FAQ for Parents:
Hiring & Employing a Nanny
Finding and Hiring a Nanny
Daycare is cheaper. Why should I choose a nanny anyway?
While daycare is often a cheaper option, it is not always the best. It is important to evaluate the needs of your family and children to decide the best choice. Nannies provide an up close and personal care you cannot find in daycare. They are tuned in to your family's specific needs. Nannies also often provide light housekeeping (pertaining to the children), provide transportation, and ensure your child is receiving care tailored to their needs. Nanny schedules are often more flexible than daycare hours.
What basic qualifications or educational background should a nanny have?
This decision is completely yours. Nannies usually hold a high school degree and often have a college education, but not always. Membership with the INA (International Nanny Association), First Aid, and CPR certification are also common. But ultimatly, it is you who decides what qualifications are most important for your childcare provider. Most nannies will also have significant childcare experience under their belt as well.
How do I choose the right agency?
Finding the right nanny agency can seem daunting, especiallly if you're in an area with a saturated market. Identify your family's priorities and needs, then find an agency that can meet those requirements. With the money you'll be spending to work with an agency, make sure you feel you can have an open and honest converastion with your agency's rep. Do they seem to understand you? Are they pleasant and professional? Find out how long have they been in business. Ask friends for suggestions and read reviews online. Find out what their policies and fees are. What are their ongoing training and resource offerings? A great agency will go above and beyond to explain to you how they plan to put your family's needs front and center. Visit Nanny Magazine's marketplace to see a list of our preferred agencies.
What are the benefits of working with a nanny agency?
An agency will do a lot of the heavy lifting that busy parents may not have the time to do. Screening only qualified applicants, a good agency will be sure to only send you the best from their applicant pool to interview, saving you time and energy. Doesn't work out with the placement? Most agencies have a policy for sending a replacement nanny. Agencies often also offer continuing education and networking opportunities for their nannies, meaning that your nanny is more apt to be energized and updated on new trends and developments in childcare all year long.
What sort of accommodations should I have for a live-in nanny?
Generally, room and board is provided. Your live-in should have their own comfortable, private room and bathroom. Allow them privacy when they are not working. Vacation, overtime, on call, and time off (typically two days a week) should be negotiated.
What's the difference between a nanny and an au pair?
A lot! While both a nanny and an au pair care for children, that is where the similarities stop. An au pair is a young adult (usually between the ages of 18 to 26) that travels from another country to provide live-in childcare through a U.S. Department of State-recognized sponsor company. The amount of hours worked are restricted and a list of other guidelines must be followed.
Should I consider hiring a male nanny?
Hiring a male nanny, often referred to as a "manny," may be a good option for your family. Just as you would when searching for a female nanny, address all questions and concerns during the interview process to be sure they are the right fit for your family… and also be sure that your family is the right fit for them. As always, if hired, keep an open line of communication. Some families prefer male nannies to provide a strong and responsible male role model for children.
How do I conduct a background check?
If you are using an online childcare source or an agency, background checks are often part of the package. However, if you do need to independantly conduct a background check on a nanny, select a reputable background check company accredited by the National Association of Professional Background Check Screeners (NAPBS). The rules concerning background checks vary based on federal, state, local, and job-specific laws.
NANNY TAXES, CONTRACTS, AND MONEY ISSUES
What do I need to know about nanny taxes?
Taxes are a complicated issue in any field; nannying is no exception. It is important for both nanny and employer to make sure they are paying the required taxes, both federally and by state. If you’re paying your nanny or any household employee more than $1600 annually, you have to pay taxes. There are many resources available indicating exactly how you can get this done, either by yourself or through a service. Shop our marketplace for our preferred nanny tax partners.
My nanny asked for a raise. How do I handle the request?
This would depend on a few factors. How long has your nanny been working for you? Has her responsibility increased since she started? Is she going above and beyond for you and really deserves a raise? After a year it is often customary to give a raise. This is also true if you have another child or increase her hours or responsibilities. If it is clear your nanny is doing her job well and you’d like her to stay with you long term, it is a good idea to consider a raise to show her that you value her place in your family. If your nanny is feeling that she deserves a raise and you don’t feel the same way, you risk the chance of her leaving for a family who will pay her what she needs.
We're having another baby soon. Should my nanny get a raise?
Congratulations on having a new baby! Short answer: yes. Assuming your nanny will be taking on the increased responsibility of caring for another child, then she should indeed get a raise. With any job, increased responsibility would warrant increased pay. A 5% increase is around the average raise for the addition of an extra child.
A school break or summer vacation is coming up. How do we handle that in terms of our nanny's hours?
It all depends on your specific situation. If you’ve guaranteed your nanny a certain number of hours per week, you must honor this even if you decide to go away for a vacation and won’t need her help. If there’s no contract or guaranteed hours, a general good rule of thumb would be to give half pay while you’re away and give your nanny plenty of notice if she’ll need to make arrangements during that time. If you are going to need your nanny for more hours then the best way to handle that would be to sit down with her and discuss her availability and ability to take on extra hours. Open communication is always key to a successful nanny-employer relationship.
What are guaranteed hours for nannies?
Guaranteed hours are the hours that your nanny is assured to get paid for each week. If you guarantee your nanny 25 hours per week and only use her for 20, you must pay her for 25 hours as this is what has been previously agreed on; this is the income that she is relying on to take home and pay bills. If you guarantee 25 and happen to go over, you’d pay for the extra hours as the hourly rate.
Should my nanny have special car insurance to drive my kids around in her own car?
What about in a car we provide to her? If your nanny is driving the children around in her car, you should offer to cover mileage, car insurance, and maintenance. This could be a percentage of the cost or all of it depending on the frequency of use, but additional special insurance may not necessarily be needed. If your nanny is driving a car you provide, you need to add her to your policy, or you/she likely won’t be covered in an accident. Contact your insurance company to ask more questions, as this varies from state to state within the U.S.
Should I be paying for professional development or continuing education for my nanny?
If you require your nanny to do professional development courses then, yes, you should pay for it. If your nanny is proposing these courses, take a look at what these entail and decide if its something you’d want her to know. You shouldn’t be expected to pay for your nanny’s classes if you don’t want her to take them. Standard classes would be for First Aid and CPR, which would be essential for a nanny to be certified in and parents would be smart to provide.
Are nannies W-2 employees or 1099 contractors?
Nannies are W-2 employees. They are not 1099 contractors in the sense that essentially it is you, the employer, who is setting the hours they work and have the final say on activities/meals etc.. You are the employer, so need to provide a W-2 for them come tax season. Don't like this answer? Well, a lot of parents don't, but you'd have to take that up with Uncle Sam.
What are my options for paying my nanny?
You are not legally allowed to pay a nanny cash (like you would a babysitter). It is easiest to pay your nanny through a payroll service, who provide payslips and necessary tax forms for anyone you employ in your household.
Should I give my nanny a credit card to use for purchases on behalf of the children or family?
Many nannies find this to be a convenient and efficient way of handling purchases made on behalf of the family. It all depends on the nanny’s responsibilities, of course, but for a nanny with sole responsibility of the children and perhaps also has responsibility for other household activities and daily expenditures, it is definitely a wise option. If your nanny doesn't make routine purchases on behalf of the children or family, you may just be able to get away with a petty cash fund.
Do I need to tell my nanny about a nanny cam in the house?
It is legal to record video of your nanny in any of the common areas in your house without her knowing. Common areas would exclude bathrooms and a live-in nanny’s living space, as those are locations where an expectation of absolute privacy is typical. This is legal in all 50 states. Audio recordings are different, though, and each state has a different law regarding this, so be sure to check based on your state regarding audio. But legally, no, you don’t need to tell your nanny about a camera in the house.
General Questions about Nannies
What's the difference between a nanny, nanny manager, nanny housekeeper, and au pair?
A nanny can live in or out of the house and provide care for one or more children in a family as an employee. A nanny manager is responsible for both childcare and household management like paying bills, administrative duties, and running errands. A nanny housekeeper handles childcare duties in addition to household duties like cooking, cleaning, and doing laundry. An au pair is typically a foreigner who helps with housework or childcare in exchange for room and board and a cultural exchange experience. Typically, au pairs are not longstanding employees; most only stay for a duration of 6, 9, or 12 months.
What should I do about a nanny contract?
A nanny contract should be written before the nanny starts working. The contract should outline the agreed-upon position, be signed by both parties, and be kept on file for reference. This protects the family and provides a point of reference for both parties if there are questions or misunderstandings. Nanny Magazine offers a free nanny contract template. Sign up for our free parents newsletter to get the free template.
I'm worried my kids will prefer the nanny. What should I do?
Know that no matter how much your children love the nanny, you will always be their parent! It is difficult to parent children with the demands of a career, so strive to stay connected, finding ways to make time for the children whenever you can. Keep in mind that if your children love their nanny, that's a good thing! You should want your kids to be cared for by someone with whom they share a happy connection.
My kids listen to the nanny better than they listen to me. What am I doing wrong?
Look at the situation as a learning opportunity. Examine how the nanny is communicating with the children and how it may differ from your techniques. There is nothing wrong with you, however, sometimes parents simply need to adjust the way they communicate for the best response. Try talking to your nanny to learn a few tips and techniques. Be open minded and willing to try to use her techniques, and be on the same page as one another. This relationship takes effort, and it's always a good idea to treat it as a partnership rather than a competition.
What should I give my nanny to show her my appreciation?
There are so many ways to show your nanny your appreciation! Give a bonus, present a trip to the spa, or pay for a subscription to a magazine in the industry (like Nanny Magazine!). Give them a gym membership, offer a surprise day off, or pay for professional development. You could even treat your nanny to a special meal or an afternoon shopping trip. If you love your nanny and appreciate all she does for your family, it's always a nice gesture to show it. These little acts of kindness go a long way in keeping your home happy and flourishing.
What is a nanny share and is it right for me?
A nanny share is when a nanny shares care with two or more families at the same time. The families share the cost of the nanny’s salary, as well as the nanny’s time spent providing care. This option is best for families looking for flexibility with a more one-on-one approach, but may not wish to pay to hire a nanny exclusively. Another great benefit of a nanny share: built-in playmates for your littles!
The kids are going to start school so I don't need a nanny anymore. What do I do about that?
This is a bittersweet time, indeed. Some families choose to keep their nanny on a part-time basis after kiddo goes to school, sometimes offering the option to supplement her hours with housekeeping or household management tasks. If that's not realistic for your family, give your nanny as much notice as humanly possible and a stellar reference letter so that she can find a new position. You can also consider having her come by to do date night sitting; it may be good for your child to have a continued relationship with her even after employment officially ends.
Our family is vacationing and intends to bring our nanny along with us. What should I know about traveling with a nanny?
Traveling with your nanny is ideal for families with busy schedules who could benefit from an extra set of hands on the journey. Packing your bags and heading to paradise? Keep in mind that despite the change of scenery, this is not a vacation for your nanny. She's still on the clock, and not to mention away from her regular routine, home, and family. As with any work trip, the employer should expect to pay for the employee's travel, accomodations, and meals, as well as all hours on the clock (including overtime pay). Set a schedule for your nanny ahead of time so that she knows when she'll be able to explore sans kiddos.
Nanny Performance Issues
How do I conduct a performance review for my nanny? Do I really need to?
Although you should be providing sincere and direct feedback to your nanny on an ongoing basis, it's a great idea to conduct an annual performance review with your nanny. This is a great time to review the accomplishments and setbacks of the past year and plan for the goals for the year to come. This is also an ideal time to discuss compensation changes (a raise is typically offered). Find a review form that works for you, but keep it fairly consistent year over year. Also be sure to ask your nanny for any feedback he or she has to share with you. This is also a great time to amicably work out any differences. A well-done annual review can leave the nanny and the entire family feeling refreshed and re-energized.
I don't trust my nanny. What should I do?
First, analyze what caused the mistrust. Then, sit down with your nanny and have an open conversation to prevent it from happening again. Ask questions to find out the facts and how the events transpired. However, if it’s something you can’t overcome, it is best to let your nanny go.
I'm interviewing someone for a nanny job and want to make a job offer. How do I check a nanny's references?
You can check your nanny’s references by phone or email. Email is convenient, but calling your nanny’s references can prompt a conversation. Using the phone to conduct references allows you to gauge their responses and how genuine they may or may not be.
What chores or housework should my nanny reasonably expect to perform?
Most often nannies expect to only conduct tasks directly related to caring for the children of their families. If family meal prep is very important to you, it is best to discuss it with your nanny and hold reasonable expectations. Take into consideration how meal preparation fits in with the nanny’s other duties and how you plan to compensate. Any duties you expect your nanny to perform should be outlined in the contract. You can expect your nanny to complete tasks directly related to caring for your children. This may mean bathing, dressing, feeding, potty training toddlers, and brushing teeth. You may also require your nanny to handle housekeeping duties like cleaning bottles, making beds, doing the child’s laundry, and picking up toys. You can require additional duties, like running errands, organizing, or sweeping and mopping floors; these expectations should be discussed and clearly outlined in the contract.
Should my nanny cook meals for the entire family?
Most often nannies expect to only conduct tasks directly related to caring for the children of their employers. If family meal prep something very important to you, it is best to discuss it with your nanny and hold reasonable expectations. Take into consideration how meal preparation fits in with the nanny’s other duties and how you plan to compensate.
Big thanks to Heather Cherry, Jennifer Kuhn, Stephanie Magrisso, and Nicola Manton for writing this FAQ.