Understanding Guaranteed Hours
Updated: Apr 17
As the proud owner of The Nanny Consultant, I'm often asked about the concept of guaranteed hours. You know what they say - happy nannies, happy families! That's why I not only use the term "guaranteed hours" but also "guaranteed pay.” It's time to clear up the confusion and get down to the nitty-gritty. I went straight to the source and asked some amazing nannies why guaranteed hours matter to them and how they impact their day-to-day lives. Keep reading to find out what they had to say - their responses might surprise you!
MY STORY// When I first started my career as a nanny back in 2001, the term "guaranteed hours" was hardly ever used, if at all. It wasn't until around 2010 that I stumbled upon the term online and began to understand its importance. Despite this newfound knowledge, I continued to work for my long-term family for several years without any guaranteed hours. I thought I was doing the right thing, but little did I know I was actually participating in something illegal - banking hours. As a domestic employee, it's crucial to be paid for every single hour worked, including overtime for any hours worked over 40 in a week, per the FMLA laws. Looking back, I realize that I should have been compensated for all the additional hours I worked, and those hours that exceeded my initial 40 hours should have been paid at the overtime rate. Not having guaranteed hours put me under tremendous stress, especially since my employers were frequent travelers, and I had to make up for the missed weeks on my own time. If only I knew then what I know now! Today, I'm proud to say that all my clients offer guaranteed hours, and they have been doing so for the past 8.5 years.
UNDERSTANDING GUARANTEED HOURS AND PAY// As a standard benefit for nannies, guaranteed hours, also known as guaranteed pay, ensures that nannies receive a minimum amount of pay for the hours outlined in their contract each week, including any overtime. Any hours worked outside of their contract hours are to be paid additionally at their hourly rate, including overtime, if applicable. It's important to note that nannies are considered hourly employees under FMLA law and cannot be contracted as salaried employees. Personally, I prefer to use the term "guaranteed pay" to emphasize the importance of paying nannies for every hour they work, even if they fall outside of their regular work hours. Some families may opt to take out overtime pay and pay it as straight pay when they go on vacation, but this is not a standard practice nor something I recommend. That's why the term "guaranteed pay" is so crucial - it ensures that nannies are compensated fairly and accurately for their work.
EXAMPLE// These examples are at $25 per hour and time and a half at the rate of
If the nanny is contracted for 40 hours a week, the nanny is to be paid 40 hours a week,
every week, unless the nanny uses unpaid time off of the nanny’s choosing. If there are
weeks where the employer utilizes the nanny for less than 40 hours a week, then the
parent would still pay the nanny $1000 for that work period/week. Those extra hours
that the employer did not utilize do not get banked- it is illegal to do so outside the one-
week pay period and against industry-standard inside the one-week pay period. If the
nanny were to work 45 hours a particular week, they would get paid $1187.50. $1000
for the Guaranteed Pay and the 5 hours of overtime at $187.50.
NANNY PARENT CONTRACT VERBIAGE EXAMPLES//
a) Employer shall pay Employee $______ per hour. If the Employer goes over 40
hours a week, the Employee receives overtime pay of time and a half at the rate of $
b) Each week, the Employee will be paid a minimum of _____hours at the
minimum weekly rate of $________ (total weekly compensation) even if the Employer
decides not to utilize all the scheduled hours agreed upon.
c) If the Employee works more than the set number of guaranteed hours, the Employee will be paid the proper hourly rate stated above.
d) The only exception will be if the Employee needs to take time off of the Employee’s
choosing and no longer has PTO or sick time hours available.
e) No hours will be banked.
f) Employer will follow the laws set forth by the Department of Labor. Fair Labor
Standards Act Notes: With very few exceptions, domestic Employees are classified as (protected) workers, which entitles them to pay for every hour they work at a rate that may not be less than the federal, state, and, if applicable, local minimum wage rate. Additionally, overtime (time-and-a-half) must be paid for each hour over 40 in a 7-day workweek.
EXCEPTIONS// Guaranteed hours and pay are crucial for ensuring that nannies are compensated fairly for their work. However, there is one exception to this rule - if a nanny needs to take time off of their own choosing and they have exhausted all their PTO and sick time hours, they would not receive guaranteed pay for those hours.
MAKING UP HOURS INSIDE THE WORK PERIOD// The fundamental principle is that a nanny is reserving specific hours for the family as outlined in the contract. They should not be expected to make up any additional hours that fall outside of that agreement. Similarly, this principle applies to daycare arrangements where unused hours are often forfeited. However, in some cases, a family may find they only need some of the reserved hours but may still require additional childcare. In such situations, any additional hours worked outside of the guaranteed hours listed in the contract should be paid to the nanny on top of their guaranteed pay. For example, I have a client who occasionally finds they don't need all their reserved hours. However, they still have the nanny come in on additional days within the work period, and those hours are paid in addition to the guaranteed hours outlined in the parent nanny contract.
WHY ARE GUARANTEED HOURS IMPORTANT TO YOU// “Guaranteed hours are
important to me because they provide a predictable income and schedule. When a
family provides guaranteed hours, I know my time is respected and valued. It also
helps create clear work expectations and helps me not to become burnt out.” Nanny E
“I feel like guaranteed hours are one of the biggest differences between a professional
nanny position and a babysitting gig. When you are hiring me, you are hiring me
because you value my experience and skill set. Guaranteed hours make me feel valued
and give me the security of knowing that I can count on my income. I would no longer
work in a position without guaranteed hours.” Nanny G.
“In most industries, when your employer goes on vacation, it doesn’t affect your job, but
as a nanny, when a family goes on vacation, they are basically taking your job with
them. Guaranteed hours are important to me as they give me a sense of security.”
HOW DO GUARANTEED HOURS AFFECT YOU// “I don’t feel worried or feel that I’ll
need to find temp work while my family is gone, especially if they are taking an
extended vacation. I also don’t feel the need to use my vacation when my employer is
taking a vacation, which makes it easier to spend time with friends and family.” Nanny
As always, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to Kyla at
The Nanny Consultant