Written by: Marcus Adams
Firing your nanny will never be a pleasant experience and if the situation below sounds familiar, you’ll be able to relate to the difficulties you face.
“For the past six months, I’ve had a nanny look after my three children. She really is a lovely girl, and the children absolutely adore her – they’re always smiling and laughing when she’s around – it’s a joy to see. However, I have serious concerns about how competent she is. I have to tell her the same things over and over, and she has a very hard time remembering and carrying out the simplest of requests. Even an easy task like getting the kids ready for school becomes a nightmare – the poor thing is such a scatterbrain that she puts shoes on the wrong foot, can’t fasten their ties, and often leaves the house late.
Plus, she dallies away her time on Facebook, despite repeated requests to put her phone down. She just doesn’t get it – and now I think it’s time to get rid. However, I’m dreading the moment I have to tell her she’s fired, to the point of losing sleep. I know my children will be devastated, and I’ll be sad to see her go too. I’ve never had to fire anybody in my life – please tell me how I can let her go without causing too much upset.”
Firing your nanny can be a stressful time for all involved, so first of all, good luck. Secondly, you need to decide if you will be paying her severance pay. If you’re terminating her position due to poor performance, paying severance may not be necessary. However, if you are terminating her position due to circumstances beyond her control – such as the children being old enough to no longer require a nanny, or you’re moving house — several weeks of severance pay should be given. And if she was a good nanny, write her a positive reference, so she can go on to work her magic elsewhere.
Put it in writing
Make sure you put everything in writing – this must include reasons for terminating her position, details of any severance pay you will provide, and date of her last working day. If your nanny has a contract, ensure you stick to it by the letter – the last thing you need is a law suit filing for unfair dismissal or discrimination.
Delivering the bad news
So, you’ve done all the ground work – now it’s time to sit down and break the bad news. Find a quiet place, away from the children, and tell her in a calm voice that her services are no longer required. This is where you need to brace yourself – be prepared for a wide range of emotions – she may get angry, start to cry, or in most cases, be totally shocked by the news.
Once the news has started to sink in, explain to her gently why you are letting her go. This can be the most difficult part of the process – if it’s due to poor performance, you will need to let her know, precisely in detail, what she did wrong. Hearing a list of one’s misdemeanours is never easy, so choose your words carefully, and remember to keep your voice gentle so as to avoid an escalating altercation.
Then decide if you want to let your nanny say goodbye to the children. If she is angry, or you’re terminating her position due to child endangerment, it’s probably best she doesn’t see them. If the employment is ending on good terms, then by all accounts, let her say goodbye. Remember, it doesn’t have to be the end of an era, as she could always come back and babysit occasionally.