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Fair Care

I am a Fair EmployerIs your home a good workplace for a childcare provider, house cleaner, or home attendant?

Like in any workplace, everyone benefits when employer and employee are treated well. But unlike other workplaces, there’s no Human Resources manager at our kitchen table helping us figure out how.

Together we can make our homes workplaces we can be proud of.  



The A, B, C's of Employing Someone in Your Home

By paying a fair wage and overtime, you are ensuring that your employee has what they need to sustain themselves and their families. For many, it can be a challenge to align what’s fair with what we feel we can afford, but by offering your employee the highest wage you can, you show how much you value their work and are investing in your own household.

General Best Practices

  • When calculating wages, consider the cost of living, and calculate what a living wage might look like in your area.  You can use the MIT Living Wage calculator to help you set a wage here: https://livingwage.mit.edu.
  • Provide (at least) annual cost of living (COLA) raises.
  • It is fair practice to increase a wage when responsibilities increase, for example if you have a second child or if you ask a cleaner to add a new job such as cleaning the garage.
  • If you employ a worker for very few hours per week, compensate your employee for transportation time.
  • Prepare to pay overtime pay (time and a half = 1.5 x the hourly wage) whenever your employee works over 40 hrs/week or over eight hours/day.
  • Consider providing an end-of-year bonus at your discretion.
  • If your employee spends their own funds for work-related expenses, cover those costs! For example, if an attendant or childcare provider uses their own vehicle and gasoline to do errands for you.

House Cleaner Employment

  • For house cleaner employers, a general guide for living wages in metropolitan areas is to employ a self-employed worker for no less than three hours per visit, and pay no less than $20-$30/hour for that time. This amount takes into account that some house cleaners often have long commutes between jobs and don’t receive most benefits. The ALIA program enables employers to make a nominal contribution to a benefits fund for house cleaners.
  • For house cleaner employers, you should also consider the degree of difficulty of the work, such as the size of the home to be cleaned, and if there are any deep cleaning tasks such as cleaning an oven, fridge, baseboards, inside windows or in-between window panes or doing laundry. If you expect cleaning products to be provided by the cleaner this cost should be included in their compensation.
  • If you need​ ​to​ ​reschedule​ ​or​ ​cancel​ ​a​ ​cleaning​ ​appointment​ ​or are going out of town, consider that the housecleaner may lose opportunities to work with other clients if they are scheduled with you. Many cleaners are flexible with rescheduling as long as you notify them within a reasonable amount of time, usually 48 hours before the scheduled job. Decide on a timeframe that works for both of you, and commit to pay for their time if you can’t meet your notification commitment.

Childcare Employment

  • For childcare providers/nannies, Hand in Hand recommends a base pay of $18/hour take home pay for one child.  Please keep in mind the cost of living in your area as you determine a fair and family supporting wage.  You can use the MIT Living Wage calculator to help you set a wage here: https://livingwage.mit.edu.
  • It is fair practice to increase a wage when responsibilities increase, for example if you have a second child.
  • If you employ a worker for very few hours per week, compensate your employee for transportation time.

Home Attendant, Eldercare or Personal Care Attendant Employment

  • For home attendants, Hand in Hand recommends a base pay of $18/hour take home pay.  Please keep in mind the cost of living in your area as you determine a fair and family supporting wage.  You can use the MIT Living Wage calculator to help you set a wage here: https://livingwage.mit.edu.
  • It is fair practice to increase a wage when responsibilities increase.
  • If you employ a worker for very few hours per week, do your best to compensate your employee for their transportation time.

Breaks and Sleep Time

    • Workers should be entitled to a 10-minute break after 4 hours of work, and at least a 30 minute, unpaid, meal break after 5 hours of work. These breaks should be uninterrupted. If it is not possible for there to be an uninterrupted break, the worker should be paid overtime during their break period.
  • Live-in domestic workers employed by private households should have at least 5 hours of uninterrupted sleep.

Time off — including medical and sick leave — will ensure that your employee is rested and healthy and ready to do their job well.

Here are some guiding principles around offering paid time off:

  • For full-time employees, provide at least 5 paid sick days per year; and for part-time employees, 1 hour for every 30 hours worked.
  • For full-time employees, provide at least 2 weeks of paid vacation per year; and for part-time employees, 1 hour for every 20 hours worked.
  • Any unused vacation should be paid out as additional pay when the agreement comes up for an annual review or when the worker leaves the job- whichever the employee and employer agree to.
  • Provide the standard 8 paid government holidays or agreed upon holidays of the employee’s choice. If an employee agrees to work on any of these holidays, they should be compensated one-and-a-half times their usual hourly rate.
  • Try to provide at least 6 weeks of paid family or medical leave, with guaranteed employment upon return.

Visit your city/state labor department website for additional laws and standards that apply specifically to your area.

Creating clear expectations, through open and respectful communication, is the foundation for the relationship between you and the childcare provider, house cleaner, or home attendant you employ, providing clarity on both sides for daily tasks.  Here are some important ways to create clear expectations in your home:

  • A mutually-agreed upon written work agreement, shaped by you and the worker you are employing, helps ensure everyone is on the same page about the job duties, benefits, and needs. See sample our childcare agreement, nanny share agreement, house cleaner agreement, and home attendant agreements.
  • Regular check-ins provide you and your employee the opportunity to share what has been going well, and areas that might need improvement.
  • Pay attention to the little things, like greeting your employee in the morning, returning home on time, asking about her family, and thanking her regularly.

What to do when we don’t control wages or benefits

Many of us employ home attendants that are paid through our state or county’s Medicaid homecare programs and we don’t decide wages or paid time off.  There are still ways we can support a fair wage for our employees, including joining with workers’ unions and disability and senior rights organizations to advocate for higher wages and better benefits.  We can also find ways to support our employees’ well being by offering them a bonus out of our own pockets when we can or being flexible with hours and schedule.  If you have other ideas for how to do this, we’d love to hear them!

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