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Do you need a nanny contract?

Answers to the most common questions families have about their nanny contract

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. If you don’t know where to start, this article will cover:

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.

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 one of 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.

“Yes, it’s a legally binding document that a court will accept if there is ever a dispute,” notes Tom Breedlove, Sr. Director 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, you 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.

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* The information contained in this article is general in nature, may not be applicable to your specific circumstances, and is not intended to be a substitute for or relied upon as personalized tax or legal advice.

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