Often parents will turn to their nannies for overnight or weekend care of their children. Maybe work trips take them out of town or they plan a getaway to have some time together without their little ones.
How do you pay your nanny for these extra shifts? It may seem easy to pay a flat fee but that could violate wage laws if it does not cover all hours worked at a legal pay rate. Doing it the right way depends on a few factors like when the shift happens and state laws.
Here’s what you need to know when paying your nanny for an overnight shift or other extra hours.
Overnight shift during the week
You will be out of town for a work meeting during the week and need your nanny to stay with your children overnight while you are away. Your caregiver works their normal shift during the day, remains at your home through the evening and overnight, and then works, as usual, the next day.
All hours that your nanny is at your home must be paid. Since the overnight care is adjoining with a scheduled workday, federal law says eight hours of uninterrupted sleep time can be unpaid. If your caregiver needs to get up to feed or change a baby or tend to a sick child, then that sleep time must be paid.
Your nanny must also be given adequate sleeping arrangements like a guest room.
Outside of sleep time, all hours when your employee is not free to leave your premises and when not completely relieved of their duties must be paid.
In California, there is no deduction for sleep time. All hours must be paid.
Overtime rules may come into play if any extra hours during a workweek – like an overnight shift – push your nanny’s work hours to more than 40 for that week. All hours that exceed 40 in a workweek must be paid at an overtime rate of time-and-a-half.
As an example, a nanny works Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. They are paid $15/hour for the first 40 hours of work ($600) and $22.50 for the five hours of overtime ($112.50) for a typical weekly pay of $712.50. One week they work an overnight shift, which adds 15 hours to their workweek (5 p.m. – 8 a.m.). Eight hours are excluded since the nanny got uninterrupted sleep. Since overtime is already in effect, those overnight hours are paid at time and a half (7 hrs x $22.50 = $157.50).
Families may also add a stipend to their nanny’s pay if they work an overnight shift.
Overnight shift on the weekend
You and your partner have planned a quick weekend overnight getaway to celebrate your anniversary. Your nanny will be with your children while you are away. Typically, they work Monday through Friday but are now coming in on a Saturday.
According to federal law, there is no sleep time exemption for shifts less than 24 hours So if your nanny is coming in on a Saturday at 4 p.m. and will work until Sunday at noon, the entire 20 hours must be paid. If they are already at or over 40 hours in their work week, then this extra shift must be paid at their overtime rate.
Let’s use the same example as above with a nanny working a 45-hour work week with a base pay of $15/hour. For this 20-hour weekend overnight shift, they will receive $450 (20 hrs x $22.50 OT rate).
Work shifts of less than 24 hours
A household employee must be paid for the entire time they are working for any shift that is less than 24 hours. This includes time they need to be on the premises even if they are allowed to sleep or engage in other personal activities.
Work shifts of more than 24 hours
When an employee is working a shift of 24 hours or more, sleep time can be excluded if:
- adequate sleeping facilities are furnished by the employer
- the employee’s time spent sleeping is usually uninterrupted
- there is an expressed or implied agreement to exclude sleep time
An “expressed or implied agreement” regarding the exclusion of sleep time means either a written or verbal agreement that your employee will not be paid for sleep time or an agreement to exclude sleep time that is implied by your and your employee’s conduct. If your nanny objects to the exclusion of sleep time from their hours worked, no such agreement exists and all hours spent on duty, including time spent sleeping, must be counted as work time.
For “adequate sleeping facilities,” in general, you must ensure that your employee has:
- access to basic sleeping amenities
- reasonable standards of comfort
- basic bathroom and kitchen facilities
The sleeping area and other facilities can be shared or private.
Interruptions during which your nanny performs tasks on behalf of you – as the employer – must always be paid as work time. If the interruptions are so frequent that your employee cannot get reasonable periods of sleep totaling at least five hours during the scheduled sleeping period, the entire period must be counted as time spent working and paid accordingly.
More information can be found on the U.S. Department of Labor’s Domestic Service Final Rule Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).
Include overnights in your nanny contract
If you know you will need your nanny for the occasional overnight or weekend shift, add it to your work agreement at the start of employment. That way everyone is clear on expectations and pay. If it is something that comes up after employment is underway, you can always go back and amend your nanny contract to include additional sections on overnights and 24-hour shifts. Negotiating overnight compensation in advance will help avoid any misunderstandings with your nanny.
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