When it comes to hiring a nanny, there are many decisions that parents must make during the hiring process. But once you have found the correct person, it’s smooth sailing after that, right? Well, not always! The relationship between a nanny and their employer is quite a bit different than that of an employer and an accountant, for example, because a nanny is performing parenting work, which can blur the boundaries between the parent/employer and the nanny. This is a person who is entering your home regularly, is often there when you are not, and is caring for your child. This can lead to there being a lot of gray areas that can cause problems in the employer-employee relationship.
Because of this, it is important for parents to enter into their employment of a nanny with a clear, thoughtful contract that will cover these potential areas of risk. Having a good contract protects both the parents and the nanny, and allows everyone to have more peace of mind, as there is no need to guess what is required, expected, or appropriate. This helps the relationship between parents and the nanny, provides a basis to easily resolve misunderstandings, and contracts serve to minimize the risk of litigation.
In Inceptive's course ‘Nanny contracts: What to include to give you peace of mind,’ led by Alyce Desrosiers, LCSW, goes over everything that parents should think about as they are creating a contract for their nanny, as well as pointing out common pitfalls and mistakes employers make. Ms. Desrosiers has 24 years of experience helping parents find the right nanny for their family and founded The Institute for Families and Nannies, a nonprofit focused on providing education, training, resources, and advocacy for everyone invested in a child’s development.
There are eight key components covered in the course that should be included in a nanny contract, and this article will go over two of those in depth. The provisions in each nanny contract will be slightly different, depending on the needs of the family, but each of these areas should be covered by the contract, and agreed to by both sides.
The first component to consider is the responsibilities of the nanny. Of course, the main responsibility of a nanny is to make sure that the child or children are cared for. But this is too vague of a description. A nanny’s job can include transportation to and from activities, cooking and feeding children, clothing, bathing, disciplining (of course, in concert with parents), helping with schoolwork, educational activities, and assisting with the child’s laundry or cleaning up play areas. Sometimes there will be other responsibilities, for children with specific medical or behavioral needs, and those should be clearly spelled out in the contract as well.
Ms. Desrosiers notes that there are responsibilities that are not part of the nanny’s job, and some parents make the mistake of asking for those tasks to be completed as well. Things like weekly grocery shopping, family laundry, deep house cleaning, walking pets or making the parent’s bed. Any tasks that would reasonably fall under the job description of personal or executive assistant should not be put on your child’s nanny.
Ms. Desrosiers also warns that there are going to be days where a nanny will not be able to achieve some of the regular tasks expected, as caring for your child will take up 100% of their time. As a parent, you know better than anyone that sometimes, there isn’t time to do anything outside of one-on-one childcare! Your nanny’s focus should be your child, not any other tasks. A good contract will spell out exactly what tasks are expected of your nanny, and both parties will agree to them before the contract is signed.
The second component that parents should think about is privacy. Your nanny will be working in your home while you are not there, and will have access to most areas of the house and some electronics. It is advised that you have your nanny sign a standard non-disclosure agreement.
You should also be very clear about protecting your child’s privacy. Especially with the ubiquitousness of social media, people can forget that it can be a dangerous tool. Let your nanny know what your policy is regarding photos and videos of your child or home, and there should be a section making clear that there should be no social media posts while your nanny is caring for your child. A person with knowledge of the nanny’s job and her location could easily use that to locate your child. Be clear from the start with your nanny, and you will avoid any unnecessary mistakes.
If you decide to use security cameras inside or outside of your home, be clear to your nanny that they are there, do not keep them hidden, and advise your nanny that they may be used at any time to check up on the house. A common mistake parents make is to not warn their nanny of cameras - trust is a two-way street, and if your nanny feels that they are being secretly surveilled, they may decide to find a different employer.
Having these measures clearly spelled out on your contract will help create peace of mind for both you and your nanny. It shows that you are committed to creating a workplace where your employee knows their rights and responsibilities. This will allow you to start off on the right foot with your nanny, and build a positive working relationship.
Enroll in Inceptive's course ‘Nanny contracts: What to include to give you peace of mind’ to learn the other important components of a good nanny contract, along with more expert advice from Alyce Desrosier.