Do you need a nanny contract?

When you hire a nanny, you’re primarily focused on making sure they’re a good fit for your children. But even though we all hate paperwork, you also need to prioritize writing up a solid nanny contract. And while you might be hesitant to rock the boat by introducing a formal document into the working relationship, taking the time to draft and a sign a nanny contract can protect both your family and your nanny.


Find out more about why you need a contract and what to include by watching the video and reading the advice below.


Why do I need a nanny contract?

When you and your nanny are clear on the responsibilities of the job, it reduces confusion and makes disputes easier to solve amicably when they do crop up. For example, how much notice do you expect your nanny to give you if they are using a vacation day so you can find back-up care? Or, how should expenses be handled? If anything, a nanny contract forces you to talk through expectations up front — it’s much more difficult to resolve these issues on the fly.


What should I include in my nanny contract?

There are employment attorneys you can hire to write up a nanny contract, but you can also write out your own. The level of detail you use is up to you, but the more specifics you add, the better. We generally recommend including the following items:


  • Your nanny's start date.

  • The expected weekly work schedule.

  • A general overview of your nanny's job responsibilities.

  • Your nanny's compensation, including expenses, overtime and other benefits.

  • Paid time off your nanny will receive.

  • A list of paid and unpaid holidays your nanny will have off.

  • How your nanny's taxes will be handled.

  • Your family's social media policy.

  • Reasons why your nanny can be terminated and termination process by either party.

  • The process for giving reviews and raises to your nanny.


For more specifics on these items, check out our Sample Nanny Contract.


Are nanny contracts legal?

"Yes, it's a legally binding document that a court will accept if there is ever a dispute," notes Kerri Swope, Vice President of HomePay. "The only exception is if there is language in your contract that directly contradicts federal, state or local laws."


So for example, if you do not honor your nanny’s request to take their accrued vacation days, your nanny contract could be used in court if a dispute is filed.


Do I need to hire a lawyer to write or review my nanny contract?

A contract doesn't have to be drawn up by a lawyer to be binding, but hiring a professional who specializes in employment issues and nanny contracts will ensure that nothing is inadvertently included or omitted. If you have a complex situation, it may make sense for you to hire one.


What labor laws do I need to know for my nanny's contract?

You should familiarize yourself with the wage and hour laws that apply to your nanny so you know which federal, state and local standards you'll be obliged to comply with to ensure fair employment. Things like overtime, paid time off and working overnight shifts may apply to your nanny's job and are important to understand.


When you and your nanny agree on the terms of the contract, your should both sign a copy and keep it for your records. Contracts aren't just for families, so your nanny should feel comfortable talking with you about the important details in your contract. And during your nanny’s annual review, you can always change certain things in your contract as the job evolves.


Your Next Steps:

* The information contained in this article should not be used for any actual nanny relationship without the advice and guidance of a professional advisor who is familiar with all the relevant facts. The information contained herein is general in nature and is not intended as legal, tax or investment advice. Furthermore, the information contained herein may not be applicable to or suitable for your specific circumstances and may require consideration of other matters.



Join the conversation

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Dana V.

What time does the clock start? When the parents ask you to come @ 7pm or when they finally leave for the evening out 9pm? Also, the pay difference when the kids are awake. 7pm - 9pm vs. When they're asleep. 9pm - 3am, when the parents finally get home.? My daughter was paid $20. For 3 kids from 7pm - 3am. Plus we drove her both ways, 25 miles round trip twice.
March 13, 2016 at 7:19 PM
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Biby B.

I enjoyed reading this article! So much information on here that many aren't aware about, this is very helpful.
February 12, 2016 at 5:01 PM
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Camila F.

Frances R. I agree with you 100%. Austin TX to rent an apt you cannot make $10 an hr, Guess what? Shelters a full of people with job not because of abuse, because they cannot afford home. Cost of living is way higher here in Austin Texas. Probably that is different state by state. Here is affecting people's lives. You have to proof you can pay your rent making a certain amount of income. $10/11 an hrs is basic. Still not approved to rent a place. It is shocking, even if you have a roommate, it can be more complicated. People lie to nannies a lot. We need to be more leaders of our jobs and make this as a professional job just like any job. If everyone do that, people will feel entitled to see as profession, and things might change, certainly will take some time.
February 07, 2016 at 4:46 PM
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Bich Lien L.

I strongly suggest that everyone should sign the contract with your employer before you start to work. There is always sound good to be true in order to impress you. Unfortunately, it often a happening to you that causes by others. Even though, a major or a serious problem, you should always give yourself a precaution if you see someone or something suspicious. I believe everyone of us have learned a lot about these safety from many of our sharing with the Good luck to all. Thank you
June 12, 2015 at 5:09 PM
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Denise B.

Hello I am currently a nanny in New York and have worked with the family full time for three years. Over the course of three years I have not only had to do childcare but also became the housekeeper which was never in my original contract. I was just told the other day they only want to keep me two days a week and are dropping my health insurance. I will not be able to survive due to this drastic change. I asked for a raise to help lessen the blow and she declined. I have been on the books the entire time, can I collect unemployment due to the breech of contract and lack of insurance and even pay to be able to afford my insurance?
April 28, 2015 at 3:16 PM
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Petra T.

Hi there, I'm working on setting up a summer nanny job and was interested in finding out what my responsibilities are regarding taxes, and what the family's responsibilities will be. I would rather not set myself up as a contractor, and would appreciate resources for them on what they need to do to get set up for taxes. Thank you!!
April 04, 2015 at 1:10 PM
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Tom B.

Hey Irene. Based on the figures you mentioned, you'll definitely cross the $1,900 threshold and will need to handle the household employment tax and payroll requirements for your housekeeper. We've got everything spelled out on our website - specifically for New Jersey employers, so feel free to take a look. (
February 26, 2015 at 6:16 PM
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Irene J.

Hi, I am planning to hire a housekeeper 12 hours/ week in New jersey. Will I need to do the "tax withholdings"? Thanks
February 26, 2015 at 9:11 AM
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Tom B.

Hello Nora. Great question. These expenses do not count as wages for your nanny as they are additional expenses you are required to undertake as a household employer. You do not need to report them on your nanny's W-2 at all.
February 11, 2015 at 5:25 PM
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I am a household employer. I typically pay for the nanny's transportation (airline ticket) when traveling back and forth, and meals when she is with us providing services. I am trying to find out if they these expenses count as fringe benefits? Do I add these expenses to the W-2 as wages? I need help and do not know where else to turn. Please help.
February 11, 2015 at 1:26 AM
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Tom B.

Hello Kathy. First of all, I'm very sorry to hear your job is not going the way you expected it to be. In terms of your hours and pay, the law is very clear that you must be paid for every hour you work. While live-in nannies do not have to be paid overtime (except if you live in NY, MD, MA, MN, ME, HI, CA), you should be paid at least minimum wage for the 65 hours you work. Additionally, you cannot be considered an independent contractor since you live in the family's home. That puts total control of the working relationship on the family. They need to provide you with a W-2 at tax time in order for you to file your taxes. I sincerely hope your job gets better for you Kathy and please have the family reach out to us if they have any questions.
January 19, 2015 at 12:42 PM
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Jessica J.

The nanny contract is a great idea. It really lays everything out on the table. Whether your are full time or part time, all the expectations that the the person hiring has of you, and that you have for the person hiring you are all talked about and set in stone. I always bring a sample nanny contract on the interviews I go on and it's always a huge hit with my interviewer.
January 18, 2015 at 11:40 PM
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I need help with a contract. I am a live in an the mom works out and the dad stays at home. long story short he is gone alot. Last week out of state and the mom is a doctor so I have the child from 7 until i put him to bed at 8. It has become a routine now. I have had to ask for my pay since I started. I am so exhausted. I get paid for 8 hours but work 13 plus. I can not leave the house to have a life since they dont come home until 8 or later. Then I will just get ready for bed and they will say well he is asleep so we are going out to eat. Not one time have they paid me extra. No its take out the trash, watch the dog, clean the kitchen , laundry. I want to just up and quit but Im not that way. she is also expecting, I was not told this when hired. they want to say I do clerical work and 1099 me. I need help. I want to work a 40 hour week ..I think I should be paid for the extra hours. I am working a 65 hour week and getting paid for a 40 hour week. I have no cable in my room nor wifi. I need help. any info would be helpful.
January 18, 2015 at 3:33 AM
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Cecile F.

I think we all have gone through some horror stories and some good stories.I have been able to work with one particular family that treated me so well. I still contact them and them me. Wish i were still with them but they moved. i did not have a contract. I am now picky and got at least 3 families willing to pay me on the books and with a contract. It is time for nannies to be paid this way.We must do this because if ever anything happens there is no unemployment or savings for the future. No social etc.I am already 60 and have to do this for myself. You nannies out there please stary doing the same thing.
December 22, 2014 at 11:09 PM
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Tom B.

Hello Georgina. I'm very sorry to hear that you were not paid for the work you did. The law is very clear that you should be compensated for the hours in which you worked. Beyond that, your legal recourse would be best discussed with an attorney or by contacting your state's Department of Labor. I sincerely hope you are able to get the money you've earned.
December 03, 2014 at 5:57 PM
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hi every one. i worked as a nanny recently and the woman left the country without letting me know,she didnt pay me and i had some belonging at hers. can i legaly pursue this ? thank you
December 01, 2014 at 7:13 AM
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Sharon F.

There are many great suggestions here for what to include in a contract that will guaranty clarity, eliminate confusion and prevent misunderstandings. But more importantly, especially for us caregivers of both children and older adults, it will protect us from what seems to be a common problem of being taken advantage of and inadequate pay for the work done. It doesn't need to be complicated. , Don't be afraid to stand up for yourself. Don't hesitate to protect yourself even if you think you have a good relationship with the family you are working for. I just got burned by a family I worked for. I provided excellent care for an older woman for a whole year and we had even become friends, or so I thought. Until they invited me to join them on a cruise, all expenses paid, with minimal work demands, or so I was told before hand. Until a hidden agenda surfaced. And I was not paid in full for the work I did during the cruise. ALWAYS HAVE A CONTRACT! And if you aren't happy with the way you are being treated, go find another job!!! .
November 24, 2014 at 10:43 PM
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Betzabeth P.

Good information!...Thanks.
October 22, 2014 at 9:34 AM
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Betty B.

So much good information. Thanks so much.
October 22, 2014 at 8:12 AM
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Jane M.

I found my self hired by a state government agency , I sub contracted my role as support to work with behavior challenged children. I love the families I work with and they feel blessed to have me on board as part of the family. O my the hassle I have run into is with the state and their red tape and lack of communication. I asked numerous times if the invoice I use with other clients would meet their guide lines I was told that would be fine. I have yet to be paid for Aug and Sept. I call and send emails every 3 days. It is not the families fault and they too have gotten on board to pester the State, with calls and emails. I wish I could have foreseen this one coming. It took them over a month to get my name into their computer. I have to pay my own taxes and workmans comp ..etc... I just learned they want my invoice to be separate for each child even though I work with them both at the same time, almost the same home work pages, and they reside in the same home with a daily detail of what we did each day... I think I like private care better and forget the sub contract work... I love working with children that is what keeps me going, and a loan from family
October 13, 2014 at 10:49 PM

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