Are you a nanny or a parent hiring a nanny? If so, you need to put in place a great work agreement, commonly called a nanny contract.
Here’s why. First, it’s the core legal document of the parent/nanny relationship, and without one parents can easily run afoul of the law. Second, a great work agreement increases a nanny’s job security and satisfaction, which translates to better care for the children. So it benefits everyone involved.
But be careful—put in place a poorly written or illegal nanny contract, and you’re asking for trouble.
That raises the question, “What makes for a great nanny contract”? In short, there are 4 keys:
Nanny care involves many things, from paychecks to diaper changes to house rules and beyond. Unless the parents and the nanny are on the same page for those items, there’s a good chance of disputes developing down the road.
A work agreement should therefore cover all the important issues of nanny care. While those issues vary based on individual circumstances, they generally fall into one of the following categories:
- Start date and end date (if known)
- Work schedule
- Pay (hourly wages or flat salary, overtime, pay dates)
- Taxes (federal, state, and local)
- Time off (holidays, vacation, sick leave)
- Job duties (changing diapers, feeding, etc.)
- House rules (no TV, no smoking, etc.)
- Job perks (meals, insurance, etc.)
- Transportation (auto insurance, expense reimbursement)
- Miscellaneous (confidentiality, annual performance reviews, raises, etc.)
A nanny contract should also be fair. It should be fair to the parents in their role as the employer, and fair to the nanny in his or her role as a professional caregiver and an employee.
For example, a nanny should be paid a fair wage, and should be compensated for additional work, such as caring for another child or doing extra household chores. With respect to job security, the parents should not be allowed to terminate the nanny’s employment for no reason and without notice. Likewise, a nanny should be required to give the parents adequate notice before quitting.
In reviewing your nanny contract, if something doesn’t seem fair, raise the issue. If needed, contact a professional (e.g., a placement agency or attorney) and ask for assistance.
Like it or not, nanny employment involves many laws.
For example, under tax laws, most nannies need to be treated as employees and not as independent contractors. That means parents must pay certain taxes on their nanny’s wages and, in some instances, workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance. All nannies must be paid at least the minimum wage, and live-out nannies must be paid overtime per federal and state requirements. In addition, under immigration laws, parents must verify their nanny’s eligibility to work in the United States. These are but a few of the laws, and requirements may vary from state to state.
A poor nanny contract fails to address or, even worse, violates the law. A great nanny contract, on the other hand, complies with the law and helps parents avoid the major legal pitfalls of nanny care, such as taxes, wages, and work eligibility, among other things.
To ensure your nanny contract complies with the law, contact an employment attorney and ask for them to review it.
Last but not least, a nanny contract should be understandable and easy to read.
Otherwise it will end up unread and unused. Or worse, the parents or nanny might inadvertently break the contract, creating grounds for termination or even a lawsuit.
If you come across a nanny contract that gives you a headache reading it, find another one. As your nanny placement agency or attorney for one, or find a professionally written on the Web.
Nathan Hammons is an attorney in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He’s also a father and the creator of MyNannyContract.com, a website providing parents and nannies information about the legal issues of nanny care and a professionally written, easy-to-use nanny contract.
DISCLAIMER: This post provides information only and not legal advice, and it is not a substitute for an attorney. If you need legal advice, please consult an attorney licensed in your state.