Many Nannies Illegally Denied Overtime in Park Slope; Workers Group Fights Back

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It's a little surprising when a nanny, who has the most important job in a parent's life, isn't treated fairly, particularly in such a supposedly enlightened neighborhood.

When you stay out later than expected, do you give your nanny/babysitter time and a half? If not, you may be breaking the law. Apparently a bunch of harried parents in the affluent enclave of Park Slope, Brooklyn are doing just that and being taken to task for it.

The NY Daily News reports that a worker’s rights group is calling for a “re-education campaign on the domestic workers bill of rights” and using Park Slope as an example. This neighborhood, once a working class area, had slowly but steadily over the years become the mecca for stroller pushing, wealthy families who are socially conscious and environmentally sound.

For the sake of full disclosure, I grew up in Park Slope and moved out just in time. Pretentious doesn’t even begin to describe the feel of the neighborhood now, and that may be partly why the worker’s group is calling out these parents on their cheapskate ways. (Remember this is the same neighborhood that wants to ban ice cream vendors from the park because their kids might ask them for some. Then they might have to say no and “ruin their whole day!”)

Pretentious doesn’t even begin to describe the feel of the neighborhood now, and that may be partly why the worker’s group is calling out these parents on their cheapskate ways.

According to Domestic Workers United, a survey by Park Slope Parents “shows 44% of families don’t pay time and a half if their sitter works more than 40 hours a week”. This is a problem since state law requires sitters to be paid overtime and paid holidays since 2010. The Department of Labor has been fielding a high number of complaints since the law took effect almost two years ago.

Of course, many parents want to treat their nannies fairly but aren’t aware of the state law. Still, countless others just don’t, figuring they are giving their nannies a pretty decent lifestyle along the streets of Park Slope.

Paying nannies might seem as easy as paying a teen to watch the kids on a Saturday night but it’s vastly different. As an employer, you are legally responsible to adhere to the state’s employment laws. Many Park Slope parents apparently pay their nannies off the books (not legal) and some ask to clean (not cool).

Priscilla Gonzalez, executive director of the group, says that over 4,000 nannies are employed in Park Slope so it is naturally a good place to start the campaign on workers’ rights. She thinks that most Park Slope parents want to do the right thing but need to be educated on what the right thing is. Still, some parents feel unnecessarily targeted, saying they don’t deserve to be the subject of protest and picketing.

Have you had a nanny? Did you pay her overtime? Time and a half?

Image: Flickr/hunter.gatherer

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