The Los Angeles Times recently showcased an enlightening project by a struggling artist and male nanny who is making public art to draw attention to the value of domestic work.
Ramiro Gomez Jr. creates vibrant 5-foot-tall cardboard cutouts of nannies, gardeners, housekeepers, valets and other service workers out of large television boxes he finds behind his local Best Buy. The free-standing figures are placed in the swankiest, richest neighborhoods in Beverly Hills, Hollywood Hills and other highly desirable real estate markets.
“We see the beautiful homes. The hedges are trimmed, the gardens are perfect, the children are cared for,” Gomez tells the Times. “We’ve come to expect it to be this way. But who maintains all this? Who looks after it? And do we treat the workers with the dignity they deserve? Do we stop and notice them?”
The artist regularly photographs his cardboard creations in action poses at his Happy Hills blog.
It can be heartbreaking for Gomez to watch what happens to his paintings. There are no velvet ropes like at a museum. It’s not uncommon for his sculptures to get trampled, thrown in a nearby trash bin or destroyed by animals or weather. The U.S. Secret Service recently ordered him to remove some gardener figures from the street when President Obama was in the city for a fundraiser.
The cardboard cutouts, which have attracted the attention of local art galleries and curators at UCLA, are obviously silent.
And what they’re not talking about is the open secret that paying undocumented workers (or nannies of any background) under the table is not just a tax evasion problem. It’s a formula for potential mistreatment and neglect.
Nannying is a profession, a career. Not some kind of odd job or series of chores you can find someone to do on Craigslist.
Having a written Nanny/Employer Work Agreement firmly establishes the job responsibilities, expectations and fair compensation/benefits for both sides. While it must be tempting to avoid the paperwork and take home more money in cash, being paid legally makes sense in the long term.
Having proof of employment is essential for establishing credit and securing loans for cars, homes and more. If you want to be able to utilize Social Security, Medicare, and even in some cases unemployment or disability insurance, you must be paid on the books.
The eNannySource Learning Center provides valuable guidance for both hiring families and those seeking employment about how to verify a nanny candidate’s legal status, industry guidelines for salary and benefits, and how to make sure the nanny tax is appropriately handled.
Hiring employees the proper way is not just about the money, it’s about respect as well. No one, regardless of where they are from, deserves to be treated like a piece of cardboard.