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10 Reasons to Have a Written Contract with Your Nanny

November 25, 2013

The relationship between a nanny and her employers is one that tends to be both unique and complex. Caring for your children and looking after your household while you’re away often makes your nanny feel like far more than an employee, especially if you genuinely get along and everyone in your family has forged their own bond with her. Because nanny/employer relationships can become so close, it’s not uncommon for both parties to forgo a written agreement in favor of something more personal and less rigid, a decision that can have unpleasant repercussions when all is said and done. These are 10 of the reasons why you shouldn’t throw the nanny agreement out the window, no matter how close she’s grown to your family.

  • Establishing Overtime Parameters – One of the most common causes of disputes and difficulty in a nanny/employer relationship is uncompensated overtime, or a work-week length that seems excessive. When you create a nanny contract outlining policies and procedures regarding overtime, up to and including limits for weekly overtime, you can effectively remove the possibility of disputes borne of misunderstanding.
  • Clearly Outlined Duties – Job creep can be a very real problem for nannies, and shirking of side duties can be an equally frustrating situation for employers. When the nanny’s duties are clearly communicated in a document she has reviewed and signed, there’s no room for confusion or disagreements.
  • Evaluation and Salary Review Scheduling – If you plan to offer annual employment contracts pending the results of a performance evaluation or offer salary increases at specific intervals, that information should be included in your written work agreement so that there’s no confusion surrounding such delicate issues later.
  • Providing a Reference Source – When you have a well-written, thorough nanny contract, both involved parties have a document to refer back to in times of confusion or dispute. This can prove to be an invaluable tool when it comes to derailing issues before they become insurmountable.
  • Communicating Terms of Employment – If there are deal-breaking grounds for immediate dismissal, your nanny needs to know about them. She should also have a clear understanding of the terms of her employment, something that having access to a copy of her nanny agreement provides.
  • Clarifying Mutual Expectations – When the expectations, rights and responsibilities of all involved parties are set down on paper, there’s no room for confusion or debate as the nanny/employer relationship progresses. Creating and updating a nanny contract when it’s necessary is a powerful tool for preventing turnover and aiding in constructive communication.
  • Benefit Package Establishment – Though it’s not legally required for nanny employers to provide benefits to their nannies, offering benefits like paid time off is standard industry practice and can be a sticking point for professional childcare providers. Knowing what benefits she’s promised, the number of sick days she has and the amount of vacation time available to her can clarify many important points for your nanny, and a contract provides a perfect avenue for that conversation.
  • Petty Cash and Reimbursement Policies – Whether you plan to reimburse your nanny for incidental expenses or provide her with a petty cash fund, including a section relevant to that issue in your nanny agreement can make the entire situation easier to understand and more practical.
  • Establishing Emergency Procedures – Working together to create a nanny contract, reviewing the document and signing it helps your nanny retain the lion’s share of the relevant details. Should an emergency arise, a section that governs appropriate action and contact information can not only help her to follow the guidelines, but also to ensure that proper action is taken in such an event.
  • Legal Protection – A signed nanny contract is a legally binding document, meaning that it provides both you and your nanny with some level of protection or legal recourse in a worst case scenario. Choosing to forgo the document can make legal disputes exceedingly messy, but having one in place well before they arise can help you avoid them altogether.

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Lorna Fione says:

Great blog! Now I can get tips from this page on how to write a contract with my future nanny in case I’m going to hire one for my kids.