Guaranteed hours are considered an industry standard for professional agencies working with families, or professional nannies who are finding employment on their own. Because the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) dictates that nannies must be paid an hourly rate, not a salary, many families opt to use guaranteed hours as a path towards guaranteeing their nanny that a certain number of hours are “guaranteed” as available for them to work in a given week.
Guaranteed hours are hugely beneficial to nannies because they ensure that a nanny can expect a consistent paycheck regardless of plans the family may make that don’t require the nanny to work as many hours in a given week. However, there are some common misconceptions and points of confusion that come up around guaranteed hours. We are here to offer some solutions, de-bunk a few myths, and ensure that when drafting or signing your next employment agreement, you have a clear understanding of what these hours entail!
Myth: Guaranteed hours include overtime.
Fact: Guaranteed hours mean that a family, or employer, is guaranteeing a certain number of hours each week to a nanny, or an employee. However, overtime only comes into play when those hours are actually worked.
Example: A nanny’s typical schedule is Monday through Friday from 8am to 6pm. The family guarantees 50 hours of work each week. The family decides they are going to Florida for a week and do not need the nanny to join their trip, so guaranteed hours come into play.
However – the nanny will receive 50 hours of pay at their regular rate of pay (unless they are in a state that factors in daily overtime.) Because zero of the 50 guaranteed hours have actually been worked, any hours that would have fallen into overtime (in most states for live-out employees, hours over 40) are still paid out at the regular rate.
Myth: Guaranteed hours go from day to day or month to month.
Fact: Guaranteed hours are on a weekly schedule. The practice of “banking hours”, or saving hours that are not worked in a certain week to be used in another week instead of paying overtime, is illegal. However, a family can move shifts around or change a schedule within a given week and if the nanny is not available to work the new hours, those hours could be deducted from guaranteed hours.
Example: A nanny’s working schedule with a family is set from 9am to 5pm, Monday through Friday. Because school is closed on Friday, the family wants to change that week’s schedule to work from 9am-7pm Monday through Thursday. The nanny already has evening plans and cannot work past 5pm, so they work from 9am to 5pm Monday through Thursday. Because the family had hours available for the nanny to work and the nanny was unavailable to shift their schedule or declined parts of their shifts, the nanny is only paid for the 32 hours they worked, not the 40 guaranteed hours. Some families and candidates will set parameters around their guaranteed hours and contain them to a set number of hours (such as 9am to 9pm), with any hours falling outside of the guaranteed hours, including overnights, being paid at the regular hourly rate (or overtime when applicable.)
Myth: Guaranteed hours are still guaranteed if I can’t or don’t want to work.
Fact: Guaranteed hours are guaranteed for an employee to work if they choose to. If the employee decides not to work, or is unavailable, they are not paid for hours that were offered to them.
Example: A nanny has 40 guaranteed hours each week, with a schedule generally set between 8am and 8pm, Monday through Friday. The employers ask if the nanny is available to work 30 hours from Monday to Thursday, and work from 11am to 9pm on Friday. The nanny shares that they need to leave work by 6pm on Friday due to a prior commitment. The nanny is paid for a total of 37 hours that week (30 hours worked Monday through Thursday, and 7 hours of work on Friday from 11am to 6pm) instead of the full 40 hours that are guaranteed in the contract.
Many thanks to Rachel Lawrence and HomeWork Solutions for collaborating on this resource!
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