks if she should just take the day off rather than spend the day doing nothing. Her mom boss agrees that’s a good idea.

Scenario Two: The nanny knows Grandma and Grandpa spend every waking minute focused on their only grandchild. She also knows that with aunts, uncles, and cousins there, she won’t be needed to do any real work. She shares her reservations with her mom boss and asks what else Mom needs help with since the nanny doesn’t think she’ll be needed for childcare. Mom realizes she really doesn’t need any extra help since so many family members will be there so she tells the nanny to just take the day off.

Subtle difference is whose asking but there is a difference.

In scenario one, the nanny is asking for the time off (the mom is just agreeing) and won’t be paid for that day under her guaranteed hours clause. In scenario two, the employer is telling the nanny she doesn’t need to come in so the nanny will be paid under her guaranteed hours clause. Yes, some generous employers would pay the nanny from scenario one anyway but it shouldn’t be an expectation.

“But I Already Have Plans!”
Remember, the guaranteed hours benefit kicks in when the nanny is available to work but the employer chooses not to use her services. But what happens when the parent gives the nanny the time off but at the last minute, changes her mind? It’s a bummer but the nanny should be prepared to go into work. Lots of things can happen to cause a change of plans. Employers get called into work for a last minute client meeting, kids get sick, or parents just decide to do something different.

If a nanny wants to use extra time off to attend a special event or plan a visit with a friend, she should ask her employer when the time off is given if it can be considered a firm commitment. Having clear expectations from the get go will save disappointment and hurt feelings later down the line.