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Do I need a contract when I hire a nanny?
You aren't legally required to have a written contract with your nanny, but it can prevent misunderstandings down the road. Drawing one up starts the conversation about the ground rules of the arrangement and establishes them clearly. And if problems arise, a contract also protects you both because you can refer to it if you need to resolve an issue.
What should a contract cover?
A good contract covers everything related to your nanny's job. No detail is too small, but be sure it covers all the basics, including:
- Work hours
- Childcare duties
- Other duties (such as cooking, light cleaning, or laundry)
- Wages and pay schedule
- Benefits (such as paid holidays, vacation, health insurance)
- Additional payments (like paying a portion of car insurance and gas if you need your nanny to drive your child places)
- Special situations (like the overtime rate if you're late or how far in advance she should call in sick)
- Emergency plans
- Occasional evening or weekend hours
Although you're not obligated to pay your nanny for vacation, holidays, or personal and sick days, it's standard practice to include them if your nanny works for you full time.
Also spell out how you'll handle your nanny's salary when your family is away and you don't need her services during that time. If you are your nanny's sole or primary employer, you may choose to pay her the regular rate while your family is away. After all, it's not fair to expect her to go half a month without a paycheck if you take a two-week trip.
How do I draw up an agreement?
You can write one yourself. Rather than starting from scratch, it's usually easier to use one of the many sample nanny contracts available online. Be as specific and concrete as possible in describing your particular situation. If you'd like, you can have a lawyer review the contract after you've written it.
After you and the nanny sign and date the contract, make a copy for each of you. If there's a minor change in the contract, you should both initial the amendment and get a fresh copy.
You may want to include a clause that requires you and your nanny to revisit the contract on a certain date (like her one-year work anniversary). When that time comes, you and your nanny can amend the agreement as you see fit.
Of course, you'll have to redo the agreement sooner if you have any major changes in your household, such as a new baby. Better yet, try to anticipate possible contingencies and address them in the original contract. For example, you could include a clause guaranteeing a pay increase (estimate a percentage increase) for each additional child.
How do I make the contract binding?
As with any employment agreement, a nanny contract can be hard to enforce. But when you have one in place, a smooth relationship is far more likely because it means you worked out the details ahead of time.
Before you put your agreement in writing, make sure you've covered all potential questions by using our nanny interview questions.