Sick or not? A case study
One of the nanny agencies recently came to us with the following scenario:
The nanny is caring for a child of delicate health and her employers do not want her to come to work even if she just has a sore throat because they are worried it could compromise the child's immune system. While this is understandable where do the parents stand from a legal perspective?
If the nanny is fit to work then the employer has a duty to supply her with work to do. If the parents are adamant that they do not wish the nanny to come into contact with the child whilst she is under the weather, they have the option of offering her other work as an alternative. This has to be agreed by both parties and must be a reasonable alternative, i.e. with similar hours and work load. If no alternative is found then the employer is responsible for paying nanny's salary in full, whether she is at work or not.
The parents may also offer the nanny babysitting work to make up for any hours lost; however, unless it has been set out in the contract the nanny has the right to refuse this as it would be outside her normal working hours. The nanny is free to negotiate with the parents and both parties may agree to a one-off variation of the contract as long as the parents are aware that it is not to be an ongoing solution. A permanent agreement could always be added to the contract but this must be agreed by both parties and should be done in writing.
Alternatively the parents could pay for the nanny to see a private medical doctor at their expense who could sign her off work until she has made a full recovery if he considers her unfit to work. Please note that the nanny should not be expected to see her own GP for this.