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The Nanny State: Pay And Benefits

This week The Early Show looks into the subject of nannies. How do you approach the tough topics? How do you hire the right nanny? To kick things off examined a poll published in New York magazine in August called "The Nanny State."

The survey came from a larger study authored by the Park Slope Parents group. Sarah Bernard, an editor for New York magazine and Dr. Susan Fox, one of the author's of the study from the Park Slope Parents group discussed and analyzed the survey results.

There were over 1,100 parents involved in the survey and they answered questions on everything from how they found their nannies to how they pay them to how they perceive their relationship between their families and their resident nannies.

Although the figures are specific to the New York-based survey that also included Washington and Berkeley, Calif., Fox said that she has compared it with several other surveys from around the country and that New York is not as exceptional as you would think. Basically, New Yorkers often pay less taxes for their nannies and nannies rarely live with them.

Park Slope Parents Survey
Subject one was nanny pay.

The average pay for nannies surveyed is between $550- and $600-a-week. Fox and other surveyors wondered why they are so underpaid considering what an important employee they are. Of course, one can also get an expensive nanny at $1,000-a-week or a cheaper option at $300-a-week. These pay options are for nannies that take care of one child. Most nannies are paid by the week, not by the hour.

"I thought that was really interesting. I feel like a lot of the time, the conversation is about how little can you get away with paying the person who takes care of the most important, you know, people in your life," Bernard said. "And I think that the survey is very interesting. There was a range, but a lot of the times I feel like nannies are not paid enough and it's complicated because I know that I think my nanny makes more money than I do because it is a luxury to be able to pay somebody a decent amount."

"You can't pay them enough," Fox added.

"Right. But I think a lot of people in the sense are looking at it in a way that is not the right way," Bernard said. "You should sort of try to pay a very good salary to the people that are happy to do this very important job as opposed to the other way around."

What is most surprising about this survey? Only 16 percent of New York families pay taxes for their nannies. In Washington, this number goes WAY up as many families work for the government, but the vast majority of families around the country and especially in Manhattan, do not.

When it comes to benefits, there is a wide range of things that parents can offer. Most parents allow an open kitchen. Most parents pay their nannies their full rate even if it isn't a full day. Another interesting fact is that most families do not force their nannies to take vacation at the same time as the family.

A breakdown of nanny benefits, according to the survey:

  • 89 percent of parents allow nannies access to all the food he/she wants in the kitchen.
  • 83 percent of parents give a full day's pay to a nanny even if one of the parents get home early.
  • 78 percent of parents give sick and personal days.
  • 64 percent of parents give nannies vacation time of their own choosing.
  • 38 percent of parents give nannies an allowance for expenses.
  • 27 percent of parents give their nannies a travel subsidy.
  • 16 percent of parents pay workers' compensation/social security taxes or unemployment for their nannies.
  • 4 percent of parents give their nannies money to help with their doctor bills.
  • 2 percent of parents give their nannies access to their car.
  • 2 percent of parents give their nannies money for education.
  • 1 percent of parents give nannies kids camp or classes for training.

    And how do families view their nanny after they are hired?

    About half of all parents surveyed said that their nannies have MORE patience with their children than they do.

    More than half also said that they trust their nannies to do things the nanny's way rather than according to their parent rules. This means that even though the screening process is rigorous, once hired they are trusted to do their own thing.

    Finally, about half the parents surveyed say they would keep in touch with their nanny no matter what. This means that about half of the parents surveyed think of their nannies as part of the family.

    Other interesting stats on the survey:

  • 92 percent of nannies are women, average age 36-40 years old.
  • More than half the families surveyed observed their nannies for a day with their kids before they hired them.
  • The majority of nannies watch TV while the children nap, run personal errands while on duty and make cell phone calls by watching children.

    The Nanny State will be featured all week on The Early Show