10 Reasons to Insist On a Nanny Contract

While the relationship between a nanny and her employers is based largely on trust, it can be a complex one with ample room for dispute. One the most valuable pieces of protection for all involved parties against disagreements and misconduct is a thorough nanny contract, but it’s also one of the most often overlooked. Because nannies can come to feel more like extended family than employees, it’s not uncommon for nannies and their employers to forgo a written contract in favor of a less formal, more personal verbal agreement. Unfortunately, this is a decision which can have far-reaching, negative repercussions in the future. Before entering into a verbal employment agreement, here are ten of the reasons why nannies and employers alike should insist on a nanny contract.

  1. Communicating Employment Terms – There are terms governing all working relationships which, if breached, are cause for immediate dismissal or resignation. When those terms are clearly explained in a nanny contract, both parties are aware of them and the consequences of breaching those terms. Because both nannies and employers should have copies of the agreement, everyone will have access to the specific parameters of the relationship.

  2. Outlining Duties Clearly – When duties are not clearly outlined in a written agreement, there is room for either parties to encroach upon the other’s expectations. Nannies can become burdened with too many extra responsibilities which are gradually added to her list of duties. Employers can be frustrated when agreed-upon responsibilities are not met. By documenting a nanny’s duties, employers and nannies alike can enter into a working relationship with clear expectations.

  3. Establishing Overtime Policy – Working with a dedicated nanny means parents are able to build a childcare schedule which meets their needs, eliminating daycare late pickup and early drop-off fees. This can also lead to a substantial amount of overtime, for which nannies are not always fairly compensated. Nanny contracts can outline policies and procedures related to overtime, which can include weekly overtime limits and extra compensation.

  4. Scheduling Evaluations and Salary Reviews – Nanny contracts should be updated annually for the lifetime of the employment relationship, which provides nannies and employers with a natural period for evaluation and salary review. Most nannies prefer to have the option of an annual salary increase pending performance review, which is something that can easily be included in the terms of a nanny contract.

  5. Providing a Source of Reference – A thorough, well-written nanny contract covers a multitude of points to which both nannies and employers can refer in times of dispute or confusion. Because a nanny contract can prevent problems borne of misunderstanding, it can prove to be an invaluable tool for derailing issues before they become unmanageable.

  6. Clarifying Mutual Expectations – Because a nanny contract can and should outline the expectations, responsibilities and rights of both parties in a working relationship, there’s no room left for debate or misunderstanding as the relationship progresses. This can not only prevent turnover and help to nurture a working relationship, but also aid in constructive communication when small problems do arise.


  7. Outlining Benefits and Perks – While nanny employers are not legally required to provide their childcare workers with full benefits, it is a powerful hiring tool and can be a sticking point for career nannies. Documenting benefits, sick days and vacation time available to nannies allows everyone to understand what is to be expected and what should be provided.

  8. Creating a Petty Cash and Reimbursement Policy – Nannies should not pay out-of-pocket expenses for outings, entry fees, snacks or transportation unless she’s deliberately doing so as a special gift. This means employers should set up either a petty cash fund, or a reimbursement plan. This should include not only incidental expenses, but also fuel costs if she uses her personal vehicle to transport children or the use of a family car to do so. Because this can be one of the more complex arrangements in a nanny/employer relationship, outlining it thoroughly in a nanny contract can clear up any confusion and prevent future disputes.

  9. Documenting Emergency Procedures – While nannies should have access to an emergency form which lists the numbers of emergency contacts and employers’ preferred procedures, these should also be described in the terms of a contract. This allows nannies to retain the relevant details through drafting, review and signing of the document as well as providing an additional source of information, should the need arise.

  10. Providing Legal Protection – Written nanny contracts are legally binding documents, which means both parties are afforded a certain level of protection against breach of contract. In a worst case scenario, this document can protect an injured party in civil court. Without a written agreement, legal disputes can become quite messy and lengthy. With a contract in place well before such a situation arises, many disputes can be avoided altogether.

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