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Do I need a Work Agreement with our nanny? What should be included in a written job description?

Nanny employment experts agree - a written work agreement is a vital tool in the establishment of a professional, low-stress relationship with your new nanny. The written agreement documents 'the deal' - wages, hours, duties, benefits, taxes - and provides famlies with an indispensible reference document when addressing questions or misunderstandings with the nanny.

"Begin by making a list of the duties you want done daily, every couple of days, weekly and monthly," recommends Kellee Vickers, 4nannies.com Inc. "Also write down your pet peeves, i.e.. Crumbs on the kitchen counter. You should plan on sitting down with the nanny later and fine tune the job description. You should never add work without discussion and compensation!"

  1. Work Schedule: Days and Hours
  2. Compensation: Salary (stated as $$/hour) in gross terms, understanding on payroll taxes, and overtime compensation. Bonus structure, if any, should be addressed also. Families who will require occasional overnight nanny services should negotiate and record the overnight compensation rate here.
  3. Holiday and Vacation Schedules: Nannies typically expect 2 weeks paid vacation, understanding that it often will be timed to coincide with family vacation schedules, and paid holidays. Sick day arrangements vary. In general, families offer nannies between 5 - 15 paid days off exclusive of paid Federal Holidays. Increasingly families are offering a flexible paid time off policy where benefit days may be used for sick, personal and/or vacation time. Many families agree to 'cash out' unused days at the end of a calendar year. Please remember a nanny employed on a full time basis expects to be paid her contracted weekly salary for 52 weeks per year, even if the family does not require her services during vacations, holidays, etc. If you want to handle this differently, make sure your policy is documented here.
  4. Benefits, if any. Many families offer to pay 50% of a health insurance policy for the nanny.
  5. Childcare Duties: Be specific!
  6. Housekeeping Duties: Be specific and realistic!
  7. Confidentiality Agreement: You probably are not a celebrity, but this is still a good idea.
  8. Termination agreement: How much notice do you require? How much notice or pay in lieu of notice will you provide the employee if terminated for your convenience (not cause)? Four weeks is nice to have, two weeks is realistic.

Live in nannies should also have a written agreement regarding the living arrangements. Items such as curfew [a touchy subject], phone bills, overnight guests, out of town guests, and privacy expectations [of both parties] should be articulated. If the family advanced the nanny airfare, a repayment or debt forgiveness schedule should be included.

Ms. Vickers adds that there are many good products and services available to assist the family in crafting a job description. Most agencies will personally interview the family and provide an outline of a job description. Ms. Vickers' web-based nanny service steps the family through an on-line interview that electronically generates a job description and work agreement. There are also many "do-it-yourself" books and kits on the market.

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