One way to hire a quality in-home caregiver very economically is to hire an individual who is willing to care for the children from two families. The nanny share may have the nanny caring for all of the children at the same time, or it may have the nanny working alternating days for the two families. This arrangement is often termed "ShareCare" or "Nanny Share" and can be advantageous to the families and the nanny; however, there are additional issues and considerations to this type of arrangement which do not arise in the traditional in-home childcare scenario. The nanny generally receives a premium salary, often 20% higher than the prevailing rate for single family care, and the families split the costs in some agreed to fashion that results in a lower individual family cost for the care. Simultaneous nanny shares work out best when there are 2 - 3 children, and ages are compatible. The mixing of newborns and napping toddlers with older, elementary aged children is not advised.
Before discussing the logistical issues, it should be pointed out that in some states, nanny share arrangements are regulated and require licensing. Simply put, in some states, when a non-relative provides out-of-home care on a regular basis, licensing may be required of the caregiver and/or the home where the care is being provided. That may not be overly burdensome, but everyone should know what the requirements will be before this option is pursued.
Logistics of the Nanny Share
Communication and coordination of both family's needs and requirements is the first item to address. It is recommended that if you are considering this type of arrangement, that you first decide who the other family will be, before hiring a
caregiver. Both families should be involved in putting together the work agreement and interviewing candidates. The nanny should have the opportunity to meet all parties before accepting the position.
More specifically, the following items should be addressed and resolved to both family's satisfaction, in addition to jointly putting together a work agreement and before beginning to look for the nanny:
Where will the care be given? - some families rotate; others use only one home. If care will not be given in each family's home, consideration should be given to the wear and tear which will occur in the home where the care is given.
- Is that home maintained to the satisfaction of both families?
- Who will be responsible for supplying the toys and replacing broken ones?
- What about meals which the children and caregiver will be eating during the day - who will provide the food and pay for it?
- Equipment issues: the host family usually stores the share family's pack-and-play. Other considerations include extra car seats, perhaps a tandem stroller, extra high chair, etc. Dealing fairly with these expenses is important.
Salary - should be higher than average; which, when split between two families will still result in a cost savings to each. Consider what happens if there are days where both families' children are not being cared for - same salary is recommended, but this must be thought through and worked out ahead of time to both families' satisfaction. Families and the nanny should coordinate the with-holding of payroll taxes to the satisfaction of all parties. From a tax perspective, both families are generally treated individually as employers and are responsible for their contributions to the various payroll tax accounts.
More Information on Nanny Taxes.
Schedules and Hours - will both families need care for the same hours each day or will there be an extra hour at the beginning and end of each day where only one family's children are being cared for? Logistically, will that work out in the home where the care is given? What about flexibility - does anyone have occasional overtime needs or other requirements for flexibility?
Benefits and Vacations - will the nanny receive paid holidays, sick days or paid vacation days? How do you plan to coordinate vacations? What is your backup care plan for days the nanny has vacation or, even worse, a sick day? If the host family is vacationing, will nanny be required to go to the share family's home? A full time nanny will expect to receive her weekly pay for every week of the year, even if a family does not need her care on any particular day or week. Typical benefits include paid Federal Holidays and 5 - 10 days of paid time off (vacation, sick, etc.).
Age of the children - Age may not be a problem, but think about the pros and cons of having a number of children the same or similar age or the opposite scenario - children spanning the range.
How many families - The more families, the more everyone will need to agree on each item to be discussed; but some arrangements can work with more than two families - communication is key, along with the realization that this is a business arrangement.
The Other Family - Unless you already know the other family extremely well, you should be interviewing each other to determine your own compatibility.
The anticipated length of the share arrangement - Some families enter into a nanny share as a stop gap while they await an opening in a day care center. Others are looking for home based, non-institutional, care for their child through age 2 or the start of pre-school. It is important that the families have a frank discussion of their plans and expectations. No one wants to come home on a Friday only to discover that their share partner got the coveted slot in the downtown daycare center and they will not be sharing the nanny going forward. Nanny also needs to be apprised of expectations, and given both notice and a reference when the share comes to an end.
Child Care Philosophy - How do you want the children disciplined? Do you have particular feeling about nutrition? What are your opinions regarding television? the families must agree on these items - the nanny cannot enforce different rules for the children being cared together.
Illnesses - It is important to work out what happens when the children are sick. It will be possible that the sick child will be living at the home where the care is being provided that day. Will the care be given at the other home that
Family Meetings - It is recommended that both families plan to get together at least once each month to discuss issues which have arisen or may be on someone's mind. In addition to discussing issues which relate primarily to each other, there will be the issue of how the nanny is doing which should be discussed.
Contact Person - It will probably be easier for the nanny if there is a primary contact person which he or she can go to for answers to questions. Obviously if the issue related directly to Family A's child and the contact person is the mother in Family B, then Family A's parent should still be contacted; however, in many situations, the issues are more general and often relate to daily issues which effect everyone - this method often helps with consistency in working with your employee.
Handling the Paperwork - Each family will probably be treated as an employer of the nanny; however, you should confirm this with your tax advisor. Will the nanny receive one paycheck or two? Will each family report their portion of the nanny's salary on the appropriate federal tax forms?
Transitions and Termination - Nanny share arrangements typically end when a child begins full time school or a new baby is born. Plan for the transitions, and discuss appropriate 'notice.' A family that leaves the share without notice leaves both the nanny and the other family in a bind - nanny compensation is clearly impacted.
About the author: Kathleen Webb co-founded HomeWork Solutions Inc. in 1993. She is the working mother of 3, a long term nanny employer, and she shares a wealth of personal and professional experience.
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