Out in the Open

The complicated nature of feeling a part of the family you work for

Herly Bautista is a live-in nanny. She’s both an employee and says she feels a part of the family she works for
Herly Bautista (Courtesy of Herly Bautista)

"For me and my bosses, we never expected that we were going to be close. Or, I never expected that I would be close [to] them and be treated like a part of the family," says Herly (Ley) Bautista.

Ley works as a live-in nanny. She's been with her latest family for the last six years.

"Because back home, all you can hear is about bad employers...So, when I moved here, I had that fear."

With stories of abuse and of not getting paid, being a nanny can be a vulnerable position to be in. That doesn't happen to every nanny. But, at the minimum, it's a job that can blur the lines of what it means to be an employee working for a family.

Ley says her employers are the first ones to know what's going on in her life, whether she's having problems at school or back home in the Philippines. They also helped pay her school tuition fees.

"It really meant a lot to me because I know it's a big amount of money. And they work for it too...That day she was like a sister and a brother for me."

But not having a traditional employee - employer relationship isn't always easy. Though Ley says at the end of the day she knows she's an employee, blurring those lines can get complicated, like when the children want to spend time with her on her off hours. Ley says that sometimes she feels shy about reasserting those boundaries.

"Cause we live there. For us, it's already flexible...Even if we don't feel like [it], we're like, 'Ok, we're here. We're not doing anything. Ok, we can just watch [the children] for a few hours more.'" 

Ley says the family is also flexible with her time if she needs something too.

Ley also says she lets her guard down and blurs those lines when she feels respected by the family for her time and her expertise.

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This story originally aired on September 17, 2017. It appears in the Out in the Open episode "Modern Family".