11 employment benefits families should consider offering their nannies
When hiring a nanny, many families focus on criteria like base pay and the number of hours per week they want the caregiver to work. It can be easy to overlook an equally important part of working with a professional nanny: providing employment benefits.
Like other professionals, most nannies expect — and should get — job benefits that guarantee them paid time off, mileage reimbursement and other perks that make their jobs more secure and worthwhile. Think of it this way: Nannies have one of the most important jobs out there in raising your children and the next generation. Why shouldn’t they receive the same benefits other professionals get?
Still, according to a 2017 survey by the International Nanny Association, 77 percent of nannies work as full-time professionals in their field — and many of them have training and education in child care-related subjects — but only 70 percent of nannies reported receiving basic benefits like paid time off and sick days.
“To be honest, I think a lot of parents miss these basic things,” says Katie Provinziano, CEO of Westside Nannies in Beverly Hills, California. “If they’re working with a nanny agency, we’re going to educate them, but [for] families hiring on their own, I don’t think that a lot of them think about the fact that they should offer benefits.”
While an extensive benefits package is not a requirement for hiring a nanny, it’s important to remember that the nanny industry is highly competitive and ensuring the best quality child care means being willing to provide standard employment benefits commensurate with a nanny’s skill level and experience. Here are 11 benefits you should consider offering when hiring a nanny.
1. Guaranteed pay and overtime
“If you’re hiring a nanny, they’re signing up for a certain amount of hours based on the amount of hours you need as a family,” says Provinziano. “They have bills, and those bills don’t change whether or not you get home early one night.”
She recommends guaranteeing a certain number of hours per week in your initial offer, as well as being prepared to offer overtime pay if a nanny is required to work more than 40 hours per week.
2. Sick days
Sick days are a must for any employee but especially for nannies, because they work closely with children. There are currently no federal laws mandating sick leave. However, Provinziano notes that many states and cities have their own laws regarding the number of days that must be offered.
For example, employers in California are required to provide at least 24 hours — or three working days — of paid sick leave per year. But the city of Los Angeles requires employers offer at least 48 hours of paid sick leave per year, plus one additional hour accrued for every 30 hours worked, with an optional cap at 72 hours. It’s important to check with your local labor department to see what requirements there may be in your area.
If you plan on offering paid sick days, it’s also a good idea to have a backup child care plan in place.
“I always say you need a backup to the backup,” says Florence Ann Romano, the former nanny behind the Windy City Nanny.
Day care is not always a viable option because slots fill up, and part-time care in a center can often be just as expensive as a full-time care. Instead, Romano recommends finding a local in-home provider who’s willing to work with you on an “a la carte” basis on the days your nanny can’t be in.
3. Paid time off
It’s common for employers to provide a minimum of one week of paid vacation per year, though many provide two, says Tonya Sakowicz, co-president of the International Nanny Association in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Bryce Gruber, a New York City journalist and mom, says she offers her nannies two non-consecutive paid weeks off.
“I've noticed from years of parenting and having the amazing help of nannies that it usually works out to Christmas week and a week during the summer,” Gruber says.
4. Paid holidays
It’s important to note that paid time off does not include holidays. Paid holidays are a separate benefit, and it’s typical for families to offer either all federal holidays or five to seven holidays of their choosing, according to Provinziano.
“Paid holidays would be if the holiday falls on [a nanny’s] regular workday, then she receives it off, paid,” she says. “If a nanny is required to work on a holiday, I would encourage families to give her time and a half.”
Reimbursements and stipends
5. Health insurance reimbursement
Health insurance is fast becoming a standard benefit for nannies, either by employers purchasing health insurance plans for their nannies or by reimbursing them for the partial cost of a plan. Employers can use the federal exchange to find a health plan if they wish to cover the full cost of health insurance.
The other option is to reimburse a nanny for the cost of her premiums. However, nannies must obtain health insurance through a private exchange or directly from an insurance company if they wish to be reimbursed. Per the Affordable Care Act, employers cannot reimburse employees for the cost of premiums on insurance plans obtained through the federal exchange without being subject to additional taxes and fees.
In cases where reimbursement is the best option, employers may want to take advantage of the Qualified Small Employer Health Reimbursement Arrangement (QSEHRA), which was signed into law by President Barack Obama in December 2016 as part of the 21st Century Cures Act. The QSEHRA allows an employer to reimburse an employee up to $5,050 for a single health plan or $10,250 for a family health plan per year tax free. Employees must provide proof of their healthcare costs, and then employers offer a monthly allowance to cover the costs, which is reported on the employee’s W-2. With the QSEHRA, all reimbursements are free of payroll tax for both the business and its employees.
6. Cell phone reimbursement
Some employers provide cell phone reimbursements for nannies if the nanny is frequently required to use her personal phone on the job. One example is if a nanny travels with the family and must use her phone to communicate with parents, or if a nanny is required to give frequent updates to parents or coordinate playdates and other activities.
“I would see what the nanny’s cell phone plan is, how much she’s using her phone for a work-related purpose and decide on what the appropriate amount is,” says Provinziano.
California is currently the only state that requires cell phone reimbursements, though it does not specify how reimbursements must be given. Employers can choose to offer a flat stipend, such as $50 per month. Additionally, it may be helpful to check with your cell phone provider about adding another line for the nanny. Many family phone plans will allow you to add an extra line at a very low or no additional cost.
7. Mileage reimbursement
Whenever a nanny uses her personal car for on-the-job transportation, she needs to be reimbursed.
“So for example, driving the kids to and from school, going grocery shopping, running errands and even driving the kids to and from a playdate,” says Provinziano. “Keep track of her mileage, and she should be reimbursed with the IRS standard mileage rate, which changes each year.”
Currently, the rate set forth by the IRS is 54.5 cents for every mile of business travel driven. Employees do have the option of calculating the actual costs of using their vehicle rather than using the standard mileage rates. However, per the IRS, employers cannot claim deductions for paying both mileage and depreciation. It must be one or the other.
8. CPR certification
“We encourage families to pay for their nanny’s CPR certification every two years,” says Provinziano.
It’s not a must, but it’s worth the investment for your children.
9. Continuing education
Occasionally families will offer to cover the costs of continuing education, such as child care or child development courses. While not a requirement, it can show that you’re invested in your nanny’s development as a professional — and your kids reap the benefits.
10. Annual bonuses
A bonus is a lovely way of showing appreciation for a nanny’s hard work and dedication, and it doesn’t have to be exorbitant. According to Romano, many nannies appreciate simply having an extra week’s pay presented as an annual bonus at the end of each employment year or around the holidays.
11. Extra perks
When it comes to benefits, think outside the box. Consider adding a nanny to your existing gym membership or offering her one Friday off per month, if you’re able. Not only will perks like these help attract the best nanny, but they’ll help retain her, too.
“Look at what you as a family have that the nanny might value,” says Sakowicz. “Use of your box suite at an arena for any events you cannot attend? A ski condo that is free for a long weekend along with a ski pass and dinner gift certificate? Consider using that to honor your nanny’s dedication and hard work. Just be sure and consult with your tax professional to ensure you are complying with any necessary reporting for tax purposes.”
Most importantly, regardless of the benefits you decide to offer, make sure each is clearly outlined in your initial agreement with your nanny and don’t add any surprise duties or changes in benefits down the road.
“First and foremost, a nanny wants to know that she feels comfortable with the family she’ll be working with and that there are reasonable expectations of her,” says Susan Yara, a California working mom who employs a full-time nanny.
Remember: Nannies have lives, too, Yara says.
“Some have children [or] additional part-time work,” she says. “They want to know they can still make it for important events, can take time out for a doctor’s appointment or go on vacation, just like you would want.”
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