In a perfect world, nannies would stay with their work family until the children outgrew the need for childcare, and parents and nannies would plan for the nanny’s departure as they would for any other essential childhood milestone.
But the world isn’t perfect and nannies come and go. While it’s typically more convenient for the family when the nanny leaves on their terms, this simply isn’t always the case. Whether a nanny is getting married, is expecting a child of her own, or wants to move onto greener pastures, nannies can and do give notice that they’ll be leaving their posts. When this notice comes, savvy-employers need to have an action plan in place.
Reviewing your nanny work agreement is the first thing you’ll want to do if your nanny gives notice. If crafted thoroughly, your agreement should include a section on termination of the working relationship. This section may outline what the nanny agreed to in terms of how much notice she’ll give, how any unused accrued paid time off will be handled, and what steps she needs to take, if any, prior to her last day of employment. It may also include employer options, such as providing severance pay rather than having the nanny work out her notice.
If no written agreement has been made, now is the time to hammer out the details surrounding your nanny’s departure. If you’ve made a verbal agreement, put it into writing so that there are no misunderstandings with regards to expectations.
After you’ve solidified the logistics of when your nanny’s last day of work will be, you’ll want to develop an end plan. Your end plan may vary depending on how long your nanny has been with your family, if she lives in or lives out, and the circumstances surrounding her decision to move on. While it can be tempting to keep the ending short and sweet, this is a time where you’ll want to put your children’s best interest above your own. If your nanny has been with you several years, phasing her out by cutting down her work hours may be a good choice. Now is also the time to discuss when you’ll tell the children their nanny is leaving and how much information you’ll share. It’s important that the parents and nanny are on the same page so the children don’t feel like the nanny leaving is anyone’s fault.
If you plan to allow your children to continue their relationship with their nanny, you’ll want to discuss that as well. This way everyone is prepared to answer when the children ask when they’ll see their nanny again.
Parents will also need to remember to collect essential items like house keys, credit cards, unused petty cash, insurance cards and any other items your nanny has accumulated for her work use prior to or on the nanny’s last day.
When you’ll begin your next nanny search will depend on how much notice your nanny has given and your confidence level in being able to work through her notice successfully. Sometimes, after a nanny has given notice, the parents want to terminate the relationship on the spot. For practical, as well as for their children’s emotional attachment to the nanny, this isn’t always the best course of action. Ideally, you’ll want to give yourself two to eight weeks to secure a new nanny. Nannies who have been with their family for years and who are leaving on good terms may even be willing and eager to help you in your new nanny search.
While it can be difficult to set any negative emotions aside, ending your working relationship on a good note is best practice. If your nanny has cared for your children for several years, you’ll want to honor the dedication and contributions she’s made to your family. A farewell dinner, a handmade gift and, if she’s gone above and beyond to be accommodating during the transition, perhaps even a cash bonus are appropriate ways to say thanks.