07/24/2012 07:06 pm ET | Updated Sep 23, 2012

The Ethics Of A Sick Nanny

A Parentry reader is looking for advice.

She writes:

We have a nanny who has worked part-time for us for almost 2 years. She is sweet and kind to our little one, but is a diabetic who has not taken good care of herself. She's missed work frequently due to diabetes-related illnesses, more than three weeks each year. We pay her competitively and give her two weeks paid vacation during the time of her choosing, as well as paid time off whenever we are on vacation. We have also given her two weeks of paid sick leave, which she has exhausted every year. After that, we do not pay for the time she is absent.

I feel terrible for her, but I am quite stressed at dealing with the frequent disruptions to my own work schedule. This week, our nanny has been hospitalized with cellulitis. I've canceled all my meetings and am staying home with my daughter, who has pretty severe stranger anxiety. I just can't leave her alone with someone she doesn't know well -- she will cry for hours (no, she doesn't calm down after I leave) -- so arranging back-up care is rather difficult.

I've talked to other moms in my area, and many are shocked that I "put up" with so much absence and that we give our nanny two weeks paid sick leave. Most give 3-5 paid sick days, and say that they would fire a nanny who missed work so much.

It seems cruel to dismiss someone for missing work frequently due to chronic health issues. On the other hand, I am using all my own sick days to be here when she isn't. I feel an obligation to this woman, who is part of our household and who has helped raise my daughter. But I am also beginning to fear for my own job.

How would other people handle this?