“I have been working as a nanny with my current family for the last five years. My employers are very good at making sure everything is right and done by the books. This includes ensuring I have a fair wage and am paid what Iâ€™m worth, paying my tax, superannuation, annual and sick leave, and work cover protection. In addition to this I personally took out nanny insurance and income protection.
Why did I make sure all these provisions were in place? I have had several episodes of illness or injury throughout my nanny career that made me realise how important they are, but none of these prepared me for The Big One.
In December 2014, one Friday night I found a lump in my left breast. I was only slightly worried at this point, thinking that it was very new (I was taught in my early twenties what to look out for by my GP). I thought maybe I had been kicked by Miss 18 Months, who is an active little wiggle worm. By Saturday it hadnâ€™t gone down. So I contacted my boss about it and said that on Monday I would like to go to the GP and have it looked at. She agreed and gave me the morning off. With that settled I relaxed a little knowing she was supporting me and I had it organized. On Monday it was confirmed by the doctor that the lump needed checking and it would be a two week wait for results. So I returned to work.
By the end of the week I had noted another change and confided in my boss (who was still making sure I was ok). She instantly gave me the afternoon off and I went straight to the GP who moved forward my scheduled mammogram and ultra sound. She was luckily able to get me in the next day. From there the situation snowballed. The same day as the tests, I was called back to the GP with highly suspected breast cancer. From then I had an appointment EVERY day. My Christmas holidays started a week early. The breast surgeon was worried about the shape of my tumour. It was an odd shape and she just didnâ€™t like it. I was sent for biopsies. These came back all clear. HURRAY! But my breast surgeon still wasnâ€™t happy. She made it clear that she was going to remove the growth but also send it to pathology. That was where they found that it was early stage, grade 3, hormone sensitive breast cancerâ€¦.So the HURRAY was short lived. From here I was told I COULD NOT return to work. I was scheduled for six rounds of chemotherapy, which compromises your immunity, and since I work with children, they thought it best for me not to return.
So I had to call my boss and confirm my diagnoses plus tell her I could not return. I was more devastated about not being able to go back to work than the cancer.
My employer family very swiftly arranged my pay entitlements. They decided that the time I had taken off prior to the Christmas break would not come from my sick leave. So she calculated my last pay and all the sick days I had owing. It turns out I had 21 days up my sleeve. This allowed me time to get my income protection again up and running. She then sent me an email confirming the total amount and the calculations she had used. I was thankful that she took total charge of all this so I didnâ€™t have to worry about it.
This has shown me how important it is for nannies to ensure that they are covered for everything. We do work in a very different work environment to many other professions. But that doesnâ€™t mean we need to sacrifice our way of living or own lives for somebody else. I will not allow myself to live with fear of how I will pay my bills or rent or put food on my table. I canâ€™t and will not sacrifice what is fair. If a family canâ€™t provide the necessities of a working individual then they shouldnâ€™t be employing us.
We deserve what every other working person does: fair pay, tax, superannuation, sick leave and holiday benefits. But I urge all nanny employees to take the initiative and protect yourself further with work cover, income protection and nanny insurance. You never know when you will need it.”
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