Do You Need a Nanny Contract?

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We all hate paperwork. And a nanny contract might sound like just one more thing to write and file. Plus, if you've got a good nanny-family relationship going, you're understandably reluctant to rock the boat. Many families are afraid a formal contract will tarnish the relationship they're trying to build with their nanny. But taking the time to draft and sign a contract can protect both parties, whether you're the family hiring household help or the 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?
"The contract is essential for clarifying [salary] matters and detailing all the conditions necessary to ensure a healthy and productive work relationship," says Priscilla Gonzalez, director of Domestic Workers United (DWU), an organization of Caribbean, Latina and African nannies, housekeepers and elderly caregivers in New York.

When everyone is clear on a nanny's responsibilities and privileges, it reduces confusion and makes disputes easier to solve amicably when they do crop up. A too-informal work arrangement is more likely to hurt you both in the long-term than one where everything is ironed out and made official from the get-go.

What Should I Include in a Nanny Contract?
You can also write out your own nanny contract. It can be a simple document with direct wording where you mention all the details you agree to. The more specifics you add, the better. Just be sure to consider and include the following items.

And for more specifics, check out our Sample Nanny Contract

  1. Duties and Responsibilities

    • Work hours and schedule: Will your nanny live-in or out? Will she work full or part-time hours, on weekends or weekdays? What will her hours be? When can she take breaks during the workday? What happens if you have to come home late?
    • Responsibilities: What are the nanny's child care responsibilities? In addition to caring for the kids, will she handle any cooking, cleaning, laundry, pet care or transportation? Make sure this list notes all daily duties, as well as any recurring but less frequent obligations and emergency plans (like what to do on snow days or when a child is ill).
    • Nanny privileges: When can she use her cell phone, the house phone and any house computers/Internet? Can she invite guests over?
    • Meals: Should your nanny bring her lunch from home or will you provide her meals and snacks? What if you come home past dinnertime?
    • Activities: What types of activities can the nanny do with your child? What is not allowed? What memberships does the family have? What will you pay for? Will you give her a weekly activity allowance or reimburse her at the end of the week?
    • Communication: How and when will you expect the nanny to communicate with you during the day? Settle on a combination of the 9 Ways to Keep in Touch with Your Nanny
  2. Compensation and Benefits

    • Pay: What is your nanny's rate of pay for days, nights, weekends and holidays? (Most nannies are paid on an hourly basis.) Make sure you're paying your caregiver at least the minimum wage »
    • Frequency of pay: When will you pay your nanny? Weekly, bi-weekly?
    • Overtime: Household employees are generally considered "non-exempt," which means they're entitled to time-and-a-half for working over 40 hours over the course of seven days. How will you handle overtime? Note: Most states don't require you to pay live-in nannies overtime, but a few (such as Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota and New York) have specific overtime laws. Learn more about nanny overtime.
    • Benefits: What benefits are covered, including vacation, sick days, personal days, paid holidays (specify which holidays)? Mention any restrictions on when your nanny can take her time off. How much notice does she need to give you and should it be in person or can it be via text message or email?
    • Family vacations: Will your nanny accompany with you on family vacations? Will she be paid while you're away? Read about: Should You Bring Your Nanny on Vacation?
    • Health and insurance: What health benefits and nanny insurance will you cover?
    • Taxes: When you hire a nanny, you need to pay employment taxes. Use our nanny tax calculator to figure out how much is involved and then learn How to Get Started Creating a Nanny Payroll Account
    • Reviews: Schedule an annual employment review to talk about how things are going and reassess compensation, benefits and the contract.
  3. Transportation

    • Cars: Will she have to have her own car or will she use a family car? What are acceptable uses for a family car? Get tips on Handling the Car Situation with Your Nanny
    • Driver's license: Does the nanny have to maintain a valid license?
    • Insurance: If she's using her own car for work purposes, what is the appropriate type and amount of automobile insurance she needs to have? If she'll be using your car, will you add her to your family policy?
    • Gas: Will you reimburse her for gas mileage when she uses the family car or her car for work-related purposes? How much and how will you pay it? What about wear and tear on her car?
    • Maintenance: How often does she have to bring her car in for servicing to make sure it's reliable? Who is responsible for maintaining the family car?
    • Public transportation: If you rely on public transportation in your area, what's allowed? What are the rules for taking kids on subways, trains and buses?
    • Cell phone: What's allowed? Talk about your rules about talking and texting on the cell phone while driving in a car with kids.
    • Seatbelts and car seats: Does every child have to wear a seat belt? Who will provide car seats?
  4. Discretion and Confidentiality

    • Information: Personal, medical, career and financial information of family will not be discussed outside of the family
    • Social media: Can the nanny mention the family in any type of social media? Can she post pictures of your kids? Mention them anonymously? What's allowed? What about disparaging comments? Check out the 9 Social Media Rules Your Nanny Should Follow
  5. Notice and Severance
    There is some debate about whether your contract needs to address notice and severance. Here are a couple of options to consider:

    • An "at will" contract: This means that either party can end the work arrangement at any time. "At-will employment gives both parties an out clause," says Stephanie Breedlove, VP of Care.com HomePay. "If the family feels the nanny has done something out of line, they can terminate immediately.Likewise, the nanny can easily escape a relationship she feels is abusive or exploitative."
    • Severance: Again, Breedlove notes that severance is not required by law and situations may arise where you'll wish you didn't make that promise. But if you have to let your employee go and she's done a great job, it's common for employers to provide a few weeks of severance pay for the nanny to help her financially while she looks for a new job.

Are Nanny Contracts Legal?
"Yes, it's a legally binding document," notes Breedlove. "A court will accept a written agreement between you and your nanny. If there is ever a dispute, it protects both parties."

So if your nanny quits without giving the agreed-upon four weeks' notice, or the family won't honor your request to take your accrued vacation days, the legally binding contract will enable you to take them to court -- and likely win.

Do I Need to Hire a Lawyer?
"A contract doesn't have to be drawn up by a lawyer to be binding," reveals Lisa Weinberger, a lawyer and founder of Mom, Esq.

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. You will probably pay around $500 for a contract from a lawyer (which you can reuse for future caregivers or caregiving jobs).

For more information and help with nanny contracts (and nanny taxes), call our HomePay experts at 888-273-3356.

What Labor Laws Do I Need to Know?
You should familiarize yourself with the Fair Labor Standards Act, so you know which federal standards you'll be obliged to comply with to ensure fair employment. While your nanny contract does not need to include passages from the FLSA, you should be aware of a few key rules and regulations as you determine work hours, wages and other details of employment.

When both the family and nanny agree on the terms of the contract, both should sign a copy and keep it for their records.

And contracts aren't just for families! Nannies should feel comfortable talking with a family about how important a contract is, and writing a sample contract if the family doesn't have one already. It helps protect both sides and makes sure everyone is on the same page.

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.

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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 Care.com 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. (http://www.myhomepay.com/Answers/State-Nanny-Tax/NJ/Overview)
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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Nora

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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kathy

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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georgina

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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Shaw

I've read your comments. in the interview make sure you have all your questions you'll like answered. If you have a set salary at the end of the week over time should be paid at your nanny rate. Ask to be paid every week, two weeks is a long plus a lot of money for them to have for you if any disagreement should occur. Don't be afraid to speak up. Always keep your ad posted that if any disagreement and they let you go you already have people calling you. Employers don't give crap about you bills or your family all they want is your help. But not all are like that so trust your instinct and follow through. I don't think you should do child care and housekeeping together, because it always end up badly. They will come up with new things on a list for you to do. I hope I have help anyone who read my comment. muah
October 08, 2014 at 5:12 PM
Photo of Catherine B.

Catherine B.

I have worked in home daycare and centers and a nanny contract is different.The ones I see are for the parents yet it's suggested we have one on the interview. I would love to see ideas for contracts that are for nannies.
June 09, 2014 at 4:46 PM
Photo of Frances R.

Frances R.

I definitely agree with having a contract signed before starting the position. I've been taken advantage of twice and never want to go through the hurt and heartache. Also I wished Care.com would start the salary @ $10 an hr. It is ridiculous that they allow a nanny who is taking care of their most precious babies. I have worked with children for over 40 yrs and people seriously think I would accept $5? Very disrespectful, I keep up with my certifications (which cost $. I continue the training, which costs $. I don't feel they realize how important the nanny is to their children. We are not just "babysitters", we take on a responsibility of a child's care, needs, stimulating to learn. and more important their lifes.
June 04, 2014 at 1:57 PM

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