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How to create a live-in nanny contract

Hiring a new live-in caregiver? Here are tips for creating a nanny contract together.

How to create a live-in nanny contract

If you’re hiring a new live-in nanny to care for your kids, you know you need a nanny contract, but creating one can seem like an overwhelming process. And the idea of a legally binding contract can be scary — what if you get it wrong? Rest assured, it’s easy to draw up a nanny contract — no law degree required! You can write one yourself in a basic Word document. The important part is covering all the details of the jobs and agreeing on them together.

Why you need a nanny contract

You should take a contract seriously because it will help everyone define expectations and know what to do when something unexpected crops up.

“It is good to lay things out in advance in case anything goes wrong,” says Ilona Bray, a lawyer and author of “Nannies and Au Pairs: Hiring In-Home Child Care.” Even small glitches, like an unexpected health emergency, can have serious repercussions if no one has thought about how to handle the situation. “Just the act of talking it out, putting it in writing and going over it afterwards lets everyone know what to expect and know when expectations haven’t been met,” says Bray.

Every employer and nanny should have a contract, but it’s especially important with a live-in nanny situation. The caregiver is living in your home, which adds on another layer of complication and detail.

Decide if you should hire a lawyer

“A contract doesn’t have to be drawn up by a lawyer to be binding,” says lawyer Lisa Pierson Weinberger.

But a professional will ensure that nothing is inadvertently included or omitted, so if you have a particularly complex situation it may make sense to hire one. Families can expect to pay around $500 for a contract from a lawyer (which you can reuse for future caregivers).

Negotiate together

“Something that is in writing has power,” says Bray. “Don’t just hand a contract to someone and say, ‘sign here,'” says Bray. “Whomever created it should give the other person the opportunity to change it.”

A contract is a mutual agreement, so just as you need to state how many paid sick days are offered, your nanny also needs to know what will happen if unexpected surgery lands them out of work for two weeks. Give each other the opportunity to read it the contract, ask questions and make changes.

To learn more, check out our article: Do you need a nanny contract?

Decide what to include in the nanny contract

If you choose to draw up the live-in nanny contract on your own, just keep the wording simple and straightforward, Weinberger suggests. But make sure you are detailed about what you decide to include.

“Writing more is always better than not writing enough,” advises Becky Kavanagh, a parent coach who spent 20 years as a live-in nanny for one family. Kavanagh says she and her employer updated the contract every year during her annual review. After a few years, they updated it less frequently.

Here are some tips on sections and elements to include in your contract. Use them as a starting point and add on things that are unique to your own situation. You may also check out our sample nanny contract or ask your nanny if they have a sample contract that worked well for them in the past.

Salary and benefits

These are some of the most important things to clarify in the contract.

Trial period

Record the expected start date and state that the first 15 days are a probationary period.


Because the nanny lives with you, are you expecting them to work a 9 to 5 schedule or do you need them to work a split shift from 6 to 10 a.m. and then again from 4 to 8 p.m.? What if they work more than 40 hours? Do they work weekends? Will their hours be unpredictable sometimes?


Most nannies are paid an hourly rate. What is their pay rate for normal hours, weekend hours and holidays? Learn more about: What does a live-in nanny cost?


Most states don’t require overtime pay for live-in nannies that work more than 40 hours per week — though a few states (California, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York and Oregon) have more specific laws. But even if your state doesn’t mandate overtime pay, you should think about creating some provision for it. For example, if your nanny works late on Monday night, maybe they can get off early on Friday? Make sure you and your caregiver are on the same page when it comes to these extra hours and what is acceptable.

“If they are not entitled to overtime, that doesn’t mean they are not entitled to pay for every hour they work,” reminds Weinberger.

Overtime for nannies usually equals time and a half of their standard rate.


The IRS also gets involved when you hire a nanny, so you also need to make a plan paying nanny taxes. Use our nanny tax calculator to figure out how much is involved and then learn: Steps to create a caregiver or nanny payroll account.

Room and board

What — exactly — will you pay for? Will your nanny have a room of their own, with a lock on the door? Will they have a private bathroom or have to share with your kids? What type of “board” or food is included? Will you provide an allowance for going out to eat? Will you supply toiletries? If you have a housekeeper, will they clean your nanny’s areas as well?


Will you provide your nanny with a cell phone and pay for all — or some — of a phone contract? Will they have a private landline in your home or share the family’s? Can they give the number out to friends and family?

Paid holidays

According to the 2017 INA Salary and Benefits Survey, most nannies get paid holidays — usually about six days. What holidays will they have off? Some of the typical ones are New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas — but you can negotiate what makes the most sense for all of you.


Most nannies also get about two weeks of paid vacation. What does paid vacation include? How much notice do they have to give you that they’re taking some time off? Does their vacation have to coincide with your family vacation? Are you also paying for part of the nanny’s trip or strictly their salary for those days? Can they still stay in your home during that time? Who will take care of the kids while they’re off duty?

Sick days

Will you also offer paid sick days? How many? (The average is about five days). How much notice does she have to give you? For more information, read: I have a sick nanny, now what?

Family vacations

Will you pay your nanny when you go on a family vacation or are home for a holiday? What if the nanny comes with you on a family vacation? What is expected? What do you pay for? Will she be paid if you while you’re away? Read more: Should you bring your nanny on vacation?


What kind of health, automobile, workers’ compensation or liability insurance will you pay for or require your nanny to have? How much? Decide: Do you need insurance for your nanny?


Is your nanny required to have their own car? Will you compensate them for gas and wear and tear when they use it to chauffeur your kids around? Will you pay extra for them to have additional automobile insurance coverage? Or will they only drive the family cars? Discuss your policies on seatbelts, texting and talking on cell phones while driving.

Understand more: Here’s how to handle the car situation with your nanny.

Performance reviews

It’s important to do regular reviews with your nanny. Promise to do a 90-day and annual review with your caregiver. What will you discuss? Will you renegotiate her salary?

Duties and responsibilities

Make sure your nanny knows what’s expected and allowed when they’re taking care of your kids.

Child care duties

What do their child care duties look like? Do they need to drive the kids to activities or doctor’s appointments? What about when a child’s friend needs a ride? Do you want them to be in charge of picking out outfits, handling bedtime routines and packing school lunches — or are you in charge of that?

Other duties

Does the job include any light housekeeping? Like what? Will they prep or prepare any meals for the entire family? Which ones?


If the nanny takes the kids to lunch or to the zoo, do they need to let you know ahead of time? What are they responsible for? What will you pay for? What are the maximum allowances for breakfasts, lunches, snacks and dinners? Will you give them a weekly cash allowance for activities or reimburse them at the end of the week? Bray suggests having the nanny keep records of the date and purpose of any expenditure over $2.


What memberships to local activities like zoos, museums and theme parks does the family have? Will you pay for the nanny’s membership?

House rules

Since your nanny is living with you, you should create a section specifically about your home and what is — and is not — allowed.


Because a live-in sees and hears a lot, they must promise total discretion and confidentiality. Explain what, if anything, they allowed to post about on social media.

Their room

What space is theirs? Will it have a lock on the door? How will you handle it if someone needs access to that room? Is smoking or alcohol prohibited in your home?

Their space

When they are off-duty and the kids want their attention, how will that be handled? What common space are they allowed in during off hours? Should they take out their own trash?

Their possessions

If they have their own car, where will they keep it? Where can they do laundry? Where can they keep their groceries?

Their visitors

Are they allowed to have visitors on weekdays, weeknights, weekends or overnight? Can their friends and family visit? What about significant others?


Are they expected to eat meals with your family, is it optional or do you prefer that as family-only time?

End of contract

What’s the process when it’s time to go your separate ways?


What kind of notice is required? How soon do they have to move out after giving notice? Will severance be offered and what type?


What are grounds for firing the nanny?

At-will provision

Make sure your contract has an at-will provision, which states in simple terms that either party can end the agreement without notice and for any reason or no reason. This is especially important with a live-in nanny contact because if something goes wrong, you might want them out of your house without delay, says Weinberger.

Both nannies and employers should insist on a contract, and everyone should be involved in getting it right. Some caregivers are hesitant about approaching their employers about contracts. Be firm! Having a written agreement is in everyone’s best interest.

Nannies: Your new employer may forgot this step — or not even know that nanny contracts exist. In this case, Bray advises, you can just say, “Let me write up this letter that expresses my understanding of the job.” Then after reviewing and agreeing upon it together, just make sure you both sign and date it.