Contracts sound scary. I mean that’s what lawyer’s and big companies use to push people around right? Well, that’s not a topic for today, but as far as the nanny industry goes contracts don’t have to be scary.
Do nannies need to have a contract? Yes! Always always always have a contract! I can’t emphasize enough that you absolutely MUST have a contract. A contract is what keeps you from getting hired for 20 hours working 40 and still getting paid for 20. A contract keeps you from being scheduled until 8:00 p.m. then getting sent home at 4:00 p.m. and not being compensated for the time you dedicated to that family. A contract keeps you from being hired as a nanny and end up being a maid, a chef, driver, and personal shopper all while watching the child(ren) with no extra pay. YES, THIS HAS ALL HAPPENED TO ME! Don’t make the same mistake!
A contract doesn’t just protect you it protects the family as well. Let’s say Nanny takes a week off of over the holidays (in addition to paid Holidays) then takes another two weeks over the summer. Fall break is coming up and Nanny wants to take 3 days off once the kids are back in school. The agreed upon contract gives Nanny 3 weeks Vacation, along with 2 paid personal days. Does Family need to give three days off to Nanny? Absolutely not! Nanny agreed to the time off listed in the contract. If Family is able to swing that extra day great, however, they are under no obligation to.
CONTRACT MUST HAVES
Max/Minimum hours per week or a schedule if it’s fixed.
Make sure you get paid for a minimum number of hours whether you work them or not. This is different from guaranteed hours. I made the mistake of asking for guaranteed hours, so what happened was parents got home early and I had to find busy work until the end of the shift or clock out early and lose the pay. There is no specific number of hours I recommend as it varies family to family and nanny to nanny. I would hold the family accountable for what they originally hired you for or close to it. My current family hired me for a 35h hour week schedule. I normally only average 32 hrs a week, but my pay is the same. The one week I worked more than 35 hrs I was paid an additional hourly fee. Gas/Mileage reimbursement is also something that should be included if you are running errands for them or driving around the kiddos.
A budget for activities and crafts for the kiddos?
Not everyone has this, but if they expect you to do crafts or learning activities they should be either providing the items or giving you a budget/money to pick them up.
Does Nanny have access to the food in the house?
Most families I have worked for provide any meals I eat while on the job, but others want you to stay out of their fridge and pantry. Either way, make sure there is an agreement here.
Acknowledge that hour banking is not legal
If you normally have a 40 hr work week and one week Family only needs you to work 30 hrs that does not mean that Family can have you work 50 hrs the next week without paying overtime.
Pay on the Books
You will need a W-2 Nannies can't be 1099.
Benefits and PTO/Sick Days
This should all be spelled out clearly so there is no confusion.
Advanced notice for ending the contract early.
Some have two-week policies and others have a month, but either way make sure you agree and have it in the contract. I recommend at least 2 weeks and no more than 6 weeks. This goes for both the family or the nanny ending the contract.
Sick Child Policy
This is specific to Nanny’s preference. Make it clear that you will or won’t, if you require advanced notice, or if you will watch non-contagious sick kids.
Will you watch extra kids, and what you charge for them?
Write out a list of regular house rules, that way you know everything upfront and don’t get that “substitute teacher” moment of kids telling you what's ok and what’s not. We all know the kiddos are not a reliable source when it comes to rules.
Who can Nanny leave the kids with? The last thing we want is to have Grandma insist Nanny can leave early while Family doesn’t want the kiddos with Grandma alone. (that doesn’t mean Grandma is bad, but she may not be able to keep up with them) Maybe Parent 1 is only allowed supervised visits with the contract Nanny knows upfront she can only handoff children to Parent 2 or whoever is stated in the contract.
This is whatever you want it to be. Personally, I don’t do a playdate unless I have met the other child(ren) before and they will have their own supervision. Others don’t allow playdates at all.
I personally don’t like my day to be interrupted by other people popping in and out. It’s confusing to the kiddos! Other Nannies don’t mind, so make up whatever rule you want for this one.
Duration of Contract/How often to renew/How often to review
These all go hand in hand. How long is the contract for and will you renew it? Some families will only need Nanny for X amount of time, so there is won’t be an opportunity to renew. Others will want to review every 6mo and renew every year. This is really dependent on the family, the nanny, and the situation.
Reasons for early termination
Both Nanny and Family should have a list of things that will end the contract immediately meaning Nanny can walk away without giving notice or can be terminated on the spot (most likely without severance). These are mostly extremes like failure of payment, neglect, unsafe situations towards the Nanny or Kids, etc.
All of this may be overwhelming, but don’t sweat it. A simple typed up and signed doc will suffice. Not every Nanny will need every single item here listed in their contract, so pick the ones you need. If the family you are working with does NOT want to do a contract try and remind them it’s for their benefit as well. Then if they absolutely refuse this a big red flag. Situations like this normally end badly. Check back soon for a free sample contract.
Leave a comment with any additions you would add to this list. If you have any questions regarding your nanny contract just reach out via social media or email firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m happy to help!