Another wrinkle on vacations!
Our second au pair has arrived, and I need some au pair mom support and suggestions :)
This second au pair has been much more difficult than the first. She’s in the midst of her third week here, and we’ve already had a 3-point meeting with
the LCC and there have already been discussions about rematching.
Here’s one point where I’d like some guidance — vacation time. Before our au pair arrived at the end of May, I told her that my husband and I were both going through very busy and stressful times at work, and it would be like that until the end of July, so things were likely to be crazier than usual at our house during that time. On her first day here, she asked for the first week of July off so she could visit friends on the other side of the country for the holidays– a week when we really need her, AND when she has no vacation accrued.
She accepted when I said that wouldn’t work for us, but now she’s asked for the last week of August off, and is getting ready to buy tickets.
However, between her talk (and attitude) of not being happy here, and us not being 100% sure that this match is going to last, I want to tell her we aren’t prepared to give her more time off than she’s accrued for the first 6 months– the issue being that if we decide to transition and she’s already taken her vacation, she’s going to owe us money, which I am concerned we wouldn’t get. I feel that would be less likely of an issue after she had been here 6 months. Is this reasonable or unfair/over-controlling/being mean?
HostMom in Seattle:
I think you are smart to be cautious with the vacation time. Based on your first month so far, it doesn’t seem like your new au pair has a ‘service’ orientation– In other words, it doesn’t sound like she understands that being an au pair is a job. It makes sense that you’d want to hold off on giving her too many privileges ( like paying her vacation time) before they are earned.
If I were in your situation, I’d meet her halfway on this one, if I could.
First, I’d explain again that she will have earned (only) 1/4th of her 10 vacation days (slightly less than three), and explain that your agency contract says that vacation days should not be taken or paid before they are earned.
Then, if it is not an issue for you with needing childcare right then, you might offer to let her have an UNPAID week off. You could offer to pay her for the two days she’s earned so far, with a written-on-the-calendar commitment to give her the $ for the other 2.5 days when she hits six months. In other words, let her take the time now but be paid later. That way, (1) you’re not out any money, and (2) she doesn’t assume that time off is free for either her or you. And, you get to look flexible while holding your ground.
You could have this conversation as part of a larger conversation about how you expect the year to go– when she will be able to take vacation, when there are US holidays that she might work, how you will handle Christmas/Passover/Ramadan/Other and New Years’ and so on. You can also use this talk to suss out what her expectations are re: her free time to travel, her 13th month, her priorities for holidays, and other big picture scheduling issues.
Potential downside?: She might ask you to give her 8 paid vacation days in the future, claiming that the unpaid days did not count as vacation. You could explain ahead to avoid this.
What do you other host parents think HostMom in Seattle might try?
Be sure to check out these other posts about vacations: