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ETIQUETTE AND NANNY CONTRACTS September 14, 2013

by guest blogger Nathan Hammons, Esq.

A nanny contract is simply an employment agreement between parents and their nanny. Many parents, and nannies, have never seen one. For that reason, a nanny contract can be intimidating.

A nanny contract, however, doesn’t need to be scary. In fact, it’s a great tool for both parents and nannies. It addresses items like pay, work schedule, and job duties, as well as other important topics such as time off, job benefits, and even driving privileges.

Because it’s such an important tool, nannies and parents should strongly consider using a nanny contract.

That said, there are good ways and bad ways of approaching nanny work agreements. Here are some useful tips.

#1 – Don’t Presume

If you’re a parent, don’t presume that your nanny has seen or used a written work agreement before. And if you’re a nanny, don’t presume that the parents have seen or used one, either.

#2 – Educate, Educate, Educate

Don’t start by giving the other person a contract to sign. Rather, say you’re interested in using a nanny contract and that you’d like them to consider it.

Next, point the parents or the nanny to an independent resource. You can find many good resources on the web by simply Googling “Nanny Contract”. Alternatively, if you’re using a nanny placement agency, ask if they could spare a few minutes to explain nanny work agreements.

#3 – Give the Other Person a Sample

After everyone’s been educated about what a nanny work agreement is and the benefits of using one, find a good sample or template agreement online. It’s usually best to use one in Microsoft Word format so that changes can be made, if needed. Give the sample to other person (the nanny or the parents), and give them a day or two to review it.

#4 – Have a Face-to-Face Meeting

Next, have a face-to-face meeting so that you can review and discuss the nanny contract. Walk through it line by line, and fill in the blanks.

If you’re unsure of something, such as whether the nanny should have driving privileges and who should pay for her car insurance, revisit the issue after you’ve had time to think about it.

#5 – Distribute a Completed Contract

The parents should next complete (i.e., fill in the blanks) the nanny contract and send it to the nanny for review and signature. The nanny should be given at least a few days to review it and consider it.

If you’re a parent, don’t give it to your nanny and say, “Sign here”. She’s a professional and should be given time to review the contract by herself, in the comfort of her own home.

#6 – Agree to Reasonable Changes

The parents and the nanny should agree to reasonable changes to the work agreement, if needed.

For example, the nanny might agree to work the Fourth of July in exchange for having Thanksgiving off. Or the parents could agree to give the nanny 5 days of paid time off, provided she notifies them at least 2 weeks before taking a vacation.

#7 – Schedule Time to Discuss the Work Agreement

After you’ve signed the nanny contract, don’t forget about it.

Rather, once or twice a year, perhaps during an annual performance review, review the nanny contract to make sure everything’s in good order. If any changes need to be made, make them by amending the nanny contract.

#8 – Raise Issues Early

If the parents or the nanny aren’t following the nanny contract, raise the issue early. Otherwise resentment will grow, and it will be harder to reach a resolution.

If you need to raise an issue, do it in a professional way, trying not to point fingers at the other person. For example, say, “Our nanny contract says this, but we’ve gotten in the habit of doing that. Let’s discuss what we should do in the future and whether the contract should be changed.”

In conclusion, don’t be intimidated by a nanny contract, and ask for help if you need it. It’s well worth it in the long run.

Nathan Hammons is an attorney in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He’s also a father and the creator of MyNannyContract.com, a website with information about the legal issues of nanny care and a professionally written nanny contract. He can be contacted at nathan@mynannycontract.com.

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