Mother refusing to cover childcare travel costs sparks online backlash

File photo of woman and child playing.

A mum has sparked a backlash online after wondering if she should pay for her nanny’s travel expenses.

The woman posted on parenting website Mumsnet asking for advice last Friday and has already received more than 300 responses.

The British mum used the handle @AdviceNeeded367 to upload her story on ‘Am I being unreasonable?’ wire. In the UK, a childminder is a ‘professional carer’ who is registered with the Education Inspectorate, Ofsted, and looks after children in their homes. This is different from a nanny or babysitter, who provide care in the child’s home.

The woman explained that the nanny asked for an extra £10 ($13.19) a week last summer, ‘to help pay for activities’ when caring for her son. Then, in December, the childminder asked for and obtained a 27% salary increase.

Now, according to the mother, the nanny has charged an additional 45p (59 cents) per mile for the journey.

Asked by Mumsnet users for more details, the woman added that the December pay rise was a response to “the rising cost of living, her rent has gone up significantly, etc. Today’s demand is a response to rising gasoline prices”.

The woman said the nanny lives about 20 miles away and looks after the child, who has special educational needs, overnight from Friday to Sunday. The nanny is paid £310 ($409) for this period.

Several commentators pointed out that this was likely lower than the UK minimum wage of £8.91 ($11.72) an hour.

Child care workers in the United States are paid an average of $12.88 per hour, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics figures from May 2020.

The bureau’s list of states that pay child care workers the highest wages was topped by the District of Columbia at $18.16 an hour. Vermont was second with $16.34, followed by California at $16.27, Washington at $16.02 and Massachusetts at $15.92.

The British mother who asked for advice on travel costs added that she could not take her son to the nanny herself because she was not driving.

She said: “So far her hourly rate has included everything, which is one of the reasons why she wanted/needed the pay raise. That’s why I don’t want to pay her gas as well / travel more now, because it’s only a few months ago, she had a significant increase.”

Responding to comments suggesting the nanny is underpaid, possibly even illegally, the mum replied: “I don’t agree that she has such a late contract because she always fixes the tariff and conditions. Now that she is asking for more money again a few months later, I think [it] it’s too much.”

She later wrote: “I was very surprised today to receive a message asking for a fuel allowance when only a few months ago she increased her hourly rate in order to cover all her expenses.

“She calculated that an overall cost of £310 per weekend would cover her expenses and her hourly rate. At present, of course, the cost of living has continued to rise and she has requested another increase from which I didn’t expect and don’t want to pay.”

The mother claims the increased weekend rate was calculated after the nanny decided to become self-employed.

However, she quickly backtracked. The woman wrote: “Then a few weeks later when the changes were to be put in place she told me she no longer wanted to be independent and that I should continue to be her employer but she still wanted the increased rate and there was no trade-off.

“And again her message to me today was very formal and not asking me but telling me that she will be charging me 45p per mile from now on. She just rubbed me the wrong way with her demands , I think.”

However, most commentators were convinced that the mother should pay for the gas expenses.

VanillaSpiceCandle advised: “Because you said you have no other issues with her, I would say pay up. I don’t think you’ll find anyone else willing to care for a child with SEN. all weekend and all night for this price. If your kid loves it and you love it, pay it.”

Halllyup17 thought, “That’s not even minimum wage! No wonder she’s asking for more. You have to employ her legally, or you’ll be in trouble.”

CeleriacOfTheNight pointed out, “If the role has evolved, it’s only fair that the salary has too.”

Rainbowsit asked, “Where the hell would you get a replacement for that babysitter if you turned down her request? Sounds like a setup you’d really struggle to replicate. Plus, you’re not paying her enough. “

BeHappy91818 simply wrote, “You massively underpay her!!”

Sirzy added: “It doesn’t matter how often. You don’t pay her fairly for what she does. Your choice seems simple – pay more or get no respite.”

RedWingBoots said the cost of gas had “increased in the last week let alone in the last month. Pay it or find someone else. And good luck with the last option.”

File photo of a woman and child playing. A mum has been slammed online for refusing to pay her nanny’s travel expenses.
demaerre/Getty Images