FrontRunners: Caretaker Tipping Tips

Boxing day, that merry olde British tradition of remembering the household staff on the day after Christmas, is just around the corner. Two lines of thought on the topic may reflect two different lines of thinking in the Commonwealth and in the colonies. “We feel a personal present is suitable, something for the employee’s pleasure,” says Ivor Spencer, who runs the International School for Butler Administrators in London.

The prevailing practice in America, though, is all about cash. According to Gary Dunn, publisher of The Caretaker Gazette, a common practice is to reward valued employees with a bonus based on their annual salaries. “Back in 1999 to 2000 I was hearing of 20 and 25 percent bonuses, but 10 to 15 percent is very typical now,” says Dunn. Especially important is equity for all in the household orbit, meaning that the nanny should receive the same percentage as the pilot, or the estate manager. As Dunn says, “The last thing a family wants to do is offend a valued employee whom they want to keep.”

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