Adjusting a Babysitter’s Schedule and Pay: What Would You Do?
Recently, I’ve had situations arise where I’ve needed to adjust our babysitters’ schedules. It seems to be happening more and more lately with our after-school babysitter’s schedule, and there have also been a few times when I’ve all out cancelled an evening sitter. Adjusting babysitter schedules creates stress and I feel guilty telling a sitter the day before or even at the last minute that I don’t need her as long or at all.
The after-school sitter gets my first grade daughter off the bus and watches her until various times depending on the day of the week, but overall she has a consistent schedule. Lately however, between spring sports, doctors appointments and various other commitments, it seems that some days her hours are ending 30-90 minutes earlier than what we originally committed to back in September. The first few times I paid her for the full scheduled amount of time, but it’s getting a little ridiculous to be paying a sitter for 2 ½ hours of work when she’s only here 1 ½ hours. Over the course of the week, I could be paying her far more than she’s actually worked. To account for the changes in schedule, I’ve stopped paying her based on committed hours but rather by hours worked. When I do go to pay her each week, I outline the hours she worked and how I came up with the final total.
A similar situation has also happened with our evening sitter. I have a meeting this week on an evening that my husband is scheduled to be out of town for work, so I scheduled a sitter. After tucking the kids in the other night, my husband excitedly told me his meeting is getting pushed up and now he may be home earlier than expected. I’m thrilled for him (he travels a ton!), but he doesn’t know for sure what time he’ll be home. He’ll try to get on an earlier flight, but if the fees are too high, he won’t change flights. The potential “change” in the babysitter’s schedule gives me anxiety.
I don’t want to cancel this sitter at the last minute, nor do I want the sitter to come over only to have my husband show up an hour later. Evening sitters cost more, so shaving off an hour or two can mean saving $30.00. But I do believe if the sitter comes out you can’t only pay for an hour (especially when the evening sitter is driving over vs. the after-school sitter who walks across the street). On the one hand, I wonder if I should pay the babysitter anyway for the hours I committed to. But on the other hand, if this were a retail job (likely paying much less and being taxed), I’m fairly certain if the store had you go home early because business was slow, you wouldn’t get paid.
What are the general guidelines around when it’s acceptable to cancel or reduce the hours you use a sitter and not pay them vs. needing to pay them? Do you have different rules based on who the sitter is? I’d love to hear your thoughts.