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📝 Do you use written agreements with your families? Why or why not? 📝

Diane Hoelter
Aug. 10, 2018

Last week we asked you "During an interview, what questions do you always ask families, to make sure they will be a good match? " We had a record number of answers! This week our question is from Sydnee C:

 

Do you use written agreements with your families?  Why or why not? 

Answers

Written agreements make complete sense because it gives clear expectations with direct consequences if there is failure to comply. It may seem excessive to some but it ensures a heightened sense of responsibility for both parties and avoids future misunderstandings/disagreements.

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I think a written agreement/contract is a great idea. While I have not had one to date, the subject was brought up with my current employer. She asked me about my thoughts on contracts and I told her I would be willing to sign a contract. When she asked me about terms that should be covered in the contract, I was embarrassed to say I had no idea as I never had a contract before. I did receive a message from another family with a job offer. When I responded that I had accepted another offer (from my current family), I received a job proposal of: a high dollar amount per hour, paid federal holidays and 2 sick days per year. When my employer heard the terms I was offered, she immediately offered to match the offer! This was great news because I had never been paid for days off in the past 6 years I have been hired through postings on Care.com. The proposed contract also led to a discussion about guaranteed hours per week. The idea of a contact made me realized that I would have a voice in my chosen freelance profession. In making the decision to be a stay-at-home mom for the past six-years and then finding a position through Care.com, I had forgotten the hiring process of the corporate world. Terms, salary, vacation time and other compensation were laid out and discussed during the interview process. Instead, I approached the job listings on Care.com as a freelancer and when I received an offer on my first job, I was overjoyed and immediately said yes. Working for a family was a new environment than working in an office. I treaded lightly and avoided conflicts. I was ill-equipped in dealing with the dynamics of working for a family and just said yes to all their request. I have been successful and secured many positions through Care.com but I was never comfortable asking for a raise. Some families were kind and generous and raises and some never mentioned raises even though I had worked many years with them. The line between working as an employee at a company and working as a caregiver for a family is often blurred because in working for a family, one essentially becomes a part of the family. Whereas establishing a formal relationship, by way of a contract, a caregiver could feel empowered to confidently lead discussions about job descriptions, pay and terms thereby benefiting both sides mutually. My views about contracts stem from personal hindsight. Although a contract was discussed with my current employer, I, unfortunately, injured my back shortly thereafter which resulted in taking a month off work and then returning on a part-time basis. In the interim, a second caregiver was hired part-time. Had I had a contract, I probably would have had some paid days off and would have had a discussion about “worse case scenarios” such as an illness. Instead, I am now in a situation where I need to work full-time (because of upcoming college bills for my children). As I am now considered a family member, I struggle with the idea of discussing the subject of money and I realize that essentially, I am asking for the termination of the other part-time caregiver (whose father just had a second heart-attack). Had I initiated and discussed a contract early on, I would have felt more confident in asking for more hours, or had asked my employer to find temporary help. Alas, I am not a heartless person so I will need to find another position…oh, if I only had a contract… Bottom line, get a contract and renew yearly. Negotiate salary, discuss raises, reimbursement for funds spent and days off. Have a plan in place for extenuating circumstances and discuss terms for termination. Lastly, make reasonable request and do not overextend yourself. For example, a baby may nap for hours and you may have free time to do household chores however, as the baby grows and naps time become less frequent, the ability to maintain the same level of chores may become overwhelming. Good luck!

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It depends if the agreement is a long term agreement or if it is only a one time job. I would say if it is for a long term job then I would prefer a written agreement.

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User in Tulsa, OK
Aug. 26, 2018

Yes. I think this is a proper way to keep all guidelines and policies asked from the employer active. Having written agreements can also provide an accurate way to keep employer and employee on the same track - without any misunderstandings.

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User in Orlando, FL
Aug. 11, 2018

i do more of a verbal agreement the parents just because they feel more comfortable and more at peace leaving their kids because i am not treating their kids like a contract but yet like a family member.

I clicked the heart icon by mistake hehe but I wanted to point out that contracts are for legal protection; it has nothing to do with how you treat the children. Verbal agreement might seem like the easy approach till one party develops selective amnesia about what was agreed upon or decides to change things as they deem fit rather than based on the agreement.

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Keala in Kaneohe, HI
Aug. 17, 2018

Yes I do because it's important to make sure they abide by your standards and vice versa. I have had problems in the past where they suddenly decide to pay me less than what we originally agreed upon, or they suddenly start asking me to work more hours than I feel comfortable, or to do more things such as more housework, etc. So, it's better to have a formal written agreement with your pay rate, your hours, and the exact type of things you will be doing (cooking dinner, doing laundry, washing dishes, etc).

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Megan in Boise, ID
Aug. 17, 2018

Yes, written agreements help both the family and nanny. They can provide clear expectations of what both parties are looking for. They allow everyone to be on the same page! Megan

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I think that a written agreement protects both the caregiver and the employer. It specifies to the caregiver the tasks and hours of work and both agree upon compensation for the duties performed.

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Silvia in Leesburg, VA
Sept. 24, 2018

no, it has not been required

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I feel that a written agreement as to the parents expectations of their Nanny is a wise choice. The amount of weekly wage plus any overtime should be written so there is no question at the end of the week. Any paid holidays should be noted and holidays not paid. Vacation time and family vacation time needs to be noted. When you have a written agreement there is no misunder- standing and everything is agreeable. Thanks! Patricia P. :)

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Actually, if I make the agreements in writing, it is recommended. because afterwards some families that hire us forget the agreements.

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Brenda in Las Vegas, NV
Sept. 22, 2018

I do use written agreement with the families. Why? because I like to have everything on paper to avoid future misunderstandings.

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Ashley in San Juan, PR
Sept. 22, 2018

With some families, but not all. It depends on the service requested and the type of care. If extensive and requires more specifics (such as with an infant) or if a full-time position that requires tax information, I think it's best to have agreements in writing. If the service is part-time and basic, such as a date night for the parents, then verbal agreements work just fine for me.

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Of course, it's the smartest and best way to make sure there is no confusion what so ever with pay and responsibilities.

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No.I do see the value in written mission statements and conduct and chore agreements. It helps build a connection accountability and feeling of being part of decision making. My son is grown. When he was little we kept weekly logs. I home schooled him for a couple years we made schedules for subjects. He's grown now and graduated with honors

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I do use written agreements with families. Later in time while working with them, I want both sides to remember what was agreed on and why I chose to work for their family.

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Andrea in Brooklyn, NY
Sept. 20, 2018

I do not but it's a smart thing to do if you don't trust the family.

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Peter in Bethlehem, PA
Sept. 19, 2018

No. I wouldn't use them because I'm perfectly comfortable with verbal agreements.

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User in Loveland, CO
Sept. 19, 2018

I have had a few families write up basic contracts but they don't really cover all that much except NDA's and agreements of times to be at work and pay rate. I always ask for a copy just in case. but they've generally been very honest and forthcoming just as much as I have been.

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Irene in Lakeport, CA
Sept. 19, 2018

Two of the main issues that I make perfectly clear is: 1. Safety is my biggest concern and I will do everything I possibly can to keep the child/children safe and that will mean bringing any safety issue to their attention and 2. There absolutely needs to be constant communication so that all parties are on the same page all the time.

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I never have. If the family requests that then I wouldn't mind doing a written agreement.

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Ayana in Brooklyn, NY
Sept. 19, 2018

i never used it simply because i'm a very trusting person so i dont think it was needed whatever we discuss during and interview well thats what its gonna be. my strongest asset is i'm very good at communicating so i never have an issue if i don't like something or i think something is needed whatever it is i communicate with the family as much as i'am always tell familys you can always tell me anything i don't bite i love to talk so i get along with people very well.

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User in Lewisville, TX
Sept. 18, 2018

Written agreements are a great idea!Making sure everyone is on the same page about discipline, scheduling for feedings and sleeping, and anything else that puts parents at ease. I have kept an activity log for new parents that give an overview of each day. I also debrief the highlights of celebrations and observations at the end of each day.

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yes, because good and clear understanding each other

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Janice in Dover, NJ
Sept. 18, 2018

I have not always used written agreements although I think it is a good ideal because sometimes the employer or employee does not always remember all the agreements made and if any conflicts come up we can review the agreements and make sure everyone is happy and on the same page.

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You always need to keep track. It doesn't have to be "an agreement" except verbally, but then there needs to be a written log to keep everyone honest. This is also for tax purposes.

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i never did that, but if i need to do, why don't?

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Gigi in Tucson, AZ
Sept. 7, 2018

I have a lot to say about this. "JOB DUTIES" should be in communication on care.com with an agreed pay, hours including a date as to when the worker started. Additional duties, hours requires additional pay and should be reflected on communication within care.com site. So, no other contract should be needed. If I'm wrong then correct the facts as to how much care.com is backing their families and us workers. After all care.com is getting a cut of our earnings, isn't this correct? Everyone's lives are subject to change so a written contract that is binding by law will get nasty. Consider firing with zero grounds, reduced hours, elder family member moves in and now helps with baby, family or worker need to move, worker get's injured on the job, family loses job or changes career, worker wants to split the hours with another worker, worker needs to leave for a much higher paying job, etc. Written contracts deal with the law in one's state and are binding. I have dealt with non-compete contracts in 2 states. I don't sign them and I get hired anyway. It's the young and nieve who sign those and they hurt their work potential greatly. (Some "Right To Work State's" don't hold up in court anyway.) They are so desperate for work that a contract seems their only recourse. I know of a dog groomer salon that hands out non compete contracts for dog groomers. Really!? Dance Schools offer non-compete contracts for teachers stating many selfish and fear tactic wording in the contracts. Instead of being interviewed yourself, interview them... In this day in age of taking months to find work, be smart, be business savvy, do your homework, stalk their FB, Google them, check their business's Yelp reviews, see if their business is a member of the BBB. Be warned after you sign legal contracts. Verbal contracts mean nothing and written one's are trouble. Pick your way through life carefully and be smarter than your boss before time of hire.

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I haven't, but, I think its a great idea to protect nanny and family.

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User in Lithonia, GA
Sept. 3, 2018

Hi I strongly suggest you do as it is your only line of defense and reference point when there is a disagreement. The terms of exit must be clearly stated, the holidays granted, overtime, sick leave etc must all be in print. If you consider yourself a professional in the field then an employment contract should be completed.

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User in Surprise, AZ
Aug. 31, 2018

Yes, I always do. You have to trust each other, but something can always happen where they might not need you. Your pay, how to be payed, hours, and expectations should be on your contract.

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yes i do that way i know there is something i can and cant do with their permission and knowing its on paper helps me

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I never do unless your are under contract

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Eda in Horsham, PA
Aug. 25, 2018

Agreement for a good conversation are made according to the condition of the family to the employed.You can even write. Because it's the best way to the both sides.

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No, I don't, but I insist on knowing what they want me to do other than care for kids, what hours, what pay and how often.

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Aj in Canoga Park, CA
Aug. 24, 2018

It's good to have written agreements with any job. However when children are involved, it's not practical to have written agreements as every day is not the same. I have a give and take policy, which works for both parties.

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Yes, written agreements are a must! Agreements safeguard both parties in the event that the family or caregiver feel that things are going south.

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Dahrya in Tucker, GA
Aug. 23, 2018

no I don't use that

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I feel that its important to put out all your questions at the first meeting. anything you are unsure of, i wouldnt be afraid to ask.

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Giovanni in Bend, OR
Aug. 21, 2018

If the family request one I am happy to cooperate. Otherwise I really do see myself as just helping them out, keeping it as stress-free as possible for them and for myself.

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I don't use written agreements, but only because I make an excel spreadsheet with the hours and pay weekly and monthly. As long as you have all the correspondence in writing between you and the family there should never be a problem. I just believe families become uncomfortable (in my experience), when you try to ask for a written agreement. In a way care.com is your written agreement, because the family hires you and is agreeing to pay you, when they confirm your time-sheet weekly.

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Absolutely, because when everyone's expectations are clearly written on paper & questions can be answered prior to the arrangement then there are usually fewer misunderstandings & promotes a long term relationship

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Chanel in Taylor, MI
Aug. 15, 2018

No I currently don't because the service I provide is very basic and simple. If my services for the families were very defined then yes I would ask for a written agreements so everything is understood.

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Talicia in Monroe, LA
Aug. 15, 2018

I am going to be babysitting for a family with 3 kids that are 9, 6, and 2, I am excited to be starting for this family, but I am not sure what I can do with all 3 kids that won't leave anyone feeling left out. Does anyone have any suggestions for what I can do? Also, I will be doing this for 8.5 hours at a time, so more time-consuming activities would be appreciated. veryyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy muchhhhh

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Yes I will if they feel its the best way to communicate and getting everything that needs to be done all together down or paper so my task will be done more clearer if that's what you mean

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Written agreements will help children (and parents) keep track of the children' progress. It's good to have reminders during the day of expectations.

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User in Desoto, TX
Aug. 15, 2018

Yes. I believe written agreements in long term jobs protect everyone in the situation. If you can't remember what you agreed on, you can always go back and review. Changes should be made when necessary.

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I like notes more than Twitter or Texting. I always have a pad for answers that can be gotten from Parents.

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I don't use any agreement with the families, they just let me know what exactly has need to be done, and I do it.

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I would not feel uncomfortable with written agreements because it would clearly outline my responsibilities and expectations as long as my benefits so all parties are on the same page and happy.

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Yes. It's an important form of communication.

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Christy in Union, NJ
Aug. 14, 2018

Written agreements can insure that certain responsibilities are getting done, but if for instance there are certain emergencies that arise that are outside of the written agreement, your caregiver has the right to use that against you. Written agreements are always best to have, but if you're looking to have one then you MUST be thorough!

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If I am going to nanny for a long time I will use a written agreement to make sure we are all on the same page. If I am baby-sitting for one night for a couple heading out on a date night I will most likely not use a written agreement. The use of a written agreement for me is to make sure we both agree to the type of care that will be provided and to keep things on the same page.

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It depends. I am flexible if a family wants to use a written agreement. It holds us both accountable for the stated circumstances and services. I believe it serves as a contract between the two parties. I also track my hours, either way, to ensure that I am being paid properly and regularly and I provide families with a copy for their records.

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User in Jamul, CA
Aug. 14, 2018

I have not yet used a written agreement, however, it is a good idea. I like to visit a family before I start and be open to seeing any red flags.

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Yes,because we can be clear on the rules of the family and to make sure that the communication is clear .

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User in Pewaukee, WI
Aug. 14, 2018

I always have a written contract to protect not only myself, but the family. In addition it helps both parties understand the exact expectations both ways.

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Written agreements like a list of things to take care of yes, for keeping guidelines, no. I have found that even when it's in writing, you still need to do what is needed to get the job done.

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Amy in Zuni, VA
Aug. 14, 2018

No, I would not. My word is my contract. Be upfront, letting the family know that you would like a probationary period, to see on both sides if this is a good fit. That is the key - that you click with your family and they click with you.

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Nicole in Dallas, TX
Aug. 14, 2018

I would because I just like to keep documentation.

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Angela in Nashua, NH
Aug. 14, 2018

NO FAMILIES DONT WANTED

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No, I don't use written agreements with my family. When we agree on something, it's almost always usually susceptible to change; the plan itself happens but just the way we do it changes. Plus, whoever makes himself or herself in charge usually is the director, making the plans and inviting the rest. Anyone not up for the plans, can always refuse.

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User in Salem, MA
Aug. 13, 2018

Yes. Because some families don't have any commitment or respect to the person that is there to take care of their child, and they just leave you high and dry.

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User in Lehi, UT
Aug. 13, 2018

I have never used written agreements. I never even thought to use them.

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I have not used written agreements in my past, although I do believe they are a good idea. I have found myself in the past being asked to do more than I felt like was discussed in the original interview, but I did not know how to bring it up to the family. This has made me consider that I should've made sure we had something in writing. Other times, it hasn't even crossed my mind and I've had no issues at all.

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Written agreements are best because it helps both parties to be "on the same page" with expectations and responsibilities.

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Sadie in Waterloo, NE
Aug. 13, 2018

No,I have not used a written agreement yet, because I have not booked a job yet.

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Gabrella in Lima, OH
Aug. 13, 2018

In my family my siblings are special needs so all they did was yell we would normally have a family meeting and discuss what happened that we could change the situation from happening again.

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Yes! To keep up with what has been agreed with and no future problems arise!

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Always have a contract concerning your employment with your family so that each party knows what the hours are, pay arrangements are, and what is expected on each side. It takes away anyone misunderstanding later!

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I am part-time so I usually have them fill out a form I made with allergies, ages, kid's name and their name as well as phone number and emergency contact. But, my payment isn't written down due to the fact I am a date night sitter. I guess it depends on the family, how comfortable you feel with them and so on.

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Kayla in Wichita, KS
Aug. 13, 2018

Yes, it protects both parties. As far as what is considered being "late", sick days, vacation and pay. It leaves nothing to be questioned on your part and explains their expectations of you in writing.

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I never have, but I always document and record my sessions. I like to keep SOME sort of a trail -- PayPal or Venmo are good for that. And parents who text are great because you have confirmed times in writing. Also, asking questions is good over text for the same reason. Unless it is a live-in situation, I wouldn't think you'd need a contract.

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Maria in Corona, CA
Aug. 13, 2018

a written agreement is always a great idea. They family has some reassurance that you will fulfill your expectations, and those expectations are made clear on paper.

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Laura in Phoenix, AZ
Aug. 13, 2018

No need - just google me. All my information including my phone number is published. Laura Frances Miron (nee') Zaki (married name) I trust people so I do not need a written agreement.

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I have not used one yet, but if I was to do like a full time nannying position I would think about using one just in case there were any miscommunications or anything like that.

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Verda in Spring, TX
Aug. 12, 2018

I think I would. Especially because a written agreement, especially if you're babysitting for an extensive period of time, is more valid and tangible, then just orally coming to terms with something. When it's written, it's black and white and it can't be manipulated with either one of the parties, the babysitter or parents. :)

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Ancilma in Bronx, NY
Aug. 12, 2018

yes I do use written because its like a contract you always go back to

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User in Troy, OH
Aug. 12, 2018

While I didn't use written agreements when I was younger and babysitting, I definitely would now. I think it makes life easier for caregivers and families and having rules and plans laid out helps preserve good will between both parties.

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i prefer not to, but either way is fine with me. i like to take peoples word and hopefully stand by it

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Yes, I prefer a written agreement so that all the facts are out of the way. I feel this covers both parties and gives me a more secure position.

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In the past, I haven't, but in the future, I will! I think using a written agree leaves no q8wit both myself and the employer what the expectations are. Example: if asked to perform light housekeeping, my definition may be different than employer, getting specific duties leaves no doubt of the expectations.

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Lori in Nashville, TN
Aug. 12, 2018

Yes! Written agreements help to clarify expectations for both parties. I believe it is important to have the job requirements,do's and don'ts and privacy policy all spelled out on paper. Plus, it helps to have the details regarding schedule, paid time off, and compensation also in "black and white"!

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My initial thought is whatever the family feels comfortable with. As a parent of now adult children when hiring babysitters I trusted my instincts and gut on the person I was leaving my babies with.

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Absolutely. Having a written agreement protects both the family and the caregiver. It works as a negotiating tool when one party is dissatisfied, and the process of writing the agreement itself it helpful to guide both parties in figuring out what exactly they want from each other.

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In my most recent position I did not establish a written agreement or contract, however I would like to do so depending on the type of position I am applying for.

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Yes. That way we all know what is expected of each other. It also has an agreement of a trail time so if it's not a good fit then the family has a way out as well as the nanny.

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Rachel in Jamaica, NY
Aug. 12, 2018

Yes, I use contracts with my recurring/long term families. I find it best to have all our agreements on paper, legally binding, to make sure we are literally all on the same page. it protects both sides in any dispute situation, and makes expectations clear.

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Gris in Brooklyn, NY
Aug. 12, 2018

More than 5 years working as nanny I am 32 years old. I'm originally from Mexico, my first language is Spanish (and my second is English). I'm a very optimistic person and I always give my best in my life as well as in my job. I'm flexible, organized, responsible, patient, loving, friendly, adaptable, proactive and engaged.

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Yes, not a bad idea if both sides benefit from it.

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i do not use written agreements for my current jobs but I feel it would be more beneficial to use written agreements in the future.

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I plan to because I think it is protective of both parties. It sets out the parameters of pay, responsibilities, hours, days and and other pertinent information in writing and it is signed by both parties. It means both parties take this seriously and plan to adhere to the written agreement.

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Lynne in Agawam, MA
Aug. 11, 2018

I think it is a great idea to always sign a written agreement with families I babysit for, especially more than once, because for me, it serves as a solid reminder of what is expected of me on the job each time I arrive after my busy day being a Mom at my own home. It reminds me precisely what the family is trusting me to accomplish with their precious children each time I pick them up and drive them down the street and enter their home and feed them and play with them. Every decision I make is of vital importance to them and their child(ren) I am caring for! So, having that agreement to browse over is important to me, and it is a contract and commitment for both parties involved to keep us faithful to our commitment and we have that document to fall back on if one of us tries to back out. Also, it would help a great deal if someone was to get hurt or anything else was to go wrong, God forbid, but things do go wrong, and that agreement would be in writing for both the family and the child care giver to fall back on and refer to. For instance, if it was said in the agreement that the family did not want me, the child caregiver to have any friends over while I was babysitting, then I better abide by that agreement and respect it. But, if I had someone over anyway, and let's say I was preoccupied with my friend and one of the children got hurt on a piece of glass, because I was negligent and wasn't watching the little one, then the family member in charge could fire me. I broke the agreement! Without the agreement, I could put up a fight if I was that kind of person and cause a messy case if they tried to fire me. But, they were smart and had an agreement! Yes, I believe there should always be a written agreement and both the family and the child caregiver will benefit greatly! ~Lynne P

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User in Burbank, CA
Aug. 11, 2018

What is the most effective way to discipline your child with other adults involved?

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Megan in Schertz, TX
Aug. 11, 2018

A written agreement is a great idea so that you have everything you agreed upon on paper in case something isn't happening or someone is not following through on what they said they would do.

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well usually i trust the people i sit for, but if i was to be cheated out of pay i would know quickly because i need paid weekly or after each session, but i one time cared for my friends mother, ( she was 80 & bedridden ) & After the week i sat for he decided not to pay me. my advice is to give contracts to friends & Maybe ask if youre doing a long term job, you dont want to get stuck for caring for a person & then not getting paid for a long term session.

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User in El Paso, TX
Aug. 11, 2018

If the family would like one yes that wouldn't be in issue but if a family doesn't request it I wouldn't. My goal is to make a family feel as comfortable as I can.

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I like to use written agreements to make sure I comply with the family needs as well they agree to my terms and conditions. It is always good to define a base line to avoid misunderstanding.

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It would be better, to write all we agree down.

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Yes, Because it is an easy reference of accountability. It can go both ways, family can reference for requirements that aren't being met and caregiver can reference if there is too much being asked outside of what they agreed to.

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depending on how often they want services, and if its a one time thing or a regular scheduled booking.

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Liza in Lowell, MA
Aug. 11, 2018

nope,no need,Ifully trusted my family,love them.

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Currently yes, I do have a written agreement, and I do think that it's beneficial to have one. I have not always had one in previous positions and agreeing to things verbally does not always work out. At this point in my 10+ year career as a Nanny, this is only my second time having a written agreement and I think from now on, in any new position, I will at the very least express interest in having one.

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It really depends. I value open communication with my families very highly so I always check with them to see how they are feeling about having something in writing. Most of the time neither party feels the need to have a written agreement, but there have been a few times where that is something that makes people feel more comfortable, so I am always welcome to the idea.

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I think it's great to have a written agreement/contract when being a nanny due to the fact if it's your only source of income and if you make an agreement and it get cancelled they need to cover the rest of the agreement just like if they were in a daycare center and they will cancel they will have a cancellation fee being a nanny is more than a job it's a luxury if you can afford it then great if not don't bother with it

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Iva in Berkeley, CA
Sept. 28, 2018

Yes I do written agreements with your families

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User in Princeton, NJ
Sept. 25, 2018

No, I don't use written agreements with any families.

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Lara in Flushing, NY
Sept. 25, 2018

to be fair its my goal. with or with out contract