Nannies are truly the backbone of our society. Think about it—their job lets parents do their jobs, which really keeps the economy turning.
As a parent, you are asking your nanny to care for one of the most precious people in your life. Do you want your little one to be cared for by a contractor, a freelancer… someone you need from time to time? No, you’re looking for an addition to your parenting team and your family.
So, how can you best support your nanny? Here are three ways to be a fair nanny employer.
1. Create a contract.
The Domestic Worker Bill of Rights Act, introduced in July 2019, would ensure domestic workers like nannies received protections like paid overtime, safe and healthy working conditions, contracts, affordable healthcare, retirement benefits, fair scheduling and more.
Hopefully, we’re close to having regulatory guidelines for families who want to employ a nanny to follow, but in the meantime, you should be creating a written agreement with your nanny to make sure everyone has the same expectations. A nanny contract is just like any other employment contract—it lays out all intentions and needs for the job.
Your contract should include:
- A clear schedule, including the total number of hours you’ll guarantee your nanny each week.
- Compensation details, including the overtime rate you will pay (yes, you have to pay overtime if the nanny works over 40 hours a week!).
- Benefits you’re providing (e.g. payment towards health insurance, reimbursement for public transportation/commuting expenses, cell phone service, etc.)
- How you’ll handle general expenses your nanny might incur while on the job. (Think art supplies, museum visits, an emergency diaper run, etc.)
- Paid Time Off, including holidays and sick days
- Details on taxes and withholdings (It’s best to consult a tax or legal professional who can help you understand and comply with the laws to make sure you have the right paperwork and are handling tax withholdings correctly.)
- Job responsibilities, particularly if you’re requiring other tasks outside of childcare, like laundry, cleaning or tidying up, pet care, etc. (i.e. you can’t just expect your nanny will walk Fido)
- Termination details like how much notice you’ll provide and how you’ll handle things like severance pay and unused vacation days. (Again, it's best to consult a legal professional on the language used here.)
Be clear in your expectations.
A nanny’s attentive, personalized care gives parents peace of mind knowing their little ones are not only in good hands, but that they’re receiving continuity in their upbringing. A great nanny is truly an extension of the family, helping reinforce values and teachings and keeping the love going strong when mom or dad heads off to work.
That being said, your nanny, like anyone else, isn’t a mind reader. You should discuss your expectations around care before your nanny starts and make sure to set aside time every week to check in. You should also spell out how you want your child to be played with, taught, encouraged and disciplined, and go over rules around things like screen time (for the children and the nanny), how often you’d expect to hear from your nanny throughout the day, internet safety and more. Just like you want clear, transparent and fair expectations from your own employer, so does your nanny.
Maintain mutual respect.
It's key in any great nanny-family relationship. As much as you are trusting your nanny, remember that they’re trusting you too.
Keep communication open. Are you planning on using a “nanny camera”? Make sure your nanny is aware and that those details are in your contract, and that you are available to your nanny should they have any questions or concerns. It’s helpful to have a time set aside for this every week. That way, you’re not trying to squeeze it in during the morning madness of your nanny arriving, you handing off the little ones for breakfast or changing and you running out the door to work (nope—it’s not just you!)
It’s also a good idea to set aside time to discuss your nanny’s performance on a regular basis, as well as what you can be doing to better support and equip your nanny. You’re on the same team, and little things like mixed messages or different expectations between parents can make it harder for your nanny to do their best. These meetings help keep everyone striving for the same goal. Plus, it’s important that your nanny understands how their work is being viewed (and valued!). You wouldn’t appreciate a job where you never knew where you stood or you felt like you weren’t being valued for your contributions; your nanny won’t either.
Just as you’re an ambitious employee who always wants to get better and do better, so is your nanny. Have they shown an interest in taking early-childhood development classes or do they want to renew their CPR certification? Encourage this initiative and support your nanny by making time for it in their schedule.
Has your nanny continued to be reliable, communicative and go above and beyond when it comes to caring for and teaching your little one? Reward them with a bonus or consider a performance-based raise.
When you invest in your nanny, they invest in you and there’s nothing better than a dedicated caregiver. Early education is a critical profession just like yours, and nannies deserve to be as respected, supported and empowered as you are. When they are, they’ll return the favor tenfold in the difference they make for your family.
Just ask your little one!
CozyKin, the leading Montessori-inspired nanny share service, has quickly become the go-to childcare choice for new and expectant parents in Boston and New York. CozyKin Nannies are W2 employees that are eligible for benefits, such as health insurance, worker’s compensation and paid time off. CozyKin handles all recruiting, vetting and management of nannies, including payroll, taxes and performance evaluations, saving families the added stress of handling employment details, while at the same time helping the company maintain and ensure the quality of their caregivers.