For #SanctuaryHomes participants who are domestic employers (that is, a nanny, house cleaner, or home care attendant works for you or in your home), we have a special question this week: Have you planned for the holidays yet?

Amidst all the political chaos, it can be hard to remember that the holidays are coming, but it’s a great time to reflect on yet another facet of our communities and daily lives, especially how immigrant workers may be a part of them.

How much has the nanny, cleaner, or home attendant you employe done to make your year a better one in 2017?

In a turbulent year, has their work provided relief, support, stability, or ease?

If so, now is the time to return the favor: Learn how to bring more light into your home as an employer during the holiday season, including year-end bonuses and planning for time off.

For many of us at Hand in Hand, the labor of a professional domestic worker has allowed us do to more of the work we want and need to do, from caring for children and parents to showing up at the office to living independently at home. And yes, protesting! (Sometimes, we even did that together.)

Reflecting on our own stress and anxiety this year, we can appreciate how much domestic workers have faced themselves, as a workforce that is mostly immigrants and women of color. (One star nanny, Namrata, was honored by the National Domestic Workers Alliance this month on the one hand, while dealing with the risk of her protected immigration status being revoked on the other.)  

As we know from our own jobs and lives, it means a lot to hear that our hard work is appreciated. It strengthens our relationships and gives us more energy for the year ahead.  

Because domestic work has often been “informal” or seen as different from other professions, and because December can be hectic (so hectic!) it can be easy to forget that we need to put on our employer hat —it’s the one that says “Boss” on one side and “Human Resources” on the other. But it’s not only manageable, it’s really worthwhile.

As one worker said:  “A bonus and paid time off show how much my employer values my work. It gives me a sense of dedication to the family I work for. When they come back from their holiday vacation, I’m here waiting.”

Here are 3 things to keep in mind, based on the Fair Care Pledge, our three golden rules of being an employer at home: Fair pay, Clear expectations, and Paid Time Off.

The Bonus

An average year-end bonus is usually between one and two weeks pay, although if it feels right to your family, you can of course choose to give more. Think of the bonus as an expression of how much you value your employee, within the boundaries of what you can realistically afford.

The “Annual Review”

The holiday bonus provides you with a great opportunity to communicate what you valued about your employee’s work over the past year.

If your employee has taken on more responsibilities over the past year than in her initial job description, an increase in her wages is a more appropriate way to compensate her for stepping up.

You may wish to let the nanny, housecleaner, or home attendant you employ know to expect a bonus (different from a holiday gift, though those are great too!) so she can take it into consideration when making her own holiday plans.


Please keep in mind that a bonus is not a replacement for paid time off. Your employee is also looking forward to their own holiday traditions, so make sure to give generously here too wherever possible.

This has been a challenging year for many, many people, and domestic workers may have had an especially difficult year. Economic security is a gift to both body and soul. Together, we can bring more light to the end of a year that has felt dark for many. Make sure the person you employ gets the chance to have a restorative holiday season, and then, have a great one yourself!    

Our complete guide to holidays & year-end bonuses is available here!