Nannies who work for free?

Nannies who work for free. I mean, who likes to work for free? I mean free. That is right, free. You know, you get nothing in return for work you have done. It is a pet peeve for most nannies, you stay back late to help out the family you work for, you help out when the car breaks down in another state, when the kids are sick, or when the grandparents need a cooked lunch during the hours you work. You help out, that is what nannies do. Now as a professional nanny you probably don’t mind helping out if required, or going that extra mile to help, in fact I don’t mind at all, in fact I love helping people out in need. I even volunteer almost every weekend as a surf lifesaver, for over 10 years. It is a great sense of fulfillment. What happens when helping out occasionally turns into a more common occurrence – like weekly, then daily, not as a once off?  In some aspects some might feel like a slave, as you feel like you have been taken for granted. So how do you change the situation?


1) You can nicely inform that you don’t mind “helping out” but if it is going to occur on a regular basis, these are my terms.
2) You draw a line and start saying, “No”.
3) You leave. You know where the door is.
4) Take an extended holiday and let the parents experience first hand exactly what you do.

After 20 years of being a nanny – I usually start with the first option.  If that creates no impact, number four works quite well, and renegotiate your contract on return. But what happens when industry or should I say corporate enterprises in the nanny industry asks you to work for free? Yes, free! Would you do it? Now I’m not talking about “helping” your local nanny agency owner answer the phone because her daughter has just ended up in hospital – they could definitely use some help. Nor am I talking about “helping” a nanny colleague complete their tax return before they get sent to jail. I mean “work”. Would you “work” for free to help a fellow nanny colleague build their commercial enterprise for no monetary return whatsoever? Well, it seems like this is becoming the norm in our industry, and there are a lot of nannies putting up their hands, and I really cannot understand why.

I mean, why would you do that? Would you be willing to send your CV to McDonalds and go through an interviewing process, then spend 4 hours every week flipping hamburgers for free, just because you like hamburgers? Then why are you working for free for another commercial enterprise just because you like being a nanny? It just does not make sense. I would understand if you have a business or blog and you need more industry exposure and presence. Writing an article for a magazine, blog or newspaper can be beneficial, and bring enormous rewards. But what if the business wants to utilise your skills for nothing? What if they want to use you for your graphic design skills or your English literature skills that required four years of study at university? How about taking advantage of your HTML or computer coding skills? That is difficult stuff. What if they want to just use you to manage their social media account, because somehow it is just way too hard for them to manage? Would you work for free? Would you work approximately four hours or more per week for free?

There is a major difference between “you scratch my back, and I scratch yours.” Commercial enterprises are in business to make money. That is it. They do not give a “rats” about you. They are in it to make as much money as they can, and it seems they are doing it at your expense. In other words, the owner wants you to work for free, while they take all the credit, and guess what? They are laughing all the way to the bank…at your expense, your work, your sweat, your tears, your contribution, while what they do is well…nothing. Yes, Nanny Magazine, I’m calling you out.

While I know nothing about the editors of the magazine, the owner does state she is a graphic designer and I do find it very difficult to swallow that they would want to “employ” a graphic designer to work for free. Yes I have heard it all before…it looks good on your CV, right? Of course it does. You are already a graphic designer it looks great, but does it really look good to state that you worked for free?

Well, let’s take those four hours that you worked for free. In reality, it means nothing on a CV because it is voluntary. Not for a social cause i.e. UNICEF, but for a commercial enterprise. Yes I have to tell you…you have just accidentally set a precedent that you like working for “free” to a new potential employer, who is now probably going to take you for another ride yet again, because, well you just like working for “free”. Now, let’s say for example, you used those four hours to learn a new language instead. Not only would your CV look so much better – you have increased your skill set, and increased your pay packet at the same time. So the question remains, would you now still work for free?

Share This:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comment *