Learn how to craft a great nanny share contract
Considering sharing a caregiver? Be sure to do your homework: Nanny shares and shared care arrangements may be subject to various licensing requirements or prohibited in certain states and jurisdictions. Research local laws and regulations.
Setting up your nanny share was no easy task. Think about it: First, you found another family that wasn’t just interested in sharing a nanny, but is also one you like. Then, you went through the process of searching for and interviewing potential nannies. And you weren’t just looking for any nanny – you were looking for one who met most of your family’s most important criteria in addition to those of the other family. But, after much hard work and a whole lot of patience, you found her! Better still, she accepted your offer!
Now that you’ve locked down a nanny, it’s a good idea to consider drafting up a nanny share contract. This contract will help you memorialize everyone’s understanding and expectations surrounding this child care partnership, and can act as a reference if any issues come up further down the road. We know, we know, creating a contract -- let alone any type of legal document -- can seem like a daunting task. What should you include? What shouldn’t you include? What if you get it wrong?
In short, don't stress. While the term “contract” sounds very official, just remember that this is, simply put, a mutual agreement between your family, the other family, and the nanny that ensures you’re all on the same page. You can write one yourself in a Word document. To help get you started, we’ve suggested some of the things to be considered.
Why You Need a Nanny Share Contract
You should take a contract seriously because it will help everyone define expectations and know what to do when something unexpected crops up. This is especially important when you’re doing a nanny share, because you’re now adding another family’s needs and expectations into the mix.
“It is good to lay things out in advance in case anything goes wrong,” said 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, she said.
“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,” Bray said.
A work arrangement that is too informal is more likely to confuse you both in the long term than one where everything is ironed out and made official from the get-go.
What Should Your Contract Include?
To help you out, we asked parents, child care experts, and Care.com legal and tax specialists to share their suggestions of topics you could cover in your nanny share contract. These items will help you to document the needs, goals, and expectations of each person in the partnership.
Outline Dates, Times, and Locations
The heart of the nanny share contract will outline the when and where of your arrangement. In the simplest terms, state what days and hours the nanny will be watching the kids. It’s also ideal to determine the location(s) beforehand, too, so everyone is clear about where the children will be at all times.
Things you could include:
- Exact days and times the nanny will be working.
- Exact location(s) where the nanny will be caring for the children. Additional things to consider: Do the locations have pets, security systems, or additional technology the nanny will need to care for or access?
- Transportation expectations. Will the nanny have her own car or drive one belonging to one of the families? Which kids can and can't be transported by the nanny? Outline any and all policies on car seats, seatbelts, texting, and talking on cell phones, etc.
Specify Rules and Preferred Practices
The type of care their child receives is the most important thing to parents who have used a nanny share, according to several interviews conducted by Care.com. So it makes sense to cover some or all of the expectations on care in the contract.
It’s important to consider kids’ personalities, too, when drafting your contract.
A mom from Portland, Oregon, explained why on an online parenting discussion board: “The nanny is often more ‘soft’ with older (daughter) -- doesn't expect her to do the things I expect (i.e. no separation from other kids when [she] is speaking rude or being mean, no expectation for her to say please and thank you at meals).”
She added that her daughter “is one of those kids who needs STRONG boundaries, or she will not behave. She needs to know who's in charge!”
Here are some topics you could consider covering:
- Day-to-Day Interactions
- How -- and how often -- will the nanny interact with the children?
- Will the nanny be expected to interact or play with the kids all day regardless of age?
- If the kids are playing together, should the nanny also be involved?
- Is some TV time acceptable, or should all activities be non-digital?
- Are playdates ever allowed? (As in, when one family’s child has another friend over to play while under the nanny’s care.) If so, what notice does each family require beforehand?
- How and when should the nanny discipline the children?
- Do both households utilize timeouts?
- Should the nanny discipline the kids or wait for the parents to decide how each situation will be handled?
- Which behaviors require immediate attention?
- Expectations Around Privacy
- For example, you may not want the nanny to post photos of your children on social media.
- Food Preferences
- Will the nanny be expected to prepare any of the children’s snacks and/or meals?
- Will the host family be solely responsible for providing food for the children and nanny, or will the responsibility be shared between the families?
- Will each family be expected to provide snacks or meals only for their child, or will they be expected to provide enough food for all to share?
- Will each family split the cost of food equally, or will it be on the host family to provide food for the children and nanny?
- Does either family have any specific rules about the kind or type of food that’s given to the children? (e.g., organic, sustainably grown, cage-free)
- Does either family have any specific rules about how the food should be prepared? (e.g., kosher)
- Do the children have any food allergies that everyone needs to know about?
- Nanny Updates
- How will the nanny inform both sets of parents about their kids’ days?
- Is this important for each family to have happen?
- Should the host family leave a notebook for the nanny to fill out at the end of her shift?
- Would the families prefer to have a verbal report at the end of each day?
- Special Instructions/Preferences of Each Child
- Do either or both of the children take naps? If so, when do they typically go down? And for how long?
- Does one family have specific preferences for the types of toys their child plays with? (e.g., wooden or silicone vs. plastic)
- Any additional house rules that you deem to be important.
Define Salary, Benefits, Vacation, and Sick Time
Determine the average number of hours and pay structure that will work best for both families, but also consider deciding upon an hourly rate for the times when only one family needs a nanny.
“There's going to be a time when the nanny’s only watching my child, or the nanny's only watching the other family's child,” said Ken, a dad in New York, who’s currently in a nanny share. “In that sense, you have to think of an hourly rate for that, and then you have to think of an hourly rate for when both children are together. We put it on an hourly rate, and then we guaranteed her a certain set number of hours. Then we said OK this is how much you're going to make if you're watching one child as opposed to two children.”
Families can also consider including some or all of the following topics:
- Overtime Pay
- Several states require it after a nanny has surpassed 40 hours in one week. Make sure to research the laws in your state beforehand and cover the issue in your contract.
- Don't forget to access the Care.com nanny tax calculator so you know what's expected before starting your nanny share.
- Number of Sick Days and Vacation Days
- It’s a good idea to document the number of sick/vacation days you and the other family are going to give your nanny.
- How many paid sick days can the nanny expect to have? How many unpaid sick days can she expect to have?
- How paid vacation days can the nanny expect to have? How many unpaid vacation days can she expect to have?
- Coverage on Sick Days, Holidays, and Vacation Days
- It’s a good idea to document your expectations around how the children will be cared for if the nanny is out sick, observing a holiday, or on vacation.
- Additionally, consider documenting your expectations regarding how care will be handled for certain situations regarding one or both families. Here are some examples to consider:
- When one or both families’ children are sick;
- When one family is out on vacation and the other is not;
- When one family observes a holiday that the other does not;
- In this section, you may also want to document the names of any backup caregivers you may have, in the case that your nanny cannot make it into work and none of the parents are able to watch the children themselves.
- Family Vacations Where the Nanny Comes Along
- What parts of the vacation will be covered?
- How many hours will the nanny be expected to work each day?
- Workers Compensation
- Any Additional Benefits the Families Plan on Providing
- These can include health, dental, vision, and liability insurances.
- Car Insurance
- This really only relates if you plan on having your nanny or one of the parents drive the children places.
Another important aspect to consider is what to do when one of the children is sick.
“With illnesses, when one baby is sick versus the other, we decided that we would just implement the day care policy [we have at work],” explained Teresa, a mom from Portland, Oregon. “If one baby has a fever, then they are basically excluded from day care for 24 hours after the fever has stopped. Similarly, if they have two diarrheas, then they're excluded.”
Determine the Extras
While kids need and crave structure, there will be times your nanny wants or needs to get the kids out of the house or work on a special activity that requires extra funding. It’s best to discuss the possible extras ahead of time so everyone's clear on how they will be handled.
Here are some of the things to outline:
- Any activities outside of the home that both families agree to. (e.g., trips to the museum)
- A monthly budget for activities outside of the home.
- Seasonal activities that could cost a little extra. (e.g., making Christmas cards)
- Any places that families don’t want the nanny taking the kids. (e.g., fast-food establishments)
- Whether the nanny needs to provide advanced notice of the outings, and to whom.
Develop a Review and Reporting Process
Deciding ahead of time how and when your nanny will be reviewed and reported on is another section to consider including in your contract. Ideally, your nanny works out wonderfully, in which case her review and reports will highlight her service. But by determining how you’ll review your nanny’s job before they start, you’re also outlining what will happen in case something goes wrong.
“I'm in a nanny share with another couple and we're a little unsure of how to deal with some issues we've been having with her,” said Rachel, a mom from Maryland. “She's late at least twice a month and has been late twice already this week (today she was an hour late). She's great with the kids, but her lateness is really frustrating.”
To avoid feeling helpless in these kinds of situations, the contract could outline the following things:
- A trial period of 30, 60, or 90 days in which both families can evaluate the care provider.
- A review date when the nanny will be given a report with feedback from the parents -- and kids, if they’re old enough to express how the nanny is working out.
- The process for when something goes wrong. Will a written or verbal notice be given? Who is in charge of communicating the notice to the nanny? What type of response is expected from the families? What is the time frame the nanny has to resolve the issue?
- What kind of notice (written or verbal) and the time frame (two weeks or longer) your nanny should provide before quitting.
- An annual date for when the nanny and the families can meet to review the contract and make any necessary changes including salary, benefits, hours, etc.
In addition, consider adding an at-will provision that states either family or the nanny can end the deal at any time if something goes wrong.
Be Sure to Include Your Caregiver in the Conversation
Bringing a professional nanny into your home is a big decision that can benefit everyone involved. That’s why it's crucial to include your nanny when drafting the contract.
Taking care of kids is hard work, and your caregivers should be part of the conversation. Listen to what is important to your nanny and try to address their concerns in your agreement.
* The information contained in this article is provided only as a general guide and is not intended to be nor should it be construed to contain legal advice. The selection of a caregiver and terms of any employment situation are solely the responsibility of the individuals involved and not Care.com.
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12) Learn How to Craft a Great Nanny Share Contract
The information contained in this article is provided only as a general guide and is not intended to be nor should it be construed to contain legal, medical or financial advice. The selection of a caregiver and terms of any caregiving arrangement are solely the responsibility of the individuals involved and not Care.com
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