The Moneyist: Should I give my father’s home health aide a raise this year? -

The Moneyist: Should I give my father’s home health aide a raise this year?

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  • Dec 07 2017 21:15About: 4 days ago
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Dear Moneyist,

I’ve written to you in the past about the no-show at my son’s bar mitzvah and my father’s wish to tip his home health aide $1,000. I now have a question related to the latter.

I pay my father’s home health aide a very competitive wage (far above what she’d earn if she was employed through an agency). Plus, I provide her with three weeks of vacation and paid holidays. In years past, I’ve also given her a raise at the top of the year — typically around 6% of her salary — a very generous raise, but I felt she deserved it.

This year, I am feeling differently. As I say, she already earns more than many who work in her field. And her job performance has been a bit more uneven in the past year. At times, the care was exemplary, but at other times I found she had actually cut her hours short without telling us. (I had a firm discussion with her about this.)

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In general, she is a very valued person to us and I want to keep her happy. But at this point, I am wondering if a raise is really merited. Some family members feel we can just maintain the status quo for at least another year (meaning no raise). If anything, they argue she is already overpaid and her performance this year has left some question marks.

But I feel as long as we are keeping her on, she is owed at least a cost of living increase of about 2%. In other words, I want her to be treated as I think any employee should be treated — and I feel an annual cost-of-living increase is pretty much the minimum. But I’m apparently in the minority here.

What say you?

Irving Green in New York

Dear Irving,

You have created an expectation that her hard work will be rewarded. It’s right to continue in that vein. Sit down with her and tell her all the wonderful things she does for your father, and how much she is appreciated by the family. When you’ve done that, take a deep breath. And smile. And exhale. Then tell her what you expect of her in the coming year, and remind her she — by all means — can have a flexible work schedule up to a point, as long as she tells you first and your father’s needs have been taken care of.

You didn’t say what you pay her, but you do say it’s above the market rate. So mention that too. That’s fair. And make sure to continue regular check-ins, even if there’s not a problem. That helps avoid any surprises for both parties, and also makes sure that any problems are dealt with swiftly. Most American employees will receive a 3% raise this year. That might help soften the blow. It’s not quite as low as 2% and you can quote the national average. That way, you have not singled her out. She will be one of millions of workers who will receive a 3% raise.

Also see: I kept $20,000 from my mom’s estate — now my siblings are threatening to sue

Some members of the Facebook Group for this column also suggest exploring the reasons for her bad time management this year. “Is she having issues that can’t be handled with her current free time? She sounds like a long term valued employee, but she has a life and you need to try and find out what you can do to allow her to continue to be a good employee,” Joanne Haave writes. “Many employees would rather have more time off than more pay. Flexibility in lives is important to reducing/eliminating job burnout. Home health care can be emotionally draining.”

My take: Tell her you are giving her a 3% raise because you want to make sure she keeps up with the rising cost of living in the city, and explain why she received 6% in the past. No doubt, you have other budgetary concerns, so it wouldn’t hurt to mention those too. You want to be honest, but you also want to make sure you recognize all the things she does for your father and ways she supports him. Some of these you may not even be aware of. Then ask her if she has any questions. She may want to ask you for more money. Be ready with an answer.

Do you have questions about inheritance, tipping, weddings, family feuds, friends or any tricky issues relating to manners and money? Send them to MarketWatch’s Moneyist and please include the state where you live (no full names will be used).

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Hello there, MarketWatchers. Check out the Moneyist Facebook group, where we look for answers to life’s thorniest money issues. Readers write in to me with all sorts of dilemmas: inheritance, wills, divorce, tipping, gifting. I often talk to lawyers, accountants, financial advisers and other experts, in addition to offering my own thoughts. I receive more letters than I could ever answer, so I’ll be bringing all of that guidance — including some you might not see in these columns — to this group. Post your questions, tell me what you want to know more about, or weigh in on the latest Moneyist columns.



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