The Importance of a Live-In Nanny Contract

Nanny contracts outline the employment and living arrangement between a live-in nanny and the family for whom she works. A nanny contract, also called a work agreement, governs the relationship between the nanny and her employer and establishes a professional tone in the relationship.

Nanny contracts are beneficial for both live-in nannies and their employers. They outline the duties and responsibilities of each party and can prevent misunderstandings and miscommunications from occurring.

Nanny contracts may not be required by law, but they are enforceable in a court of law, so it’s important that the contract does not infringe on any legal rights of the nanny, especially when it comes to labor protections and tax laws. Although nannies and employers often talk in terms of salary, nannies cannot legally be salaried employees. A live-in nanny must be paid for each hour worked and, in some states, overtime after 40 hours worked in a 7-day period. Nannies and employers should be sure to specify if the hourly rate is in net or gross terms to avoid confusion. As legal employers, parents also have tax responsibilities, including paying and withholding appropriate taxes. Their responsibilities should be listed in the contract.

Nanny contracts should include the nanny’s compensation, including the hourly rate and benefits package, weekly schedule and the tax responsibilities of each party. It should also include information about the nanny’s living quarters and specifically what is included with her room and board, as well as any house rules. The nanny’s duties and responsibilities should be broken down into specific tasks. Rather than using the general terms “light housekeeping” parents should specifically describe what tasks that includes, such as wiping down the counters after meal preparation.

Since live-in nannies are also housemates, it’s essential that the contract list any restrictions employers have with regards to guests, phone usage and use of common areas and household appliances. Since a live-in nanny depends on her employers for housing, the contract should also include a detailed termination clause that outlines the course of action should the nanny be let go both for fault and no fault. Included in the clause should be how long the nanny has to relocate, who is responsible for paying the nanny’s travel fees home, if applicable, and how much notice is required should either party wish to terminate the working relationship.

Many nanny employers also include confidentiality clauses in the live-in nanny contract. The clause outlines what information the nanny can and cannot share with others. It may also include a statement that prevents the nanny from sharing photos of the children in her care on social media sites. Nannies should carefully read the contract and be sure they understand each clause prior to signing it.

Typically the parents will present the live-in nanny with a draft of the contract. The live-in nanny may ask for changes or modifications. Neither party should sign the contract until its contents are clearly understood and are in agreement it’s mutually acceptable.

10 “Gotchas” Usually Found In Live-In Nanny Contracts

The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines a gotcha as “an unexpected usually disconcerting challenge, revelation, or catch”. One of the examples they use is “the gotcha in the low monthly rate quoted by the cable company is that it is a teaser and good for only six months.”

The key word in the gotcha definition is unexpected. It can’t be a gotcha if it’s something you have already taken into account. When it comes to the agreement between an employer and a nanny everyone should not only be on the same page, they should all be crossing the same t. Contracts should be clear, complete and concise.

To keep clauses in your contract from becoming gotchas, be sure to take time to carefully describe the items below.

  1. Responsibilities. Clearly articulate the specific duties of the live-in nanny so there are no surprises once she’s accepted the job.
  2. Schedule. A good contract will lay out the basic work week, including hours and scheduled time off.
  3. House Rules. Every family has its own way of doing things, and these should be clear from the get-go. Issues to be addressed may include discipline, television viewing, computer gaming and other behavioral items. For live-in nannies, any restrictions on guests and use of the home should be clearly presented.
  4. Overtime. If a nanny will be expected to work extra hours the contract should have a provision for the overtime rate.
  5. Payment Terms. The agreement will show how the nanny is to be paid, such as by check or direct deposit, and it will state the duration of pay periods and frequency of payments.
  6. Holidays. Holidays are often treated differently than regular work days – both in terms of hours worked and rate of pay. The contract should clearly state which holidays are paid days off.
  7. Taxes. Nannies are legal employees of the families for whom they work, which means the employers have specific tax obligations. Be sure these are spelled out in the contract to avoid confusion later.
  8. Insurance.  If an employer is providing all or part of a nanny’s health insurance, the dollar amount or percentage of the cost incurred by the employer should be clearly stated in agreement.
  9. Confidentiality. Nannies with itchy thumbs may have cause for pause before texting any family business to outsiders. Many contracts will have clauses related to keeping family affairs and photos confidential.
  10. Vacations. Some live-in nanny employers expect their nanny to travel with them, others do not. Clearly spell out the expectations regarding what travel is required and how the nanny will be compensated to avoid surprises.

A carefully crafted nanny/employer work agreement should have no gotchas. Don’t be afraid to ask questions during the negotiation process if there is anything you don’t understand or if something seems unclear.