We are seeing the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in the way parents are viewing education, childcare, and their family’s needs from current and future household employees. As we collectively re-imagine what our lives will look like as the country re-opens, COVID-19 will push us to live a little differently in the foreseeable future.
Many families are considering having their nanny live-in to reduce the risk of contamination entering their home. We also see more nannies leaning towards live-in positions as they can provide continuity in care for future shelter-in-place orders.
Adventure Nannies has been operating as a fully remote agency for over 8 years! Our staff is scattered across the country, so our day-to-day operations have changed very little (although we do miss the occasional “work party” and our annual retreat!). While fortunately much hasn’t changed for us, we have been closely following the many laws and recommendations being put out on both local and state levels. We are diligent in our application of the recommendations by both the CDC and WHO. During these strange times, we have spoken to hundreds of families and candidates, listening to their daily practices, priorities during their search, and what environment will make them feel the most safe and comfortable. Since our candidates and families are spread across the country we think it’s important to foster honest, non-judgmental, and open conversations surrounding COVID-19. States (and even cities) are adopting different methods in preventing the spread, therefore the interview process can seem even more complex.
On top of the discussions that already take place during interviewing, we want both parties to chat about their health practices. This will allow candidates and families to make informed employment choices. We encourage families and candidates to have these conversations throughout the interview process and particularly when considering an in-person trial or an offer of employment. In this document, we provide you with questions that will help streamline this process and help begin some of these conversations.
Past Practices (questions for families and candidates to ask each other):
What have the shelter-in-place / stay-at-home orders like in your city been like?
What do your safe practices during COVID-19 look like?
Did you follow shelter-in-place or self-quarantine?
Do you mind disclosing why, if you did not?
How do you generally get around (car, public transit, bike, walking, etc?)
How has COVID-19 changed the way you think about your work / yourself / your family / your priorities?
Current Practices (questions for families and candidates to ask each other):
Under what circumstances do you feel comfortable leaving your home? (once a week, once every two weeks, only in an emergency, etc?)
When do you leave your home, for any reason, do you wear any PPE?
What have your in-person social interactions been like during this time?
Are you seeing friends and family? If so, what does that look like for you?
Are you entering other’s homes or remaining outside with PPE and an acceptable distance?
What does social distancing look like, in general, in your life?
What kinds of activities are you doing outside of your home? Hiking, running, cycling, spending time in parks, etc?
Do you wear a mask when going outside of your home?
What other safety practices are you doing right now (gloves, sanitizer, etc)?
Do you live with anyone? If so, are they also practicing social distancing?
Is anyone you live with an essential worker?
Is anyone you live with immunocompromised or at high risk for COVID-19?
Work-Related Questions (for candidates to ask families):
Who are the other staff members who will be coming and going from the home on a day-to-day basis? Are they working in other households during this time as well? (Examples could include nannies, housekeepers, tutors, medical aides, physical therapists, yoga instructors, etc)
Would you feel comfortable if I ask to speak with them about their day-to-day lives?
Will I remain in a certain area of the house during their shifts, or have free movement throughout the entire house?
Are there any specific cleaning / sanitizing procedures that you would like to see done after specific tasks (i.e. cooking, cleaning, opening packages, putting away groceries or other supplies, etc?)
What have you shared with your children about COVID-19? Are you comfortable with only sharing/not sharing this specific information?
If one of your children exhibits any symptoms of illness (sniffles, sore throat, etc) will I still be expected to report for work?
Contingency Plans (for families and candidates to discuss together):
How will all parties discuss changes and decide together when rules can be ‘relaxed’ and which rules should remain in place for the foreseeable future?
What if one party decides to change their social distancing policies to something the other party no longer feels safe or comfortable with?
If the state/city goes under a shelter-in-place order, would the candidate be willing to move into the hiring family’s house? If so, for how long? How would the responsibilities and pay structure shift during that time? (for live-out candidates)
If the state/city goes under a shelter-in-place order and the hiring family decides to leave the city (to a second home or vacation home, etc) and they invite the candidate to join them, would the candidate be willing to? If so, for how long?
If the hiring family decides to leave the city (to a second home or vacation home, etc) and they do not invite the candidate to join them, how long will they continue to pay the candidate for the regular hours they would have worked?
If anyone in the household becomes sick, finds out they have been exposed to COVID-19, or tests positive for COVID-19, how long will the hiring family allow the employee to stay at home with pay before they can safely return to work? What will the benchmarks of returning safely be? Will the employee be paid during this time?
If an employee becomes sick, finds out they have been exposed to COVID-19, or tests positive for COVID-19, how long will they be expected to stay home before safely returning to work? What does a safe return to work look like for your family? What will pay look like during this time?
Keep In Mind:
COVID-19 has affected different parts of the country in different ways and there is not a ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to practice self-quarantining and social distancing, other than following WHO, CDC, and statewide recommendations. All domestic employees and employers should work together on deciding best practices to make the more cautious party feel comfortable and safe in their environment.
Legally, employers cannot give direction over how their employees choose to spend their unpaid off-duty time. If a current requirement for the hiring family is that a future employee needs to live alone, they should provide a small monthly housing stipend to allow their employee to afford the added costs of living alone rather than with family members or roommates.
Similarly, if the hiring family prefers their employee use a car or rideshare service to get to work rather than public transportation, they must be prepared to cover those costs. While household employees absolutely have their own safety and the safety of the family as an utmost priority, they should not be expected to cover costs relating to the hiring family’s preferences as to how they travel to and from work or their home environment while working for the family.
Many families are continuing to do working interviews, or paid trials, with candidates. Some families fly a candidate out and have them quarantine for 1-2 weeks prior to meeting with their family. These weeks are typically paid at the candidate’s full rate and housing and access to ordering groceries or food is provided by the family so that the candidate can safely quarantine. Some families and candidates are comfortable with forgoing a quarantine and moving directly into a working interview depending on the situation and amount of quarantining all parties have been practicing. Some families are choosing to forego a working interview completely and are offering candidates positions after a series of video and phone interviews.
During these uncertain times, we are happy to work with families and candidates to create a job search environment that feels safe for all parties involved.
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