How Our Nanny Agency is Handling Hiring During COVID-19 ›

Babysitter and Nanny Income Loss During COVID-19 Pandemic

With the uncertainty that COVID-19 has created for us all, many SmartSitters are justifiably concerned with losing income for an undetermined amount of time. Whether you are a regularly scheduled nanny, a part-time babysitter, a temporary babysitter with lots of different families, or a back-up care and events babysitter through SmartSitting, there is guidance available for you.

Communicate Openly and Honestly with Family Employers

For all SmartSitters, we strongly encourage you to discuss the effects of the pandemic with your families if you haven’t already. We are in uncharted territories and for many families, nannies, and babysitters, and the unknown of how this pandemic will affect personal finances is concerning to everyone. Open and honest communication will set the foundation for establishing next steps between you and your family. Some questions to consider may include:

  • What happens if me or a family member gets sick and must self-quarantine?
  • What happens if you decide to practice social distancing and ask me not to come to work?
  • What happens if I don’t feel comfortable working because you work in a high exposure risk job or your workplace has been shut down due to potential exposure?
  • What happens if you don’t want me to come to work because you are not sure who I have been around?
  • Would you consider a live-in arrangement to practice social distancing together and if so, when?
  • How does our work agreement address paid and unpaid time off?
  • What happens if I am not paid legally and can’t access any government relief or unemployment benefits?
  • What if I am at work and begin to feel ill?

Practice a Firm Personal Policy of Social Distancing

Please take the recommendations for social distancing seriously. After a sufficient period of social distancing (estimated 14-21 days but subject to change in accordance with guidance from NYS and the CDC) we anticipate that families will shift from family isolation to interacting in small trusted groups of like-minded individuals. If you are a trusted individual who shares the same social distancing philosophies, you will likely be welcomed back into the homes of your families, albeit cautiously. We recommend fully committing to social distancing and maintaining firm personal policies to share with your families.

Figure out how you will be compensated in the interim

Option 1: Families can choose to continue to compensate you while we wait out this period of social distancing.

If your family is able to provide continued compensation, this is the best case scenario and you should accept this offer.

Option 2: Families can reduce your hours or lay you off and you can file for unemployment temporarily.

If you were paid as a W-2 employee, you should list your family as the employer. All of the information you need should be on your W-2. If you have not had taxes withheld, you can still file for unemployment. We recommend asking your family employer to sign up with our partner Homepay. Your family will need to pay taxes on your previous wages and may incur penalties if you have worked together for more than a calendar quarter, but our partners can help set you up to be in compliance. Penalties are typically nominal, although back taxes can add up for your family if you’ve been with a single employer consistently. There may be a delay in payment but it is not grounds for an automatic denial.

Option 3: If you are unable to work, are sick yourself, or taking care of someone who is ill, you can utilize PTO, Sick Leave, Disability Insurance and/or Unemployment benefits:

New York household employers are required to provide the following paid time off benefits:

  • PTO: After a year of employment, household employees are entitled to paid time off. The required amount depends on the average number of weekly hours worked during the previous year: 0-19 hrs./wk. = 1 day of PTO; 20-30 hrs./wk. = 2 days of PTO; 30+ hrs./wk. = 3 days of PTO.
  • Sick Leave: Employers in NYC are required to provide at least two days of paid sick leave per year after the first year of employment.

Employees in New York can also file a claim for the following benefits:

Employees Caring for a Sick or Quarantined Family Member
If an employee is unable to work due to the need to care for a sick or quarantined family member, he/she may have access to financial assistance through NYS Paid Family Leave (PFL) which provides workers in New York State up to 10 weeks of paid leave to care for a family member with a serious health condition.

Information for Temporary Babysitters: If you are a W-2 employee that participates in events and back-up care bookings through SmartSitting, you can reach out to us directly for assistance and information from our payroll partner. If you have been paid for casual babysitting directly by families, we encourage you to review whether you have met the minimum thresholds with any of your family employers dating back to 2019. If you earned a minimum of $500 in a calendar quarter (the unemployment insurance threshold) or $2,100 in 2019, you have met a threshold. If you’ve started with an employer in 2020, that threshold goes up to $2,200. In this case, we also encourage you to ask your family employers to go through the proper protocols with Homepay to make the path towards receiving benefits smoother for both you and the family.

New recommendations to minimize exposure for yourself and the family:

Transportation: To minimize exposure and the spread of COVID-19, we are asking that families reimburse sitters for a car (Uber, Lyft, or cab) to and from their home when working together. This will minimize interactions with public spaces and other people to keep everyone as safe and healthy as possible.

Changing Clothes: Bring a change of clothes and a plastic bag to every booking and change into your fresh clothes upon arrival.

Wash hands: Upon arriving into the home, wash your hands in the kitchen sink with soap and water for at least 40 seconds. Make sure you are thorough! Wash hands before and after handling food or food prep, or helping children with the potty or diapering.

20 Hour/Week Minimum for Short-Term Bookings: We want to support our network of families and SmartSitters by setting up dedicated short-term relationships to maximize support and minimize exposure.

There are still gray areas with regards to rules and regulations on both a federal and state level with regards to how the coronavirus will impact household employers and employees. Until there is defined guidance in place, please know that we are here to support you as best as we can and will do everything to provide accurate information as it becomes available to us.

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