Library & FAQs: Frequently Asked Questions

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What type of accommodations and considerations must we make for a live-in nanny?

Live-in caregivers often provide families with greater flexibility since the nanny lives with the family and the parents don't, for example, need to rush home to get dinner for their family. The family will have a wonderful opportunity to get to know the nanny better and sooner than if the nanny arrives at the home each morning as parents are leaving and leaves the home each evening as parents are arriving. Through this increased interaction from the very beginning, the family will become more familiar and at ease with the nanny and this will translate to less anxiety for parents (and the children) when parents leave the house each day. Families with live-in nannies do not need to focus as much on whether the nanny will show up on time each day, especially important in bad weather.

Families must be prepared to provide separate sleeping quarters at a minimum and in most situations, access to a vehicle on a fairly regular basis. This may require you to have an additional vehicle dedicated to the nanny. Be sure to have all particulars about automobile privileges and responsibilities clearly spelled out in your work agreement, and add the nanny to your automobile insurance policy. The work agreement should also spell out the agreement for expense reimbursement (gas, tolls, cab fare, occasional grocery shopping). It is recommended that mileage reimbursement when the nanny's personal vehicle is used be stipulated at the current IRS reimbursement level.

Nannies living with their employers generally expect their own private sleeping quarters, and most expect a private bath. Occasionally, the nanny may share the bath with young children. The nanny's quarters should include a comfortable bed, a bureau, adequate closet space, and a desk and comfortable chair. Make the nanny quarters as inviting as possible. Fresh paint, a nice TV/VCR, a private phone are all appreciated. Accommodations are important; the nanny that feels comfortable in her quarters will be more satisfied overall. Nanny quarters should be understood to be off limits to other family members and their guests. Access arrangements for household maintenance should be clearly spelled out in the nanny work agreement.

Families with live in nannies must also consider the issue of the nanny's possible guests - of either sex. Frank discussion of the family's comfort level with the idea of guests - either during work hours, off hours, or overnight - should occur when discussing the entire work arrangement.

Families are advised to include a confidentiality agreement in their work agreement - whether hiring a live in or live out employee.

Many live in nannies join the family for the evening meal most evenings. A family that wishes to reserve some or most of these evenings for family time should make this clear in the job interview. Separate meals are generally only practical when the nanny has separate accomodations for meal preparation in her quarters. The live in nanny generally shares the family pantry. A family should reasonably accomodate special food requests - for example she may prefer Mountain Dew to coffee in the morning. Occasionally there are specific requests that involve considerable additional expense to the family (all organic produce for example). It is fair and reasonable for the nanny to bear this expense herself.

Hours of duty can become very fuzzy when the nanny lives in. It is important for the family to remember that, while the nanny may live in their home, she will expect her own down time. She should have a minimum of two consecutive days per week completely off. It is unusual for a live in nanny arrangement to be successful in the long term when work hours exceed 10 hours per day (50 per week) routinely.

Be prepared to address the logistics and dynamics (privacy being just one consideration) of adding an additional adult into the household. Families hiring a live-in caregiver who is relocating to their area must be prepared to provide the nanny with contacts/ideas for making new friendships and social connections. These issues should be discussed as part of the interview process; home-sick nannies are unhappy nannies and the relationship inevitably degrades if this important issue cannot be overcome.