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.