Fair Care Means Thinking Ahead

The three components of the Fair Care Pledge may be a commitment to Fair Pay, Clear Expectations, and Paid Time Off, but thinking ahead is the most important tool in your employer toolkit.

Of course, the moments when we need care the most are often the ones when we feel least prepared, or have the fewest resources to dedicate to the work of finding, hiring, and managing a relationship with a new employee in our homes. Thinking ahead is a luxury not available to us.

That’s why the more you can plan in advance, the better. More preparation equals less anxiety for you, and more job stability for your employee.

Below are some tips to help you plan ahead at different stages of the employment life cycle. Don’t worry if you see something you wish you’d done in the past. You can always adjust the employment relationship—especially if it makes it better for both of you. Being a Fair Care employer is all about flexibility, honesty, and willingness to make the changes needed.

And if you’re still in the early stages of looking for a childcare provider, housecleaner, or home attendant, good news!  You have the opportunity of putting this into place right from the very beginning.

1. Expect the Expected, Young…

Are you expecting a new addition to your family? While you probably won’t be able hire your dream childcare provider before your baby is born, you can start thinking about who that person might be and what you might put into a work agreement or contract. Getting clear before you’re knee-deep in parenthood will make hiring and being a fair employer much easier down the line. Check out our guide to developing a work agreement for more.

…And Older

The same goes at the other end of the lifecycle. Consider having a conversation with aging parents and other family members now about care solutions they may want later—as awkward as it may be—rather than waiting until you’re rushed and in crisis mode. Clarity about personal choices, financial resources, and the ideal care plan are essential components when it comes to bringing on homecare worker(s) in a way that feels good to you and creates a strong, respectful relationship with them.

2. Do the Math

Check out our fair pay and paid time off guidelines and weigh what’s doable for you before you hire. Is it time to put money aside for the care and support you may need down the line? Do you need to consider an alternative solution to private care, such as nanny shares or day care?

3. Plan Your Time Off in Advance 

Remember, the person providing care and support to you or your family has a family or community of her own too. Think ahead about your own time off and vacation preferences as early as possible, and ask your employee for hers, so you can both agree to a schedule that works for everybody, before it becomes an issue. Read our paid time off and holiday guidelines for more.

4. See the Change Coming

Over the years, our lives and families are likely to shift and change—together with our need for care and support. Being a Fair Care employer means shifting accordingly. While we can’t always know what’s coming, we can ask: what changes might be in our future? How might these changes impact the worker we employ? Asking these questions early and often will reduce the pressures of last-minute decision making, and help build trust with your employee.

For example: Don’t wait until the last minute to start talking to your care provider (if you have the choice) about what lies ahead. If you know your parents will need more hours at some point, ask the careworker now if she could do more. If you want a house cleaner to come more often, make sure it’s doable before you plan on it! If you’re expecting a second child, talk to your childcare provider as early as possible about if/how her role may be changing and how your pay rate will shift with another child in the mix. Maintaining clear expectations when things are in flux makes a huge difference.

5. Remember, All Good Things Have Endings

When we hire a care worker, we know the employment relationship will come to an end. But for the most part we won’t think about it until we absolutely have to. For your employee, not knowing when their job might end and how much notice (Hand in Hand recommends two weeks or equivalent pay) and severance (we recommend one week’s pay for every year worked) they’ll receive adds financial and emotional uncertainty and stress.

Plan for the end of the relationship at the very beginning (or as close to it)! Not only will this put the care provider at ease, it will also help you prepare you to provide a fair severance package.


This post also appears in the Care.com community. Care.com is an official partner of the Fair Care Pledge, and you can be too!