As family law attorneys, we spend all of our time helping families navigate legal issues and personal relationships, especially as it relates to parents and children. With back to school season just around the corner, and with the use of private nanny services on the rise, we’ve partnered with the employment attorneys from Barran Liebman to outline some ideas for parents to consider to determine whether a nanny is right for their family, and if so, ways to create a nanny agreement that will best serve the parents, the nanny and the children involved.
A nanny agreement, at its core, is both an employment agreement and a relationship agreement. Like other relationship agreements, for example, pre-marital, post-marital or cohabitation agreements, a nanny agreement helps establish the roles and responsibilities each party to the agreement will have. Most importantly, a nanny agreement is an invaluable opportunity to outline goals and priorities upfront before any issues may arise.
From both a legal and practical perspective, having a nanny agreement will help avoid uncertainty and provide both parties the opportunity to manage expectations, with an open dialogue, tailored to each family’s unique situation.
A well-constructed nanny contract should outline the fundamentals of the job, such as general contact information, start date of employment, work hours, and compensation and pay schedule. A nanny agreement may also serve as a helpful tool to address any issue that the parent and nanny feel is essential to ensure a positive working relationship for everyone involved. The following is a list of considerations which can be captured in a nanny agreement.
- Compensation: a nanny must be paid at least minimum wage plus overtime for any hours worked over 40 in a workweek. The nanny agreement should state the rate of pay and define the workweek for purposes of calculating overtime. It should also address when paydays will be and how taxes and other withholdings will be handled.
- Benefits: many benefits are already established by Oregon State Law. However, once the basics are established, many benefits are negotiable. For example, Oregon law requires all employers to provide up to 40 hours of job-protected sick time per year but families do have some choices they can make about how they will handle sick time.
- Communication & Documentation: these terms determine how you’d like your nanny to communicate activities throughout the day. Similar to a daycare situation, will you require your nanny to keep a running log of things like naptimes, meals, diaper changes, and other relevant notes related to the activities throughout the day. This is particularly important for parents of young or non-verbal children, to ensure both parties have up to date information that impacts the child.
- Emergency Plans: in addition to providing a list of all emergency contact information, it’s also important to think through and determine instructions for what to do in the case of emergency. In particular, in the event of emergency, which parties are able to make medical decisions on behalf of a child?
- Use of Automobiles: if your nanny is doing any kind of transportation of your children, it’s important to outline those guidelines, along with any safety specifications you’d like to require. Again, this is an area with minimum standards established by law, but an opportunity to identify practices particular to a family’s unique situation. Will you allow your nanny to use one of your vehicles? Or will you require them to use their own and provide proof of insurance? Do your children require the use of car seats? You might also consider adding specifics about keeping the vehicle clean and/or requiring the use of a hands-free device at all times while operating the vehicle.
- Paid (and unpaid) time off: your agreement should specifically address vacation and a holiday schedule, as well as any paid sick time and what to do in the event of inclement weather or other emergency situations. The agreement should not only identify key scheduling issues, it should also outline days which will be paid and which are not.
- Technology (i.e. TV, video games, cell phone/tablet use, screen time, etc.): will you allow the use of personal electronics by your nanny while working? If children are on a limited or restricted screen-time schedule, it’s important to outline that in your agreement.
- Health & Medical Requirements: will you require your nanny to be up-to-date on vaccines and/or get an annual flu shot? Additionally, will you require your nanny to be up to date with any safety or CPR trainings? If so, as the employer, are you willing to cover the expense and time for those trainings?
- Confidentiality and/or Social Media Policy: how do you feel about your nanny discussing your children or your family with the use of social media, or any other medium? Will you allow the nanny to post pictures or videos on various social media platforms? Any agreement on these points will have to clearly distinguish between protectable privacy interest you have as a family versus terms and conditions of employment that, by law, your nanny is allowed to share.
- Reimbursements: will you cover certain expenses for things like groceries, eating out, mileage, cell phone services, parking, public transportation, etc.?
- Termination Policy: most nanny arrangements work on an “at will” basis, meaning they may choose to work for the Employer for as little or as long as they desire—and likewise for the Employer. However, it may be important to outline the termination policy, should either party decide to “give notice.” What does that time period look like? What happens if someone does not abide by the notice provisions agreed to? Are there exceptions to this with violations such as theft or dishonesty, persistent tardiness or absenteeism, the use of drugs, alcohol, or any other non-prescribed controlled substances, or violation of a confidentiality clause? Or any other term outlined in your contract?
- Raises and Reviews: just as you would in any job, let your nanny know when their job performance will be reviewed and when they might be eligible for a raise. This can also be a great time to amend or update the agreement as you see fit.