For many parents, the task of simply finding a caregiver for their precious bundles can be overwhelming. But once you’ve managed to find someone, it’s important to focus on creating a successful employer/employee relationship that will set you both up for success. Here are a few things you should be thinking about, and some tips to help you establish the right relationship from day one.
1. Do you have a work agreement? It’s not too late, if the answer is no. You can still create an agreement that memorializes all of your intentions/needs/duties in a clear easy-to-refer-back-to document. Keep in mind that the nanny you’ve hired has likely worked for other families, and, as you know, every family does things differently. Help her out by explaining your daily routines, your parenting philosophy, religious tenants etc., if you haven’t done so already. Remember to ask whether she had issues at previous jobs that she wished she’d been able to talk about with those employers, so you can avoid any of the same pitfalls. Spelling things out enables and empowers both you and your nanny BEFORE any issues arise (and as a parent, you know that with kids involved, there will always be issues that arise). In fact, you may want to schedule quarterly or monthly ‘check-in’ meetings, or at the very least build in an annual review, so you both have the opportunity to share your thoughts on how you feel everything is going or if there are new changes to consider.
Don’t feel like you need to muddle through creating a document from scratch; there are a number of sites with templates and tools to help you both communicate what is right for each of you, and especially for your children. You can check out a few here, here and here.
2. Remember that the nanny you employ is your employee. Think about how you are or want to be treated by your employer when you consider vacation days, sick days, bonuses etc. (Note that in NYC, you are required to give your domestic worker employee 2 sick days and 3 rest days). Not only do you have legal obligations as an employer, but you also have the opportunity to show your nanny that you respect her and want to treat her accordingly. Have you considered or already discussed paying your nanny ‘on-the-books,’ providing healthcare, or workers compensation? Now is the time to sit down and discuss these things with her, or do some research to explore your options. She may or may not be familiar with NY law, and/or may have additional insight to share with you. To help you see where NY stands, you can find specific state requirements here.
3. Pay fairly and cover reasonable costs. Whether you’ve already decided on how much you will be paying your nanny or you are still negotiating, remember that not only should you factor in an hourly or weekly rate, but an overtime or additional hours rate. Also include any transportation costs both during regular working hours and if you ask her to stay late or babysit on a night she does not typically work for you. Rates fluctuate depending on your job description, the number and age of your children, and any additional non-childcare related responsibilities you’ve agreed to. There are numerous ways to find out about going rates for other families in situations similar to yours: parent listservs are a good crowdsourcing go-to, and every neighborhood has a least one. Be sure to ask around because a nanny that finds she isn’t being paid as well as her colleagues is likely to feel unappreciated. You can also consider using a living wage calculator to determine what she would need to earn in order to support her or a family.
We all hope that the people who care for our children feel like a member of the family, but at the end of the day we have to remember and respect that working for your family is your caregiver’s job, no matter how happy she is to work for an amazing family like yours.
For more tips and resources, please check out these guides at HireOurNanny.org.