Helpful links for child care providers to articles and information on best practices
in hiring and maintaining a nanny.
Nanny Employer Responsibilities
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Nanny Industry Information
Finding and Hiring a Nanny
If you are a new parent or a soon-to-be parent you may be thinking about when it
comes time to return to work what childcare options will best suit your needs and
give you peace of mind. It is natural to want to find the very best type of care
for your little one and you may find the idea of hiring a nanny quite appealing.
Yet the process of finding a quality candidate, hiring and managing a nanny and
protecting yourself from any possible risks that may be associated with employing
a nanny may seem a bit intimidating.
Jack Hungelmann, author of Insurance for Dummies, and Michelle
LaRowe, International Nanny Association’s 2004 Nanny of the Year,
have teamed up to co-author this article with the intent to educate potential nanny
employers. Both authors have personal reasons for wanting to share this information
Jack- “With over 30 years experience as an insurance agent and personal risk manager,
when my daughter told me that she was feeling overwhelmed with the process of hiring
and managing a nanny to care for little Sofia Isabel, my new granddaughter, I began
to research the risks associated with hiring a nanny. I felt that I could find the
ways to best manage those risks and thus ensure that my granddaughter would receive
the highest quality, least risky childcare possible.”
Michelle- “As a professional nanny for more than 10 years, I am quite passionate
about my profession. 4 years ago I founded Boston Area Nannies, Inc.,
a non-profit organization for professional nannies, our mission is to improve the
quality of in-home childcare in our area. Our association allows nannies an educational
opportunity that will enable them to provide the best care possible to the children
they work with. I have seen how wonderful a nanny experience can be, and I have
seen and heard about how poor of an experience it can be. One of the most effective
ways that I have found to improve the quality of in-home childcare is through educating
parents as well as nannies.”
Together Jack and Michelle hope that this article will equip you with the necessary
knowledge to make wise decisions and thus avoid some of the potential pitfalls.
Hiring a full time or part time nanny to care for your little one should be a positive
experience for you—and your child.
Selecting the proper type of childcare provider for your family is one of the most
important decisions, that as a parent, you will ever have to make. If you plan on
utilizing full-time childcare, this decision is especially critical.
Studies have proven that between the ages of birth to five years, a child’s social,
intellectual and emotional development is at its most critical period of formation.
It is for this reason that you should carefully consider what type of care is best
for your infant, toddler or preschooler, and you need to be confident that the person
who is influencing the development of your child has the appropriate skills, dedication
Nanny care has several advantages but only if the proper nanny is selected to serve
your family. This one-on-one care provides your child with a consistent, loving,
nurturing adult that is a team player (could be considered a co-parent) in raising
an emotionally, developmentally and socially healthy child. Nanny care meets your
child’s individual needs and provides your child with the opportunity to grow and
develop in his or her own comfortable home environment. A child who is cared for
in their own home is not as likely to be exposed to communicable diseases and so
will have fewer visits to the pediatrician’s office and you, as a parent, will experience
less stress in your daily routine, allowing you to enjoy your at-home time with
Nanny care is unsupervised care, and the nanny industry is unregulated, thus risks
are present. It is your responsibility to reduce the risks and if you do your due
diligence, you will no doubt find that employing a nanny, will be a wonderful experience
and an appreciated solution to your childcare needs.
Research the Industry
It is wise to be a responsibility and educated consumer. To better understand the
nanny/employer relationship, the hiring process and the current industry trends,
visit the following well respected and up to date websites:
- International Nanny Association
is a non-profit educational association for parents and all those involved in the
nanny industry. The INA is a clearinghouse for nanny information.
- The Alliance of Professional Nanny
Agencies (APNA) is an organization formed by and composed of nanny agencies
committed to promoting professionalism in the nanny placement industry.
Finding Just the Right Nanny
If your decision has been made to move forward in hiring a nanny, proceed with caution
during your selection process. The nanny industry is unregulated and there is no
nationally recognized licensure, regulatory board or credentialing for nannies or
the agencies that place them.
There are several ways to find nanny candidates: nanny placement agencies, newspaper
advertisements, bulletin boards, personal referrals, Internet classifieds or On-line
nanny matching websites. Use caution when using Internet matching or On-line website
services that do not provide screening services or support for their client families
If you really want to simplify the process for yourself and prevent possible serious
problems later, it is recommended that you contact a reputable nanny referral agency.
The International Nanny Association (INA) at
www.nanny.org and the National Alliance of Professional
Nanny Agencies (APNA) at www.theapna.org
welcome to their membership nanny placement agencies that agree to adhere to their
commitment of excellence and to their code of ethical conduct. Both associations
post a membership list on their website.
Advantages of a Placement Agency
A reputable nanny placement agency should be active in the nanny community, hold
membership in professional organizations such as INA and/or
APNA and be free of unresolved complaints with their local Better Business
A quality placement agency knows their nannies. Knowing their candidates reduces
the risk of hiring an unsafe person. A good agency has a thorough screening process.
This screening process typically includes a criminal background check (local, state
and/or national), business and personal reference checks, educational background
check, employment record check, social security or identification verification,
driving record check as well as an in-depth personal interview with the candidate.
Most reputable agencies take time to interview the family with the intent to find
out what their individual search criteria are and then will only send them candidates
that meet the identified criteria. A quality placement agency operates under a business
code of ethics and does not hide, falsify or embellish the records of their nanny
candidates or the family that has employed them. A quality agency will provide its
client family with the resources needed to be a successful nanny employer, such
as: state and federal tax information regarding domestic employment based on current
laws, referral to payroll and tax service providers and health insurance providers,
information on worker’s compensation insurance requirements (if required in your
state), guidelines for a nanny/employer work agreement and other recommendations
as needed. An ethical nanny referral agency will either offer a trial period before
a commitment to long term employment commences or will offer a free replacement
candidate if the placement ends (for any reason) before a pre-determined time period.
Tips for Utilizing On-line Nanny Classifieds and Internet Based Matching Services
With the convenience of the internet, many of today’s nannies are turning to online
nanny classifieds and internet matching sites that have replaced the newspaper “childcare
help wanted” sections of yesterday.
Many internet matching web sites, free online bulletin boards, and for fee searchable
databases have been created to connect potential employers with nannies that are
searching for positions.
However convenient, there are risks associated with using these services. By using
these virtual services, you are replacing the “human” service component. You loose
the middle man that helps you walk through the placement process, ensure that ethical
practices are being followed, and the support of an agency if the placement doesn’t
go as expected. You are also putting yourself in a situation where the potential
employers have never been met, spoken to, or even verified as actual potential nanny
Online Agency Referral Services
If you do decide to do an internet based job search, consider using a site, like
NannyJobs.com that provides the convenience of internet searching
with the reliability of using a reputable nanny placement agency. NannyJobs.com
provides a forum for reputable placement agencies to advertise their listing positions
on a national level. If a nanny is interested, an application is completed and forwarded
directly to the agency, where the standard interviews, background searches and reference
checking takes place.
Reputable nanny placement agencies will only refer candidates that are legally able
to work in the United States. They will have on file the nanny’s proof of eligibility
to work in the U.S. The Department of Labor classifies nannies as domestic and unskilled
workers thus individuals from outside of the United States are not likely to be
able to obtain a work visa for employment as a nanny. It is highly recommended that
nannies speak English fluently, thus enabling them to effectively communicate in
emergency situations and understand directions. Hiring an illegal immigrant also
puts you at risk of having to pay considerable fines and penalties imposed by the
Immigration and Naturalization Service or Internal Revenue Service. When hiring
legally, you also reduce the risk of having the relationship with your child and
his or her caregiver severed if your nanny is deported.
Nannies are employees and not classified as independent contractors. An independent
contractor is defined as someone who supplies their own tools of the trade and works
on their own schedule. Nannies are considered an employee because they use the diapers,
bottles, food, toys and other supplies that are in the household, they also work
on the schedule that is set by the family, thus the family is their employer. Nannies
must be paid legally, which means legal payroll taxes should by withheld and paid
to the proper entities. Nannies are subject to the minimum wage law and live out
nannies are to be paid time and a half for hours worked over 40 in a workweek. Failure
to abide by legal hiring and tax withholding guidelines as outlined by the Internal
Revenue Service, puts you, the employer, at risk for significant fines and penalties.
To simplify your obligations as an employer we strongly recommend using payroll
service providers or research nanny specific payroll and tax software. Using a service
makes this process easier and keeps the financial and tax errors to a minimum, reducing
the risk of fines and penalties caused by incomplete, late or inaccurate filings.
It also significantly reduces your time involvement. GTM, the Household Employment
Experts offers a complete line of products to make this process simple and stress
Buy the Right Insurance
Many of the risks associated with hiring a nanny can be minimized or eliminated
with the proper insurance coverage. It is important not only to buy the right kind
of insurance but also to buy it in sufficient quantities so that you're well protected
in the event of a claim.
Workers’ Compensation Insurance: Workers’ Compensation is a type
of insurance policy that provides financial assistance to employees if injured on
the job. When an employee is injured on the job, Workers’ Compensation assists with
lost wages, as well as medical expenses related to the injury and recovery. In addition,
it protects employers from being sued. If the employer has not been negligent, an
employee that is injured while on the job cannot sue his/her employer. Many states
require that domestic employers carry workers compensation insurance.
Workers compensation has two significant advantages even if your state does not
require it. First, if your employee is injured on-the-job, the insurance will pay
his/her medical bills and lost wages, regardless
of fault, and second, the law bars personal lawsuits against you if the
injury was your fault. In short,
with workers compensation insurance, your injured nanny is well taken care of and
you are protected from lawsuits. Because of these two benefits, consider optionally
buying workers compensation insurance if you live in a state that doesn't actually
require the coverage.
The best place to buy the workers compensation insurance you need is probably from
your homeowner’s insurance agent.
Auto Insurance: If the person that you hire will be required to
drive your child/children (even occasionally), be sure to get the candidate’s driving
history report, the nanny can request his or her own record from the state where
she/he is licensed or you can ask to have a private investigator run the report
for you, most nanny referral agencies run these reports as standard procedure, or
if you are going to put the nanny on your auto insurance policy, your agent will
check the nanny’s driving record. Don't hire anyone that has demonstrated a careless
If the nanny will be driving a vehicle that you own, you should contact your automobile
insurance agent to add the nanny to your policy as an occasional or ‘on the job’
permitted driver. If he/she will be transporting your children in her own vehicle,
verify that she is carrying reasonable liability coverage -- at least $250,000 per
person for injuries. Make sure that you have proof that her policy covers her when
transporting children as part of her job description. Many auto insurance policies
Umbrella Liability Insurance: It is not difficult in today's quick
to sue environment to get sued for more than the amount of coverage you're currently
carrying under either your car insurance policy or your homeowner’s insurance policy.
Having an extra person in your household increases your lawsuit risk. For example,
if a child is left for a play date in the care of your nanny and while your nanny
is pushing her on the swing she falls off and gets injured. The child’s parents
may bring suit for injury claiming negligence on your or the nanny’s part.
An Umbrella liability policy provides $1 million or more of additional lawsuit coverage.
An Umbrella policy may cost as little as an additional $150 per year. If you don't
already have one, absolutely buy an umbrella policy for yourself. If you have workers
compensation insurance coverage on your nanny, be sure that your umbrella policy
does include excess employer's liability
coverage as well as injuries caused by employees to others. The majority of umbrellas
do not so you may need to shop around.
Use a Work Agreement
By far, the key to any successful nanny / employer relationship is effective communication.
This all begins with a solid nanny/employer work agreement. The International Nanny
Association has developed an agreement that is available for purchase through
its website, to purchase the agreement along with additional educational information,
go to www.nanny.org and order
the Parent/Employer Education Packet. Having a written work agreement
for future reference eliminates misunderstandings and also outlines the roles, responsibilities
and expectations of the nanny and the employer. The work agreement addresses such
things as; paid holidays, vacation and other benefits, tax responsibilities, daily
responsibilities, and in general define the employer and employee’s obligations
to one another.
Treat Your Nanny as a Professional
As with any good relationship, mutual respect, open communication and trust are
very important. Show your child care provider that you respect him/her as a professional
by paying them as you would a professional employee, offering standard benefits,
(paid vacation time, health insurance, annual raises) or possibly offering other
perks (such as health club memberships or frequent flyer miles). A nanny doesn’t
want to be treated as domestic help. She/he truly loves working with children and
wants the children to be the main focus of his/her responsibilities. In most cases,
a professional nanny should not be asked to do your personal laundry or clean your
bedroom or private bath. Respect your nanny’s privacy. This is especially important
if you employ a live-in nanny. It is inappropriate to enter your nanny’s bedroom
without her permission. Her weekend activities and other areas of her personal life
are not your concern. If you plan to use a nanny camera, discuss it with your nanny.
Nanny cams are meant to reduce the risk of abuse, not to capture it. The laws vary
from state to state regarding the use of concealed cameras, such as where they may
be located and whether audio recording is allowed. It is not legal to have a camera
in a bedroom or bathroom. To avoid breaking the law, do some research regarding
your state regulations. If you have the slightest doubt about your child’s well
being, reevaluate your nanny and take the necessary steps to ensure your child’s
Have a Backup Plan
Have a backup plan for those days when your nanny is sick or unable to be at work.
This reduces the risk of you being left without childcare
when you really need it. One good back-up plan would be to register with
an agency that offers temporary nanny referral service, be sure to choose one that
pre-screens candidates before sending them out to families. Your nanny may also
have recommendations of individuals that can cover for him/her when an emergency
Michelle: Being a nanny and making a difference in the life of
a child is an amazing experience. It’s not a choice; it’s a calling. The nannies
that I know absolutely love what they do and exemplify professionalism as well as
devotion to their vocation.
Jack: There are risks and insurance issues associated with hiring
a nanny. Workers compensation, personal liability coverage and auto insurance issues
are a few you may encounter. If you don't already have an agent who is an insurance
expert on your team of advisers, this would be the time to find such a person. Agents
with either the CPCU or CIC designation generally have the expertise to give you
advice on such matters.
Together: Providing a professional caring nanny for your children
can be a wonderful gift to them—and to you. If you follow our combined advice and
pay attention to the details, you should be able to rest in the assurance that your
child is well cared for and the time and effort you put into making an educated
decision will be well worth it.
Recommended Practices for Nanny Placement Agencies
To promote quality child care and an environment for all children that nurture their
well-being, the International Nanny Association
has developed recommended practices for nanny placement agencies.