I can’t afford to keep paying for work I’m not receiving from our nanny

A reader writes:

We have a nanny and she’s mostly wonderful. She’s experienced, super dependable, and incredible with our daughter, who adores her. We are due for another baby this fall. We pay close to the top of the market where we live. Currently, we give her three weeks paid vacation and I usually give her paid time for any doctor appointments without counting it as vacation time. This is more generous than I get at work, but between my husband and I and grandparents we can usually cover any absences.

Things have recently changed, however, with Covid. We are all very cautious but work in unmasked offices and live in an area of the country where no one takes any precautions. We’ve already lost two weeks of childcare to Covid exposures (we were exposed at work and quarantined until we could all get negative PCRs). We also, unfortunately, got Covid this month and lost two more weeks of childcare. All of this time is fully paid because these incidents are not her fault. She has stated she is not comfortable coming in at the five-day mark; she wants us to do a full two-week quarantine in line with the old CDC guidelines. I want her to feel comfortable so that is what we did. Neither one of us received any time off either for the exposures or for actually having Covid; our jobs do not provide that. We are only asked to wear a mask and work from home for the first five days.

The pace of exposures and infections in our area is really picking up and some of our friends have had Covid back-to-back, weeks or months apart. People who have never gotten it are starting to get it, given how few precautions are taken by the community at large. It’s really stressful.

I cannot afford to continuously pay for childcare we aren’t receiving. If we were to have two exposures and two infections a year (not outrageous), we would lose about three months of childcare. If she were to get one or two infections and take two weeks each time, we would lose an additional month, bringing us to four months in a calendar year with no childcare, plus three weeks of her vacation and various doctor appointments. That is getting close to five months/year potentially of no care. With the three weeks of vacation and frequent absences for doctor appointments, this is really starting to impact me at work.

I think we need to start walking back our flexibility, at minimum, and either asking her to take unpaid time or her vacation for exposures or quarantines. I really don’t feel good about this from any angle but right now I am getting into trouble at work for splitting my time so often during childcare gaps.

First of all, do you have any suggestions I’m not thinking of for how we could avoid having to walk back her vacation time? Second of all, if there is no other way, any suggestions for how to have this conversation without her feeling like it’s a punishment? She does a great job; I’d give her tons more time off if I could but I can’t.

I fully get the problem you are facing — five months a year of no child care while still paying for it is a lot. It’s 41% of the time you’re paying for. It’s reasonable to feel it’s unsustainable.

That said, asking her to go unpaid or use her vacation time when you get sick or exposed is not a great deal for her. Using your calculations, that’s three months of income she planned on that she wouldn’t be getting — 25% of her income for the year. That’s a huge hit. And that’s before we get into the hit she would take if she gets sick.

You’ve also got to consider that child care is still really hard to find right now. If you lose this nanny, will you be able to find an alternate caregiver who will agree to what you’re proposing? At most you might get someone who will agree to a five-day quarantine rather than the full two weeks, but is that enough savings to blow up the whole arrangement you have now? (It might be. It’s your call. But it’s worth asking that question.)

Instead of walking back your agreement with her, what if you you sat down together, laid out the problem, and asked for her help in figuring out a solution? You could say you want to keep her and you want to be fair to her, and you’re also worried about paying for multiple months of child care that you’re not receiving. Tell her that you understand where she’s coming from (if in fact you do) and you’re hoping you can figure out a solution together that will work for both of you. If you include her in the problem-solving, you’ll have a better chance of reaching a resolution that she feels is fair.

On the other hand … I’m interested in hearing from caregivers and people who employ caregivers, because it’s possible that just having the conversation will push her to look elsewhere. (After all, if your boss came to you and said, essentially, “I need to find a way to pay you less,” you’d probably feel your agreement was pretty precarious and would start looking around.) So before you broach it, try to figure out if you’re willing to lose her over this … and also whether this is just the price of child care right now (similar to how with daycare, you generally pay for the whole month/year whether you use all the days or not).

{ 512 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

    A request: if you have resentments against people who can afford nannies, please pass up commenting on this post! (That’s happened with questions about employing nannies and other household help in the past, and I don’t want it here.) Please be constructive, offer advice, and follow the commenting rules. Thank you!

  2. Elder Millennial*

    Most employers that I’m aware of, in my area at least, are following the current CDC guidelines of a five day quarantine and then wearing a mask (as long as you’re negative) – it is current best practice decided upon by the federal epidemiological agency that has been updating guidelines as new science teaches us more about Covid. All that is to say, can you agree to pay her for the 5 day quarantine in line with CDC guidelines, but tell her if she wants to insist upon a 2 week quarantine that the rest of the time will be unpaid? I know there are people who are still holding to older guidance for personal or family health reasons, but I think you’re being more generous than most employers would be in letting her enforce a paid quarantine period above and beyond federal guidelines.

    1. D*

      Let’s be honest: the CDC has been updating a lot of guidelines based on economic and political factors right now, not science.

      1. Lioness*

        This. Also if this is how LW chooses to go, it should be whichever is longer of 5 days or until a negative test is produced, up to 2 weeks. The last few cases among my friends have been throwing positives for between 7-11 days, 5 is provably too short.

        1. Van Wilder*

          OP, are you quarantining yourself in the house when you have COVID or an exposure, and only come out with a mask? I know (first hand) it’s not fun, but then your nanny could be in your house while you’re still in quarantine.

          1. rinkydink*

            The daughter might not be able to (effectively) mask, though, and if she’s young the nanny is likely in very close contact with her. And even if the daughter isn’t testing positive (or testing positive yet), there’s a reasonable chance she’s got it if her parents have it. The two degrees of separation issue is a little trickier (parents are exposed but testing negative).

            That said, kids typically get sick a lot. COVID is obviously different and can be worse in many ways, but if the daughter also gets other colds/etc and the nanny doesn’t work during those, that’s a lot of additional missed childcare. It’s a difficult situation.

          2. Cj*

            It sounds like their jobs are only requiring a 5-day quarantine, so she wouldn’t even be in the house when they are there. I know she said they lost two weeks of childcare when they had to quarantine, but I don’t think that’s because their job required it, I think it’s because the nanny is requiring it.

            Also, Alison says that if they tell her they aren’t going to pay her and she loses 25% of her income, it would be the same as if your employer told you they were going to reduce your pay, and they won’t like it. But it sounds like the OP’s pay is being reduced, because their jobs don’t pay for quarantine, and I can’t imagine they have that much PTO. At this point, that’s what most employees are dealing with because employers are no longer paying for quarantine after the government quit reimbursing them.

            1. fhqwhgads*

              I think it’s a little different than an employer just plain saying they’re reducing your pay. It’s the employer reducing both hours AND pay proportionally. It still sucks to be on the receiving end but I do think “I’m paying you less because you’re working less” is not the same thing.

              1. One of the Sarahs*

                I think you’re missing the fact that the employee in this scenario is in a high-demand profession. I absolutely respect OP’s right to do this, as long as they are willing to respect the nanny’s choice to decide to choose a different work environment, where they’re not going to be continually put at risk, and so have to decide whether to isolate themself or risk people they love in turn.

                1. BaftaWinner*

                  That may be but these employers are still more generous than many families who employ childcare workers. Genuinely, even if she could find another family right away, it would still be hard to find another nanny position as generous. I used to nanny and I’m friends with people who still nanny and this is beyond what I have ever been offered or what my friends get. To get something that flexible, she would have to just stop nannying or nanny for like, a celebrity.

                2. bikemamabike*

                  I’m a parent w young kids, w a lot of friends who have nannies, though w don’t personally. I live in a liberal area w very high vax rates and people taking covid precautions seriously. I would stop paying her for the 14 days. Yes, it’s a high demand profession, but parents are not going to hire someone at this stage of the pandemic who comes in with these kinds of demands for quarantines. I think setting a limit here is worth the risk. You may want to check in w other families in your area to see what their experience is, but personally this seems insane.

          3. Annony*

            Also, would she feel more comfortable if you provided KN-95 masks? That might be a good compromise. You could also try to arrange for more outdoor activities on those days.

        2. ABCYaBye*

          A friend’s kid has been testing positive for a month after he had COVID and became symptom-free. The negative test thing is great (and something that I’d find comfort in, too) but it is possible to still test positive for up to 90 days post-infection.

          1. zillah*

            just a quick point – that lingering positive is sometimes a problem with pcr tests, but it shouldn’t happen with rapids.

            1. Carrots*

              I know at least three people, my husband included, who have tested positive on rapid antigen tests for a full three weeks. It felt endless!!

              1. Geneticist*

                Unfortunately the data that’s come out so far indicates that many if not most people who still have reasonably solid positive lines on rapid tests are still contagious. The only exceptions are if the positive line is super faint, but that shouldn’t last long.

              2. GythaOgden*

                My dad had the same problem. It’s triggered a lot of anxiety in him, since he’s not bounced back like my mum did. He did have heart issues just before the pandemic struck, and at their age my previously immortal parents have suddenly started becoming a little less immortal simply due to age, but yeah, it can be hard to keep getting that second line.

          2. many bells down*

            My co-worker got it, got on paxlovid, and was testing negative 4 days later. Then TEN DAYS later he was positive again. We don’t know if he actually got it again or if it was a rebound from the antivirals.

            1. Greg*

              Apparently the “Paxlovid rebound” is a thing. Big picture, Paxlovid is still helping because it reduces the likelihood of severe symptoms/hospitalization, but from what I hear the rebound is super annoying

          3. anonarama*

            if someone is still testing positive on rapid antigen tests for a month after being symptom free they absolutely need to speak to their dr. that kind of low level but non-resolving infection is how new variants evolve.

            PCR tests are a different testing pathway, and longer positive tests are more common and not as worrying

            1. Geneticist*

              Yes this is correct! If they’re still rapid positive, they really need to talk to a doctor and if their primary care doctor is not equipped to understand and investigate, they need to talk to an infectious disease doctor (potentially an immunologist too). The only exception would be if they had very very super faint barely visible positive lines that can sometimes last a little longer (more like maybe up to 2 weeks).

        3. Janimal*

          I think commenters here are overlooking that the nanny is also asking for 2 week quarantine after every *exposure*, not only after someone in the house actually has COVID.

          1. Gothic Bee*

            Yeah, two weeks might be reasonable if you actually had covid and are still testing positive after 5 days, but two weeks just because you were exposed (and are actively testing negative) is unreasonable.

            1. Denny*

              As a nanny myself, I agree that two weeks after every exposure is ridiculous. What about nannies whose employers work at hospitals?

              1. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

                Honestly, I work at a hospital as an anesthesiologist intubating people. I had zero significant (non-space suit with PAPR) exposures at work. I actually got COVID from my kid in daycare. Daycares are worse than hospitals IMO.

                1. quill*

                  Yeah, and the nature of a job as a nanny is that the kid will spit up on you fairly often.

          2. MCMonkeyBean*

            Yes, at this point if all parties are vaccinated and masked that is really just not reasonable. Offering even 5 days paid is pretty generous in that circumstance and I think that is where I would start if OP is looking to redraw some of these lines.

          3. Chief Bottle Washer*

            Yeah, I am so confused about this. For vaccinated people, the CDC is not recommending that you quarantine at all unless you have symptoms. Why are these folks quarantining for 5 days to 2 weeks just for an exposure.

            1. Janeric*

              They don’t recommend quarantine without symptoms for fully vaccinated people, children under 5 are, by definition, not vaccinated.

          4. Cascadia*

            Yea – I live in a very liberal city that has taken covid seriously, and I don’t know anyone that is still quarantining after an exposure. I work at a school, and the school’s policy since March 2022 is “everyone should assume that they have been exposed at all times.” We are not doing contact tracing anymore because it both spreads so rapidly so as to be useless, and because it seems so random who gets it and who doesn’t. I got it while wearing a mask everywhere and being super careful, and my husband never got it despite living in a house with me coughing on him for 2 weeks straight.

        4. Bongofury*

          A positive test does NOT mean you are contagious, by the way. You can test positive and not have enough active virus to infect someone else. I tested positive for 20 days back in 2020. Even by the “old” CDC rules I wasn’t contagious after 14 days.

          1. one of the meg murrys*

            You must be talking about a PCR test result in 2020 @Bongofury – a positive result on a rapid test absolutely *DOES* mean you are contagious, and as mentioned upthread, this can happen later/for longer due to the way infections work in vaccinated folks and after paxlovid rebound.

      2. MishenNikara*

        I take what the CDC says now with a great deal of trepidation, but if after 5 days they are coming up negative and still wear masks and everyone involved is vaxxed and boosted, 5 days should be fine (obviously this opinion changes if any of these factors don’t happen, but it sounds like they are taking precautions)

        1. rinkydink*

          The daughter is almost certainly not vaxxed since she’s probably under 5. Hopefully that vaccine comes through soon. She also likely isn’t masked (too little) or masks very ineffectively. And they’re in very close contact if she’s young. The whole situation really sucks.

        2. Bee*

          With how much more rapidly the new variants show up, my actual doctor told me a negative PCR on day 4 after exposure, with no symptoms, is pretty darn definitive. The reason we had the two-week quarantine period at the beginning was in large part because no one could get tested! Things have changed a lot since that guidance was issued – both the disease and the circumstances.

          If you actually GET covid, then yes, absolutely, keep her away for two weeks. But I agree that if it’s just an exposure, five days and a negative test should be enough.

      3. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

        This. Plenty of people are still testing positive and contagious after only 5 days.

      4. CheesePlease*

        I agree, and at the same time saying “we can’t follow current CDC guidelines” is complicated as an employer because then WHO do you trust to set guidelines that both parties agree is true and best practice? We’re left really without any guidance (which is very frustrating) but my childcare provider (daycare center) follows CDC guidelines and the state health department regulations for childcare providers. They have to comply to these, and setting measures beyond that is complicated since everyone would need to agree that the sources used to determine those measures are best.

        1. Migraine Month*

          I thought “WHO do you trust” was a pun on the World Health Organization, which put out more reliable guidelines, at least at the beginning of the pandemic.

          1. Jennifer @unchartedworlds*

            I would dispute this actually. The WHO explicitly said early on that it wasn’t airborne, and kept up their tweet saying that long after it was very clear that it is, in fact, airborne. I don’t trust them now because of that.

      5. A Wall*

        I can say wholeheartedly as a medical researcher myself, the 5 day update was based on no scientific evidence whatsoever and I very strongly urge anyone I know not to follow it and to do a minimum of 10 days. My personal doctors and most of the doctors I work with advise the same, since we are more embedded into research than most healthcare providers are. A lot of physicians are not familiar with how this kind of research is conducted and will default to what the overhead advice they’re given is, which is why you see a split in whether people’s MDs/DOs will tell patients 5 or 10+.

        Fact is, our overwhelming evidence is that most people are still contagious for at least 10 days (assuming your symptoms are totally over by then) and many are still contagious after that. That is true even if you have no symptoms whatsoever. The decision to give different advice than that by the CDC was a political one.

        In fact, last year the CDC consolidated all its authority to flow up through the politically appointed office (currently Rochelle Walensky) and many of the long-tenured scientists who had been working on the national covid response prior to that resigned as a result. They said pretty plainly that it was because they felt they could no longer do the work they were supposed to be doing. The type of advice being presented to the public shifted heavily at that point, and many of us no longer consider their advice to be entirely credible.

        You are also usually still contagious even if you are getting negative PCR tests. They are not sensitive enough with the current variants to reliably say that a negative PCR means you are truly negative– it’s extremely common for people to test negative in the pre-symptomatic phase when they are actually the most contagious, and it’s also common for people to start testing negative long before they are done shedding virus (ie they are still contagious). So using a negative test to prove safety in under 10 days is absolutely not a thing anyone should be doing.

        1. Jake*

          This can’t possibly be true about PCR tests. Why haven’t they updated the primers?

          1. zillah*

            i’ve generally heard about that issue more with rapids than pcr tests, but part of the issue with those is that new variants keep emerging and it takes time to integrate them into tests. it’s a constant game of catch up.

        2. amethyst*

          I’m a public health researcher, and this is incorrect. It was based on science – the CDC explained their rationale and said that the risk of transmission is lower outside of a 5-day window near infection. The CDC never said that people were not contagious after 5 days; it said that they were less contagious after that time frame. Because again, the aim of public health is not to reduce risk of transmission to zero; it’s to balance public health risks across the board.

          1. GythaOgden*

            If we went by the strict science we’d have all been in lockdown for two years. There have to be compromises made for the sake of people being able to live with relative dignity.

      6. JR*

        Yes, but this question is also about an economic factor. Economic factors are real. If virology and epidemiology were the only factors in our decisions, then this question wouldn’t have needed to be written. The question is how to best reconcile two needs in competition, and going by the CDC suggestion isn’t the worst way to do that.

      7. Starfox*

        But the nanny is asking for a full two-week quarantine after every *exposure*, not positive test. Unfortunately, that’s just not reasonable.

      8. Avril Ludgateau*

        100000%. They literally shortened the quarantine window when the CEO of an airline complained. This is not science-based whatsoever. (To that end, the removal of the masking on airplanes requirement was also done as a QOL improvement for airline staff, putting their health at risk so that they would not need to deal with rowdy and resistant passengers.)

        1. amethyst*

          Well, no, it’s based on science that the virus is most contagious for about a five-day window. https://www.mynbc5.com/article/cdc-posts-rationale-for-shorter-isolation-quarantine-guidelines/38668745#

          But…do you want the airline industry to collapse? Do know the economic effects will have on the entire country – on the entire world? The airline CEO called not to complain about rowdy passengers; he called because he couldn’t keep a staff because people were getting exposed so frequently, and out of work so long, that it was causing the company to cancel flights and contract their business. I know it sounds like a greed thing – and to the CEO, there’s likely a lot of that operating. But for the CDC, they have to contend with the massive upheaval that a failed airline would cause to the entire world. Airlines fly supplies, too – PPE, masks, medical equipment, emergency aid, food and water, people’s remains.

          The CDC’s job is not to percent every single transmission of an infections illness; it is to balance risk across a multitude of things that can affect the nation’s public health.

        2. acmx*

          A Florida judge struck down the masking requirement on masking on public transportation.

          Also, rowdy passengers were also violent with airline staff.

      9. amethyst*

        But that’s what the CDC is charged to do.

        NO public health decision is based on “just science.” No decision we make at all is based on “just science,” because we have to balance the health risks with the economic and social risks. That’s what public health is for! You don’t want to institute a draconian health measure only to have people rioting in the streets, or unable to feed their families. You just replace one problem with another problem, perhaps a bigger and more intractable problem.

        The decision IS partially based on science: CDC scientists have a better understanding of the course of the illness. A two-week quarantine was appropriate when we knew nothing about the illness: first, we had no idea how long it would last/be contagious; and two, we had no idea how to treat it and who was at risk to die. It was thus very dangerous to get COVID, so we went HAM on the quarantine length.

        But now, we know the course of the disease. We know about how long it is contagious: about 5 days, give or take. (It’s definitely not two weeks.) We also know how to treat it much better than we did 2 years ago. We were/are also dipping into a recession and on the brink of economic collapse because of our U.S. economic system (no work, no pay, very little safety net). It makes *sense* that our requirements and guidelines would evolve over time – shifting away from the disease (which is less deadly/threatening now) and to the stimulation of the economy (because things will be so much worse if we’re in a pandemic AND a depression at the same time).

      10. GythaOgden*

        They do have to consider those factors. It’s been two years and other countries are beyond the big problem entirely (British /hospital/ regulations ended the other day); the US needs to catch up socially but you can’t have this sort of disruption to an economy for much longer without there being serious consequences to that economy, and the wellbeing of those who can’t simply work from home indefinitely.

        Somehow the US needs to come together to meet the challenge and accept both restrictions to life to curb the virus, but on the other hand to acknowledge that the CDC does have to take some risks so that things can recover from the pandemic. I’m aware that the problem is more on the side of the anti-vax/anti-mask crowd, but as someone who has worked outside the house since it all kicked off, I think that also the risk has been disproportionately on our shoulders and some people may really need to start accepting that they need to start shouldering some of the responsibilities that we’ve borne throughout the crisis now that things are ebbing somewhat in severity.

        I’m trying to keep this factual rather than emotional and the responsibility for the US’ issues does lie on other shoulders. But this simply /can’t/ go on indefinitely and having the luxury of sheltering at home by now becomes less of a measure to protect us and more of a

        I’m undecided on the actual post — I sympathise with both sides — but if the CDC relied solely on the science, nothing would have been open for two years including hospitals, and that’s not the way you can balance an economy that keeps people alive, let alone fed, watered and with the amenities that sustain the continued shelter of what is now quite a small minority of the developed world population.

    2. Just Another Zebra*

      I think that’s a great option. Whatever motivation is behind it, current quarantine guidelines are 5 days. I think that needs to be OP’s new standard.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        As a COVID hawk I think 5 days is fine if negative, I just don’t want to go around people who are positive ( because my body will get sick)

        1. Just Another Zebra*

          Oh, of course! I should have specified that I meant for negative tests.

          1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

            Though with rapid tests, there is a real risk of a false negative with the current variants. A big part of that is that the tests were developed before the variants emerged. But also it depends on how it is used. As I understand it, a positive test means you’re contagious, a negative rapid test doesn’t mean much.

            (This is for rapid tests, specifically, not PCR tests)

            1. Berin*

              If you’re testing multiple times in a week though, the chances of a false positive go way down. So if they test every day for five days after an exposure, and all five days have a negative test, the chances of a false positive are infinitesimal. Here’s a good article that explains that thinking: https://khn.org/news/article/covid-rapid-test-accuracy-safe-gatherings-false-negatives/

              I’ll also add – Covid is endemic now. I’m not saying that we should throw caution to the wind and pretend it doesn’t exist; I worked in a hospital on our Covid response team for the last two years and would also consider myself a Covid hawk. I also recognize that the nanny may be immunocompromised, or be around someone who is immunocompromised. But given the nanny’s strict adherence to a two-week quarantine based on exposure alone, I’d be shocked if the nanny is able to find another employer that will adhere to her no-longer-CDC-recommended quarantine requirements.

              1. zillah*

                you mean false negative in your first paragraph, not false positive, right? (not trying to nitpick, just double checking!)

        2. sdog*

          But here’s the thing — I don’t know of a single person (including our family) who came up negative in 5 days. Even my kids continued to test positive for at least 9. I’m not saying I disagree with any of the above, but I’m just saying that realistically, I don’t think offering 5 days/when negative as a compromise is really going to help this poster that much.

          1. zillah*

            yeah – i work in covid response, and in my experience, a sizable majority of people test positive until at least day 7.

          2. Candice*

            Right but the issue here is that they’re talking also about exposures where nobody actually tests positive at any point.

          3. NothingIsLittle*

            This comment is referring to people who have had an exposure but do not have any symptoms testing negative over a 5 day period. This is not referring to people who have actually contracted Covid

            1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

              Yes I meant that if you were exposed and were negative after 5 days I would think you didn’t have covid and were fine. I would not want to be in a house where people have covid because I get really sick for unknown reasons

      2. ShanShan*

        The current quarantine guidelines have led us into a massive COVID spike and haven’t changed at all as a result of that spike. I don’t think the CDC is even looking at the data anymore.

        Probably rightfully, because a crashed economy will likely kill more people than a COVID spike in the long run, but let’s call it what it is.

        1. fhqwhgads*

          The current lack of any masking anywhere have led us to a massive COVID spike.

          1. Working Hypothesis*

            “Lack of any masking anywhere” is overstating the case considerably. Lack of any masking *requirements* perhaps, but many of us are still masking everywhere we go. My family does, and we aren’t the only ones in masks anywhere we’ve been over the last month that I can remember. In the urban Pacific Northwest it seems to average about 30% in shops, and more than 60% in high schools (which says something rather sad about the extent to which the kids can trust their adults to be as cautious as they are, but it is what it is). There are even some places which still require them — mostly medical centers.

            Agreed that the limited masking and eliminated requirements for same is a huge part of the surge in Covid cases and hospitalizations, but I didn’t want to see anyone discouraged from masking because they think nobody’s still doing it. Lots of us are, and it helps.

            1. shedubba*

              “Lack of any masking anywhere” is going to vary wildly from place to place. I’m in Texas, and we’re almost always the only ones masking anywhere we go.

            2. L'étrangere*

              There’s no cause for speculation about masking. You’re either the only people masked in a public place or not, it’s entirely obvious. And here in podunk California the two of us have been the only masked ones anywhere since March? February? Months and months. Today maybe 25% of shoppers were masked at the grocery store, maybe a month past time when all indicators were shooting way up already

              1. Lydia*

                Exactly. I have been in places where I and one other person were the only people masked. I’d like to think I’m seeing a bit more masking now than I was when our governor lifted the requirement in April, but still less than 50% of people are wearing them in public.

            3. Rach*

              I’m in AZ and there is hardly any masking. I work for a huge company (I think there are over 10k people at my plant, maybe more since we have so much construction going on) and only a handful (myself included) are still masking. I’d say 95% (maybe even 98%) of people I see around town are not masked.

        2. quill*

          It’s a lot easier to finesse an economy than a virus. (And by easy, I mean *possible*.) Though that’s no help to OP at present.

    3. RA*

      Yep, I think this is fair. If you want to be more generous, I think you could offer full pay for a 5 day quarantine and then somewhere between 25-50% for the remaining up to two week time. The rationale there would be that you continue to give her some income, but could use some of the money saved with the lower rate to pay for a sitter so that you could return to work.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I kind of like this, it’s not much different than a retainer, something to keep the person interested in working for you without breaking the bank.

        I do agree with Alison that by merely having the conversation could cause her to start to look around for another job. But it could be that she realizes this is not sustainable and has postponed starting the conversation herself because she kind of knows what’s coming.

        I do think that you, OP, have a strong talking point by saying you love her work and you most certainly don’t want her struggling financially either. Perhaps you could set up a temporary plan with an agreed upon review date to see how that plan is going. Then keep your promise and review the plan on that date.

        1. Berin*

          I completely agree with you and RA that this is a fair compromise. The nanny’s adherence to a two week quarantine after an exposure is at this point overkill, especially if OP and her family are not experiencing symptoms and testing daily during the first five days after the exposure.

      2. Morgan Hazelwood*

        This is what I was going to suggest. Definitely, a hard conversation, because you don’t want to make her feel like she’s being punished for being cautious with her health. But, letting her know what you can financially manage and let her make the decision if that’s something she can live with — and be prepared if she has to walk away.

      3. Lego Leia*

        This is what I was thinking, too. The 5 day quarantine is paid, and the rest is at a sliding scale. For the nanny, it is extra time off, during which they can do whatever they want.

    4. Cait*

      I agree. If she wants to follow what is recommended by the CDC then 5 days quarantined and 5 days masking is what most responsible employers are doing. Obviously she should share her PCR results as soon as she gets them and, if negative, return to work. Same deal for someone exposed at home. One issue though is that small children cannot mask, so if any child under 2 gets exposed/sick, then that’s 10 days of quarantine.

      But yes, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to sick to the 5 + 5 rule and any extra time beyond that needs to be unpaid.

    5. HIlls to Die on*

      Yeah, 2 weeks is not reasonable. I suspect she’s milking it because she knows she will get it unpaid but Who knows.

      1. Peridot*

        I don’t think you have any way of knowing that. I’ve seen plenty of people saying that they don’t want to risk infecting people by coming out of isolation too soon. Most of my symptoms are gone, but I’m still testing positive on an antigen test two weeks after diagnosis. Give her the benefit of the doubt.

        1. Hills to Die on*

          I didn’t say I KNOW it. I said I suspect it. I will stick to my opinion on this one and you are free to do the same. Thanks!

        2. Aggretsuko*

          Yeah, I recently survived a superspreader event–I don’t know how I didn’t get it–and at least one of my friends was still testing positive and possibly infectious on days 10/11. Apparently this is common with about 25% of people now, thanks omicron.

          Honestly, I would not want to talk the nanny into coming into your house with covid after 5 days. We only had one person test negative after 5 days (he never had symptoms), so that may not be likely. Especially as a daycare worker who has to be indoors with small children who probably can’t super practice hygiene very well.

          1. Lydia*

            Just to reiterate. She’s taking a two week quarantine for exposure with no positive tests. No one in this situation is actually testing positive for COVID.

      2. June*

        Yep. And if she has three vaccinations and is of general good health, just put a mask on. I did not get off five minutes from my job during this whole thing. OP is paying top wages and giving generous paid time off. She will find someone who will show up. And she’s likely already been exposed by the family if they do fall ill.

        1. zillah*

          i totally get where you’re coming from, but i do think that it’s really important that we not let our frustration at our own stress or mistreatment unintentionally validate it. it just perpetuates the shitty cycle.

      3. Just Your Everyday Crone*

        I gave covid to my husband more than a week after testing positive (and isolating for 5 days). I think the 5 day thing is “isolate for 5 days, then wear a mask and cross your fingers!”

        1. Caliente*

          But you’re supposed to test after the 5 days, not just get back out there, no?

          1. fhqwhgads*

            Correct. It’s 5 days and a negative PCR test (or sequential negative rapid tests). It’s not 5 days no matter what.

            1. zillah*

              these days i think the guidelines are no fever and symptoms improving, with no testing necessary. (it is worth noting that someone could come up positive 8 days after exposure, though, so jyec’s husband didn’t necessarily catch after they left isolation, though that may be the more likely scenario.

      4. Starfox*

        I can understand asking for two weeks after positive tests, but two weeks for every *exposure* isn’t reasonable, imo.

    6. Artemesia*

      This. My daughter’s daycare for her 4 year old has been super cautious and parents have also been and they require only a negative test or a 5 day quarantine after exposure. It might be time to find a new nanny.

    7. WorkingMom*

      Completely agree. In my opinion, the LW is very generous. Very few employers are able to sustain this type of arrangement.

    8. JSPA*

      What works on average (and is defensible from an epidemiological standpoint) may not be good enough from an individual standpoint. Plenty of people are still contagious after 5 days; and people don’t mask inside their houses for several hours before the nanny comes over (i.e. overnight?), so even if people are masked while face-to-face, that’s not clearing the air.

      One answer might be to use a “test out” protocol. Six days AND two negative tests? Eight days and one negative test? Whatever she would find equivalent to, “two weeks.” (She may also be assuming that Covid will go around the household; 2 weeks allows for secondary asymptomatic infections to clear.)

      Given how well 5 days-and-masking has worked for the OP (which is to say…not really?) I wonder if the pushback is being directed in the wrong direction. “Five days and mask” may be fine for grabbing some milk at bread at the convenience store. It is less than you’d ideally have, if you’re spending hours in a small office. (Especially if they’re not requiring well-fitting N-95’s, and are allowing people to unmask to eat and drink.)

    9. FrenchCusser*

      I was a nanny for 10 years, so I’m sitting here thinking about what I’d do in this situation – except I was live-in so wouldn’t have had the option of sitting out during a quarantine period. If I were a live-out child care provider, I’d certainly be more cautious in this situation.

      I do know that when the kid started school and the family decided to cut me to half-time, it led to a parting of the ways.

      I think Alison’s advice to talk it over is good, but I don’t really think this situation is workable. Each party has different needs that don’t seem to be reconcilable.

    10. SofiaDeo*

      The nanny can mask and wear wraparound clear goggles if she feels at risk. I am immune compromised, and I do this. The soft, foldable N95’s (I recommend Gerson brand) are not uncomfortable to wear for extended periods, and even in winter I can step outside briefly to take the mask off during the longer wear “break in” period.

      1. zillah*

        i think the thing is, though, that that would be a good suggestion for the nanny if she wrote in, but no matter how reasonable a solution it is for many people, the op telling her to just wear a mask if she’s concerned is likely to come off really poorly, which is something the op needs to keep in mind if they want to keep her.

    11. staceyizme*

      It sounds like you are at the limit of what you can accommodate. It’s not a wrong that’s happened on either side, but the impact of doing without much needed support is still real. Maybe at least look for other care providers. Looking around doesn’t obligate you to do anything.

    12. Bizdotnet*

      I was a nanny for 10 years, and never once was my employer paying for my health insurance. Is this family paying for hers? What will happen if the nanny gets long covid? Does she have disability insurance as a benefit from the family? Does the family rightfully pay FUTA/unemployment taxes or do they (illegally) classify her as a 1099 employee?

      If the nanny wrote in, would your answer be different?

      1. Clorinda*

        Masked, vaxed, boosted, and I still got covid. It’s quite common for that to happen, in fact. But nobody gets a two-week quarantine any more. OP might be looking for a new nanny.

        1. Hills to Die on*

          Same. I did all the right things and got it twice. People were like, ‘oh, that’s why you need a vaccine and booster’ – duh. I got them. It’s not 100% guaranteed.

          1. Flash Packet*

            Can those of you who were masked, vaxxed, and boosted and still got COVID tell me what kind of mask you were wearing?

            My immunocompromised, elderly mother and my immunocompromised, disabled brother live with me. They’re both vaxxed and boosted (as am I) but we won’t know how well the vaccines work for them until/unless they get infected. I’d really rather not conduct that experiment.

            We were ordered back to the office for 3 days a week starting March 1. I’ve gotten permission to only go in one day a week but I know my managers would prefer me to be there more. At first, I wore a KN95 with a triple-layer cloth mask on top, but now I’m wearing an N95 (though not a medical-grade one because I haven’t found a place that would sell any to me).

            I am *terrified* that my N95 isn’t enough protection when I’m sitting in an 8-story building breathing air that is circulated throughout.

            Have people here gotten COVID even when wearing an N95?

            1. Eleanor Shellstrop*

              Sorry for the tangent (Flash Packet, if you post about this in the weekend thread I’d love to come chat about it more) but please check out project N95. It’s a website that will sell you medical quality N95 masks in many different styles, so you can find one that seals well to your face (if you’re not sure if it’s sealed, put on some glasses, breath in and out, and see if they fog up). I’ve been working fully in office for the last year wearing masks from their site, as have many people I work with, and we’ve had zero on site transmission of covid.

              1. Flash Packet*

                Thanks, Eleanor. I’ll tee up a message for the weekend chat because I’m getting my N95’s from Project N95.

            2. Generic Name*

              Yes. I was wearing a KN95 mask when I got Covid in January. I’m fully vaccinated.

              1. L'étrangere*

                They call them N95 because they’re 95% effective at filtration. Which is very good, but you will note that it’s not 100%. Plus you know, normal life accidents and variability. And the current omicron variants are at least as contagious as measles, so what was adequate last year no longer is. So Flash it’s not looking good. But remember that even if your relatives can’t benefit much from immunization they might still benefit from it some. And more importantly they can get effective treatment if they get it soon enough. But from what I’ve seen around me recently you should have that all lined up in advance, ready to go into action without having to go through any rigamarole about proving they need it etc. Also, you need duplicates in all that, 2 reliable providers in case one of them is off on a rare weekend, someone else in charge in case you get too ill to be able to cope with getting treatment to 3 people, so you can at least isolate etc. Good luck Flash, I’m so sorry you have to cope with so much stress because your employers are unreasonable..

            3. Middle Aged Lady*

              I have a friend here in the PNW who went to a clinic that checked her immunity. She had to pay $40 out of pocket for it and it showed low immunity. We
              Maybe there is something like that where you live.

              1. Hour 81 medical resident*

                Doctor here- these tests for “immunity” haven’t been validated yet and do not provide any reliable data about risk of infection. While it would logically make sense to assume that higher levels of antibodies means more immunity, it doesn’t always correlate (for example for hepatitis B we don’t check antibody titers anymore because there’s enough data to say that vaccination is effective enough for the body to rapidly respond to the virus if exposed even if it isn’t making the antibodies all the time). Antibody tests right now are basically only able to say “yes your immune system has seen COVID-19 before” but that’s it.

            4. Mina*

              https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/71/wr/mm7106e1.htm

              I didn’t read all of the comments in this whole thread, but I see there was a lot of questions about how effective masks are. In a retroactive study on data out of California I believe, the found that N95/K95 masking reduced the risk of infection by around 80%. This study isn’t the gold standard of medical studies – that would be where you take two groups of people and give one set masks and another no masks and compare outcomes. Rather, this study took medical records/data gathered from a large group of people and asked the question, if you were in a group that wore masks, how different was your rate of infection? From this imperfect data it looks like there *is* a strong personal benefit to masking.

            5. Zardeenah*

              If you have your own space, I would suggest taking in a HEPA filter for your space. There are reliable and relatively inexpensive models (around $100) that work really well. It can really boost the effectiveness of your masking by reducing viral load in the air near you.

        2. chipers*

          But OP said she was exposed at work and had to quarantine until a negative test. If you wear a mask and are vaccinated, you only have to monitor for symptoms.

          1. Ridiculous Penguin*

            Depends on the workplace. I’m vaccinated and now double-boosted but my workplace (a university) has a policy that involves a 10-day quarantine if there’s confirmed classroom exposure… and we all wear masks.

          2. SpaceySteph*

            This is the CDC guideline but not necessarily what OP’s workplace follows. Maybe they have more stringent guidelines.

        3. sdog*

          Yep, same — we were getting school exposure notices almost daily (between three kids), and one of them finally caught up to us despite my husband and I being vaccinated and booster, and the kids being vaccinated and great with masking. It’s everywhere now.

        4. Paris Geller*

          Yup, have had covid twice. First twice in July 2020–wore a mask religiously any time I had to be out of the house (still had to work in person) and didn’t go anywhere unnecessarily. Second time was January 2022–completely masked AND completely vaxxed. It happens not infrequently. My second infection was not nearly as bad (which I’m contributing to being vaccination) but it’s by no means a guarantee.

        5. Falling Diphthong*

          Several relatives got it in the last round–masked, vaxxed, boosted, etc.

        6. SofiaDeo*

          What eye protection were you using? People often forget about the eyes in airborne transmitted diseases.

        7. Trixie the Great and Pedantic*

          Also a regular mask user, also vaccinated and boosted, also got a case of the ‘rona. 0 stars, would not recommend.

      2. June*

        Yes. And the vaccine is to protect against serious illness. Sooner or later people are going to have to show up for work.

        1. One of the Sarahs*

          Wow, that’s really harsh – this nanny IS showing up for work, within the CDC guidelines. I think this is a privilege issue: OP is seeing this from the position of power, from an employer; but as Alison says, they want their employee to give up 25% of their annual income. Of course OP has the right to want this, but they absolutely shouldn’t be surprised to be given a week’s notice to find alternative arrangements, their nanny can decide to take better offers.

          1. Accountant*

            No she’s not, the CDC’s guidelines are 5 days of isolation and then 5 days of masking. Their nanny is only comfortable with 10 days of isolation.

          2. NotATerribleRecruiter*

            I think it’s a little unfair to say the OP is speaking from a place of power or privilege. It sounds like due to lack of childcare, both OP and her husband are suffering performance-wise at their own jobs. So really, two incomes are at risk – the family AND the nanny as how will nanny be paid if OP is unemployed – due to circumstances out of either of their control. It’s really a sucky situation all around.

            Also, the nanny is looking to follow older, pre-vaccine guidance, not current guidances

            Early during COVID we also paid for childcare not received to keep our son’s daycare spot (75% of tuition which with the cost of childcare even in the Midwest is still over $1,000). We were happy to do it for a couple months because it meant retaining the staff we loved and who treated our child like their own. But in the long haul, the financial strain to pay for a service not rendered would have been too much for us.

          3. Starfox*

            No, the CDC guidelines don’t say you have to quarantine for two weeks after Covid exposure. If that were the case, we’d all just cycle between quarantining and being in public.

      3. quill*

        Also, she’s a nanny. Infants will pull things off your face and then sneeze on it: they don’t know better!

    1. pcake*

      A close friend of mine who rarely goes anywhere and always wears a properly fitted mask now has Covid. Masks are very helpful, but they’re not 100% protection, but rather 95% ish if you wear them properly.

      1. Nrd*

        My understanding of the data is that masks are much less than 95% protection as typically worn (as opposed to fitted and worn in a lab). The recent Bangladesh mask study measured an effectiveness of 15% for surgical masks. This effect is HUGE across a population: reducing COVID hospitalizations by 15% is a great public health victory. For individuals, however, masking has a pretty limited effect on whether or not you are personally infected.

        1. Ariaflame*

          I suspect the main benefit of masks is for those who have the virus as I suspect they are a lot better at stopping you spreading it, than stopping you getting it. And if you don’t know if you have it or not after an exposure, better to wear a mask.

          For those trying to avoid getting it, masking up helps a little, preferably one of the better masks. But every little helps. The more people that wear them, the less chance of them spreading it.

        2. AnonToday*

          The problem with surgical masks is that they tend to gap out on the sides and typically around the nose, even when people bother to shape the nose wire properly. (Most people who put them on to go in a store or doctor’s office don’t do that.)

          The cone- and duckbill-shaped KN95s fit better, but still, if you don’t fit the nose wire and it’s standing out from your face, incoming air is going to take the path of least resistance: around the mask.

          I have been happiest with the 3M Aura N95s (one of the boat-shaped types) because they have a lot of surface area to distribute airflow, and they have “weatherstripping” around the nose area. The top edge is also contoured instead of a straight line across, so they tend not to get up into my eye sockets the way KN95s and surgical masks do. But the shape of my head means I can’t get the top elastic to stay as high on my head as it’s designed to fit (they have elastic across the back, not ear loops) and they’re not going to fit 100% airtight like a scuba mask.

    2. FG*

      How is it we are well over 2 years into this & people still don’t understand – the primary benefit of wearing a mask is protecting *other people*. A mask provides some protection to the user – and I wear one everytime I go out in my own masks-shunning area – but telling some to wear a mask to prevent their own exposure is not helpful.

      1. So Very Tired of this Discussion*

        Yeah it is…which is why medical professionals have been wearing them forever.

          1. SMH RN*

            No we wear them to protect ourselves. That’s why PPE was a thing in hospitals for iso patients before the pandemic.

            1. zillah*

              yeah, i think that this can be very dependent on the kind of mask being worn and the condition the patient has.

            2. Rose*

              No one in my hospital, or any of the hospitals I’ve worked in, has been wearing that level of PPE “forever.” The standard was very much surgical masks to protect patients. Do you think masks have always been worn in surgery to protect doctors from blood splatter? They are 99% there for patient protection.

              1. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

                For some things, yes it was. We always wore N95s, gowns, masks and googles for suspected TB, measles, H1N1 flu (in 2008) , and active chickenpox. Anything classified as “airborne.” People forget because TB and measles aren’t really all that common, though some are getting worse.

                The surgical masks are for patient protection, yes. But self-protective equipment for TB has existed for a long time.

                1. SofiaDeo*

                  Exactly. People are forgetting about *eye protection*. Whether going in to infectious patient rooms, or working in a lab on infectious material, we used *eye protection* in addition to masks, gloves, etc.

      2. Double A*

        This is untrue and the guidance on this has changed. Masks absolutely do and can protect the wearer. Especially well fitted N95s. And frankly, it’s just common sense that masks protect the wearer to some extent. You touch your nose and mouth less, and they block some germs. That’s just physics.

    3. Just Your Everyday Crone*

      I caught covid while masked and well more than 6 feet away from the contagious people, who were also masked.

      1. So Very Tired of this Discussion*

        Was contract tracing done by your local health department to confirm this?

        BTW, all masks are not created equal.

        1. Hills to Die on*

          My kid got a virus (kawasaki virus) from China. It literally blows in from the tradewinds (WTF).
          Re COVID, Just because people are 6 feet apart, wear masks, vaccinate and boost, and still get sick. It happens. There are guidelines, and there are guarantees, and they aren’t the same thing.

          1. Boof*

            I don’t think we know what virus (or viruses) trigger kawasaki exactly, so I’m not sure you think it was from china (unless you were in china??) – that sucks though!

      2. mlem*

        My company touts “mask if you can’t distance” in conference rooms. But the whole “six feet” thing was sketchy science to start with — separation is good, but there’s nothing magical about two meters specifically — and it apparently is all but useless in an enclosed room. :/

        1. JSPA*

          The 2 meter limit (1.5 meters in some countries) was based on numbers from the (far less contagious) original variant.

          And even then, that was only relevant in large, well-ventilated places, with people moving around (like supermarkets). It was already not adequate for indoor dining with a set air flow pattern that brought air from the infected person past other tables.

        2. L'étrangere*

          Worse, the 6 feet distance was based on the theory that transmission was by droplet only, and not based on the now amply demonstrated fact that covid is airborne. So yes distance is a help, but only a very small help and only outdoors and barely relevant any more

    4. Dahlia*

      Great idea except for people who work with small children. Many are too young to mask and you do have to, you know, feed them and stuff.

    5. StressedButOkay*

      People ARE wearing masks and still getting sick. I’m vaccinated and boostered, wear masks inside and in crowded areas and still managed to get it a few months ago. Don’t make assumptions.

    6. JSPA*

      With N95 “as worn by actual people,” you’re getting 80%+ protection. With N95 worn “as worn by professionals,” you’re likely getting 90% plus protection. And in any case, you may get sub-clinical exposure, which might in turn in some cases end up being protective [TON OF HAND WAVING HERE to explain why masks seem to work as well as they do in a clinical setting].

      But the (hypothetical presumed high risk) person who lives with you? They’re getting whatever’s coming from you…unfiltered.

      If you 100% need to remain uninfected (even in a completely symptom-free way) then spending hours on end with small children is a risk, even with masks.

      Also, if you’ve ever been around small children, they pull or dislodge masks (just like they pull glasses, headbutt crotches, etc.) Masking is a huge help, two-way masking, even better. Vaccines are a huge help. Allowing extra time is a huge help. Testing is a huge help. Staying outdoors or with excellent ventillation indoors is a huge help.

      But no one (or even two, or even three) are an actual guarantee. And (unlike, say, jaywalking or flying a wingsuit) the risk you take rebounds on others who may very reasonably have lower risk tolerances.

      1. ElenaSSF*

        Actually when jaywalking you are imposing a risk on the unfortunate driver who amongst a dozen other things to watch didn’t see you in time.

  3. HIlls to Die on*

    This is tough.
    What about a hybrid rate after the first 5 days? Like if you pay 100% of the first 5 days, then 50% of the remaining 2 weeks?
    Or you will cover the first 2 exposures but then she has to cover the rest?
    Also, can you tell her you can’t pay for time away outside of the 3 weeks vacation she’s getting?
    Yes, you could lose her. She could also lose a job where she has a really nice boss and isn’t working 41% of the time but getting paid for it AND getting paid ne’er the top of the market.
    That’s a pretty sweet deal that a lot of childcare providers would snap up in a heartbeat.

    1. Hills to Die on*

      Meaning, the doctor’s appointments, etc. You are being very generous, which is awesome because childcare providers don’t get paid enough, but you also have to be able to function.
      If it were me, that would not be sustainable and I would:
      ~Give her a COL raise
      ~tell her that I would pay for 5 days and expect her in after that, and
      ~that I could not pay for her time away for medical appointments, etc.
      However, your plan is to work something out with her and the good news about financial arrangements is that there is usually ground for compromise. I know what a big deal it is to find good child care so I hope you find a good resolution. Good luck!

      1. Louisa*

        I definitely get what you’re saying about it needing to be functional for LW but it’s an employees market right now for nannies. Functional for LW might involve either paying a lot more for someone willing to take more risks/less time off or losing her childcare altogether because the nanny decided it wasn’t functional for her.

        1. Hills to Die on*

          True! I can’t say what the right answer is. Just gave my likely approach in that situation and some options. I hope it works out. I had a nanny for my kids when they were little and she was amazing. My kids are teenagers and still talk about how much they loved her. I would have gone to a lot of trouble to make her happy. Having said that, she also has a budget and circumstances to function in.

        2. AnonToday*

          A nanny who is willing to take more risks at OP’s house might *also* be willing to take more risks in her personal life (restaurants, nightclubs, festivals) and end up bringing COVID to OP’s house. Likewise for a babysitter who will take a gig at a house where at least one person has *tested positive for COVID* less than a week ago.

          I think “testing out” of quarantine for exposures might be reasonable to suggest to the current nanny without her quitting on the spot.

          Is it at all possible for OP and their partner to look for jobs with better COVID policies? Because it can’t be good for *you and your family* to be getting COVID (or having false alarms) this often in the first place.

    2. I'm Just Here For The Cats!*

      yes, how about something like X amount of personal days on top of the vacation days. That way if she has a doctor appointment she can use those days and not her vacation. and once those days are used up then she has to either go unpaid or take vacation.

      or another thing would be sick leave that accumulates? This may mean the OP has to do some tracking. Something like X hours sick leave for X hours worked.

    3. June*

      I would inform her 20 days per year for any reason. That’s generous. And if she has an appointment it comes out of this total.

      1. jane*

        i don’t think that is generous, and with such a dramatic shift in benefits it is likely they would lose their nanny, so – neither generous nor reasonable

      2. Just Your Everyday Crone*

        I sure hope you mean 20 days a year for absences chosen by her and not absences because the family is isolating. That’s also a good way to get someone to disregard their symptoms for a little longer.

        1. somanyquestions*

          After 20 years of working for the government I get 28 days per year PTO, and that absolutely does include days I have to quarantine due to covid. Asking a tiny private employer to cover half a year of days off is impossible and honestly ridiculous.

    4. thisgirlhere*

      Yup, I do think there’s room to negotiate here with the number of quarantine days. But I’m confused when OP says she can’t pay for childcare she’s not receiving. Presumably she budgeted for a year’s worth of nanny services. Is that because OP wants to bring in a temp to fill in when the nanny has Covid? Or take unpaid days? Not paying the nanny has nothing to do with OP getting in trouble at work. Seems like this is the place that OP is channeling their frustration without looking at what it will actually fix.

      1. Goldie*

        Yes, the OP has to find coverage for childcare when the nanny doesn’t come—and they are really flexible and generous. The kids aren’t watching themselves while they work, right? It’s not sustainable, the nanny needs to come in more (she is sitting out for 14 days when they are even potentially exposed—which is crazy).

        1. thisgirlhere*

          I read it as the parent worked from home and watched the kid during those days (but I’m not 100% sure after a re-read). This is not sustainable, agreed. But has nothing to do with paying or not paying the nanny. If they have to bring in a temp, I think they should definitely talk to the nanny about that piece. As in, I can’t afford to pay two people, so after 5 days, I will need to bring someone else in and dock your pay accordingly (or 50% as suggested above etc).

      2. Hills to Die on*

        Or the parents have to watch their kids without getting paid because they ran out of PTO and are just …not working. That would have had me quitting my job because I would have been paying more for a nanny than I made at work. That is how I interpreted it.

        1. Galadriel's Garden*

          Yes, same. They’re at or near PTO capacity, are trying to work remotely and parent, and are paying for nannying on those days that they are not actually getting is how I also read it. I’m extremely sympathetic to childcare providers, but I also don’t think two full weeks of quarantine per *exposure* while still paying 100% of childcare is reasonable to parents, either. I really like the solutions I’ve seen in this thread that have 50% pay after the 5-day mark.

    5. blink14*

      Completely agree, for known, confirmed exposures – pay 100% for the first 5 days and then drop it down beyond that for up to 2 weeks. Or potentially do 7 days full pay and then nothing after. Agree to take rapid tests daily until out of the exposure window.

      For actual Covid? I think you just have to suck that up and pay her 100% for her normal time. Set that as the standard, and then work backwards on dealing with known exposures. I’m assuming the nanny has at least one day off a week – so for a full 14 days, that’s down to 12 days. For a week off for exposure, that could be nothing beyond paying her normal time for 5 days.

      While 3 weeks is “generous” vacation time under American standards, especially in that industry, paid sick time is also incredibly important. 2 weeks and 5-7 sick days is bare minimum. If you aren’t getting that in your own job? I’d be looking around for something else.

      If you cannot afford to provide someone with a reasonable amount of time off to take care of their own health, then perhaps you need to rethink how you are handling childcare and covering those absences. It’s a really tough spot to be in on both ends – she doesn’t want to get Covid (and then you’re scrambling to find a replacement), and you don’t want to be out money for childcare you need but it isn’t being provided because of certain circumstances.

      I would say work to find a solution about Covid exposures, and leave her vacation time and paid time for doctors appointments alone. Every industry is getting crushed, and medical is by far one of the most impacted. As someone with chronic illnesses, I can guarantee that trying to get appointments right now in a reasonable amount of time and that work within a regular 9-5 schedule is becoming more and more difficult.

      1. somanyquestions*

        You say:
        If you cannot afford to provide someone with a reasonable amount of time off to take care of their own health

        The nanny is only working 60% of the year, and has demanded extended paid quarantine time beyond any current guidance. That is absolutely not someone taking a “reasonable time off to take care of their own health”. What employer, anywhere, is paying anyone for the whole year while only receiving 60% of the hours of work?

        1. blink14*

          From my understanding, it’s year round childcare, with the speculation that if the family and/or the nanny have to take off time for multiple exposures, then the actual time worked would be drastically reduced.

          I’m speaking specifically to continuing to cover her paid time for medical appointments and finding a new agreement for Covid exposures. If they can find a middle ground agreement, it’s to the LW’s benefit to continue to the paid benefits as they are.

  4. CeeKee*

    I’m confused; is the nanny insisting on two-week quarantines for every EXPOSURE or just for their actual confirmed cases? They can’t control what she wants to do, of course, but that standard comes from a time when no one knew anything about the virus. Even a conservative interpretation of current CDC guidelines calls for 10 days of precautions, not 14. There’s really no evidence that covid ever had a 14-day incubation period.
    Again, I’m not sure what they can actually do about that, but it might be worth another conversation with her.

    1. Massive Dynamic*

      Wondering about this too… I hate to say it but exposures really don’t warrant a quarantine at this point if you are vaxxed. It’s different though if an unvaxxed kid gets exposed but we are hopefully just weeks away from ages 6mo and up to be vaccinated.

      1. CeeKee*

        Some people do quarantine based on exposure, and if they have extenuating circumstances (e.g., they or someone they live with is immunocompromised or too young to be vaxxed), it feels good to be able to accommodate that up to a reasonable point. But 14 days for exposure would be a LOT.

      2. Bongofury*

        LW says she’s expecting a baby shortly so it will be at least 6 mos before everyone in the house is vaxxed.

        1. Moonlight*

          Do you mean that you can’t be vaccinated while pregnant? I have multiple friends who were vaccinated while pregnant. Maybe it depends where you live? I am under the impression that the bigger concern would be her children/soon to be infant being exposed or OP getting covid while very pregnant (I don’t know what the research is about getting covid while pregnant, I just think that at minimum it would suck)

          1. Cascadia*

            No, Bongofury is saying that the vaccine for young children is for children ages 6 months – 5 years old. So, the newest member of the household, the baby, won’t be vaccinated until at least 6 months after they are born.

            1. Ariaflame*

              Don’t babies get some initial antibodies from their mother if the mother was vaccinated during pregnancy?

              1. Boof*

                Babies are honestly not at high risk, though we isolated hard until my baby was 8 weeks old because really any infection in the first month or two is best avoided, there’s so much going on then (then… immediately got covid when precautions were lifted)
                Getting the vaccine or booster while pregnant helps give the baby maternal antibodies. One thing to be clear on; as best I understand it, breastfeeding DOES NOT GIVE A HUMAN BABY CIRCULATING ANTIBODIES as we understand it. There are antibodies in breastmilk but they probably function more to block pathogens in the gut because they are not absorbed; human babies get their circulating maternal antibodies by active transport across the placenta. They probably wear off after a few months.
                https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12850343/ – one source

    2. Jora Malli*

      I just re-read that part, and from what I can tell it sounds like for the exposure they only quarantined until they got negative tests.

    3. Nika*

      It sounds like the two of you have different levels of risk you find acceptable. There’s no magic answer here. You could
      -Stop paying her for time away, and accept that she may leave, or get resentful and become worse at her job, or your conscience may bother you
      -Try to find a different nanny who is ok with 5 days rather than 2 weeks, or is ok with hourly/less reliable work, so you only have to pay when you actively want care–you may not be able to find this person!
      -See if there is some way to have her or someone else live with you, so that they can continue to provide childcare even if the household has to self-isolate
      -Adjust your precautions to try to get covid less often. Order groceries delivered, say no to friends who want to see you, wear one of those gas mask looking things and accept that you feel silly, fight for more work-from-home days even if it burns goodwill with your workplace, etc
      -Begin actively looking for a remote job, since you say when you catch it it’s been from your workplace

      None of these are fun! But there are options.

      1. Nika*

        (The one thing that DOESN’T work is to continue resenting your nanny for having a different risk assessment than you do. That gets you nowhere.)

        1. Goldie*

          They don’t resent the nanny for having a different risk assessment. When one has a nanny, one of the job requirements is caring for the children, and this nanny doesn’t seem to be able to do that in the way the employers need anymore. Because an option that you don’t mention is that they could discuss the current guidance for COVID (i.e., 5 days) and the need to adhere to that (instead of the outdated 14 days). This might mean it’s time for them to part ways, of course.

          1. One of the Sarahs*

            Your comment sounds like it is treating the nanny like a consumable – not like someone in a high-demand profession who can choose not to forgo 25% of her salary for a year. Of course it’s fine to think that – as long as (as Alison says) OP is willing to face the consequences, and suck up 100% of the childcare.

          2. zillah*

            i think it’s a stretch to assume that the nanny just wants the longer quarantine because she’s not aware of any of the changes the cdc has made, and once she’s been made aware she’ll jusr shrug and say “that’s okay then.”

      2. Umpire*

        You can’t honestly believe the last “solution” is reasonable. You also are assuming LW’s precautions aren’t already adjusted. Many of us who have isolated in all but the absolutely inescapable circumstances still catch it.

        1. Claire*

          Personally if my work offered insufficient sick leave and kept exposing me to Covid, I’d probably be job searching (remote or in person). It’s at least worth considering for OP.

      3. Bizdotnet*

        Best comment so far, Nika. I was a nanny at the beginning of the pandemic, and quit when it became clear that our risk tolerances weren’t matching up. The market is extremely good for safe(r), reliable nannies right now.

      4. TrixM*

        Er, they’ve only had Covid once – the nanny was wanting to quarantine for 14 days based on mere exposures too.

        Assuming they were testing positive with RATs while they were symptomatic (on top of the PCR – why wait for that? Unless RATs were negative), then the fair thing to me would be to pay for up to five days after symptoms end *and* RATs are clear. If the nanny wants to isolate for longer, that’s on her. I wouldn’t offer payments for exposures – I don’t care where you are in the world, we’re all getting exposed now.

        I’d also suggest the LW start masking at work – I don’t see any excuse not to. Nor is it clear whether the nanny is vaxxed. (I don’t think it should be compulsory for everyone, because of immunity issues etc, but I do think it should be for anyone involved in personal care work).

        I think paying for five days on top of any actual infectious period is still very generous, and I live somewhere where there is reasonable expectations of holiday and sick leave for full-time employees.

    4. Sparrow*

      Yeah, I think the length of the quarantine may be worth a discussion. It’s not like the only options are 5 days or 14 days. Compromising on 10 days, for example, wouldn’t solve the problem, but it would help.

      1. CeeKee*

        And there are a lot of ways to negotiate that/options to offer. for example–what if they fully isolate for 5 days but agree that everyone in the household takes a rapid test every morning just before the nanny shows up, so they have fresh negative results? I think there are a few conversations they can have that might help them find some less painful solutions.

    5. sdog*

      I wondered about this, too, and if this is indeed the case, I think this where you can try to talk to her and come to an agreement. If you are vaccinated/boosted, and the nanny is too, then I don’t think she should get time off for exposure. I think it’s reasonable for you to monitor for symptoms and take a home test, but provided that you have no symptoms and home testing shows you to be negative, I don’t think the nanny should get paid time off.

    6. Lizzianna*

      Yeah, I don’t want to sound unsympathetic, the guidance has not been for vaccinated individuals to quarantine after exposure for a while. I know that different people have different risk tolerances, but I don’t think an employer is being unreasonable by using the CDC guidelines, and expecting any leave beyond that to come out of an employee’s leave bank or be taken unpaid. The only exception would be if the child is too young to be vaccinated, and the child is exposed. I think CDC is still recommending quarantine in those cases, and not having the nanny come in in that case would be reasonable. But if the parents are exposed at work, but are both vaccinated and boosted, I don’t think a full, paid quarantine is warranted as long as they are testing and wearing a mask around the nanny.

    7. Alice*

      “There’s really no evidence that COVID ever had a 14-day incubation period.”
      Look, most people have short incubation periods, but longer incubation periods are definitely possible.
      Bi, Q., Wu, Y., Mei, S., Ye, C., Zou, X., Zhang, Z., Liu, X., Wei, L., Truelove, S. A., Zhang, T., Gao, W., Cheng, C., Tang, X., Wu, X., Wu, Y., Sun, B., Huang, S., Sun, Y., Zhang, J., Ma, T., … Feng, T. (2020). Epidemiology and transmission of COVID-19 in 391 cases and 1286 of their close contacts in Shenzhen, China: a retrospective cohort study. The Lancet. Infectious diseases, 20(8), 911–919. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1473-3099(20)30287-5

    8. Media Monkey*

      totally agree. 2 weeks is somewhat reasonable after confirmed cases in the household. but every time someone may have been exposed? i don’t think that’s at all realistic or resonable. seems like a good deal for the nanny though!

  5. Skittles*

    Another way to think about this is if you were using a childcare facility you still pay monthly tuition even if you kid is out for whatever reason and you are subject to the facility’s rules on return post exposure or positive test.

    Just to say this is an issue nearly all with young children are facing right now, even if not using a nanny.

    1. MedGal*

      Not necessarily. I have a little one out due to exposure and then testing positive on day 10. Our provider (large chain daycare) hasn’t charged us for these three weeks out. Though I didn’t expect that. I do think their policy makes it easier for people to be honest about exposures.

      1. rinkydink*

        I don’t think that’s a typical policy, I think you’re lucky! I also wouldn’t be surprised if they change that as time goes on. For your sake I hope they don’t though!

      2. Lightning*

        Another data point here: Before, in all circumstances, at our daycare center we had to pay for daycare regardless of whether we used it or not (besides 1 week of vacation per year.)

        Since COVID, their policies have changed a few times – when they were straight up closed for the first couple months we paid a 25% ‘retainer’ rate. For about a year after they reopened we didn’t have to pay for time that the kids were out due to an exposure at the center. That eventually became unsustainable for them and now we pay 50% if the kids are out due to an exposure at the center.

        (Luckily *knock on wood* we’ve only had one exposure since February and that one was for our 5-year-old, who didn’t have to stay out since he’s vaccinated now.)

      3. AAA*

        Same, with mine we pay if we pull our kid out for whatever reason (vacation, nervous about exposures, etc) but if they shut the classroom down we get a refund. And if I was paying for more than a month or two that I wasn’t using, I would have to find a new provider just for the sheer economics!

      4. Ellen*

        Very much not the case here. Our daycare had a child in who then tested positive for COVID; every other child in the room was exposed. They required all of those children to quarantine at home for 10 days and still charged. And the exposure happened at their facility! Not that they can help that, but they effectively did shut down for two weeks and still charged all of the parents involved.

    2. Working and parenting in the same minute is impossible*

      We have paid for months of childcare in the past two years that we were not able to use. Sometimes if an exposure is clearly from the facility, then we got money back (when there were covid funds for this). Last fall, we lost 60% of the time we paid for. Then they went to “test to stay” policy (exposed Individuals tested each am for a 10 day period nd if neg came masked- and imagine 2-6 ur olds masking properly plus then have meals and naps). This lead to rolling covid exposures from jan 2- mid March w us home most of the time, because we quickly saw that test to stay was not preventing further spread. We are all paying for care that we are not getting.

    3. Engineering Mom*

      Mom with child in daycare here. If my child is out of school for any reason whatsoever (COVID, the flu, vacation, playing hookie…) there is no adjustment to the monthly tuition. And in a daycare setting there is a LOT of sickness that circulates around, my son is out sick for a couple days every month. I’m honestly not sure what the return policy is right now for COVID, it seems to change every couple months.

      If the school has to close because too many teachers are out sick (only happened once during the pandemic, and it was due to stomach flu not COVID), then we are reimbursed for the days the school is closed.

      All this to say, I completely sympathize. Childcare is a pain right now, whether you do it with a private nanny or in a large daycare setting.

    4. Name Required*

      Yes, but I still have childcare available through daycare if an employee goes on vacation or is out for a doctor’s appointment. While we still pay for days that my kid is at home due to illness (COVID or otherwise), I don’t have to eat an additional month of cost with no care while the providers are out for other reasons.

      1. CowWhisperer*

        But that’s a difference between center and nanny care. Parents have a higher staff to child ratio with (ideally) built-in back-up staffing at a center. Having an in-home caregiver provides a lower ratio and more parental control – but the parents are also the back-up staff.

        I do think the LW should look at other options. The labor market is tight so hiring a new, excellent nanny might be difficult. Getting an infant slot at a center right now is even harder where I live. Coming up with a way to mitigate time lost without potentially exposing a newborn to COVID is probably the best option.

    5. Turanga Leela*

      Yep, this is my life right now.

      My one-year-old goes to preschool. If he gets sick in any way/shape/form, which happens all the time because he’s a toddler who spends all day around other toddlers, we’re supposed to keep him home until he’s symptom-free and has a negative PCR test. That’s a minimum of a couple of days.

      Periodically—maybe every other month?—there’s a covid outbreak. If the one-year-old was exposed, he’s out of school for 10 calendar days. Sometimes the whole class shuts down. I’ve had to take off a week of work multiple times this year.

      We still pay full tuition every month. It’s in the contract. His preschool is amazing, so I’m not taking him out, and anyway none of the other options would be any better.

    6. Esmeralda*

      You would, but the difference is that a childcare facility is not going to close/not provide childcare when employees get sick or call off, not even for covid at this point.

      That’s the advantage of a center.

      1. Turanga Leela*

        I wish this were true, but my toddler’s nursery school closed this winter due to covid. There was an outbreak that had spread to all the classes, and they shut the whole thing down for about a week. I’m not sure how much of that was to stop spread and how much of it was that too many teachers were in quarantine.

        1. Hills to Die on*

          happened so many times for high school here – they just shut down classes until they had enough teachers. Didn’t help that it’s a massive school so someone was always exposed no matter what. Or that they would just close down the district when it barely snowed (in Colorado) because there weren’t enough people to snowplow. Crazy times.

      2. PostalMixup*

        In my area, the centers are all so short-staffed that it doesn’t take very many sick staff members to fail to meet the required ratios. Our center’s “stoplight” system (green/yellow/orange/red) takes into account cases among students, the number of separate classrooms that are impacted, and the proportion of staff that are out. If the center can’t maintain required ratios, even if no kids have COVID, the center has to close until the staff return. Things are precarious right now.

    7. Becca*

      We pay full tuition if there’s a confirmed positive case in my baby’s class, but I’m only ok with this because they’re continuing to evolve the quarantine guidelines. Test on day 5, return to school (assuming negative) on day 8. If your kid has had a confirmed case of COVID, they’re good to stay in daycare no matter what for 90 days. Once vaccines come out it will evolve again.

      If they were requiring more than our state’s department of health guidelines (like the two weeks the nanny is asking for here), I would not be ok with this setup, but I know they’re getting the babies back in daycare as fast as they’re allowed.

      1. Becca*

        Oh also, they don’t make the babies stay home for anything other than fever/diarrhea/vomiting (or if they’re have such bad cough/runny nose that it’s disruptive). If they were having us stay home every time they were a little sniffly I would have a problem. So far we’re currently in our second COVID exposure in 4 months of daycare, which feels expected to me.

    8. Accountant*

      Much less likely that the OP would be losing 40% of their childcare time at a daycare.

    9. Avril Ludgateau*

      Another way to think about this is if you were using a childcare facility you still pay monthly tuition even if you kid is out for whatever reason and you are subject to the facility’s rules on return post exposure or positive test.

      To be fair this is also bullshit, having to pay for a service you cannot use. Daycares around here will charge even when the entire daycare, itself, is shut down due to one of the staff having COVID. I understand childcare providers have to get paid, too, but this system isn’t right. It leaves many parents having to lose pay by staying home, and/or having to pay twice (once for the daycare, once for alternative childcare accommodations). The only fair solution I can see is massive government subsidies for childcare.

      Tangent: Where I live, full-time childcare averages $1700-$2100 a month per child, with carers being authorized to simultaneously oversee up to 15 children at a time (depending on age), but the actual rate of pay is $15-$17 an hour. The benefits are absolute crap, too. A daycare pulling in up to $31,500 a month per carer, of which only 1/10th goes to the actual carer. Even accounting for insurance, rent, benefits… Tell me this isn’t a scam.

  6. MJR*

    Fellow parent here. The reality is that there are more families in need than childcare providers. If you can’t come to an agreement with your nanny she’s probably going to find work with another family pretty quickly. We’re in the same boat (in fact my nanny is out sick today) so I have a lot of empathy. But with the labor market being what it is if you do choose to negotiate, do it carefully.

    1. Elaine Benes*

      Also, there are *so* many factors that go into finding a good fit for a nanny. If this is a nanny you otherwise love, OP, I’d be careful of messing with that good setup and switching it out for someone who might get sick just as frequently. Plus, you’re going to want to be that cautious about covid with a newborn for the first year anyways.

      I would stick with the nanny who is a) already trustworthy re: covid and b) is a good fit in all the other important areas and c) will be a source of consistency for your first child when the new baby arrives and lots of things in their life change. I know it’s a huge pain but try to remember that you won’t have to pay for childcare forever and you just have the misfortune of having young children during a pandemic. Sorry I wish I had a better solution!

      1. AAA*

        Sure, but OP is currently getting dinged at work for this, so it sounds like something may need to change either way.

    2. Despachito*

      But given that OP is very generous, it is likely that the nanny would want to retain her job.

      I think it is a good idea to sit with her and talk about it – if she is reasonable, she has to understand that being paid for 100% of work and doing half of it can become a problem for her employer, and if they work on it together they can come up with a mutually acceptable solution.

      1. FridayFriyay*

        It depends on the nanny market in LW’s area whether the benefits described in the letter are “very generous.” Where I live they’re quite standard, maybe on the low side especially because separate paid sick leave was not mentioned. Nannies here command very solid benefit packages.

        1. Despachito*

          Yes, you are right, it depends on the actual situation but given everyone needs the nanny to cover the time with the child I imagine that 41 % of the time not worked but paid would be a problem anywhere.

    3. More dopamine, please*

      Lots of great comments here, but here is a suggestion for how to approach the conversation with your nanny.

      1. Don’t focus on what you can / cannot afford to pay for childcare you aren’t getting. (It’s arguable what you can afford and she may not see that your way.) Instead, focus on the fact that not having childcare for so many 2-week stretches at a time is jeopardizing *your ability to keep your job.*

      2. Instead of trying to walk back the paid leave you are giving her and giving her the option to take it unpaid instead (which really doesn’t solve your problem since you absolutely need childcare), instead focus on this: Now that COVID is endemic in the population at all times, we should all act as if we are exposed at all times. Therefore, your policy will be to quarantine when your family members have symptoms or have a positive COVID test, but not based on any possible exposure. You are asking her to work every day, unless your family is sick or someone has tested positive.

      As a compromise, I’d suggest sticking to the 2-week paid quarantine when your family has a positive COVID test. That’s not unreasonable and it’s a way of extending something extra to her that is beyond the current CDC guidelines. But for exposures, you can say that you need to do what everyone else is doing.

      Stay positive, matter of fact, and emphasize that you’re making changes to stay in step with what your employer requires from you. It might also be helpful to note that you’ve polled many other people and what you’re offering is far better than the norm. :)

      Good luck and congratulations on your pregnancy!

  7. Just Another Zebra*

    OP, as the parent to a young child, I am so incredibly sympathetic.

    A few things jumped out at me, particularly your comment that the nanny wants a full 2-week quarantine per old guidelines. Is it the mask that’s the problem, a health concern, something else? I’m betting that if you told your boss you were sticking with old guidelines, they wouldn’t be as generous as you are being. I’d also consider starting to count all those doctor appointments against her – it sounds like she’s using quite a few days for that and you aren’t counting them against her. To me, I think you’ve been a bit overgenerous in some regards.

    But childcare IS incredibly difficult to find and keep right now. Maybe start a casual search for options now, for both your current child and new baby. See what is available in your area and reassess what, or who, will work best for your family.

    Good luck, OP!

    1. SAS*

      I’ve assumed that the regular doctor appointments and excess caution go hand in hand if she is someone managing an ongoing health condition.

  8. Jora Malli*

    OP, I would also have turned down your offer to wear a mask and come to work at the five day mark. There’s no way to know if you or any of your family members were still contagious at that point, and wearing a mask would only work if she wore it the entire time she was in your house/with your family. She wouldn’t have been able to eat lunch. She wouldn’t have been able to drink water. Taking the mask off to do those things if any of you were still contagious could have made her sick. It’s not a risk I would have taken either.

    I’m also really concerned that you describe the possibility of getting covid twice a year as “not outrageous.” Getting covid twice a year is not inevitable, and there are actions you could be taking to reduce your risk levels.

    1. TrippingOnBY*

      I really don’t think she’s saying it’s “not outrageous” as in “that’s fine”, but more that she thinks it’s entirely possible given that both she and her husband work amongst people who do not mask. Not sure how anyone can lower that risk.

    2. Just Another Zebra*

      This feels a bit like you’re trying to shame OP, which is unfair and unkind. She even stated they live in an area of the country without precautions. I think saying that, given the circumstances, their family will test positive 2 times in a year is practical. Of course she isn’t saying that’s fine. She’s just being realistic.

      1. Jora Malli*

        I wasn’t trying to shame OP, I apologize for that. I think this is just a bit of an emotional topic for me. I’m going to step back from the comments for the rest of the day.

        1. Jessica Fletcher*

          I don’t think you were out of line. I got the impression from the letter that they’re socializing, unmasked, with a lot of friends. There are things they could do to reduce exposures, especially if it’s costing them so much money. If they’re taking lots of precautions, that piece is missing from the letter.

          1. Anon now*

            How did you get that from the letter? I didn’t see anything to suggest they were socializing unmasked with a lot of friends

    3. Gan Ainm*

      With a family of 4 including two kids and two adults working outside the home in a high transmission / low caution area, there are so many exposure points for the family. I don’t think she’s saying all 4 of them will get it twice, but even if just one does they’re all in the same boat.

    4. kiki*

      I don’t think LW was saying getting covid twice is inevitable, just that it’s not a wild statistical outlier. LW isn’t planning on getting covid twice, they’re just looking at likelihoods given the environment they’re in (one where they have to work in person and it seems like people in the community aren’t taking any precautions). Perhaps there are more precautions LW could be taking, but at the end of the day it seems like there are aspects of their job that the LW can’t change that put them at risk of exposure.

      1. So Very Tired of this Discussion*

        I don’t know one person who has received a positive Covid diagnosis twice.

        1. Cool story bro*

          Okay? I know double digits number of people that have had it twice (mostly once prior to vaccine and once after, but not exclusively) Your experience isn’t universal so commenting that you dont know anybody doesnt erase the people that do.

          1. Bee*

            Huge numbers of people in New York City caught it in March 2020 and then again in December 2021 – each wave hit like a third of the city.

        2. Curiouser and Curiouser*

          I know many, many people who have received a COVID diagnosis twice. And a lot of this is tracked and documented…we know that people are regularly testing positive when they’ve already had COVID. So I’m not sure why you not knowing anyone who has is relevant?

        3. Esmeralda*

          That’s not a useful fact — that’s your own individual experience. It’s a fact — but not a useful one in this case, because any one person’s individual experience is not generalizable to anyone else. Nor to a larger group or location.

          You can look at the data for the country or for each state or for a city/region…you’re going to see people who have had covid with symptoms more than once (I personally know people who have had this misfortune). There are people who have tested positive more than once.

          A lot of people are not testing, and a lot of people are testing at home =no one is collecting that data.

        4. Dona Florinda*

          My husband had Covid twice, and both times were AFTER he was fully vaxxed.

          Also, as TrippingOnBY said, it could be just that each parent will test positive once, even if one at a time, but that means both of them will have to quarantine if that happens.

        5. Migraine Month*

          I’d be surprised if you still didn’t know anyone who got Covid multiple times a few months from now. It’s coming for all of us (again).

        6. Loredena*

          Really? Both my nieces have. A year apart. Fully vaccinated and they mask and test early and often. But college students.

        7. Flash Packet*

          One of my team members is out this week because he’s on his 2nd round of symptomatic COVID. Our team’s admin has had COVID twice. Several of the people in my extended friends group are currently down with their 2nd *or 3rd* COVID infection.

    5. Aggretsuko*

      The way things are going these days, people are going to be getting it multiple times a year. That’s…likely at least.

      I agree that I wouldn’t come back if I were the nanny, for exactly the reasons you said.

      1. So Very Tired of this Discussion*

        Why is it likely? I totally disagree, haven’t had it once yet.

        1. Realist*

          Do you work in an office? Or can you work remotely? I avoided getting COVID the entire time I was able to work remotely, but once we were required to go back to work I caught it within the first two weeks. I was exceptionally careful and masking up with an N95 mask, constantly washing my hands, and not working closely with other people.

          All that to say, it’s quite likely for those of us who have to leave our house to catch COVID multiple times a year. If you are able to work remotely or you are your own boss (or if you are unemployed) you have a privilege the rest of us don’t.

          1. Turanga Leela*

            Yeah, my family has so far avoided it (knock on wood), but it’s only a matter of time. The kids are in school, the youngest can’t wear a mask yet, and the adults go to work in person. We do everything we can (my partner is a teacher, and he wears an N95 literally all day, no breaks, except when he steps outside to eat), but it’ll happen eventually.

            There’s also a question, frankly, of how long we’re going to want to keep up this level of precaution. Someday, I would like to have a drink at a bar again, or take my kid to his old favorite restaurant, which doesn’t have outdoor seating. My family has remained extremely cautious, and I think we’ll continue to be cautious during periods of high transmission, but at some point we’re going to relax our restrictions. We’re not going to be able to dodge covid forever.

          2. Curiouser and Curiouser*

            Is there research done on the multiple times a year being “likely”? I’m not saying it’s not possible, but likely seems like a stretch to me. I’m in the office, we’re all vaxxed but most are unmasked, and I too haven’t gotten COVID yet at all (regularly tested for both active virus and antibodies). Again, I’m by no means saying it’s not POSSIBLE to get COVID in that situation, and it’s of course more likely than if you stay in your house a majority of the time, but I haven’t seen an research to suggest we should all expect to get it multiple times a year if we’re vaxxed but out of our house, and I’d definitely be interested!

          3. Lusara*

            I work in Healthcare and never stopped going to in to work at any point and I still haven’t tested positive. It’s certainly possible for people to get it multiple times a year, but I strongly disagree that it is “likely”.

            1. Sasha*

              Did you have your antibodies checked prior to vaccination?

              A lot of our “never caught it” staff turned out to have had asymptomatic infection in the first wave when we checked their antibodies.

              My five year old has apparently never had it, despite both his parents and his school class getting it more than once. I suspect one of his preschooler viral illnesses was actually covid, and he just had a false negative swab (we isolated regardless, as per local policy).

        2. Lysine*

          You do know that your personal experience with covid isn’t universal right? Just because you don’t know someone who has caught it more than once doesn’t mean it’s a rarity for others to catch it twice? Stop enshrining your personal experience as universal truth.

        3. Esmeralda*

          Oh my goodness, really? You haven’t gotten it, therefore….other people shouldn’t get it? other people shouldn’t be getting it more than once? What is your point?

          I understand that this is all upsetting. I personally am still angry that no one on my campus has to wear a mask and we’re getting thousands of new students who do NOT have to prove they’ve been vaxxed in the fall. I have to teach them in person. I have to meet with them in person in my office if they so choose.

          But really, just because you have been able to avoid covid = you’re lucky and/or you’re vaxxed and boosted and it’s worked well for you and/or you have the privilege of being able to super minimize contact with other people and/or the people you come in contact without aren’t maskless unvaxxed yahoos who sneeze or cough on you — well, that does NOT mean other people won’t get covid. Once. Twice. Mild case. Long case.

          Good grief. Your experience is not generalizable. It’s just not.

        4. Maggie*

          Well since it’s true for you I guess it’s true for the other 7 billion people on earth lol

        5. Starfox*

          Honestly I think some people are just immune, or it’s just super weird the way it spreads. Around Christmas, I went to dinner with a group (not knowing one participant was unvaxxed).

          I got Covid, the person to the right of me got Covid, and the two people across from me got covid. The person to the left of me who was actually closer to “Typhoid Mary,” shall we call her, didn’t get it.

          All of us who got it were triple vaxxed.

          1. Avril Ludgateau*

            It’s less likely that people are “just immune” and more likely that people have asymptomatic infections that, by their very nature, are not recognized as infections. They also end up spreading it, unknowingly, and probably farther, since they don’t know and therefore don’t isolate or take precautions. And regarding your dinner party: there’s also the fact that having had a recent COVID infection (last 3 months or so) makes you less vulnerable to catching it again – so people could have been asymptomatic or sick earlier and are benefiting from the, ahem, antibody afterglow. Your friend who was sitting next to patient zero may well have acquired a visibly asymptomatic infection from that night, or she had already had COVID recently enough that it protected her.

            I suspect at this point, with the exception of people that are absolute recluses and completely isolated from society at large, most people have had an infection, at least once, asymptomatic or not.

        6. NeutralJanet*

          I also haven’t had it once! Not sure how that’s relevant–I do hope that you’re not going to try to argue that because you and I haven’t had it, no one has.

        7. londonedit*

          I avoided Covid completely for two years – then a couple of months ago I went to stay with my family for a week, my parents went over to a friend’s house for dinner on the Friday evening before I arrived, they tested positive on the Monday and I tested positive on the Thursday. No one had been to an office or to a huge event or on public transport – it was just one of those things. And we were all vaccinated with boosters. At the time Covid was absolutely rife in the UK – in February and March it seemed like literally everyone had it. We all had mild cases (my dad had no symptoms at all) but the idea that it’s unlikely people will get Covid is ridiculous. Here in the UK it’s basically now being treated like flu – if you have symptoms then you should use your own common sense and isolate, but there’s no longer free public testing and no legal requirement to isolate. I agree with Aggretsuko that we’re at a point where people are going to be catching Covid on a fairly regular basis, the same as with colds and flu.

        8. JustaTech*

          One part of why it’s “likely” is that humans don’t build super-durable immunity to corona viruses in general (unlike, say, measles). So no matter how you got your immunity (vaccine or getting COVID), it’s just not going to last as long as anyone would like.

          It happens with other pathogens too, and it’s a real challenge for public health.
          (I also haven’t had it, but I’m in a very careful region.)

    6. Avril Ludgateau*

      I didn’t want to say it, but I had the same response to the “not outrageous” remark. I wonder if OP maybe works in healthcare and is therefore in a high-exposure environment every day? I worked from home, got vaxxed and boosted, and masked (still mask) in public. I managed to avoid COVID until the end of December 2021. I felt really bitter about it – I did everything right, damnit! – but it also helped me step back from moralizing a highly contagious illness. I know several people, in similar circumstances, who got multiple strains of COVID over the last couple of years. That said, the blase, throwaway remark about how “getting COVID twice a year is not outrageous” definitely cocked an eyebrow.

  9. Lauren*

    I know a group setting is different, but for context, this is *very different* than how my children’s childcare center is operating quarantines right now. Does your state have a decision tree or other guidance specific to childcare settings? I think it is very fair to say that you can pay her in full for the quarantine period recommended for childcare settings, but re-negotiable the time through her preferred 14 days. Maybe you could pay it at 50% or something – that’s what my center charges if we’re out for a given week for any reason. I do think it’s unfair to consider this vacation time though, or to suggest cutting her vacation. That seems like a separate pot I wouldn’t touch. But I don’t think it’s reasonable to have to pay for childcare for multiple two-week quarantines in this era of the pandemic.

    1. Just Another Zebra*

      With regards to the vacation time, OP isn’t asking the nanny to use it for things like doctor appointments. I think that’s where she can “reclaim” some of it. If I have an appointment during business hours, I have to use PTO. I think this is much the same. But I agree that how OP is handling things is much different than my daughter’s daycare. If my daughter has to quarantine due an exposure from school, we get a little bit back. If it’s on us, then we pay full price.

    2. Murphy*

      To play devil’s advocate, this is exactly how my childcare center is handling it. My daughter, who is fully vaccinated, was kicked out for 10 days after testing positive, and we’re still paying 100% to keep our spot, even though local guidelines are that children can return after 5 days if they’re negative and symptoms are improving.
      For quarantines after exposure at daycare, they’re only refunding you for the second two week quarantine, but not the first.

      1. Louisa*

        Same for the ones around here – and if 1 sibling or family member gets it and the other doesn’t, the non-infected sibling is out for 20 days (10 days from end of infected sibling’s quarantine) if under 5.

      2. Turanga Leela*

        Mine too. If my toddler is exposed to covid, he has to quarantine for 10 days. No refunds.

    3. Janeric*

      Our day care doesn’t reimburse for missed time. If an unvaccinated child gets Covid they require a 10-day quarantine. If a child has any covid symptoms they require a negative test and 48 hours without symptoms. If there’s an exposure at day care, they shut down for a full week and require a negative test before return. If there are any positives in that group, they stay closed until everyone has quarantined for ten days and tested negative before return.

      We lose about one week of day care per month, with standard children’s illnesses, Covid scares, and shut downs. We have not yet contracted Covid, so I don’t know how I’d factor that in — but I think 3/4 time day care for full price is pretty standard right now.

  10. Louisa*

    I have worked as a nanny and in this market I think this would cause me to job search. However, I think there are things you could do to make this more appealing for her and lessen the risk of her deciding to look for a different position.
    1. If you’re paying a high rate, she may be more willing to negotiate on the amount of paid time she’s taking off for Covid stuff.
    2. Would you be willing to pay a reduced rate for this time off? Again not ideal from her perspective or yours but still better for her than $0.
    3. Would you be willing to pay hazard pay for days 5-10? Take rapid tests? Have the adults wear N95 masks? Personally I would not take this without a guarantee of paid sick time and a short term disability policy, but everyone has different risk parameters.

    Another thing I wanted to highlight is that depending on the childcare policies in your area you could be looking at a similar amount of time off childcare while still paying for it in a center environment – my child’s preschool doesn’t reduce tuition for quarantine.

  11. Powerpants*

    I work at a school. We do not have the luxury of not having a classroom of kids 5 days after positive test. If she is going to work with kids, the deal is come to work masked when concerned. Spend time playing outside too. Open windows if the weather is nice. Yeah. There is risk but we are over two years in. It’s the job. Most of us outside of child care have to go to meetings with positive folks. I have even had someone in a meeting take off their mask to eat. I did not like it. But what can you do? Wear protective gear.

    1. Pop*

      The reality is (as you know!), there is a huge childcare shortage right now. This nanny likely has so many employment options that she DOES have the luxury of finding one who has COVID policies that she feels comfortable with. As a school employee, you’re beholden to the structure of what school is. But the nanny is outside of that, so honestly she has a lot of options for what she “can do.”

      1. Eye roll*

        I mean, she may have the ability to find another job that pays at the top of the market rate, and gives paid vacation, and lets her have a full 2 week quarantine every time, but that has to be a very small portion of the available work. How many top income earners are there who can also be without childcare 41% of the time? Most people I know making enough to offer top rates and pay for interim care for ample vacation days also NEED reliable child care because they have to work.

        1. M2*

          This. Two friends of mine (a couple) are both surgeons and have a nanny for their two children (both not old enough for vaccination) and pay her vacation time and TOP pay etc but she doesn’t do the 14 day quarantine. She only didn’t work when one of the parents (surgeons) got it and only for 6 days. She and the kids wore masks the other 5 days. They tested but the nanny told me she spent as much time as she could outside with the kids. People are constantly testing positive in hospitals even for regular surgeries so if they had a nanny who required a quarantine every time they were exposed they would never be in the hospital!

        2. Starfox*

          Yeah, everyone is saying it’s an “employees market” for nannies—and it is! But are there really that many people who can and will pay for three weeks of vacation, all doctors appointments, and a full two weeks of quarantine for every exposure? Somehow I doubt it, just out of pure necessity. People need nannies because they work. Even if you’re mega wealthy and can afford to pay huge amounts of money, don’t you still have to work? And if you are already having to cover childcare that much, then what’s the incentive for having a nanny?

        3. Annie j*

          But as we know, the OP is struggling to give the nanny the two weeks paid off so from the nannys perspective, she hasn’t got anything to lose by going with another employer who might pay more.
          Perhaps they won’t offer the two weeks paid off but if the OP has the conversation with the nanny, she should be prepared to lose out to another family with more money.
          Besides, if the nanny gets the absolute top rate for her services from another family, she might be willing to have one unpaid week if she gets exposed to Covid, the extra money might help with that.

      2. Umpire*

        She can probably find another job, but how likely is it they’ll give her what LW is giving now and also be fine with paying for 5 months no care as LW isn’t?

        1. Temperance*

          This nanny could find a family who works from home or isn’t exposed to COVID as often. I’m WFH right now with my baby and nanny chilling on another floor of my house.

          1. ApollosTorso*

            And oftwn a lot easier to negotiate terms with a new employer. Especially with the current childcare market, it’s not unreasonable that she could look and fold a family who’s situation fits with her risk level

            1. Temperance*

              YEP. My nanny leaves 2 hours before the end of my workday because she wanted summer hours. I was negotiating against another family who couldn’t work it out, so we have her for 3 months.

      3. ApollosTorso*

        Whoa wait, meetings with positive folks? If you mean people who are unknowingly positive, sure maybe. I have not heard of anyone in my circles or companies knowingly being around known positive cases or people.

        I also know many teachers and childcare workers who are not happy with the state of the industry regarding this. Not that they’ll all quick, I still think it’s reasonable to push back even if it’s a norm

        1. Powerpants*

          When people come back to work after 5 days they are supposed to mask. This person was on day 8 and removed her mask to eat her lunch in a meeting with about ten people. I was extremely uncomfortable but I don’t take off my mask to eat with others when the test positivity rate where I am is almost 25 percent anyway. In schools, I don’t know how we expect children to not eat with others during those last five days either.

  12. Betty*

    One other option to put on the table would be test-to-exit, which is recommended by public health experts like Dr. Michael Mina. Basically– at the end of a 5 day quarantine, take a home (rapid antigen) test. If you’re negative, you can end quarantine. (He has extensive explanations on his Twitter about this and why rapid antigen tests are incredibly reliable at detecting *infectiousness*, which is what you really want to mitigate.) I know the tests aren’t cheap (and you’d be going through more than the free allotment from USPS), but they may be worth it if it gets you back several days of childcare.

    (Also, sending pandemic parenting solidarity as a mom of an under-5. We have no good options and have been completely abandoned by policy makers.)

    1. Bird Lady*

      I have heavily relied on Michael Mina’s Twitter throughout the pandemic for my own office’s Covid-19 policies. Luckily we have been able to stop any spread once a staff member tests positive by regular testing once exposed and requiring a negative rapid test to return to work after day five. We’ve been doing this since August 2021 and it just works.

    2. darlingpants*

      A lot of insurances are still reimbursing for rapid tests. It was a bit of a pain to fill out the paperwork but it worked better than I expected.

      1. Accountant*

        All health insurance policies should be (up to specified amounts), it’s required by law.

      2. JustaTech*

        Yup, last time I was at the pharmacy a guy wanted a bunch of rapid tests and the pharmacy tech explained if he could stick around for the paperwork to go through he could get twice as many and have them covered by his insurance. (He couldn’t wait, but said he’d be back when he had more time.)

    3. Lizzianna*

      This is in line with the advice I got from my kid’s pediatrician after my 7 year old tested positive, and we have a newborn at home so we were trying to figure out how to keep her from getting it.

      This is probably the compromise I’d feel okay with. I think the employer should provide the tests.

      I also probably wouldn’t provide 10 days of paid leave if a vaccinated person (i.e. a parent) was exposed, but I would wear a mask around the nanny and up my cleaning and disinfecting of surfaces in the room she’s using. If an unvaccinated child was exposed, you may still want to quarantine, since that’s still the recommendation.

      (I’m sorry, it’s really hard with kiddos. My kid had to miss all his end of the year celebrations at school, because after we held out for 2+ years, he tested positive the day after we brought his baby sister home…)

    4. GirlinPhx*

      I agree that this is a good option. She can offer test (and mask) to exit and if the nanny wants a longer quarantine period, offer it at 80 % pay for the second week.

  13. Sarah*

    I’m sure you’re aware of this as a working parent but the childcare market and the nanny market specifically is bananas right now. So I would tread very carefully. I do agree with other commenters that suggesting you’ll pay for the first 5 days and then if she’s not comfortable coming back (masked!) until the two-week mark that’s on her to take unpaid time off. But to be honest, I would not push it much. You could also, before even having a conversation with your current nanny, shop around and get in touch with other nannies, daycares, etc. to see what their policies are about time off for Covid exposures and then do a little cost-benefit analysis there! This is just an unfortunate reality of having small children right now, even before Covid it was tough with all the time I had to take off for other little viruses my son had seemingly every other week. So with that in mind another suggestion I might make would be to look into a more flexible working environment for yourself (or your partner), your work sounds like it’s not super amazing at taking care of it’s employees (though it’s possible I got the wrong read on that) and with a new baby on the way it may be helpful to have at least one parent who has a flexible and understanding job because you’re going to have to now deal with this for the next ~5 years.

    1. WonderWoman*

      Yeah, it sounds like one of the problems is that OP’s job doesn’t offer a lot of sick days or flexibility.

      Perhaps it’s worth conducting a job search at this time? One benefit that some employers offer is discounted backup childcare. It’s still an additional cost, but it might help.

  14. Luna*

    I don’t quite see the issue with working in unmasked offices. Unless they bring out a rule that says “If you wear a mask at work, we will fire you immediately” nothing is stoping every employee to just wear a mask based on their own decision… but I have seen how humanity has reacted to things, and as the saying goes, common sense is nowhere near as common as its name implies.

    I will have to say, if she doesn’t provide work during your quarantines, there’s no reason to pay her. You are right, it isn’t her fault that you have to quarantine. You could sit down as Alison suggests, and maybe talk if a lower amount of pay during quarantine is alright. Similar to perhaps the fur… furgh… I don’t recall how to spell the term, but what some people have been getting during the pandemic. Still getting payment during lockdown of the business, but less money than they would get, if the business remained open and functioning.
    That way, you wouldn’t be cutting her off financially for what could result in almost five months worth of time, but you could also be saving a bit of money due to her not performing the duties, which are then done by you/your spouse/your child’s grandparents.

      1. Stella*

        Yes! This! It is so hard to understand why people don’t understand this. I may be extra emotional about the topic as an immunocompromised person undergoing cancer treatment living with 2 kids under 5…but it drives me NUTS. I don’t think I can read the rest of these comments because of it.

    1. Insert Clever Name Here*

      The issue with working in an unmasked office is that if OP is wearing a mask, she is protecting *other people* more than herself. For a mask to protect OP, it has to be worn by someone else…and as you said, we have seen how poorly certain segments of humanity have reacted to that.

      1. Love to WFH*

        Nope. The fabric masks weren’t very good, hence the early “my mask protects you” message.

        If you wear a high quality mask, such as an N95, you are giving yourself significant protection. That’s how healthcare workers in hospitals treating people with COVID manage to stay healthy.

        It’s lower risk if everyone masks, but a mask does definitely protect you.

        1. Lusara*

          Yes, N95 masks protect the wearer as well as others, and they are now widely available.

        2. Luna*

          Wearing an FFP2/N95 mask has become a requirement some time ago in Germany, so that has basically replaced the ‘mask’ in my head as always being such a type of mask. We have loosened up on some things, but a mask (even fabric or surgical masks) are still a requirement in public transport. I still wear an FFP2 mask, simply because I was used to wearing masks prior to the pandemic.

          And two years in, with two vaccinations and a booster, I seem to have managed to avoid getting it, so far! Admittedly, a lot of those two years were spent at home, unemployed, but I still went out grocery shopping… so, my overall risk was likely lower than those with regular jobs to go to.

        3. Insert Clever Name Here*

          True distinction. Where I am, if people are masking at all (I’d say less than half are masking), they are wearing surgical masks so I’ve had to default back to assuming that I’m doing more for them than they care to do for others.

    2. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

      The word you’re looking for is “furlough”.

      And people are just so influenced by peer behavior! I’m not even talking about peer *pressure*, just about seeing what folks around you are doing and wanting to align yourself with them. A relative of mine recently told me about being in a 12-step meeting where they were the only one masked, and (even though they’re generally pretty adamant about masking up) they removed their own mask. They were aghast as they were telling the story, in an “I can’t even believe I did this, what was I thinking” kind of way. We’re social animals and we’re really affected by all the other social animals around us.

      1. Luna*

        Yes, thank you for the term. I knew it ‘looked’ strange in terms of spelling, but I couldn’t get it to look right when I typed it.

        I know that psychologists talk about peer behavior, but I also studied psychology for some time and… I dunno, maybe I am just extra weird because peer behavior doesn’t affect me. I will gladly be ‘the weirdo’ as being the only one on staff or in a group to be wearing a mask, if I feel more comfortable wearing one or want to keep myself safe. And to heck with the weird looks those other people may give me.

  15. Blaise*

    I think it’s more than reasonable to have a conversation with her to let her know that your policies as an employer will change as the CDC guidelines change. That’s the way pretty much every other workplace operates. From there, you will need to figure out how to pay her even when she isn’t working during the CDC-guideline-following quarantines.

  16. Too tired*

    It’s not her fault that you have to quarantine. Can you wear a mask at work?

    I take it your kid isn’t able to mask around her? If that’s the case, all of you can take rapid tests every morning and see if you’re negative.

    1. Fuzzyfuzz*

      Masking a small child in her own home is not advisable or sustainable. And do you mean every morning surrounding an exposure, or literally every morning? That’s not sustainable either.

    2. rinkydink*

      I assume the mask wouldn’t make it not count as a work exposure if a coworker was around sick though. So if they’re having to quarantine for exposures (even if they never get sick), I doubt this will save them a lot of daycare time unfortunately. The parent says they are “very cautious” so I assume they’re masking.

    3. Bertha*

      The current CDC guidelines for determining a close contact specifically that a close contact is defined by proximity and time, “regardless of whether the person was wearing a mask properly.” So even if the OP wears a mask religiously at work, CDC considers them exposed as a close contact regardless of the mask.

  17. Koala*

    I’m not aware of any employer that allows an employee to dictate policies, especially policies that allow them to be off work and still paid. Pay for the CDC recommended quarantine time only, there are companies out there not even doing that. If she wants additional time off it’s unpaid. As a nanny, I imagine she’s in close proximity to the family which makes her reasoning flawed, by the time you find out you have covid, she’s already been exposed.
    OP is being so generous and I think her family is getting taken advantage of.

    1. Louisa*

      Usually employees dictate policies by pushing back or leaving. I’ve honestly considered going back to being a nanny because the market in my area is very employee-friendly and the pay has increased significantly. I don’t know how this will normalize out – if families start moving to daycare or a lot more nannies enter the market then wages may stabilize and parents may have more negotiating power. But as a parent and former nanny it seems very tilted towards nannies right now.

    2. Sarah*

      I do not think this family is being taken advantage of. I think we as a society have become so “numb” to the fact that nannies have traditionally been woefully mistreated as employees so a basic standard of benefits seems extremely generous. For instance, many nannies do not even receive PTO at all and there is no mention of this particular nanny receiving benefits like healthcare, a 401k, etc. which are standard employment benefits. Yes, it is a nannies market right now so they as employees can ask for more, but no this family is not being taken advantage of.

      1. Another health care worker*

        Agreed- there’s kind of an Overton Window on pay/benefits/working conditions. For nannies, the window sets extremely low expectations for all of it. The fact that this family is offering more than others have in the past, and still needs to worry about losing this nanny, suggests that the balance of power has changed. She is not “taking advantage of them,” she’s leveraging her position as a valued worker in a changed market. Hopefully the Overton Window will move too! In this job class and in many others!

        I recognize that the LW feels they are left holding the bag, but isn’t that always how it works for an employer when the balance of power shifts? Things become more expensive, and some things become totally untenable. The fact that the LW is also a worker with their own employer’s demands to meet, doesn’t change this.

        1. ElizabethJane*

          I think the big thing is that for most of us our employers are a business with revenue. My house does not have revenue. My house just has operating expenses.

          Tiny businesses aside – when one person calls in most employers have some sort of back up system so that they can continue to bring in revenue. For a large customer service department that work just gets absorbed by the other representatives. For a smaller coffee shop maybe a different employee comes in and the store continues to sell. In a more senior role at a company the work probably just waits until the next day because it’s project oriented and not a never ending list of tasks. In any case the business usually continues to generate revenue without a dip.

          In a household the revenue generating comes from the parents working. If the nanny calls in the parent can’t work. I’m lucky to work for a decent company with a generous vacation policy so if my nanny calls in I can take the day off but still generate revenue and therefore still pay the nanny. But that’s not the reality for a lot of people. For a lot of people the parent loses the revenue but still has to pay the nanny and where does that money come from?

          And to be clear, none of this is the fault of the nanny. It’s not even really the fault of the parents. It’s the fault of a society that values billionaires over social safety nets. I mean I’m sure that there are people who are crappy and don’t value their nannies. But there’s also a lot of people who don’t have the means to monetarily show their nannies how much they are valued.

          1. Louisa*

            It’s true that your house doesn’t have revenue but you(r household) is still an employer and there’s no obligation for a nanny to work for you. I think it’s important for LW and others to be clear-eyed about this so she has a plan if the nanny quits.
            Also if I end up going back to nannying I might share the comment above about the Overton window with other nannies, it’s a great way of framing working conditions.

      2. ElizabethJane*

        I also think as a society we need to acknowledge how effed the entire system is for everyone involved.

        My husband and I are both middle management with decently high incomes. Our household income is 6 figures.

        Home daycares in our area are affordable ($300 ish per week per child) but have year long waiting lists. Daycare centers may have availability but are far from affordable (any one within a 20 minute drive of my house is $550+ per week per child, which is more than my take home pay).

        I need to work full time for the insurance benefits. A nanny at $20/hour including hiring them as a W2 employee and paying taxes (me paying taxes I mean) is more affordable than a daycare center and more available than a home daycare.

        But after paying my nanny I am literally netting $250/month. I’m working for my family’s “fun money”, health insurance, and my 3% 401K match. Which isn’t a small thing but it’s also not like I’m taking away huge paychecks.

        I give generous PTO (3 weeks to use at the nanny’s discretion, 2 weeks that my family takes off that are paid in full, plus it’s guaranteed hours so if we ever call off – ex: oh take Friday afternoon off! – the nanny is still paid in full). Plus holidays.

        I allow flex hours because I don’t think the nanny should be forced to use PTO for a dentist appointment. Get close to 40 hours in the week and it’s good enough. (This good enough flexing is always done in the nanny’s favor – if they work 38.5 hours they get paid for 40. If they work 41.5 hours they get paid for 41.5).

        My nanny brings her own child (same age as one of my children) with her so she doesn’t have to pay for childcare. All meals/drinks/snacks are provided for everyone.

        I looked at health insurance but it’s an additional $600 for a crap policy and $1000+ per month for a good one. I don’t have the money.

        And that’s not the nanny’s fault. That’s the fault of a crap system that American’s have just bought into as OK. but yeah. In a time when even people making $250K are living paycheck to paycheck it’s not that we want to mistreat nannies, it’s that we don’t have the means to actually do anything more.

        1. Claire*

          OP, I don’t know where you live but I just want to chime in that $550/week or $300/week is vastly outside the median. Which is not to say it doesn’t exist or that people don’t pay it, but most families are not paying that much if you look at national data! High costs often get cited in media (and of course even $200 a week is a lot for many families) and I think this sometimes deters people from looking at costs in their area. Both the NCES and EPI keep data on care costs for childcare centers/home daycares.

          1. Claire*

            (Sorry, I spend *a lot* of time looking at childcare statistics and sometimes parents have misconceptions)

          2. ElizabethJane*

            I’m in Chicago, which is where I need to be for family/school/work obligations. I know it’s not the norm.

            I mostly brought it up to say even “high earners” don’t necessarily have the flexible spending for additional benefits. And it becomes this outrageous cycle. I need to be in Chicago because I’m working towards a degree in a niche industry and the program I’m in is one of the best and the most flexible so that I can continue to work at the same time. We’ll be able to move in a few years but then my salary won’t be the same either so that’s a different issue.

            There are more affordable options in the city but they are either on a sliding income scale so we (rightfully) don’t qualify or I know that I should leave the limited space to those who genuinely cannot afford better. I can swing the $850 or so a week for my nanny although it doesn’t leave options for much else at this moment. But that’s a privilege and I’m not shitty enough to take one of the $100 a week spots from someone who genuinely can’t afford anything else.

            And then the taxes are an entirely different thing. It annoys me to no end that I’m paying $800/a week for the nanny ($20/hr at 40 hours a week) but it costs me an additional $75 in taxes. And then she loses about $100 in taxes on her end. And the billionaires dodge. I’d much rather pay her the full $875. Or pay her the full $800 and save $300/month in taxes on my end. Which is a whole rant on other things and I’ve derailed the conversation.

            1. gbca*

              That was very much our experience in the Chicago. Childcare was outrageous in the city when my kid was an infant a few years ago. We moved to the Bay Area in California where pay is a lot higher, and while $5000K/month daycare definitely exists, we have $1000-1200k/month daycare that is high quality!

            1. Claire*

              It’s called the National Household Educational Survey Early Childhood Program Participation supplement if you are a curious data nerd like me! One thing is that percentage spent stays (relatively) constant up the income scale and since incomes that can afford $300+ week are a small group relative to the overall income distribution, families paying $300+/week are also a relatively small group.

          3. Alphabet*

            I’m currently pregnant so I’ve been shopping around for childcare options and most places within a reasonable distance from my home are about $400 a week and only a handful have available spots left for next year. I’m technically in a suburb of Pittsburgh but very close to downtown.

    3. Alpacas Are Not Dairy Animals*

      Would that more employees would “take advantage” by demanding more generous PTO and health + safety policies. Hopefully between unionization and a general recognition that employers need workers to survive we’ll move in that direction.

      1. Alpacas Are Not Dairy Animals*

        To provide actionable advice: LW, can you apply pressure in the other direction? Maybe it’s time for your or your partner’s employer to bite the bullet and offer either more PTO or more flexibility about how much of your mental space they require when you’re working from home, if they want to retain your services.

        1. Migraine Month*

          Yeah, that was the part of the letter that really stood out to me. It’s framed as “I can’t pay for work I’m not receiving”, but my read is “this childcare arrangement would probably work if my and my spouse’s employers weren’t so stingy with sick leave”.

      2. ---*

        Thank you – the undercurrent of “what?! too many benefits; no paid time off; she’s taking advantage!” is wild to me. Renegotiating the duration of quarantine is reasonable, but the idea that the relationship should always skew towards the employer’s benefit, as the comment at the top of this thread does, is a sad testimony to the power of neoliberal economic discourse. It just doesn’t have to be like that.

        1. Ruby*

          I am shocked but no longer surprised at how many people want benefits, PTO, etc for themselves but are OFFENDED when it’s offered to workers like nannies, housekeepers, etc.

  18. Anna*

    If you have access to outdoor space, you may want to ask her if she’d be comfortable watching the kids outside. The rate of transmission is very low when there is lots of fresh air flowing. Assuming the children are old enough to mask, they and she should do so, and spend the majority of the day outside.

    1. Alexis Rosay*

      This would be one way to partially thread the needle. Transmission outdoors is extremely rare even when unmasked. This could at least solve the problem for the seasons of the year when it’s feasible to be outside (though what that means could vary dramatically based on location).

    2. Onecomment*

      I just want to point out, that a full day Nanny wouldn’t be able to necessarily nanny outside all day, depending on the age of the child, as they may need naps ect that require inside times. You just can’t feasibly do childcare outside for 8 hrs straight.

  19. Frenemy_of_the_People*

    I think you need to define what you’re willing to provide timewise. X amount of sick time and X amount of paid vacation. Period. Anything beyond that is LWOP. You offered the standard and now accepted 5 days, and SHE pushed back with “I want 2 weeks.” You should have told her that was fine, but only the first 5 days would be paid at her usual rate. Nannies are GOLD, I get that. But, your numbers and her perceived entitlements aren’t in line. You may have started out too generous, TBH. Research what a nanny typically gets, benefits-wise and I think you can show her you’ve been and are willing to be (albeit to a lesser extent going forward) exceptionally generous.

  20. Re'lar Fela*

    I haven’t read all the comments, so apologies if this is a duplicate!

    OP, have you considered looking for someone in your area (a high school or college student perhaps, especially during summer break) or a stay-at-home parent who might be willing to serve as an “on-call” nanny in almost a substitute teacher setup where you can call them in on short notice to fill in during absences? I’m sure there are other logistics there that I’m not considering, but I know it has been HUGELY helpful for me as a working parent of a school-aged kid to have several backup childcare options on call (my daughter’s school closed 3x during the spring semester for unexpected power outages and I work with clients…talk about turning the day on its head!).

    Finding reliable childcare is HARD! For the first several years of my daughter’s life, we lived close to my parents and my mom could always be counted on to help in a pinch, but after we moved I have found myself in a situation similar to what you described (work losing patience with absences, particularly illness-related ones) more than once.

    Good luck!!

    1. Pop*

      In general I think this is a helpful tip, but doesn’t help the main issue at hand – having “on call” childcare would mean paying two people, the nanny and the backup childcare, and also won’t help if the family has COVID and needs to isolate.

    2. One of the Sarahs*

      The difference is that your ‘on call’ person is a babysitter, NOT a nanny.

      Of course i am reading this through a European lens, where the whole concept of “it’s generous to provide sick leave” is anathema, but I would never equate the babysitting I did at age 16-8 as equivalent to a nanny, in any way.

    3. Claire*

      I’d specifically screen for someone who is willing to care for an exposed or recovering child though, because I imagine many high school students and SAHMs might not want to catch Covid either. There are companies that provide back up care for sick children though idk what they do for Covid.

  21. ahhh*

    I know this is stretching it as a solution. Is there a way that when you/ your family do need to quarantine, could you do it elsewhere? Hole up in a siblings house, a friend’s basement bedroom? That way you could still work remotely / and go about your routine, while nanny watches the baby? I know it’s big imposition for your loved ones, but it might be a solution overall.

  22. Dogs With Floppy Ears*

    Current guidelines are no quarantine after exposure if you are vaxxed, and you don’t need to test if you remain asymptomatic. Personally, this is what I would have as a policy as well. Granted, the rules are different for the under- 5’s but it doesn’t sound like the exposures are to your child, its to the adults.
    I also have an under-5, in childcare and they have run the gamut on policies. As of several weeks (months) ago, they no longer do any contact tracing, saying that you should assume that your child HAS been exposed to someone with a confirmed positive. When they had an unusually high number of kids and adults out, the did test-to-enter for a week. Interestingly, although there were ~20 people out with confirmed positives, they only caught 2 additional with the rapid testing. One was my kid, and she tested negative on 3 subsequent PCR’s (we had surgery scheduled for the following week). She was allowed to return following a negative PCR.
    I work in a field where we do some residential work, some school stuff, and some other “stuff.” We only pay for quarantine if you 1) have a positive test and 2) have a known at-work exposure. The days of quarantining (with or without pay) for “just” exposures is long past. I’m not saying that’s a good thing, just that it IS.
    The local hospital does not pay for quarantine AT ALL, even if you have a known exposure at work.
    What you should pay for depends greatly on how badly you need to keep THIS nanny. I second sitting down with her, laying out all the details, and problem solving together. However, I would handle the PTO for Dr appts as a completely separate conversation. It sounds like you wouldn’t be changing that if it weren’t for the rest, so changing that now will feel punitive.

  23. Esmeralda*

    OP is not trying to pay the nanny less.

    She is trying to have the nanny work for more of the hours that she’s paying for.

    That’s how it seems to me, anyway.

    I mean, this is the problem with relying on a single person for childcare. It’s why we put our child in daycare centers. We could not afford to be without childcare. Because if you run out of all your leave covering for a nanny who can’t work, then the next step is leave without pay.

    And possibly losing your own job for being off work so much.

    1. Willis*

      Yeah, even if the nanny takes some of the quarantine or vacation time unpaid, it’s still going to be a bunch of time that the OP is without childcare. Are there family members or other paid childcare providers that could fill the gap between a 5 and 14 day quarantine? Or would the OP be more amenable to missing work if they weren’t also paying for childcare on those days? If not, then this nanny doesn’t really sound like a sustainable solution even at a reduced cost and it might make more sense to look at what other options are available.

    2. Susie Q*

      “I mean, this is the problem with relying on a single person for childcare. It’s why we put our child in daycare centers. We could not afford to be without childcare. Because if you run out of all your leave covering for a nanny who can’t work, then the next step is leave without pay.”

      This is exactly why we use daycare centers.

      1. Living That Teacher Life*

        In my area, daycare centers have frequently closed down due to someone on staff testing positive, so that’s not reliable either.

      2. My own boss*

        I just want to note that finding a center with available slots isn’t always possible. We have a nanny because there weren’t any infant slots near us. There are parts of my state with waitlists that are literally years long.

  24. Kermit's Bookkeepers*

    Former childcare worker here. First and foremost, I think you are doing a wonderful thing in taking your nanny’s comfort and financial stability into consideration as thoroughly as you have. It is often a very precarious position to be employed in, and I am incredibly grateful to you for taking your nanny’s financial health so thoroughly into account.

    To echo what’s already been said, I think it is both fair to change the arrangement and fair to expect you may have to find another nanny when you do so — but that’s not to say that finding another nanny will be impossible. Unfortunately, many families aren’t willing to offer paid time off or health guidelines like this one at all, so I think you’re still in an attractive position to hire if you wind up needing to find a new nanny.

    As you navigate the new discussion, I would recommend using CDC guidelines as your minimum: a negative PCR test before work after an exposure from all exposed parties (with perhaps 1-2 paid days for the time for the results to come in), and five days paid off after an exposure. You can certainly increase the number of paid days off as works for you and your family, but I would not recommend offering less.

    Make sure you are not asking her to take any risks you would not take yourself; for instance, if you want her to quarantine away from your family for two weeks after an infection, you cannot ask her to come to work sooner than two weeks if *you* have been infected. You can absolutely offer her the flexibility to take additional days unpaid, but please do not mandate unpaid time off for an infection (for example, it is unfair to insist she quarantine for two weeks, but only pay for the first five days). Childcare workers often have a difficult time finding last-minute babysitting to fill the gaps in their schedule when a source of income unexpectedly disappears. Furthermore, creating a situation where it financially disadvantages her to be honest about her health status is dangerous for you all — not because she would knowingly lie about her health status, but she may take longer to get tested if she’s worried a positive result will take a week or more of income out of her pocket and she’s hopeful it will simply go away.

    1. Tracy*

      Thank you. I’m in this exact situation right now. Boss tested positive this past Monday, then dad and 2 small children on Tuesday. It’s more important right now than ever, that I not get covid , since I’m finally getting the colonoscopy I’ve put off for over 2 years because of covid. And I have some bad chronic digestive issues. I’m hoping they pay my full wage for this week and for next week. I need my income, and I know they want to secure me as their nanny/house manager. Two years ago -lockdown-happened two weeks into this current job. They paid me in full for the two week lockdown/ I did a few errands and chores for them while they stayed elsewhere. After that, we discussed that any days beyond that, I’d be paid half. And they said they’d understand if that caused me to look for another position. It was a tough time! I’m excellent at what I do ( 20 yrs as nanny, 40 years childcare), and I know a good job when I have one. And I would never take advantage of the PTO. I miss the kids horribly! I WANT to be there!

  25. katie*

    If you choose to talk with her directly, you might also provide some of the recent research showing that Omicron has a *dramatically* shorter incubation period than previous variants. The last study I read showed a median incubation period of less than 3 days. While CDC may be acting in part due to political and economic pressure, in this case the science also backs them up. 5 days quarantine, a PCR test (or rapid test if PCRs are unavailable for non-symptomatic folks in your area) on day five and rapid tests periodically (or even daily) for another week seems like a very reasonable and conservative approach.

  26. Atheist 5eVar*

    A two week quarantine after an exposure is unreasonable. Why not test, show the negative test, and get the nanny back to work?

  27. Em*

    I am a nanny in an area that sounds similar in terms of cases and precautions.
    I don’t think it will be that easy for this nanny to find another job. I know and talk to many other nannies, there is no family I know of in this area that employees a nanny that would allow for a two week quarantine after every exposure at this point. Definitely after an actual positive test in the family, but not an exposure and definitely not two weeks. That may have been a policy many families had two years ago, but not now.

    1. Louisa*

      It says in the letter they quarantined after exposure until they got a negative PCR, not the whole two weeks, at least if I’m understanding correctly. That does still seem to be a common policy many places (unfortunately not my kid’s preschool, but many other places!)

  28. Manchmal*

    The quarantine policies mentioned in the OP’s letter seem really drastic compared to what we’re doing in these parts (a very blue town in a blue state). Both of my kids, who attend daycare and elementary school, are still masking all day in school. If one kid in their classroom comes down with COVID, nothing happens. Everyone continues on as normal, there is no automatic quarantine. That only happens in the daycare when more than one kid comes down with COVID, and I’m not sure what would happen in the elementary.

    So what is the “exposure” that is still requiring 10 or 14 day quarantines?? One person in the office comes down with COVID and everyone has to stay home for 10 days? That seems really unnecessary. What I would negotiate with the nanny instead is weekly or twice-weekly testing. If you are going to work (and presumably shopping and restaurants) unmasked, you should consider yourself pretty much constantly “exposed.” That’s why this seems a bit silly.

    As far as childcare market, the local childcare facebook group has been booming with people looking for new positions because school is about to let out and either people need less childcare over the summer or there’s a crop of college students who need summer work (or both). If your nanny is unwilling to work with you using the latest CDC advice, I might suggest taking advantage of 3 months of care from someone, and use that time to find someone new for the fall. People don’t generally like to give up pay or benefits, and it may be that the OP’s attempt to do so may sour the relationship. But maybe not, it’s worth a try.

  29. Darcy S.*

    We went with a preschool instead of a nanny in the hopes that at least they’d be able to cover caregiver absences. Her class was still closed about half the time in December and January due to exposures. It actually costs about the same as a nanny when you factor in the 1-3 hours of personal administration you do for a nanny that the school does instead ($230 vs $270 per week for 3 days a week).

    Finding child care is near impossible right now, incredibly expensive, and also lonely since a lot of people immediately sneer at the privilege of paying for a nanny or daycare when you frankly don’t have any other options except quitting your job and losing everyone’s health care.

    1. NotRealAnonForThis*

      Nothing except gentle hugs and sympathy. There are just not good options right now for parents of young children, and no, this was not something that “you signed up for”.

  30. SpaceySteph*

    I feel your pain. I send my kids to daycare not a nanny, but we still have to pay every time we are quarantined too, AND if they close for an outbreak other than a full week (Mon-Fri) we pay for that too. My kids spent the entire month of December out of school 2 years in a row as

    That said, if she gets sick, its fair to say the first 5 days are paid and after that if you need to remain off you take sick leave (after all, that’s the deal most of us get), and same with after you are out of official quarantine if she doesn’t want to come back.

    1. SpaceySteph*

      Oh gee, half a sentence missing.

      We got covid 2 Decembers in a row and we had to quarantine sequentially so it took the whole month. Not fun at all. And we paid for all of it at daycare too.

  31. AnotherLibrarian*

    In the end, to be blunt, it comes down to this- are you willing to lose your nanny? If you are, then I think you have a lot of options that seem reasonable. You can discuss the 5 day quarantine, rather than two weeks. You can look at the state daycare guidelines and try to mimic that. But you may not know why she wants the two week quarantine, perhaps she has a medical condition that makes her nervous or she had close family that does. I think when you work with someone in your home, it is easy to assume you “know them”, but there might be aspects to this that surprise you.

    Additionally, I’d try to separate your Covid convo, from the dr. appointments and vacation time convo. Do you offer sick leave? I didn’t see in the letter if you did. That might be a compromise to deal with some of that. If you knew how many days it would be a year, it would likely make it easier to plan for.

    Frankly, in this market, from what I’ve heard from friend’s in the daycare field, it might be super hard to replace her if she decides she’s not willing to budge.

    1. Ktpla*

      This is my thought, too. Most workplaces would not allow the nanny to do what she is doing and would usually follow CDC guidelines. So you’re going above and beyond and you could walk it back. But, will doing so leave you without childcare for months while you try to find someone? I think you have to weigh the benefits. There is no way to ensure the nanny will stay while also getting the full coverage you need.

  32. Liz T*

    Wait, but isn’t that like if your employer asked YOU to take unpaid leave when you got exposed, or sick? Paid leave is a reasonable condition of employment, especially for absences outside your nanny’s control.

    The issue here is your employer and your community. Which, I don’t know what you can do about that. It sounds like you actually cannot afford a nanny, which is awful.

    Do your employers FORBID you from masking at work? Can you look for employment elsewhere?

    1. Liz T*

      Sorry, I missed that she’s insisting on two weeks quarantine for just an EXPOSURE. I do think that’s unreasonable and unworkable.

      1. Dahlia*

        She’s not, though. They quarantined after exposure until they got a negative PCR test, which took 2 weeks. When they GOT covid, she was unwilling to return after 5 days.

        “We also, unfortunately, got Covid this month and lost two more weeks of childcare. She has stated she is not comfortable coming in at the five-day mark; she wants us to do a full two-week quarantine in line with the old CDC guidelines.”

        1. EchoGirl*

          From my reading, I can’t tell for sure if that’s the case or not. What muddies the waters a bit for me is that there’s a sentence in between those two “We also, unfortunately, got Covid this month and lost two more weeks of childcare. All of this time is fully paid because these incidents are not her fault. She has stated she is not comfortable coming in at the five-day mark; she wants us to do a full two-week quarantine in line with the old CDC guidelines.”

          If it didn’t have the sentence in between, it would seem a little more clear that they’re definitely referring to the actual infections. In context, though, it’s not clear to me if it’s referring to just that one situation or to all of the situations mentioned in the paragraph. So I understand why people are seeing both potential versions.

        2. eastcoastkate*

          I feel like I’m missing something here- if they “quarantined after exposure until they got a negative PCR test” that implies that they had a (or multiple) positive PCR test which would mean it was NOT just an exposure, they actually did have Covid. Correct?

          1. Amtelope*

            Not necessarily — in some places it’s still hard to schedule a PCR test and wait times for results are long, so it may have taken a while to get results back. Two weeks still seems like a long time, but if you wait the recommended time after the exposure to test, and then have a delay getting an appointment, and then have a delay getting results back, I can see it.

            1. eastcoastkate*

              Ah- this makes sense. Thank you! I hadn’t factored in the recommended time after exposure to test. Fully agree it still seems like a long time still!

    2. Mf*

      Agree: the issue is that the OP and her spouse both work in an unmasked offices and (apparently) keep getting exposed.

      OP, can you talk to your employer about how these exposures are impacting your work and productivity, and ask if there’s more they can do to lower exposure rates? Can they move you a more populated part of building? Give you a private office? Create a room/area reserved for masked/high-risk people who are taking extra precautions?

      (I’m assuming you are already wearing a mask at work. I know a mask doesn’t eliminate risk when you’re around unmasked people but it’s the least you, as an individual, can do if you’re asking you’re employer to make changes too.)

  33. Temperance*

    Speaking as someone who has a nanny for the summer because daycares for an infant are nearly impossible to find in my area, I think you would be better off utilizing a childcare center if you could. While yes, you wouldn’t get to skip out paying after COVID exposures, you would get more childcare time because guidelines have become pretty lax in general, unfortunately.

  34. I wonder...*

    I greatly admire OP as an employer. She is definitely taking into account all angles. I truly think OP needs to tread carefully.

    I am thinking waaay ahead at a future scenario…. What happens in the next year or so presumably COVID will be less infectious, will nanny still expect the same benefits say for a common cold; what happens if OP needs an extra hour of nanny’s time – will nanny be as understanding as OP has been these last years.

    I’m not saying this to be malicious or overthinking (too late already am). Most of the comments are saying the same message, but there was one somewhere above in this thred that keeps coming back to me that nanny is “milking it”. Nanny is working with children, that’s considered a high exposure job. The CDC (for whatever reason) has guidelines that are working in general. Nanny has every right to be nervous, but the world is a crazy place right now. Everyone is still at risk, but the world is reopening. We’re moving on. This theoretically could be the new normal. If the new normal is now reality, it essentially means nanny is expecting to only work 60% of the time. I feel like in the future expecting all this time is making nanny too comfortable. I’m just pondering.

    OP you are a great employer taking nanny’s concerns into play. Alison is giving amazing advice. It’s a tough situation. Keep us posted.

    1. Louisa*

      I mean, it’s an employment relationship so what happens in future possibilities is that either LW decides nanny’s requirements don’t work for her, the nanny decides LW’s requirements don’t work for the nanny, or they come to a mutual agreement/compromise. I don’t highlight this to be rude, just that I notice because it’s such a personal service (and one that has been historically marginalized) that people can accidentally imply a higher expectation that the employee will conform to the employer’s requirements than they might in a less personal or more corporate employment relationship.

      1. Working Hypothesis*

        I’ve generally seen the reverse: that when there’s a corporate environment it’s more generally expected that employees will conform to their employer’s requirements because the employer can set a “policy.” In reality, if course, policies are nothing more than a formal way of declaring, “We have decided X,” but it sounds so immovable that it’s very common for employees, customers, or any other individual who works with a corporation to assume, “Oh, since it’s POLICY, I don’t have any chance of getting it changed or an exception made. I guess I’ll just have to live with it.” Of course a company is perfectly capable of choosing not to adhere to its own policy on occasion if it doesn’t wish to.

        When you’re dealing with an individual, it is much more obvious, even if they talk about their own policies, that they’re able to make changes or overrides to those any time they want. Individuals working with individuals can change their opinion or preference whenever they feel like it. And so can companies, but everyone is less likely to assume this true when it’s about a company instead of an individual.

  35. Ness*

    Assuming the parents are both vaccinated and boosted, current CDC guidelines say that no one needs to quarantine after the parents are exposed. While I can understand not trusting these guidelines, insisting on two weeks paid isn’t really reasonable.

  36. Me ... Just Me*

    I think we need to know what the intent of the letter is. Is it to actually pay the nanny less because the absences have somehow affected your own take home pay? Is it to be gone from work less because it puts you behind on work or causes productivity or attendance concerns up your chain of command? Those are two different goals that may have different solutions.

    1. Louisa*

      That’s a good point and also if LW knows her/spouse’s priorities that could be helpful if they need to find a new nanny.

  37. ElizabethJane*

    This is a much smaller issue but I didn’t see it in the comments and it may be not be workable for your situation either…

    We have a nanny. She works 8-4, 5 days a week. She gets 2 weeks PTO plus we pay in full for any time we would take off (if we go on vacation F-M she would still get a full day of pay for Friday and Monday).

    For appointments she can either use PTO or flex the time. For example, tomorrow she has to take her son to the doctor at 3. She’s coming in an hour earlier and just working 7-3. So we still get a full day of childcare in which we can focus on work and she doesn’t have to use PTO. We’re fairly lenient with the flexing. As long as the “make up” is done some time in the same pay period we’re good with it and we don’t nickel and dime it (one day she had a last minute thing come up and was an hour late. She stayed an extra 35 minutes that day and we called it good enough but at that point we were ready for our nighttime routine and I’m not going to make her stay down to the minute. The “good enough” flexing is also always done in her favor).

    This works because we work from home so we don’t need to worry about the exact hours being covered. But it does ease the burden of finding alternate care or calling in favors from grandparents on these days.

  38. Purple Cat*

    To me it seems like your Nanny is exceptionally cautious (to be generous in our assessment) in wanting the 14 day quarantine. The challenge is that you’re the one that’s paying for her cautiousness. It’s not hurting her at all. Since she has no skin in the game, there’s no reason for her to change her stance. The ungenerous assessment is that she’s milking you for all of this time off because she can. I’m sure the truth is somewhere in the middle.

    I would have a discussion with her around current CDC guidelines and negotiate a middle ground. Including unpaid or at the very least reduced-pay for additional time off if it’s critical for her to follow.

    1. I wonder...*

      I was trying to describe this above. This is not a scenario that can last forever, eventually the cdc guidelines or a negotiation will need to be enough.

    2. Rananculus*

      I’d say her own health and ability to earn a living are her “skin in the game.” If she is disabled by Covid or long Covid, her problems will be a lot worse than the OP having to pay a bit of extra childcare.

  39. Phony Genius*

    They are supposed to be approving the vaccine for young children later this month. Would she be willing to reduce her quarantine time once the child is vaccinated, assuming she can be? (Yes, I know that come fall the new baby will not be vaccinated for the first 6 months, but it’s a start.)

  40. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

    In addition to the good suggestions you’ve received so far, there things you could do to reduce your and your husband’s risk so that the scenario you described is less likely to happen?

    For example, what do you think of you and your husband wearing a KN95 or N95 mask when you’re at work? That actually protects you even if others aren’t masked, and lowers the chances of you getting COVID that many times. You could also offer her to come in after the 5-day mark if she doesn’t want to get paid a reduced rate, and you and she both wear N95s during that time, which reduces risk to very very low.

    1. So Very Tired of this Discussion*

      I’m just going to drop this here. The addition of a polypropylene liner to any mask drastically improves filtration. I buy mine from Walmart online, it is a craft product and comes in sheets. I cut them into mask-sized squares. Double masking (non-95s) is also good.

      I will never stop masking, too many risk factors and I like getting fewer colds and other respiratory viruses also. Not oe cold in all of Covid.

  41. Uk reader*

    I’m in the UK and we don’t now have to isolate or wear masks in any situation. I appreciate the US is different! However I am basing my answer on when we had restrictions in the UK.

    I would pay 100% for 5 days of any exposure your family has- seeing as it isn’t really her fault she can’t work in that time. However I would set the expectation that she needs to either work after Day 5, or use vacation/unpaid leave if it is her choice to not work until 2 weeks after exposure.

    For any of her exposures or infections, I would treat it as sickness, so whether you choose to pay her when she is ill or not, follow that. In the UK we mostly get sick pay, although the length of it is variable between companies and usually goes up with length of service too. For her exposures and infections, I would also set the expectation of her being back at work after Day 5, providing she feels well enough to work.

    I think it is great that you give her paid time off for appointments, but have you set any expectations around this? I.e please aim to arrange appointments around work but we will pay if it is unavoidable? Ultimately by offering paid time off for appointments you are encouraging her to take it during work time. I’d be inclined to give her a little extra paid vacation each year but then say she needs to take appointments out of that vacation time. I bet she’ll start scheduling it outside of working hours then.

  42. lazuli*

    If the nanny has “frequent absences for doctor’s appointments,” as the letter says, then she may very well be at higher risk for Covid than average and simply trying to keep herself safe, not “milking” the situation as a few commenters have implied. I have an autoimmune disorder that has never previously been disabling, but it means the vaccine doesn’t work nearly as well for me and the CDC really and truly is giving the guidance that I should just isolate forever. (Not just when I’m sick! All the time!) You may just want to factor in that not everyone has the same risk profile.

    1. Minimal Pear*

      I was surprised I had to scroll this far down in the comments to see someone saying this! To me this absolutely reads like the nanny is at least somewhat at risk when it comes to COVID.

      1. So Very Tired of this Discussion*

        Yes, vaccine efficacy can vary widely, it is less for me due to my age.

  43. BJP*

    We just paid for some daycare we could not use due to having COVID and waiting out the time period to send my son back. I feel you.

    I don’t have a solution but I have a pipe dream: imagine if parents got a tax credit for all of the childcare they paid for but could not used specifically due to Covid!

    (There’s no other disease that forces me to keep my kids home from daycare while I am too sick to take care of them.)

    1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      “ (There’s no other disease that forces me to keep my kids home from daycare while I am too sick to take care of them.)”

      Well, that actually makes sense in the case of a novel virus. Sucks terribly, truly, but what’s the alternative?

    2. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      There are lots of other diseases like that! My whole family got COVID then norovirus then influenza (all originated at the daycare for what it’s worth). So I had to pay for daycare I couldn’t use (sick kiddo), got sick myself, and technically they were all the daycare’s fault (not really because infectious diseases plus kids but still they exposed me, not the other way around). So this actually happens with lots of diseases – paying for daycare when you yourself are sick with daycare germs.

      1. SpaceySteph*

        If people more often kept their kids home when they were sick then we would probably have less illness running through daycares. Alas it sucks to have your kids home when your sick. But yeah, this is a constant problem for anyone having kids, that long predates covid.

  44. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

    I think we all know that the CDC’s 5-day recommendation is based on the needs of employers, not the realities of how a COVID infection plays out. That being said, asking for two full weeks of paid time whenever any member of your family has been exposed isn’t reasonable, given the current pattern of COVID surges followed by increasingly high troughs.

    Have you checked with other folks who employ nannies to get a sense of their practices? Where is the market on this? You said you pay close to the top of the market; how do your benefits (including COVID leaves) compare? Are you being way more generous than other parents? Less?

    I’d aim for a policy along these lines:
    – When either parent is exposed but does not have symptoms or test positive: wear masks around your kiddo and limit time with the nanny to kiddo handoffs for ten days. This might mean isolating to one room in your home, if the nanny and kiddo are going to be in the house.
    – If your child is exposed (and assuming that she is too young to be vaccinated or wear a mask): Ten days isolation, nanny gets paid for any days she was scheduled to work during those ten days.
    – If you or your child tests positive: paid time off for the nanny until you test negative

  45. blink14*

    My roommate had Covid a few months ago and did a full 14 day quarantine, with the exception of using a shared bathroom. She still tested positive on a rapid test at day 12. Fortunately we both work from home, and I never got it, but I am immunocompromised. For her, the full 14 days was doable and made sense. Had it not been something she could do, we agreed that full masking at all times (which we did in any shared common space, like the bathroom, anyways), leaving all windows open, using separate entrances into the apartment, along with staggered kitchen use times, would’ve been our next plan. The CDC has been bending under pressure for well over a year now on shortening quarantine times. There are some people getting Covid and not even testing positive until day 4 or 5, but have all the symptoms.

  46. AMK*

    My family just had COVID for the first time last month, so I feel you OP. No childcare is no fun, especially when your job expects you to work. For us, the issue is more about not being able to work (because we get paid, but if we can’t get work done it is a bigger issue for our employers) than the money. I don’t think a two week quarantine is reasonable for an exposure, especially for a vaccinated adult. Here is how we have handled things with our nanny:
    – Exposed Adult (all vaccinated and boosted, including our nanny): No quarantine, test for symptoms
    – Exposed Child (not eligible for vaccination yet): Test to stay (rapid test each morning before our nanny arrived)
    – Positive Parent: Quarantine (no nanny) until Day 5, adult then wears mask and avoids nanny (our kids got COVID from my husband anyway, so we did not use this option).
    – Positive Child: 10 day quarantine (no nanny)
    – Positive Nanny: 10 day quarantine (no nanny)
    We pay our nanny for all the days she can’t work. We were without childcare for 3 weeks when we all had COVID, and I hope we don’t have to do it ever again! My nanny is unfortunately leaving us in September as she is moving, but I will likely put this in the contract for our next nanny as I find it helps to set expectations ahead of time.

  47. Bast*

    Frankly, you aren’t going to find many companies that are going to afford 2 full weeks paid after every positive or exposure. What I personally think of it is irrelevant; if the nanny were to go and find another job, many employers would either force you to use PTO/sick or just tell you to come in or get fired. My daughter attends a daycare, and they adhere to the 5 day rule as well. Most other daycares in the area seem to be doing the same thing, so I feel like asking for more (unless you choose to use your sick or pto) is unrealistic and like it or not, the nanny is unlikely to find better elsewhere.

    I am not in the childcare field so my own experience in an office is a bit different, but if we test positive or quarantine due to exposure we have the choice of work from home or use PTO. Our PTO is not very generous and we have had several people drain a good week on getting covid. :(

  48. waffles*

    I agree with everyone who has said you’ll want to start looking at other options. It will be awkward and difficult to withdraw the significant benefit you have been giving her – I don’t think that you should try and sidestep that in the conversation. You need to change her benefits, and you’d want to know how you could make her feel comfortable coming back at the 5 day mark because you want to keep working with her (that’s the part where she problem solves with you) or if she’s amenable to taking that time unpaid or as vacation time; but the fact that you are removing a benefit isn’t something that’s fair to have her problem solve around. The best case scenario is that she will feel comfortable either coming to work with specific measures in place earlier than currently or taking that time unpaid, and the worst case is she won’t, and you’ll need a new childcare set up.

    I have had a nanny, a nannyshare (sharing a nanny with another family), and daycare during COVID. With a daycare, you pay for time that is quarantined, but as many others have mentioned, as guidelines have relaxed across the country, the kids don’t have to quarantine much. We are lucky to be at a daycare that wears masks and adults are vaccinated. With other nannies, it would be easier to set out your new expectations in the beginning, and I agree that the benefits you currently provide aren’t standard. It wouldn’t be strange to align the paid quarantine time to your own work arrangements – you could also make sure to say that as your work arrangements change, you may need to change whatever those terms are.

  49. LW HERE*

    LW HERE – This is hugely helpful! I will read the rest when baby goes to bed tonight. Some more context re: assumptions:

    1. Our baby is 1 so she cannot use FDA approved rapid (age limit is 2) tests or wear a mask. She is not vaccinated – not by choice. We are all vaccinated and boosted. We wear masks in public and at work. As far as I can tell, my husband got COVID at work. He works public-facing and no masks are required.

    2. Rapid tests are not FDA approved for children under 2 so we can’t use them for our daughter. With exposures, we can only test ourselves so we can’t provide complete reassurance. Our pediatrician will not repeat a PCR if she tests positive, as our state health department guidelines indicate specifically that there is no medical need to do that. I have no option to test out of quarantine for her; I can only test us and monitor her for fever. I would never ask our nanny to come in if she had a fever, COVID or no. With every exposure, we do PCR test on day 4 and return if negative. If our nanny is exposed, we provide her tests and if she is not sick she can take one daily. We do not ask her to quarantine for exposures because honestly we can’t afford to. If she gets COVID, which she did in 2020 right when she started, she has stated she would like the full 14 day quarantine and is not comfortable working in a mask.

    3. RE: Financials. I do pay backup care when our nanny is on vacation and family is not available, which doubles our childcare cost for that day. I have used all my own personal PTO for the year (3 weeks) covering childcare or on medical appointments. I ran out very early because I was not actually able to work all of the days my daughter had COVID or we were quarantined because my job requires a high level of concentration and I cannot in good conscience bill them for days when I don’t reach a certain threshold of productivity while watching my daughter. Our nanny has been on 2 vacations of a week’s time already and I took vacation time sporadically during that as well as 2 days that were for myself, for prenatal appointments and scans due to having had COVID and being now high-risk. We have had no “for-leisure” time off in ages. The backup childcare plus unpaid days plus losses in productivity have me concerned about keeping my job, and even if I do, for affording more unpaid days. Any additional days this year for me at least would be unpaid.

    4. Thank you again for your thoughts!

    1. AMK*

      You can rapid test an infant, they just didn’t do studies on kids under 2. I rapid tested my 10 month old 10+ times when my family had Covid last month.

      1. PostalMixup*

        Yeah, you can absolutely do a rapid test on kids under two. The testing centers do them, and they use the same test kits you can get at the store. It can be tricky to swab a little kid, but if they have COVID, it’ll still light up. We’ve been using them since my son was 18 months old, and it’s how we diagnosed his COVID case.

    2. Minimal Pear*

      Oof, I didn’t know that about rapid tests for small children! That does put some things into perspective.

    3. Ari*

      I know this only addresses one part of your comment – but you absolutely can rapid test a child under 2. “Not FDA approved” just means that studies weren’t done on that age group. Our daycare won’t rapid test a child under 2 themselves but they will accept a rapid test done by a parent for test to stay/test to return.

      1. CheesePlease*

        In our state, daycare only accepts tests done by a doctor (so no at-home rapid tests) to prove a child is covid-negative and end their quarantine – it’s not consistent (which is frustrating!) and while in many cases it may be helpful to rapid test <2 yrs old, I don't think it's beneficial to debate how OP should test or not test their child since it is clear they are following their pediatrician's guidelines along with local health dept regulations.

    4. Dahlia*

      OP can you please confirm that your nanny does NOT want you to quarantine for 14 days after every exposure? People are heavily misreading this, I suspect.

    5. Critical Rolls*

      I’m baffled by the nanny not being comfortable working in a mask. That’s actually an elimination criteria in nanny interviews for me, because it’s protective for both the nanny and the child should either of them feel under the weather, even if it’s just a regular cold. That might be something to revisit, especially since masking may make her more comfortable to come back sooner.

    6. ---*

      OP, thanks for weighing in. Just one thing worth thinking about — whether your financial stress and work worries are being channeled towards the nanny issue, even if they’re separate.

      For instance, you say: “I do pay backup care when our nanny is on vacation and family is not available, which doubles our childcare cost for that day.” I mean, sure, that is an extra cost, but it’s really nothing to do with your nanny. If you’re re-evaluating her pay / benefits based on these types of scenarios, that’s a problem. There’s more in your last paragraph that seems to elide the nanny’s benefits with aspects of your work / other issues that are actually separate, so maybe try and untangle all of that. As others have said, there’s the arrangement you have with your nanny, and whether you can afford a nanny given external factors that are quite outside of your control and that employment relationship. Those are different issues!

      1. Another Academic Librarian*

        This also stood out to me! It might be worth spending some time unpacking your financial concerns and the feelings you have about your nanny and how related they really are. I also notice you mention fearing for your job several times but don’t say much about your spouse. This should go without saying, but I hope that you are alternating who takes vacation days to cover childcare gaps.

        As for the rest of it.. Backup care when your family is not available seems very clearly not her fault, as her vacation is part of her contract and it’s your responsibility to make other arrangements (and if you need additional notice or blackout periods to do this, consider adding those to nanny’s contract). The vacation time you took for your prenatal care is time you would have needed to take no matter what. Similarly, while unfortunate, losing at least some work time to care for your daughter while you both had COVID isn’t really your nanny’s fault.

    7. FashionablyEvil*

      my job requires a high level of concentration and I cannot in good conscience bill them for days when I don’t reach a certain threshold of productivity

      Is this a reasonable expectation? We all have days when we’re not at top performance, but I still bill that time (I work in a field where we’re billing projects, but I’m a salaried employee.)

      1. Beth Jacobs*

        There’s a huge difference between spending time on task and just not getting very far and actively doing something else (diapers, feeding, playing with a kid). LW is right that she can’t bill for the second one.

    8. Snuck*

      This whole past two years of COVID has tanked everyone’s quality of life in so many ways.

      Just as you haven’t had any personal time in a couple of years, so many others are in the same boat. It’s been a couple of years since I’ve been able to have a full family holiday, and we have one booked in two weeks… And we’ve not have COVID so I am nervous (if we get COVID we must isolate and will obviously not be able to go, I’m tempted to pull my boys from the last week of school in the hope we avoid it and get our holiday, but it seems that with a five day incubation period… that’s maybe pointless).

      We’re all pushed to limits. I think it’s best to talk to your nanny and just explain, and come to a negotiated agreement. You have limits of what you can afford, what you can reasonably cover and obviously what your work will tolerate (and not fire you for). The nanny has to give a little too – I’m not sure what compromises she’s making (probably several too!), but it might help to share visibility of that with each other.

      My gut instinct is the nanny has to bend a little, you’re bending a fair bit already. But you also need to recognise the nanny’s quality of life and impacts and what she’s doing to help address risk. I assume if she’s being so very cautious with you it’s because she’s being that cautious in the rest of her life. If she’s not then you are well within your reasonable rights to say “Look, I know you want this many days from us, but you are clearly not taking similar precautions yourself, so I don’t feel we need to maintain the 14 day quarantine period for you, as during that quarantine time you are routinely exposing yourself outside the home anyway. I cannot afford to keep paying you like this, and it’s particularly unfair to ask me to when you continue to grocery shop unmasked, got to restaurants and pubs unmasked and attend raves.” (Or whatever her activities are.). If she IS being cautious outside the home then a different tone “I’m really sorry, but I am at risk of losing my job over my continuous quarantining. We love your level of care and attention for our child, and we don’t want to lose you, but obviously if I lose my job then we will have to let you go. I think that the solution lies in the two week quarantine period – we need to reduce that to the CDC recommended time, my employers will understand this and not push so hard against me. I do hope you understand.” And be polite about it, but firm.

      (I don’t know how I feel about targeting employees behaviour outside of work for COVID exposures – an employees activities after hours are not relevant to in hours work, however if they are asking for more than the normal, for extra accommodations, then I feel they should be at some level meeting that elsewhere. Particularly when it’s high stakes like losing your job because you don’t have childcare as many days as everyone else.)

  50. fds*

    Agree with other commentators that a good option is to explain the situation to your nanny and tell her that you’ll need to follow CDC guidelines from here on out. If you need to offer more you can suggest more frequent testing than recommended after exposure (limited inconvenience to you). I’d wait until you’re not in your busy time at work in case she does quit. I don’t think she will quit, though, because I imagine that you’re offering *much* better terms than other families in the area. Especially if you live in a COVID-incautious area families may not even be testing on symptoms. If she does quit it will suck – but you need affordable, sustainable childcare.

    1. In The Tumble Weeds*

      I agree with this. My employer follows the CDC guidelines. They don’t pay Covid pay anymore, but when they did they wouldn’t have paid me to stay home for two weeks just because I want to. It’s completely reasonable to inform her that you will be following CDC guidelines for paid days off related to COVID.

  51. Observer*

    I think that you can push back on the 5 day vs 2 week time off, and also the paid time for appointments. But otherwise? I’m going to say that it’s just the cost of childcare.

    I was in a similar boat when my kids were babies – not the Covid, just the crazy cost. But, the truth is that my baby sitter wasn’t getting rich. And on the other hand, it was as much a matter of my mental health as anything else. I’d had some bad experiences, and I’d heard some REALLY bad horror stories. So when people started telling us how we are “wasting money” paying so much for childcare, blah blah blah, I told my husband that either we keep the woman we had or I was quitting my job. I simply was not going to be able to cope with a challenging full time job and worrying about my kid.

    My husband was pretty stunned – I loved my job and we really needed the income. But in retrospect, I don’t think I was exaggerating. I really would not have coped with it. It most definitely did put a crimp in our ability to spend because a really significant percentage of my take home pay was going to cover the babysitter. But in the long term, it was the vest investment we ever made.

    What I’m trying to say is that reliable and TRUSTWORTHY childcare was worth cutting everything else to the bone for us. It will pass. As the children get older, you won’t need this level of childcare, so the constraints won’t last forever.

    Having said that, you could look around and see what other options might work for you. Would it be practical for you to find a childcare provider who does care in her home, what would cost less than the nanny? The one I used for a few years was great while it lasted. There came a point when it didn’t work for us, but it wasn’t because the care wasn’t good. I have friends who have shared childcare / nanny services, who were very happy with the arrangement.

    Lots of luck with this – this is extremely tough.

    1. Pony Puff*

      I don’t have a child so I don’t know how difficult it would be to replace a nanny but since LW pays well and provides decent benefits (better than the ones they receive at their own job!) then maybe it’s time to find a new nanny. Two weeks paid time off for a covid exposure just isn’t a thing, and if you let her know 5 days is the best you can offer, then you’ll see if she’s actually willing to work or if you just need a new nanny.

  52. Antigone*

    I think you need to understand, if she is willing to tell you, where her risk assessments / caution levels come from. If she or her loved ones have high risk conditions this may be an absolute nonstarter of a negotiation. She might very well be willing to trade a job with less pay or flexibility in other areas for one that will accommodate her assessment that five days is not enough time after an exposure for her to risk her own exposure. If her hesitance comes from other sources, maybe you have more leverage.

    That said, personally I am exceptionally cautious due to high risk loved ones and I could *probably* be talked down to ten days from fourteen after an exposure. I don’t know if that’s enough to make a difference for you but if it is you might offer it as part of your discussions.

    Ultimately though I think you just have to decide if this is worth losing your nanny over, and if it is, have the conversation about where she is coming from and what middle ground there might be. Maybe it’s time to start pricing out some daycare options.

  53. WorkingMom*

    I encountered almost the exact same issue earlier this year. Between Covid, the stomach flu, Covid exposures and the sickness of those in our nanny’s household, it felt like I paid for more absent days than not. Meanwhile, I burned a lot of political capital at work constantly juggling being the childcare provider and my full-time remote job. It was also a big strain on my mental health. My situation resolved because we parted ways with the nanny for unrelated reasons. This made it very easy to set a new expectation with our new nanny.
    The hardest part about employing someone directly like this is that you don’t have the impersonal “company set rules”. It’s very hard to hear an individuals concerns about exposure and override them with your own needs. But, I think it’s also fair to note that your nanny’s expectations are outside of most business practices (from my own limited observations). This time around we decided to do 10 paid vacation or sick days of their choosing (she only works 4 days/week). Additionally, we pay full for any holidays we take and for any days we are sick (symptomatic). We don’t have a clause for exposure and I plan to make a fair but cautious decision as the need arises. (Examples: If we had a pretty close exposure and it’s only been a few days, I would pay for time off. But if it’s been a week of no symptoms and a very brief exposure, I wouldn’t pay for time off but she could use her 10 paid days or no pay if needed). I know our system isn’t perfect but it was much better than our last where it felt like I was paying for very expensive childcare and not getting the benefit of being a dependable, present worker.

  54. Beebee*

    Would your nanny be comfortable with no quarantining due to exposure but you do a rapid test every day for the two weeks? I don’t know how much rapid tests cost in the states but it is likely more affordable than the current setup.

    I think if someone tests positive, unfortunately you’ll probably have to do the 2 weeks without her. But you don’t need to quarantine for 2 weeks just due to exposure if you are vaccinated and testing negative and asymptomatic. For your kids who likely aren’t vaccinated, the earlier comments about testing them every day during the 10 days seem like a good course of action! She could also of course wear a mask the whole day and you could ensure that the house is sanitized/air is filtered safely.

    1. Beebee*

      Ooh never mind, I saw above your baby can’t wear a mask/test at all and the nanny doesn’t want to work in a mask.

      I think it may just be this setup no longer works sadly. Paying for all her time off for appointments in addition to the three weeks and for every exposure/your sickness feels like it’s not sustainable for you and it’s also extremely generous in a way that no other employer will really offer. Especially because it sounds like you and your husband are very cautious, I think you have to tell your nanny unfortunately you cannot quarantine for 2 weeks due to exposures anymore but you are happy to rapid test every day after an exposure for 2 weeks. If she doesn’t want to wear a mask while working as something to comfort her I think you just have to say you understand and if she needs to leave to find a new job you get it. You could also say you can’t cover her time off anymore unless it’s part of the 15 paid days off, it’s because you don’t need her, or because someone has tested positive and you are quarantining. But you do have to be prepared to lose her, so ask yourself if you are okay with that. I don’t think stepping back to something like the above is unreasonable at all.

  55. CheesePlease*

    As someone working from home while baby girl is quarantining because she was exposed at daycare – I feel the pain. This is the second time we are in a quarantine period. Each time, we must quarantine her for 10 days and are still paying our daycare (employees there deserve paid sick leave and vacation time too!) so while we don’t directly employ them, since she was born we have already paid for close to 1 month of daycare where we never sent her there! I don’t think it’s easy for any of us.

    All that being said, our daycare provider follows CDC guidelines and the local health department guidelines for childcare providers. These guidelines are not up for discussion because they are obligated to follow them (so parents can’t complain about quarantining their kids) but by the same vein, they do not go beyond the guideline (allowing children over 2 to quarantine for 5 days and then return wearing a mask) – even if parents wish they did. I would start by saying that starting in [month in the future] you plan to follow the CDC and state guidelines for childcare providers. Pretend that she is an at-home daycare or whatever case best applies. This way, it hopefully aligns better with your work requirements and is a bit more objective as the pandemic situation changes.

    Lastly, I want to acknowledge that you are a phenomenal employer for providing sick time and vacation time. Even if it’s stressful now, I hope you know you are doing great!

    1. CheesePlease*

      Will also add – if you have a contract with her it’s possible to set some things in writing for everyone’s benefit. Perhaps state you will follow current guidelines, and pay 33% of her wages past the recommended quarantine days up to 10 days (or similar as others have suggested). In the event that it is confirmed your family exposed her to covid (ex: she comes back on day 6, you and baby get a fever day 7 and test positive), you will pay 70% of her related medical expenses up to $500 (or something) and 60% of her pay for up to 4 weeks (similar to a short term disability plan?) . This way, you help assume some of the risk and hopefully help her feel comfortable.

  56. FionasHuman*

    Here’s a resource that might help: the National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA) has resources for employers of domestic professionals, including nannies: https://employers.domesticworkers.org/. Contact them. Earlier in the pandemic they raised a lot of money for a fund for domestic professionals who were getting laid off due to COVID. They may know of resources that will allow you and your spouse to keep your jobs and keep your nanny employed with the paid time off she deserves. (And that you also deserve — I hope you’re looking for better jobs yourselves.)

  57. PrairieEffingDawn*

    I’m in a similar situation with my son’s babysitter. We’ve had Covid in my household twice this year, plus exposures to other similar illnesses that have kept her home for several weeks over the last 6 months. It sucks. Our babysitter feels so guilty anytime I have to cancel, and it’s absolutely not her fault.

    However, she has offered us a bunch of evening availability to make up for the time she has missed. I totally don’t feel like she owes us anything, but it has been really nice for my husband and I to get out to dinner every now and then and she’s happy to watch our son as a treat. It definitely doesn’t make up for the missed work time but maybe there is a way you can make an arrangement like this–like every time she has to miss a day due to illness like this you could have her stay late another night for a date night? Our babysitter offered to do this on her own so I’m not sure how you’d ask for an arrangement like this but it’s something.

  58. Beep*

    This is so hard…. also I don’t think you’re really trying to pay her less, as much as you’re wishing she could work more. With that framing in mind… Can you talk about her doing limited outdoor-only childcare during the days between 5 and 14 days after being sick? (Or between testing negative and 14 days, if it takes longer than 5 days.) so maybe she doesn’t come do a full normal day, but she takes the kid to the park for a few hours so you have some work time. That should be a lot safer for her than being in the house, and might make your life less impossible.

  59. Alice*

    Did OP mention testing after the 5 days of isolation after a known exposure? If they did, I didn’t see it. But that’s part of the current CDC guidelines just like the “5 days of quarantine for people who were exposed and aren’t up to date on vax” (and I assume that the young child isn’t vaxxed yet). It’s very clear: “Even if you don’t develop symptoms, get tested at least 5 days after you last had close contact with someone with COVID-19.” And it applies to both the unvaxxed child and the vaxxed adults in the household.
    If the employers are not testing, I think that would be a great way to show the nanny that you are taking her concerns seriously. Another option is to increase the ventilation/filtration in the house, so that even if someone in the household is positive, the chances of passing it on to the nanny are lower. Also, if the parents aren’t providing the nanny with high-quality masks (N95) in a model that fits her, that’s another thing I would do before jumping to “come in at 5 days post exposure or don’t get paid.”

  60. Bluephone*

    The only real option is to find a new nanny/new childcare arrangement. It sucks but I don’t know what else would ultimately work.

    1. Ari*

      Yeah, the precautions the sitter is insisting on are so far from current guidance that I’m not sure there’s a solution both parties would be comfortable with. At this point in the pandemic I do not believe a healthy/testing negative child should be excluded from childcare. I don’t know if it’s the same in every state but here in MA, licensed daycares are required to follow EEC covid guidelines and I’ve found they are pretty reasonable and change frequently to reflect the current situation.

  61. phira*

    I think it might be worth coming up with a reduced pay plan–your post doesn’t seem to indicate that you’ve considered anything between fully paying her and not paying her at all. But like Alison says, you need to be ready to lose her over this, whether or not you are being fair and generous with any suggestions for reduced pay during quarantine/isolation.

    It also might be worth considering an alternative plan for exposures with no symptoms, versus positive tests/symptoms. That is, you could broach the idea of having her and your children wear masks for 5 days post exposure with daily rapid testing for whoever was exposed.

    I want to echo some of the comments here already, which is that the CDC guidelines, as well as mask requirements both federal and local, are being based on politics, not on science or (most importantly right now) public health. It does put you in a tough spot with your own employers following reduced guidelines, but your nanny is not being overly cautious by adhering to older guidelines that are more in line with an appropriate public health response.

    You are in a tough situation, though, and I’m sorry. It is absolutely absurd and awful to live in a country where childcare is devalued to the point of being scarce and expensive, and where COVID is being treated as an inevitable common cold at the same time. But I’d try to avoid losing the nanny if you can–my nephew who’s in daycare has had COVID twice in the span of a few months.

  62. LaDeDah*

    I’m so sorry you are dealing with this. We had similar issues of having to pay for no care with our nanny. I think for 2021 we paid for and did not receive 33% of care. Plus had to work on top of that. Ugh.

    We ultimately switched to daycare. Daycare has its own issues and they all have different annoying policies but not having to do the emotional labor of managing an employee during a pandemic was FREEING.

  63. Phony Genius*

    I am beginning to wonder if the nanny is vaccinated. If she is not, it could be because she has a condition that prevents her from being vaccinated, and therefore is more concerned than most people about becoming infected (and justifiably so). If this is the case, with the financial concerns, you’d be best off trying to reach some type of compromise as to how much time she will be paid for after an infection and/or exposure. This may also be the best solution even if she’s vaccinated.

    1. LW HERE*

      Our nanny has 4 doses of vaccine and has had COVID once already. I am not fully privy to her health history but she has not shared any specific concerns with me about being high risk or living with anyone who is. That doesn’t mean none of this is true, but I am not aware of it if it is.

        1. han gon*

          Not necessarily. She may have qualified because she’s around children who aren’t old enough to be vaccinated. Caretakers of high risk people qualify for boosters.

          1. Alice*

            Can you provide more infomation about this? I’m the caretaker of an elderly adult with comorbidities. She was eligible for two boosters. I am only eligible for 1 booster (as far as I am aware).
            I believe that some states planned vaccine rollouts to prioritize access for daycare staff but that was about when you could get your initial series, not getting an additional booster.

            1. Antigone*

              May very much be regional and/or down to specific clinic/pharmacy rules, but yes, to the best of my knowledge, the fourth shots are much. Ire tightly limited. A caretaker where I am would not qualify unless over 50 or unless they themselves had a pretty specific vulnerability from a much shorter list than the qualification list for third shots.

              If someone local under 50 had a fourth shot that would, to me, be a clear tip off that they were pretty high risk indeed and I absolutely would not question their cautiousness.

            2. mandatory anon*

              In my area booster clinics don’t ask too many questions about qualifications. They’re just glad people are showing up because a lot of vaccines are not being used.

              1. NotRealAnonForThis*

                Only questions that were asked were “age of child” (“is he old enough for a booster?” was the question I believe, and he is) and if this was a standard one or two of series or a booster.

          2. FridayFriyay*

            In the US this is not qualifying for a booster shot unless the person receiving it is otherwise eligible (over 50 or otherwise at risk due to immune compromised condition.) She may still have gotten 2 boosters – I did it and I don’t strictly qualify but the pharmacy didn’t even ask me if I did so I took advantage of that “loophole.”

    2. Snuck*

      I’m not wanting to get into a massive debate about vaccines, but there’s very very few health conditions that preclude someone from getting one. I just want to address that fact, so that there’s a recognition that while it’s a possibility it’s not a grab hold for all people. The list of reasons is incredibly low – people with very specific blood clotting disorders and confirmed, diagnosed allergy to PEG seem to be the primary two. (And a PEG allergy is life controlling in a way that makes Latex look easy, PEG is in so many things and it’s not obvious. People know if they have PEG allergies.)

      So I just wanted to remind people that while some people cannot have the vaccine, the majority of people are not actually medically ruled out. I won’t get into a further debate on it, just pointing out that if the reason for not being vaccinated is health reasons then it’s highly likely working with small children day in and out with all their small children illnesses is making this unhealthy for the nanny.

  64. Love to WFH*

    There are things you can do to reduce risk, because this is your own house. Discuss risk reduction with your nanny.

    It’s safe outdoors, and you can open your windows to make it safer indoors, too. Buy a CO2 monitor and check your air. CO2 concentration is a good proxy for how good the ventilation is. I used one to figure out how many windows I need to open in order to have it be safe for my house cleaner to work without a mask.

    Add air purifiers on each floor of the house, with good HEPA filters. These have been shown to significantly reduce transmission.

    Discuss using at home tests. Instead of a 2 week quarantine, how about agreeing to a number of days of negative tests?

    Reduce your risk of getting sick. Ask your employer about their ventilation and air filters. They must be fed up with people being out sick, too. It’s unlikely you have an office with a window that you can open, but if you do, open it. Buy your own air purifier for your office or cube at work. Would it be socially impossible to wear a mask at work? Can you WFH at least one day a week?

    What are you doing to avoid risk outside of work? Track local case levels, and don’t socialize indoors or eat in restaurants unless they’re low. Always wear an N95 when shopping.

    It’s not as if you have great alternatives. A day care will regularly close due to outbreaks, and still charge you while they are closed. You’ll have a tough time finding another nanny, and if you do hire someone who isn’t risk-adverse, they’ll be out sick and/or infecting your family.

  65. Shannon*

    What about a nanny share? You mention a second kiddo. Surely there are families in your area with similar circumstances who might be interested in sharing nanny services. You’d defectors get a bigger safety net for coverage, possibly be able to give her a raise and make her employment in your household more affordable all around.

  66. single mom*

    If you put your child in day care, and your child can’t go due to sickness, you still have to pay for that day care slot.

    Not paying your nanny for her down time that isn’t her fault is unfair and unrealistic. You have quality child care you’re happy with, and it’s a luxury I don’t know if you know how lucky you are to have. Plus, it’s temporary – your kids will grow up and no longer need care one day.

    I hope you can find a way to make it work and keep your child care – your situation is very fortunate and I hope you realize how lucky you are.

  67. SweetDreamsAreMadeofCheese*

    I don’t think it’s unreasonable for an employer (LW) to change the terms of employment or specifics via a contract/agreement renegotiation. Maybe it would be best received July 1 (new fiscal year) or Jan 1 (new year), or on the anniversary of her hire date, and maybe it might cause your nanny to seek employment elsewhere… but if you offered job security alongside the changes, it might go smoother.

    I’d probably say something like: “We really love having you as our nanny and appreciate your hard work very much. That being said, due to the limitations of our own jobs/employers and our finances, and in light of how COVID has affected things, we need to re-establish how we are treating your paid time off. We don’t want you to feel undervalued or disrespected, but we simply can’t afford to pay for so much of your time where we are not receiving your services. At this point, we can only offer you paid time off for three weeks plus any doctors appointments. If we are exposed to COVID, we can offer you 5 paid days off maximum while we confirm negative tests. If we become sick with COVID, we can offer you paid days off until we have tested negative and show no symptoms, up to 2 weeks max. If you are exposed or become sick, we can offer you 3 paid days off maximum then you are free to use your vacation time or take unpaid time off until you are healthy and ready to return. We are still flexible with your time in general and will never fault you for needing to take time to see a doctor, or take unpaid time off. We are still committed to supporting and valuing you in other ways, and you can expect to receive an annual bonus and other perks like ___, ____ and ____. We are just re-establishing the parameters for PAID time off, because circumstances necessitate that we do. Thanks for understanding.” And then open it up to discussion from there.

    Bottom line, if your nanny is going to quit because you can’t pay her a year’s salary for less than 9 months work, it is what it is. She would never expect to be paid for months of unperformed work at any company or other job. You can find a nanny who will be agreeable to the terms if it comes to that.

  68. Didi*

    My child’s nanny lives with her mother (who has her own job) and her daughter (who attends school in person). I pay her, but she has her own household to manage and has to make decisions accordingly. I would feel very uncomfortable having her work against her own covid comfort zone. Unfortunately, given the wildly varying information we’ve been given from the government and health officials, combined with different employer policies, every single person has a different risk avoidance level. I honestly think it might be best to look for someone whose risk avoidance levels match your own, because it seems unfair to try to force your child’s nanny to work unpaid, or put her health in greater danger than she’s comfortable with.

  69. Bumblebeee*

    Given we are at the stage where we are “living with covid” I don’t think 2 weeks is a reasonable request. If you’re offering top market conditions I think you’re well positioned to find another nanny even in a tight labour market.

  70. Jackie*

    I guess you could take a capitalist perspective. What other options does your nanny have? You you looked at local nanny job postings – is everyone else offering 14 day quarantines? I doubt it.
    If you are a great employer and pay her well above average as you say, well, good luck to her finding a better employer. You said she ‘is not comfortable wearing a mask’. That is ridiculous. I think she is the unreasonable one here.

    1. WhoWasThatMaskedMan*

      LW said the nanny “is not comfortable working in a mask,” not that she’s not comfortable wearing one. I interpreted that as the nanny saying she felt a mask was insufficient in the case of a known exposure.

  71. Ebb*

    This really eerily identical to my situation, except I’m the nanny! I ended up getting let go, with the exact phrase “we can’t afford to pay for childcare we are not receiving.” I found it a little unfair — no notice, no severance given, and all the exposures and quarantines that we had to deal with had been from the family’s end, not mine. I felt that if they wanted to pay for an extra Covid-safe nanny, it was duplicitous to fire me for being Covid-safe (as in, advocating for more than 5 days of quarantine). It wasn’t a violation of our contract, which could be ended at any time with a certain amount of notice, but it was, I felt, rude from a human standpoint.

    For the record, the new CDC recommendation for 5 days of quarantine actually mentions that after 5 days one can interact with people outside the household while masked. As a nanny working in someone’s private home, there is no way to perform effective masking or distancing from small children or other household members at the 5-day mark, so coming back to work after 5 days is not safe even by CDC recommendations.

    1. Snuck*

      Out of curiousity what about using RAT tests to monitor infection risk? They aren’t perfect, but good ones are reasonable?

      1. Snuck*

        And I’m sorry this has happened to you! It is unfair that there’s no severance or leave pay out. Is there a local wage protection office who can help? (Like Australia’s Fair Work?)

  72. Snuck*

    I’m in Western Australia, so local customs are relevant in this reply, but I thought I’d just share how we are handling this here. We’ve had a different path with COVID to other parts of the world, with our borders being shut and a hard fought zero COVID policy until early this year, but now it’s rampant.

    Here in WA it was entirely possible to insist that your child care workers were vaccinated, even for in home care (or they could leave the employment). Our very high rates of current vaccination (95% plus are double or triple vax) has meant while we have high rates of COVID (tens of thousands of cases a day) we also have incredibly low hospitalisation and even lower ICU. This is influencing employment decisions such as this because the risks here right now are incredibly and there’s probably equal risk from influenza right now putting you in bed for a week than COVID.

    Over the last few years we’ve given staff (mandated by some sectors, voluntary by others) “COVID leave” – staff have been allowed to use their personal/sick leave (up to 10 days a year generally, but it accumulates year on year so a person can have considerably more than that) for COVID quarantine requirements. Some employers have limited the number of times a year, and some employers (healthcare and government eg teachers, emergency services etc) have given an extra allotment of days. In our own small business we’ve managed to avoid the issue entirely thankfully having had limited COVID in our staff, and flexible working arrangements.

    For a childcare worker / nanny such as this (or any staff in any role) the current expectation would be that they’d return to work at the government guidelines. This would mean they’d only be designated a close contact if they were with a confirmed COVID contagious person for more than 15mins where neither party was wearing masks, or was living with a COVID positive person. They’d then have to isolate 7 days (including weekend) and if they needed to go out for work, study or basic groceries (no window shopping) they will need to have a negative RAT to leave the house. Children are still expected to go to school. And people to work. Wearing masks, and with a negative RAT. It’s fueling a lot of spread of the virus but it’s also evident that our vaccination rate has dramatically changed our experience of the virus compared to the rest of the world. We’ve (as a community expectation) asked staff to take their current leave as a priority wherever possible for this, and when it runs out official policy is that it’s leave without pay.

    We have similar staff recruitment issues the world over is seeing… there’s very few people available and huge demand, and it’d be very hard to replace a good nanny right now here. My suggestion is to lay out the issue, lay out the government expectations, and ask her what she can propose. What constitutes an exposure? What sick leave provision to you formally make for her (and can you make it more clear)? What can you do to reduce the risks of transmission between you all (increase ventilation etc)? And are you prepared to find a new nanny?

    Even in the very generous (compared often to US) Australia there’s no way in the world the nanny would be getting all this time off paid. They’d get their four weeks annual leave, two weeks sick leave, and after many years a long service leave provision. They might have been eligible for a two week bonus of leave at different points but that’s it. Your nanny has probably worked out she’s got some bargaining chips – she’s hard to replace! But you also need to work out a way going forward. How long is it until COVID is declared endemic in your area and she’ll have to accept it the same as colds and flu? Will this be a long term problem?

    1. Snuck*

      I just realised I didn’t answer the issue of workplace exposure (ie the parents being an exposure) vs nanny.

      Here in WA it’s one and same. If a workplace closes down for quarantine purposes then the staff are instructed to use their leave entitlements (legally this is allowed). The government did run a bunch of programs in the first half of the pandemic around paying even when the workplace was closed but it was rorted badly by less ethical businesses, and they stopped the program with no intention of continuing it. Now if your workplace shuts and you stay home it’s on any leave provisions you already have, or you can claim JobSeeker/Dole/similar if your employment conditions allow it. The days of free handouts are done.

      We have a range of staff in our own business, and we’ve done a range of things – we’ve allowed them to work from the office while a close contact (boarding child at home with COVID), by ensuring the other staff can work away from the office those days/weeks (other staff didn’t need to be there, COVID exposed one could work from home or office, but needed to do that work, and some work needed to be done in office). For our field staff we rebook and reassign work as needed so the staff stay home. Some are very unhappy about this, but we pay dramatically over industry rates (dramatically!) and I feel that their right to earn four or five times the award wage for the role is trumped by their communities’ right to not being exposed, and thus it is irrelevant how annoyed they are, their community comes first. (These are remote communities most without a hospital or doctor within 100km.)

  73. Public Sector Manager*

    I noticed the OP posted that they give the nanny PTO for vacations, and PTO for doctors’ appointments, but radio silence as to whether the nanny gets paid sick leave. Pretty much all of us have some form of PTO for both vacations and illness. So if the OP is giving only PTO for vacations and appointments and no sick leave, then I can rightfully understand why the nanny is insisting on a 2-week COVID exposure buffer. And benefits that don’t include paid sick leave are, sorry OP, not very good. I think you need to reassess what you feel is a good benefits package. So that’s step one in communications with the nanny–how OP will handle sick leave going forward.

    If the OP is paying the nanny for sick leave too, then there needs to be a happy medium between the 5-day window and the 14-day window. The home tests are not accurate until at least day 5. So a 5-day buffer is entirely reasonable if the OP or the family was exposed to someone testing positive. I think a second negative test on day 6 or 7 would address many concerns. If the nanny is insisting on 14 days plus a negative test for just an exposure, then I think that’s too much.

    And if there is COVID in the house, I think PTO while the family tests positive and a couple of days after everyone testing negative is a good compromise.

    1. Bumblebeee*

      That’s speculation though, I think the point OP wanted to make was that they were paying the nanny above market conditions. And several months of paid leave for covid exposure is way more generous than paid sick leave policies of most companies!

  74. Janeric*

    A thing you could propose, that’s unlikely to cause your precious precious childcare to start checking out the job market, is partial days outside for exposures — parks, hiking, zoos, even in the yard — to get three or four hours of care.

    I… I think that you’ll have to push with a very gentle hand, though the market for childcare might be different where you are than where I am. Also potentially this will change again in when your children can be vaccinated and when there’s an Omicron-specific vaccine.

    A thing to consider — I said this upthread too — is that with a nanny, you’re not getting standard day care illnesses, which already eats up maybe just under one week a month? Your nanny isn’t going to give you Hand Foot and Mouth or croup, bless her.

  75. Anon-5*

    This may have been posted already, but in this same situation (including right now), we’ve been able to get some mileage out of our nanny doing child care during the part of the day when it’s reasonable to be outside. If she and the kid are masked in that setting transmission seems extremely unlikely. She was able to take over grocery shopping and cooking for our family at her home with some of the remaining time so at least you save on extra meals you might have ordered out for lack of time.

    1. Parenting Young Kids in a Pandemic is Hard*

      Oh this is a good idea – a creative solution. If the nanny can’t watch the kids, can she still do other tasks around the home to help out the family and free up their time? For example, can she grocery shop for them, run errands, do light landscaping/yardwork etc.? This might be tasks the family would ordinarily do on evenings/weekends. Nothing inside that would expose her, but that would help the family out while she’s on payroll?

  76. Hachiue*

    I hear you on all of these – and we recently decided to go all-in on child care and get an au pair. I’m a public health worker and parent, my partner is a health care professional, and we all are vaccinated and also just all had COVID. In the past, we hired after-school care with a contract that provided similar sick benefits to my own public sector benefits. But the reality is that COVID ebbs and flows, both my partner and I have increasing management responsibilities, and there’s no way to reliably know what child care will be available week to week. The au pair price is likely reasonable compared to what you’re compensating your nanny, and there are firm program rules that protect the au pair. And if you’re all sharing the same risk because you’re in the same household, it makes decisions like quarantine and isolation a lot easier. It means we’ll all have less personal space in the next year, but I’m hopeful that it will alleviate a lot of stress and uncertainty.

  77. Tiger Snake*

    Respectfully for the OP, I think that she may also be feeling unfairly resentful about what her nanny gets in terms of employment vs what *she* gets.

    Paid time off for medical appointments and for quaratine are both quite common and normal. That the OP and her partner don’t isn’t an indication they’ve giving their nanny too much accomodation – its an indication that their companies aren’t being flexible enough themselves.

    Its a punch-down reaction that comes from feeling that the world is unfair. Its the subconcious thought process of “I work hard and have good a job because I earnt it. Good enough to employ a nanny, which makes be financially superior to her *so why is she getting benefits I don’t*’.

    Some of your concerns about accomondation are valid. Others are led by resentment rather than reasonable-ness. But because you’re stressed and measuring this by cost, they’re getting mixed together – you’re not able to go back to each point and consider “Does the fact I don’t get this mean that I’m overly generous, *or does my employer just suck?*”

    1. Alexis Rosay*

      Yeah. This. And the fact that nannies have traditionally been women and low-status means that a nanny getting very normal job benefits is not considered actually normal, it’s considered something she should be grateful to have.

    2. Analyst Editor*

      LW posted earlier that this is impacting her job performance and her finances when she has to pay for backup care.
      However rich, she’s one household and not MegaCorp for whole $M are rounding errors.

  78. Soph*

    Woah woah woah. As a triple-vaxxed, KN95 wearer who avoids the barefaced folks “like the plague,” what??? Quarantining for EXPOSURE?? I get several exposure notices per week. My children literally would have never gone to school this year if I couldn’t put them in childcare for 10 days for each exposure. Your nanny is taking advantage and needs to go.

    1. AnonyMouse*

      Exactly this! It makes sense for her to feel uncomfortable coming in when someone is infected in the house, but two weeks when no ones has actually tested positive? She’s either got a serious health condition (which would be bad for nannying anyway because kids are germ factories) or she’s milking it.

  79. Lj*

    One idea that doesn’t involve a pay change for her is to see if she’d be willing to supervise your children, masked, doing an outdoor activity after the 5-day quarantine. This would limit her risk but allow you to gain a few hours of work time back to avoid running into trouble at your own job.

  80. I'm the Phoebe in Any Group*

    OP you said you give three weeks of paid vacation but no guaranteed paid sick time? If that is accurate, the 3 weeks of vacation as a total paid leave policy is not so generous.
    I don’t have input into your policy as a whole. But paying her for two weeks when you have COVID and exposed her is very reasonable. The CDC reduced guideline to 5 days is not best practice for the individual health; it is to keep the economy going and to benefit employers.

  81. Michelle Smith*

    I don’t see any way around it. I think you need to keep paying her under the original arrangement and be as restrictive as possible with how much time you spend exposed to others. It sucks, but it’s necessary. And I swear I don’t mean this to be rude, but I don’t understand how you can’t afford it. If you weren’t sick, you’d be paying her the same amount, right? Unless somehow you are not being paid when you are quarantining, you definitely should be paying her the same amount.

    1. Goldenrod*

      I agree. I can see how it would be annoying – but, as Alison pointed out, there is a nanny shortage and if you have someone good, you should probably just suck it up and pay her for the lost time. From her perspective, she needs to count on a steady income too. I do see how it would feel irritating but I think it’s one of those “suck it up” situations.

  82. FridayFriyay*

    I do not have the energy to read the comments bc as a parent of an unvaxxed under 2 year old covid is exhausting and I feel for everyone involved. LW, if it’s possible to find center based childcare in your area I’d consider switching. I don’t know many centers that are still following CDC guidelines to a T for young kids (much to my annoyance) so you’d probably get more out of the childcare you have. You also may need to put up with some class closures but hopefully that will improve some in coming months. It also might be worth hanging in there for another couple of months until your kid can be fully vaccinated and then re-negotiating with your nanny about the exposure and quarantine rules: they will be definition ease up once your kid is vaccinated (and even moreso if they’re old enough to wear a mask.) In the meantime I’d strongly encourage you and your husband to mask at work with a high quality mask even if your coworkers aren’t doing so and consider exploring whether your nanny would accept mask wearing from adults (and/or your kid if they’re old enough) in your home in lieu of some of the quarantine time she’s currently asking for. That said, I do not think it is reasonable on any level to ask your nanny to take unpaid time when exposures within your household are preventing her from working, provided that the quarantine and isolation rules being followed are within CDC guidelines.

  83. Mommingishard*

    In a very similar situation here. Our nanny and her family are the only people in our bubble (I.e. that we see indoors unmasked). We’re both very cautious but have lost a lot of time when kids have symptoms, waiting for negative tests, or her kids getting exposed at school (they mask all day but gotta eat lunch). It’s been frustrating, but we also try to keep it in perspective since my partner and I are on salary, we’re not really losing money even when we lose childcare.
    So a few thoughts:
    – Are you masking at work and otherwise indoors? That could help eliminate your “exposure” problem, if you both agree that if you’re masking you wouldn’t be exposed. And hopefully masking can also keep you from catching COVID? If you’re exposed to a positive person while unmasked, I can definitely see her wanting to at least wait for a negative test on day 5.
    – She can definitely mask at your house as long as you and your kids aren’t sick/symptomatic (it’s not really fair for someone to work with sick people).
    – It’s tough but also a good thing you’re giving your nanny paid sick and vacay time and not penalizing her for when you’re sick. That’s how all jobs should be, so good on you.
    – Sounds like it’s a good gig for everyone involved and I agree with Allison you should sit down and talk about what would be reasonable. But you can’t ask this person to work in an environment where they feel unsafe. It’s really tough to find childcare right now and it’s worth doing everything you can to find a common ground if you have a good person in your life.
    – CDC guidelines are not the end-all be all. Here’s what we do:
    If someone has symptoms they need a neg pcr before we get together (you can get same-day).
    If someone is exposed they need a neg test on day 5 after exposure and have no symptoms.

    I hope this helps. Don’t give up on your nanny, try to work it out.

  84. Nannylife*

    In a very similar situation here. Our nanny and her family are the only people in our bubble (I.e. that we see indoors unmasked). We’re both very cautious but have lost a lot of time when kids have symptoms, waiting for negative tests, or her kids getting exposed at school (they mask all day but gotta eat lunch). It’s been frustrating, but we also try to keep it in perspective since my partner and I are on salary, we’re not really losing money even when we lose childcare.
    So a few thoughts:
    – Are you masking at work and otherwise indoors? That could help eliminate your “exposure” problem, if you both agree that if you’re masking you wouldn’t be exposed. And hopefully masking can also keep you from catching COVID? If you’re exposed to a positive person while unmasked, I can definitely see her wanting to at least wait for a negative test on day 5.
    – She can definitely mask at your house as long as you and your kids aren’t sick/symptomatic (it’s not really fair for someone to work with sick people).
    – It’s tough but also a good thing you’re giving your nanny paid sick and vacay time and not penalizing her for when you’re sick. That’s how all jobs should be, so good on you.
    – Sounds like it’s a good gig for everyone involved and I agree with Allison you should sit down and talk about what would be reasonable. But you can’t ask this person to work in an environment where they feel unsafe. It’s really tough to find childcare right now and it’s worth doing everything you can to find a common ground if you have a good person in your life.
    – CDC guidelines are not the end-all be all. Here’s what we do:
    If someone has symptoms they need a neg pcr before we get together (you can get same-day).
    If someone is exposed they need a neg test on day 5 after exposure and have no symptoms.

    I hope this helps. Don’t give up on your nanny, try to work it out.

  85. Pandemic Parenting is Miserable*

    Honestly this is why I don’t have a nanny anymore, depending on a single person for childcare was just too disruptive. I hope your state and/or county has a licensing board that oversees childcare facilities. I would look up their COVID guidance for small licensed in-home daycares, as well as the CDC’s current guidance. If your state doesn’t have guidance bc it is pretending COVID isn’t a thing, borrow from a state that did – I am in CA and our state and county public health dept has a variety of decisions trees for exposures. (None of them require what your nanny prefers.) I would model a policy off that guidance and have a discussion – you need childcare in order to work, and you need more parity between what your own employer requires and what you’ll require as your nanny’s employer.

    As you’re developing the policy I’d honestly also look for alternative care. Small in-home daycare has been a good balance for us, my toddler is still sick literally every month but they accept rapid test results and are reasonable about the constant runny nose. We haven’t had COVID yet either, with two kids in school/daycare the entire pandemic and one working parent in a high risk (but masked and good filtration) work place. I’d do this because you may lose your nanny (tho I don’t think she will find consistent childcare employment that meets her risk tolerance, something I say with sympathy for her – I cannot believe comments are telling you that losing 4-5 months of childcare a year is just fine. WTAF!) and also just from a fellow working parent who had no choice but a nanny share for kid 1 and can compare to group childcare the latter is much, much better. We loved our nanny and she was a wonderful, experienced provider but it’s just not consistent enough. This is why we need public solutions, not families trying to pay a living wage on their own.

  86. AnonyMouse*

    Would the average company allow you to take 2 weeks off because your coworker was sick or exposed to COVID? I’d doubt it. The 5 days should be paid but anything more than that and she should need to use her PTO for it (unless you’re home and still actively sick/contagious.) She may change her mind on whether 5 days is sufficient.

  87. No time for games*

    I’m a nanny. I get two weeks paid vacation, one week sick time and guaranteed hours. Both my nanny parents had covid and the littles are frequently sick. I just mask up and go to work. Mom or Dad isolate in their rooms. My choice, they would pay me if I didn’t feel comfortable. I am vaccinated, boosted and have had covid so I feel pretty safe. I think their nanny is taking advantage of them. I would ask her to come after the 5 days at the very least. Also I would definitely encourage looking for a new nanny.

  88. LilSebastian*

    Just another drop in the bucket of the after-bedtime, we’re-right-there-with-ya responses. I almost got goosebumps reading OP’s initial letter because it felt so similar to my experience (reading OP’s comments, though, my kids were older at the time—2 & 4). I prided myself on being a highly generous (which should just be considered baseline ethical) employer. Our nanny was immunocompromised and uncomfortable with any level of COVID risk. We made many sacrifices for her to keep her safe because we so highly valued what she gave to our kids, and because it’s just the right thing to do. But it just became too much. My partner and I had to sit down and make serious decisions about what levels of risk we could take in various areas of our family life and balance them out (spreadsheets were involved—it was thorough). This included COVID-related health risks, the kids’ social-emotional development risks from constant isolation, career risks, my/my partner’s mental health, etc. Then we had to work hard to find a childcare solution that met that matrix of needs. It took me almost a year to admit to myself that we just did not fit with our beloved nanny anymore. One of the hardest things to come to terms with was realizing that no matter how fervently I believed it was essential to offer the nanny what I thought were ethical benefits (very similar to OP’s), my partner and I were simply logistically unable to continue offering so much more COVID flexibility than our employers offered us, and that’s just not our fault (we moved to our current location right before COVID hit, and so have no networks of family or friends to lean on, so our employers’ constraints are really just it for us). I felt absolutely horrible about letting her go—I thought I had failed my family and the nanny in many, many ways. We were very lucky to find a daycare center we love that fits better with the risks we’ve decided are healthy for our family, and boy do I wish we had done it sooner. Our newer situation is by no means perfect, but the improvement has made a disproportionately massive impact on our family’s stress level and all the things that stem from that. I completely dreaded the idea of losing the nanny, but now that we have, I am sososo much happier, which I never would have guessed.

    1. Boof*

      I’m sorry it’s horrible, glad you were able find a new way forward. It sucks because it’s a personal relationship and an employee relationship, and like dating and like work, sometimes things don’t work out even though no one’s “at fault” / tried their best. It sucks but I think it is necessary and the best you can do is clear, honest communication, give good references, and some transition time.

  89. Ann O'Nemity*

    If you can afford it… my first thought is give the nanny a raise and then give her a set time of paid time off (e.g. 20 days total or whatever makes sense). When YOU get COVID/exposure, pay her for the CDC recommendation only, and then let her use her PTO for any additional days she wants to take. She may be more amenable if you offer her more money and more PTO in the bucket, in exchange for scaling back the unexpected (and apparently unlimited) PTO for health issues.

    1. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      LW says she’s paying top of the pay scale already for her area. Not sure she needs to offer more money.

      1. Boof*

        One should offer more money when taking away a perk that had previously been provided / if nanny will be likely to use a bunch of unpaid time off then it evens out.
        If the OP can’t do the unpaid time off becuase they just need a reliable childcare provider, period, then they may have to find a new nanny who’s willing to decrease the precautions a bit.

  90. Jennifer @unchartedworlds*

    Instead of her not working at all while the child might be infectious, I’d provide FFP3 masks for her, and look at the opportunities for her and the child to be outdoors. FFP3 plus fresh air is very low risk – low enough that she likely is taking higher risks in other contexts. Even if seasons & weather meant that couldn’t work all the time, it could be a lot better than nothing.

  91. toolittletoolate*

    Pretty much every workplace in America is following CDC guidelines and if people want to stay out longer they use their own leave or take unpaid leave. It is perfectly reasonable to apply those standards to your own “workplace.” If you are the good employer your letter lays out, I don’t think you will lose your nanny. After all, other families who employ nannies may not offer the pay/flexibility/environment that you do.

    It will be a difficult conversation, but sounds like it’s necessary.

  92. happybat*

    I wonder if Long Covid might be a consideration for this person – depending on how precarious her employment and healthcare position is, it might be particularly important for her to avoid a disabling long term health condition.

  93. Bm2020*

    I wonder if you can look at local guidelines for child care and then share them with your nanny and meet somewhere in the middle? Last week our daycare, following recommendations from our state, got rid of quarantines for any age and got rid of test to stay…they are treating it just like any illness where you just monitor yourself for symptoms. About three months ago they stopped requiring kids over 2 and adults to quarantine, they simply had to test and stay. (Under 2 had to quarantine due to rapids not being approved for under 2.) This is likely a bridge too far for your nanny, but maybe showing that other child care options are operating very differently would help encourage her to meet somewhere in the middle?

  94. Beth*

    What the hell is wrong with the LW’s employers? They’re being exposed at work, and they aren’t given time off even when they GET Covid?

  95. Cube Farmer*

    Okay, thinking about this from an employee standpoint, if my office or remote software shut down due to circumstances beyond my control…that’s on my employer. If my employer asked me to use my own PTO to cover that, then I would object.

    LW is basically asking her nanny to be okay with taking a paycut because of circumstances beyond her control. Really? expect this person to walk to another arrangement where she can continue earning at her current rate.

    1. Boof*

      But the nanny has control too, they are asking for paid time off for the full 20 days of an /exposure/ instead of shorter amounts of time. I could understand 20 days for a family with active infection but I think asking for 20 days paid time off for every exposure is unsustainable. They’re going to have to rework this policy, if the nanny has some especial high risk and/or is just not willing to to work with someone who was exposed to covid within 20 days this family may need to find a different provider.

  96. sofar*

    Would the nanny be willing to have an arrangement where you, your husband and your kid agree to take a home test every morning/every other day/some cadence she’s comfortable with? The home tests cost less than a day of lost childcare. It’s not perfect, but these days, nothing is.

    At this point, everyone is being exposed every day if they leave the house. I get exposure emails about twice a week from work (ie, someone in my office was positive). And I just got back from a trip to a city that notifies you via your phone if you were exposed (got a notification there, too).

    Not once did I test positive (I’m in a clinical trial, so I’m being tested pretty regularly, and I’ve stockpiled home tests so that I can do a test daily after each exposure, so that I can report to the study if I have COVID). I’m vaccinated, boosted AND I had COVID recently, so getting a new infection right now is not impossible, but less likely.

  97. UrbanChic*

    LW, my heart goes out to you. At the end of the day, you have a nanny so that you can work, and if your job is in jeopardy, you must re-evaluate. Further, you are about to have a second child, and it will cause even more demands on you and your family, and once you return to work, you need to have a reliable and affordable childcare arrangement. Since you are adding a second, now is a good time to revisit your nanny’s contract, and maybe even make a change. I would sit down with your partner and really see what is going to work for you. First, if you are going to continue working, I would recommend looking at daycare, with a back-up care option that will care for kids if they are covid-19 negative but have fevers; or get a nanny that will adhere to CDC guidelines (even if you have to pay more). Nannies are traditionally much more expensive than daycare, so maybe that gives you more financial flexibility to have excellent backup care. Young children – especially in daycare settings – get sick frequently (like at least once a month) – and backup care for non-covid illnesses is absolutely essential. I have three kids and only my oldest (4YO) goes to preschool three mornings a week, masked – and at least one of my children has a fever every two weeks, and it’s coming through my oldest. We have an aupair, and if someone gets a fever, we rapid test the older kids (2yo and 4yo) or I bring the baby to the pediatrician for a rapid PCR, and if negative, our aupair takes care of the kids. If an adult is exposed in our household, we don’t quarantine unless we are symptomatic, as we are vaxxed and boosted. In terms of talking to your nanny – I would just level with her – say what you have written – you do not have the leave time to be able to continue as you have been, and with the new baby arriving, you need to set something up that is going to be more tenable. She may leave, but if your job is truly in jeopardy, YOU cannot afford to continue as it has been. I am sure since it is summer you can find something great ot get you through until your next is born, so you have time to make plans. On that note, we had a nanny for two years after my oldest was born, and I thought the world would fall apart if we parted ways. For a number of reasons, mainly because 1) she wanted four weeks vacation + ten days sick leave, and I felt my job was in jeopardy and 2) she could not handle two kids under two once our second was born – we made the very difficult decision to part ways. I can tell you it is so, so, so much better. So much less stress, less guilt, better quality of life. Families change, the world changes, and sometimes that means changes in caregiver arrangements are needed. My best to you.

  98. automaticdoor*

    I’m late to this thread but wanted to comment with my own experience as the mom of a three-month-old. I truly think you have a mismatched situation here and that you’re going to have to find a different nanny or different childcare arrangement. My husband and I both work (he WFH and I’m usually in the office) and I know there’s zero way either of us could work effectively with a baby (or two!) at home. We’re very lucky that we had a baby at this point in the pandemic and not in 2020. I just don’t think you’re going to find a compromise here. My best advice is to try to line up a new childcare arrangement before you have this conversation so you’re not going to be left hanging if/when she leaves. (Much like lining up a new job before quitting the old one if you can!)

  99. Tracy*

    I’m a career nanny. The family I work for all tested positive on Monday. I worked Monday, stayed home the rest of this week, testing negative 5 days straight. I’m hoping I get paid this week. And I need to be home this coming Monday and Tuesday to continue avoiding covid exposure since I have a colonoscopy on Wednesday! Which I’ve put off twice in the past 2.5 years because of covid related issues. I’d be understanding if this family wanted to offer me half pay for Monday and Tuesday next week, but I’d certainly appreciate full pay, as I rely on my income (obviously). It will be really tough on me financially to take a cut, and very upsetting if they don’t pay me at all for next week.

    1. Boof*

      Are there any general thoughts from you or, if there’s a broader nanny community, on what to do for covid exposures (without infection), and how much paid time off is “reasonable” to expect / what to do if the paid time off starts to add up / if it exceeds what most workplaces offer?

  100. Parenting Young Kids in a Pandemic is Hard*

    It’s ridiculously tough parenting young kids through this pandemic. Folks are now less and less willing to extend flexibilities, resulting in a rock and a hard place for so many parents (and women in particular). This is a reason why so many women have dropped out of the workforce and I’ve even considered it myself.

    1) Look into centers to see whether their policies better align with your needs. Broaching a conversation with your nanny might lead to her resigning, so it’s best to be prepared with your options in advance. If after this evaluation the risk of her leaving is so great that you aren’t able to accept it, then reconsider broaching the topic.
    2) Understand each parties interests: Explain your needs (steady coverage) and really listen to understand hers as well (avoid COVID). Does she have immune compromised family members/herself, or under 5 children that heightens her concerns? Then think about how you can both craft a plan that meets your needs.
    3) Offer something on both sides. For example:
    For her: You offer that to reduce chances of getting COVID, you will commit to wearing an N95 in your office, and if possible, request that anyone coming into your personal office wear a surgical mask (provide them for people). Try to have meetings on the phone where that isn’t possible. Be cautious with “optional” social activities – try to see people outside, have dinner only at outside restaurants, request people test before gatherings, etc. Also offer a small pay raise in exchange for the other changes below.
    For both of you: Set a specific number of sick hours she earns for health appointments etc. This gives both of you certainty – she that she has paid time off that she can use, and you that she won’t exceed that time.
    For you: Offer to test and stay for exposures, much like most of the daycares/schools now do (test every day for ~5 days), but she would need to work through any exposures. (You can get 8 tests per person per month through insurance.) Have the kids mask up and go outside a lot during those times. For actual COVID cases, full pay for the first 5 days, and 50% thereafter if she does not want to come in for 10-14 days. If she does come in, test each day for days 6-10, monitor for symptoms carefully, have your children mask (2+ can do this, ideally in a child N95), go outside a lot, and she can wear an N95 as well.

    Good luck.

    1. Another Academic Librarian*

      I think this reply is spot-on. I would also recommend getting VERY familiar with the CDC recommendations, both for individuals and for early childhood education settings.

      For example, when you have COVID, the recommendation is end quarantine after 5 days AND when fever-free without medication for 24 hours AND with a negative test result. Then you should continue to wear a mask around others for 5 additional days–but if you can’t wear a mask you should continue to isolate until day 10. So after getting covid, OP’s entire household should have gotten a PCR test at day 5 and then worn a mask around the nanny for 5 additional days. But if the child is too young to safely wear a mask, then she needed to continue to isolate from the nanny for 5 additional days. So, honestly, the nanny not working for two weeks doesn’t seem that far off to me if the child is under 2.

      That said, it is not clear whether some other solution was offered, such as that she resumes work at day 5 as long as the entire household remains symptom-free + takes a rapid test every day + all adults wear a mask until day 10.

    2. Boof*

      I think offering something on both sides is very important – that being said i would consider offering a raise to compensate for limiting paid time off to whatever amount OP thinks is workable for them (like, maybe 1 month paid time off total for whatever reason, or I suppose 3 weeks vacation + 1 week medical leave – I’m always leery of trying to ascertain the why of time off beyond what’s needed for work scheduling though)

  101. PayRaven*

    I’m mostly mad at OP and her spouse’s employers here. If they were more reasonable, this wouldn’t be happening (or wouldn’t be as bad).

  102. Boof*

    I think it’s worth just sitting down and discussing your needs and your nanny’s needs. Sometimes there’s this notion that employers and employees have to be in some adversarial relationship, where one is trying to exploit the other as much as possible, but that doesn’t have to be the case and really shouldn’t be the case especially for fairly personal and intimate employer-employee relationships like household employers!

    I do have a nanny and when we were part time it was easy to give paid breaks because she wasn’t really essential and it didn’t cost that much. With a new baby we’ve had to go full time and the budget is stretched pretty thin. We kind of work things out as we go but the agreement with the full time switch was time off is no longer paid; however we can always renegotiate if this is stressful. This works for us because 1) I think we pay our nanny fairly well? I try to pay a living hourly wage, I pay all the medicare/medicaid taxes – I think it’s at least 20% more than the average nanny hourly wage in the area based on some googling 2) our nanny can bring her own kid as much as she needs to / wants to (provided no one is actively sick) so I think of that as an extra perk
    It may be worth revisiting covid policies too; the isolation and quarantine made a lot of sense before vaccines, antivirals, treatments, etc. I’m going to say at this point though covid is similar in severity to other URIs we’ve been dealing with a long time (ie, flu) and it seems a little strange to me to continue treating it as an extreme case – but if you want to exercise full isolation for all URIs that’s something worth talking about.
    I would suggest mixing and matching the asks, like raise the hourly wage (especially if you haven’t given a raise in over a year) but then request to limit the paid time off (maybe just to the 3 weeks, or something you think is doable)

    1. Boof*

      I should say we (my family and our nanny’s family) all have some covid risks – we have an elderly mom in law who lives with us, I have an infant, our nanny has some risk factors as well as a child under 2. It was slightly less complicated for us because our nanny and her baby caught covid early (not from us – we did pay time off for isolation then it was part time and we didn’t have an infant; tho she is very conscientious and did some zooms with our kids when she was up for it – our nanny also helps with learning/exposure to a second language). Then 8 weeks after my new baby was born we decided to isolate less because he was established enough that it didn’t feel worthwhile to keep the kids home from sports/social events/etc indefinitely – and yep omicron swept through our family within a week of going back to sports despite everyone being vaccinated and boosted up to specs. I was most worried about our oldest member who was clearly struggling day 1, then got antivirals D2 and felt better amazingly fast (I did not think they worked within 24 hrs / had any quick symptom benefit but apparently several people now have told me they felt better really quickly with them!). I’m pretty sure my baby had covid too (he got congested and I had it and we are breastfeeding so he was certainly exposed; I did get my booster a few weeks before he was born hoping it would protect him some as well) –
      All of which is to say, it’s a risk/benefit balance and I think the risk of severe covid problems are now fairly low for most people, even with some risk factors. At this point we are just generally isolating if someone is actively sick (fever, throwing up, diarrhea, etc) but otherwise not doing extended isolations especially for exposures. I realize not everyone can do this and perhaps this is all TMI but just trying to give perspective that it everyone has different risk tolerances and risk levels and so talk to your nanny, work out if it makes sense to continue and if not, be able to have a clear way of evaluating new providers on what risk level/response they find suitable.

  103. Meaghan*

    Here’s the thing, if you had your child in a preschool you would still be paying if you are out for covid. They won’t give you a break on tuition because you’re sick, or on vacation etc. You should look at this through that lense. Keep paying your nanny because it’s the right thing to do.

  104. Claire*

    One possibility, though it doesn’t solve the childcare problem, is to have her do a bunch of other work outside the home while she refuses to work in it—groceries, errands, sewing, cooking at her home and leaving the food outside the front door, yard or other outside work, even clerical work that might help you on your own work. You’re still stuck with childcare, but it could reduce some other burdens and thus reduce your stress and give you more time.

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