- Be cautious if a “parent” wants to communicate only via text messaging or emails. He or she might be trying to hide a foreign accent or withhold a phone number.
- Look out for emails or texts containing poor English or grammatical errors.
- Be wary of anyone who is hesitant to give out personal information, such as place of employment, address, names of friends or other references. He or she might be fearful of a potential employee checking out his or her background.
- Beware of “sob stories” or anything else that appears to try to get sympathy.
- If a potential employer asks you for money for any reason, it is likely a scam. Never transfer money via Western Union, MoneyGram or a Green Dot Money Card to anyone you do not know.
Archive for May, 2012
While having a written work agreement may seem like a simple formality between a nanny and employer, the reality is a written work agreement is essential for a successful employment arrangement. In fact, in some jurisdictions, a written work agreement may actually be required.
There are many reasons why a written nanny/employer work agreement is essential.
Reason 1. A written work agreement establishes a professional relationship between the nanny and the employer from the start of the relationship. When a written work agreement is executed, the employer, employee relationship is formally created.
Reason 2. A written work agreement spells out the logistics of employment. From the nanny’s role and responsibilities, to who is responsible for withholding payroll taxes, to the nanny’s salary and benefits package, a work agreement outlines each of the parties’ duties, responsibilities and expectations.
Reason 3. A written work agreement gives you something to refer back to when questions arise. How many times has a nanny gone home on a Friday night thinking she has the Monday holiday off, only to get a phone call Monday morning from her employer asking where she is? A written work agreement allows you to say “Let’s look at what we agreed to” when questions about holidays, paid time off, or other topics arise.
Reason 4. A written work agreement foresees possible situations and outlines how they will be handled. What happens if the family decides to move across the country a few months after they have hired their nanny? Who pays the insurance deductable if the nanny is in a car accident while on duty? A written work agreement addresses how things like early termination, insurance coverage and deductibles and relocation will he handled.
Reason 5. A written work agreement may remove you from at-will status. In at-will states, workers can be fired for any reason at anytime, provided the reason is not illegal. A written work agreement that includes a specific start and end date may override a nanny’s at-will status. However, if the written work agreement cites that a nanny may be fired for cause, no cause or for specific reasons, she can still be fired according to the terms in her agreement.
Reason 6. A written work agreement offers proof of employment terms. Perhaps a nanny is forced to quit her job because her employer changed her role or responsibilities drastically. Or maybe the nanny’s employer didn’t pay her portion of state payroll taxes, although the employer agreed to. What if a nanny claims her employer was supposed to be withholding her portion of state payroll taxes, but her employer never agreed to do so? Having written documentation of the employment terms can protect both the nanny and employer when sticky situations arise.
Reason 7. A written work agreement provides clarity to both the employer and employee on crucial issues. Unlike with a verbal agreement that may be subject to the memory of each party, with a written agreement, there is no question as to what both parties agreed to. A written work agreement should spell out things like house rules, daily responsibilities and duties, pay periods, tax responsibilities, pay and benefits packages, sick days, personal days, holidays off, the nanny’s start date, end date, weekly schedule and more.
Reason 8. A written work agreement is legally binding. A written work agreement, or contract, is enforceable in court. So if an employer doesn’t allow her nanny to take the agreed upon vacation time or if the nanny quits without giving the two weeks’ notice that was agreed upon, legal action can be taken.
Reason 9. A written work agreement serves as a starting point for negotiating. Each year, both the nanny and employer should review the written work agreement and evaluate if it needs to be changed or altered. Even if no changes are needed, a new written work agreement should be executed.
Reason 10. A written work agreement articulates household and employment policies. If a nanny wakes up with a stomach bug and can’t get into work, knowing how and when to notify her employer can help ease anxiety for the nanny and allow enough time for the employer to secure back-up care, should it be needed.
While there are many reasons to have a written nanny/employer agreement, there is really no good reason not to. Take the time to do things right and lay everything out on the table. That way there are no surprises and everyone knows what to expect. A healthy working relationship is vital.
Every once in a while there’s a story on the Internet that makes every parent, teacher or caregiver cry. The happy kind of cry.
In case you missed it, Caine Monroy is a gregarious 9-year-old boy who spends much of his time after school hanging out at his dad’s used auto parts store in East Los Angeles. Caine, a budding entrepreneur, designed and built an elaborate collection of arcade games and machines using only cardboard boxes and packing tape.
Most of the amusements are classics you’d find at any carnival midway, including one of those crank claw/crane machines that challenge you to scoop up stuffed animals. He selflessly used his own toys as prizes. Customers could play the games four times for $1 or get a “Fun Pass” good for 500 plays at a bargain price of $2.
Just one problem… Caine’s father’s auto shop is a virtual ghost town with barely any random foot traffic. Most customers are generally in a rush and don’t have the time to humor the boy.
Filmmaker Nirvan Mullick is the exception. He not only buys a Fun Pass, but takes the time to play each cardboard game and get to know Caine.
He’s so impressed with the kid’s spirit, that he does a bit of impromptu marketing and turns Caine’s Arcade into a busy, standing-room-only attraction.
I’m not going to tell you how that happens — let’s save the surprise ending for when you get a chance to watch Mullick’s short film below — but it’s a heartwarming example of how adults can make a tremendous difference in a child’s life just by making a tiny effort.
Contrary to popular belief, a nanny isn’t an hourly babysitter or someone to just make sure the kids don’t run out in the middle of the street. A professional nanny sees herself as a substitute parent, just as concerned with a child’s emotional, social and intellectual development as she is about bedtimes and making sure all the vegetables get eaten.
Not every kid’s idea will be as cute or as clever as Caine’s Arcade — and certainly very few will have these kind of miraculous results (again, you MUST watch the video). But encouraging children to dream, work hard and enjoy the limitless boundaries of their imaginations should be part of any full-time nanny’s job description. Most of the challenge simply comes down to patiently listening, and making the effort to engage with a child’s interests instead of trying to squeeze in one more text or an extra TV show.
At eNannySource, we urge every parent to run a Nanny Background Check on prospective candidates, but the screening shouldn’t end there. You’re not hiring a bodyguard or Secret Service Agent. Personality matters — a lot!
Searching for a nanny should include a personality screening, a set of interview questions that make it clear if she will be an ideal match for your family and parenting style. Only you know what’s most important for your needs, but here are “9 Questions for the Nanny Interview That Make the Difference” to get you started.
Feel free to mix it up a bit and see how she feels about this video!
Perhaps the most inspiring part of the whole story is how the filmmaker’s kindness will keep on giving. Mullick has set up a Caine’s Arcade Scholarship Fund to help Caine and other kids from disadvantaged backgrounds go to college.
The formality of hiring and paying a nanny legally seems overwhelming to many parents, but it doesn’t have to be. Whether it is ignorance, time or perceived cost that prevents nanny employers from hiring and paying their nannies legally, the reality remains that doing so is not an option.
If you are considering or in the process of hiring a nanny, be sure to follow these five steps to hire and pay your nanny legally. Doing so may be easier than you think.
1. File for your employer identification numbers. As a nanny employer, you’ll need to have a state and federal employer identification number. To obtain a state number, contact your state office that handles employment. To obtain a federal employer identification number, use form SS-4 from the International Revenue Service.
2. Verify that your potential employee is legally able to accept work in the United States. To verify your potential nanny is eligible to work legally in the United States, you will need to obtain and complete form I-9, the Employment Eligibility Verification form. You can obtain this form from the Department of Homeland Security from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office.
3. Report your new hire (or rehire) to the state government. While the reporting procedures may vary from state to state, all new hires must be reported to the appropriate state agency within a specified amount of time from the employee’s hire date.
4. Set up a payroll system and pay your employee according to current, Federal and State labor laws. Live-out nannies must be paid at least minimum wage for each hour worked and overtime rates for hours worked over 40 in a 7-day-period. Live-in nannies must be paid at least minimum wage for each hour work and in some states (like Massachusetts), may also be entitled to overtime. Nanny employers are also required to pay the “Nanny Tax” which includes Social Security, Medicare, and the Federal Unemployment Tax. In some states, nanny employers may also have to pay state unemployment insurance tax, disability and workman’s compensation. The “Nanny Tax” is estimated to be about 10% of the nanny’s pay and you are responsible for these taxes if you have paid a nanny more than $1800 per year (2012 threshold). While not required, at the request of the nanny many nanny employers opt to withhold their nanny’s portion of taxes so that she doesn’t have to make quarterly payments. If you decide to do this, be sure to have your employee complete Form W-4 the Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate. If the payroll process seems to daunting, there are payroll service providers that specialize in household employment that can do it for you.
5. File proper end of the year forms. As a nanny employer, it is your responsibility to be sure that your nanny gets her W-2 form by January 31st of each year. You’ll also need to file this form, along with a W-3 form to the Social Security Administration by February 28th of each year.
Nannies who work in the private homes of their employers are their employees. While it’s popular belief that nannies can be classified as independent contracts, this is not the case. The International Revenue Service takes the misclassification of household employees seriously and you can incur penalties should you misclassify your nanny as an independent contractor.
While it may take a little extra time and energy to hire and pay your nanny legally, avoiding the penalties that can come with hiring those ineligible to legally accept employment in the United States and paying “off the books” should you get caught, are well worth it.
Hiring and paying your nanny properly is not only the right thing to do, it is the legal thing to do.
Michelle LaRowe is the 2004 International Nanny Association Nanny of the Year and the author of Nanny to the Rescue!, Working Mom’s 411 and A Mom’s Ultimate Book of Lists.
While a verbal agreement may feel like a suitable way to enter into the nanny / employer relationship, having a written work agreement is essential to building and maintaining a professional working relationship.
As you prepare a written work agreement, consider including these 20 things:
1. Who the employment agreement is between. Be sure that the names of both the legal employer and the nanny are included in the agreement. Be sure the names are typed or printed legibly and that both parties initial all pages and sign on the appropriate signature line at the end of all text.
2. Dates of agreement. Include the start and end dates of the agreement, including the time frame of any trial periods. For employees in at-will states, having a written end date may remove them from at-will status.
3. Pay rate. Now is the time to clearly spell out the monetary compensation package that you have agreed to. In addition to hourly pay rate, the pay rate for overtime hours, travel work, overnight hours, babysitting and on-call hours should be included. When determining your pay rate, be sure to comply with Federal and State labor laws.
4. Pay schedule. Include how often your nanny will be paid (weekly, bi-weekly). The payment type (check or direct deposit, for example) should also be included.
5. Tax responsibilities. Indicate in your written agreement the tax responsibilities of both the nanny and the employer. Be sure to include if the employer will voluntary be withholding and paying the nanny’s portion of taxes.
6. Work schedule. Outline the days and hours that make up the nanny’s work week. If flexibility is required, be sure to be specific about how much flexibility is needed and include what days and time frames require the most flexibility.
7. Specific duties. “Light housekeeping” means different things to different people. Take the time to list out each specific duty that the nanny is expected to do. Instead of listing “Keep the children’s area tidy,” write “Vacuum the play area, be sure all toys are in their proper storage units and wipe down the children’s play surfaces at the end of each day.”
8. Responsibilities. Reflect on what you want the nanny to be responsible for and write out those responsibilities in bullet form. These may include things like prepare the children’s meals, schedule play dates, transport the children to school, keep a daily log and maintain a safe play environment.
9. Benefits. Consider what benefits you are offering the nanny and list them out one by one. Benefits may include paid vacation, holidays, sick days, personal days, health insurance contributions, professional days, educational reimbursement, retirement, health club membership and any other benefits you are offering.
10. House rules. It is always good for everyone to be clear on the house rules. Include any rooms that are off limits, how any foods are to be handled (for example in families with allergies or in families who keep Kosher), parking arrangements, children’s screen time restrictions, how the phone is to be answered, policy on guests and play dates and any other items that govern how you operate your home.
11. Car use and insurance. Clarify what vehicle will be used to transport the children, who will provide it and who is to pay for gas and maintenance. If the nanny is using her vehicle, she should be reimbursed according to the current IRS mileage reimbursement rate. The nanny should also provide proof of insurance, indicating that her policy covers transporting children for work. If the employer furnishes the vehicle, be sure the nanny is added to the auto policy. You’ll also want to indicate who is responsible for insurance premiums and the insurance deductable, should an accident occur while the nanny is on the job.
12. Confidentiality clause. Some families wish to include a confidentiality clause that includes what can and cannot be shared about the employment arrangement and the employing family with others. This may also include the directive not to use family photos or names in social media.
13. Reasons for termination. The written work agreement should include reasons for termination, both for cause and for no cause. Any severance agreements and that amount of notice agreed to should be included. The agreement should also include the procedure that is to be followed should the nanny wish to end the agreement early.
14. Electronics usage. With electronics so readily accessible, some employers prefer to stipulate how much time the nanny is authorized to spend on the phone and on the computer during working hours. Some employer’s allow use during nap times and others allow the use for emergencies only. Clearly state your position on personal electronics usage during working hours in your work agreement.
15. Relocation clause. While it may not be foreseeable, agreeing to some basic guidelines should the employer or nanny have to relocate during the employment relationship can help to guide both the nanny and employer through the process.
16. Evaluation schedule. Include if you will be having weekly or monthly meetings and if you’ll be holding quarterly or annual performance reviews. Having a set time to discuss the employment relationship can help prevent any tension from building.
17. How to amend the agreement. Including a statement on how the agreement can be amended can provide clarity on how to proceed when changes to the agreement are needed.
18. The emergency plan. Writing out an emergency plan can help facilitate appropriate emergency responses. Choose an out of state contact that both the nanny and employer can contact should a personal connection not be secured. You may also wish to consider securing a safe meeting place should your home be inaccessible during an emergency.
19. Authorization to treat. Including an authorization to treat a minor form as part of you work agreement package can be sure that this essential tool is completed and ready prior to the start of the working relationship. Include permission for your child to be treated by emergency personnel should you not be able to be reached and include your pediatrician’s contact and children’s health insurance information, as well as all of both parents’ contact information. Include any other pertinent medial information including past surgeries and allergies. You may also wish to consider keeping a copy of the authorization to treat on file in your pediatrician’s office.
20. Live-in accommodations. If you are employing a live-in nanny, be sure to clearly articulate what is included in her accommodations, how meals and food are to be handled and which utilities you are providing.
While writing the nanny / employer work agreement may seem like a tedious project, doing so will prevent miscommunications and provide a reference to look back to if problems or questions arise.
Michelle LaRowe is the 2004 International Nanny Association Nanny of the Year and author of Nanny to the Rescue!, Working Mom’s 411 and A Mom’s Ultimate Book of Lists.
Please also note that families that find nannies through eNannySource.com get access to our legally reviewed nanny employment agreement that is pre-populated with all of the information from your prospective caregiver.
In order to ensure things go smoothly in the home, it’s important for a family and their nanny to work together and establish a routine that works for everyone. Hopefully, much of this has already been accomplished during the hiring process, but even so, it’s a good idea to make sure you’re on the same page from time to time. Here are ten ways to do that:
- Work Agreements – As stated above, when the nanny is hired draw up a working agreement that establishes standard work hours and clearly defines the role and responsibility of the nanny in your home. Discuss in as much detail as possible what a typical work day will consist of, and what each party can expect from the other.
- Reassesments – Situations are apt to change over time, and what worked previously may need to be amended as a result. Re-visit your working agreement periodically in order to track progress, determine what’s working and what isn’t, and make any necessary revisions.
- Regular reviews – Agree to meet regularly to grade your nanny’s job performance. Feedback is a valuable tool to help stay on course. Let your nanny know how well she’s doing her job and that she’s appreciated, and talk about areas of opportunity to help make her job easier.
- Make a schedule – Live-in nanny arrangements can be a challenge as far as establishing boundaries goes. Living full-time in the home with the family makes it more difficult to set limits for working hours and responsibilities. Make sure you set firm guidelines on this.
- Know who the boss is – Also, when both the parent(s) and the nanny are at home together, it can be confusing to the children if there isn’t a clear delineation of authority for them to see. Make sure it’s clear that when a parent’s home that the nanny’s job is supplemental to the parent’s authority.
- Brainstorm together – It might be a good idea to share ideas occasionally about activities for the kids, where to take them on field trips during the day, and whether they are allowed to attend events to which they are invited.
- Stay on the same page – Sit down each week and go over the schedule for the coming week so that you can get everyone up to speed on any appointments or errands that need to be handled. Make sure everyone knows what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, and by whom.
- Talk often – Keep in regular contact throughout the day whenever necessary, such as letting parents know when the nanny is out with the children and where they’re going. Provide contact information if need be also.
- Keep information current – Update emergency information and contact numbers periodically to ensure that everyone has the most recent info in their phones or devices. Older children with cell phones need to have everyone’s info in their phones too.
- Take classes together – An optional idea for staying in tune with your children’s care is to attend local classes or seminars together on childcare topics. You can both develop a better understanding of one another and your jobs as parent/care giver in the process.
Making sure that the family and their nanny are on the same page is imperative to having a successful relationship. If you aren’t on the same page then it just sets everyone up for disaster, so regularly check in with one another and address any concerns immediately.
Six months ago when Sharon hired her nanny, she couldn’t have been more thrilled. Her nanny’s background screening was clean, her references stellar, her experience and education extensive, and her easy going personality made her a real pleasure to be around.
Everything obvious seemed to indicate that Sharon had found the perfect nanny for her family. Their parenting styles were similar, they both voted republican and they even attended the same type of church. Her nanny’s salary requirements were within her family’s budget, the nanny lived only 15 minutes away and most importantly, the nanny was looking for a family that she could stay with for the long haul.
Sharon’s twin babies loved their new nanny, and although they couldn’t say it with words, the huge smiles and belly laughs they greeted her with each morning didn’t lie. All of Sharon’s expectations were exceeded and she was sure to let her nanny know how much she was appreciated.
As days on the job turned into months, tension began to grow between Sharon and her nanny. Sharon preferred that her nanny stay inside the house and follow the daily instructions that were left for her, but her nanny was pushing to take the babies out and suggesting that changes be made to their daily routine.
While Sharon surely wanted a nanny to care for her children, she failed to communicate the type of nanny care she wanted. Sharon wanted a situation where she was able to dictate exactly how the children spent every moment of their day, but her nanny was used to working with families that gave her free reign to spend her time with the children as she saw best. After one year of working together, Sharon and her nanny’s employment relationship came to an end.
While there are many factors that contribute to making a great nanny / family match, one that is often overlooked is the type, or model, of nanny care that is desired. For the nanny and family relationship to flourish and last, the type of care that the parents want for their children and the type of care that the nanny wishes to provide must match up.
The three types of nanny care include:
Coordinated Care. Coordinated care is when the parents and the nanny work together as a team to raise the children. Both the parents and the nanny are involved with making daily decisions that are guided by doing what is in the children’s best interest. The parents and the nanny have a true partnership and a mutual respect and trust for each other. The nanny is treated as a professional and her opinions and input are asked for and valued. The nanny is given freedom to plan the children’s days.
Custodial Care. Custodial care is when the parents outline how the children will be cared for each day and the nanny follows the outline provided. The nanny takes specific daily direction from the parents with regards to how to physically and emotionally care for the children. The parents provide the nanny with a plan of how the children will spend their day and the nanny executes that plan. Limited input on child rearing is expected from the nanny.
Surrogate Care. Surrogate care is when the nanny serves as the child’s primary caregiver. In a surrogate care relationship, the nanny often has complete oversight of the physical, emotional and social health of the children. Parents who require surrogate care often travel extensively and as a result, the nanny spends the majority of time with the children. Parents who require surrogate care for their children often employ several nannies. Typically there is a head nanny that calls most of the parenting shots.
Before hiring a nanny or accepting a nanny position, both the parents and the nanny must identify and articulate the type of nanny care arrangement that they are looking for. Only when the parents and nanny are looking for the same type of nanny care will the relationship flourish and last.
By Michelle LaRowe, 2004 INA Nanny of the Year and author of Nanny to the Rescue!, Working Mom’s 411 and A Mom’s Ultimate Book of Lists
Your kids don’t have to lose ground this summer due to the break. They can keep right on learning while having fun and you can plan activities to maintain or enhance the things they learned during the school year. We’ve listed a few things to help get you thinking of ways to make this an enriching summer for your kids.
- Kitchen math – Now is the time to get the kids to help you in the kitchen. Recipes are perfect for teaching and maintaining knowledge of simple fractions. If you want to get into more complicated math, have the kids help you take a huge recipe and cut it in half or double a recipe to share with someone. All the while they are learning or maintaining their skills.
- Astronomy – Summer nights are perfect for star gazing. Take the kids to the planetarium or just get a map of the stars and try to figure out where the constellations are. You could also invest in a telescope to get a closer view of the magnificent night sky. Your kids might just make a new discovery!
- History – Are you planning a family vacation? Why not make it an historical tour? Find out what your kids have been studying in history or what they may expect to study next year, and see if you can plan your vacation around a place that fits. Have the kids do some research on points between home and the destination and let them help plan the trip. Need to do a staycation? Not to worry; just find out about your local history and visit places nearby.
- Cartography – Teach the kids how to make a map. They can map out the house, then the block. For older kids you can teach them how to read a road map. All the little numbers and symbols mean something. Once they figure out the map legend and how to use the numbers, take a little trip someplace and have them figure out all the exits and distances. This will also help their math skills.
- Science – Summer provides all kinds of opportunities for scientific study. Kid can create bug collections, do pond studies or plant identification. Show them how to classify and log their findings in a special journal. You may have a budding naturalist in the making. If you’re really brave, you can show your older kids about the properties of light by using a magnifying glass to burn a piece of wood or you could do something a little more tame like making a pinhole camera.
- Language skills – When was the last time you sat down and shared your life story with the kids? This is a perfect time to do that. Make some copies of old family pictures and get the kids to pretend to be journalists and interview you about the people and places in the pictures. They write the stories you tell and save everything in a scrapbook. You get to preserve family history, they get to know you and the relatives better, and they keep up their language skills.
- Woodworking – Older kids may enjoy doing woodworking. The measuring required will help them with their math skills. Discussing the properties of the materials (e.g., soft wood vs. hard woods, wood grains, porosity, etc.) can help with critical thinking skills and scientific inquiry. Obviously, these projects require close supervision by a parent or caregiver.
- Sewing – Teaching kids how to read patterns and figuring out yardage will also help with math skills. Designing original items can also help with the development of the creative mind.
- Music – There are music camps available that provide training and fun. Many kids look forward to attending these camps on an annual basis. But, if that’s not an option, get the kids interested in music for the fun of it. Sing songs around the campfire and break out the guitar and other instruments. Music also enhances math skills.
- Arts and crafts – This is a grossly neglected part of education for many kids. Take them to the art museums and craft fairs. Let them experiment with different craft material or let them try their hand at using oil or watercolor paints. You might even want to enter some of their crafts in the county fair.
Learning doesn’t need to be strictly by the books. Think back to the old days when people learned professions by apprenticeships and hands on experience. Helping your kids keep learning through the summer is a wonderful way to enrich their vacation and it can give you some quality time with them. Who knows? You might even learn something yourself!