Finding and employing the right nanny for your baby is a complicated process, which requires a lot of time and research. This question is specifically about a contract between you and your nanny (here’s a sample nanny contract template for your frame of reference). However, I will preface my answer to say that it is absolutely imperative your check out your nanny’s references and background prior to hiring her.
Your nanny will be caring for your baby – who you love and cherish beyond words – and you want to make sure this person has excellent and verifiable references and all the required documentation needed to certify she is someone who you can trust to care for your baby. That being said, once you’ve decided you are going to hire a nanny, I strongly advise you have a contract between you and your nanny. While a contract is not legally required, it does outline the requirements and responsibilities for both you and your nanny in a way that is clear and in writing, that protects both you and your nanny. The contract should also require documentation of the nanny’s legal name, address, and contact information so she can be legally held responsible if any problems arise.
Also, if there are ever any questions about what you and your nanny have agreed upon, you can refer to your contract/agreement. This is especially helpful when problems arise or if there are questions about either party’s responsibilities. The contract/agreement protects your baby, you and the nanny.
Should I have a contract created by a lawyer?
As a pediatrician, I have, along with pediatric experts in childcare, seen cases where babies have been injured and there is a question of how the injury occurred. The parents have no written agreement or contract between the nanny and themselves where they have no documentation of even where the nanny lives, her legal name, or whether or not she is in the country legally. Then the nanny abruptly leaves, there is no trace of where she has gone, and the parents are held responsible for injuries that were most probably sustained under the nanny’s care because there was no way to question or detain the caregiver. Although most parents and nannies do not have this extreme type of problem, it is important for you to understand how important a contract/agreement legally drawn up by an attorney is. Here is a sample nanny contract template.
A verbal agreement will not protect you if problems arise. Your baby is precious and most important before your home, your car, etc. I cannot emphasize enough that the person caring for your baby should be thoroughly researched, vetted and be legally bound by law to care for your most precious jewel – your baby. That is why I recommend that all parents have a baby video camera in your home, and pay your nanny legally – not under the table as so many parents do. Also, your nanny should be in this country legally with a green card or US passport.
What your nanny contract should cover
- Legal Name of Your Nanny verified with legal identification such as US passport or green card or driver’s license. (Make a copy of nanny’s ID.)
- Nanny social security number with documentation with her social security card. (Make a copy for your records of nanny’s social security card.)
- Nanny’s legal address documented by a utility bill, etc….
- Nanny’s Medical form and clearance signed by a physician stating she is healthy and fit to work as a nanny.
- Nanny’s PPD (Screens for Tuberculosis) test and documentation by a healthcare provider that PPD is negative.
- Nanny’s immunization documentation including Tetanus, Hepatitis B vaccine, Hepatitis A vaccine, Meningococcal vaccine, Influenza vaccine, Measles, Mumps and Rubella vaccine, Polio vaccine, Varicella vaccine, Documentation with blood titers of Measles, Mumps, Rubella, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis A and Varicella documenting immunity can also be used in lieu of immunization record.
- Nanny’s Driver’s license if she is going to be driving your baby.
- And the following-
Nanny’s wages and benefits
- Salary or hourly rate.
- Taxes deducted. Describe how taxes will be managed. You the employer will deduct all taxes from the nanny’s wages and make tax payments to the IRS for example. You can refer to your attorney or the IRS website for tax management suggestions.
- Social Security deducted,
- Health Benefits if applicable.
- Paid Vacation. How many weeks per year. Also how many weeks notice of vacation requests?
- Sick leave and Personal days. Number of sick days and number of personal days. Specify how many days notice nanny will give for personal days off. For sick days specify before what time nanny should call by in the morning when she is ill.
- Pay schedule and how often paid.
- Paid Holidays. Specify which holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc.
- Overtime and what she will be paid for that overtime.
- Whether nanny will be paid if you and your family go on a vacation and she is not working for you.
- Room and board if applicable. If so specify benefits such as nanny’s own telephone line, food allowance per week, etc…
- Miscellaneous: Memberships where families have membership such as health clubs, museums, etc.
- Specify work hours and days.
- Overtime and evening work.
- Weekend work.
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Training and Certifications Required
- CPR trained and certified.
- First Aid training and certification.
- Baby and child development classes you may require.
- Feeding baby and baby’s feeding schedule. Specify what and when she should feed baby.
- Bathing and cleaning baby. How often, what products used and what safety measures you require for baby’s bath time.
- Baby’s naptime. Describe baby’s naptime routine i.e. what is done before putting baby down for example bath or reading stories, etc. Specify nap times and how many naps and how long. Describe what nanny should do if baby does not sleep.
- Play-dates. Taking baby to play-dates and playgroups. Describe who and what and when these events take place.
- Baby classes. Describe when baby has gymnastics class for example and how often and what is the transportation taken to these events.
- Park. Detail and describe how often baby should be taken to the park and what nanny should be doing in the park with baby. Insist on no cell phone use when out with baby and that nanny’s attention should be on your baby and your baby’s safety and wellbeing.
- Other outings such as library storytime, museum visits, etc…
- Keeping baby’s room and play area clean. Cleaning baby’s laundry. Cleaning baby’s toys and equipment.
- Dressing baby. How do you want baby dressed.
- Diapering baby. I recommend nannies wear gloves when changing babies and putting on diaper ointments or creams. Specify if you want nanny to wash her hands before and after diapering baby.
- Food preparation. Describe how you want baby’s expressed Breast milk or formula prepared before feeding. If baby is eating baby food how do you want food prepared and how much should be given to baby? Also describe any table foods such as fruits, crackers, etc that you allow baby to have.
- What lotions and creams and other personal care products you want to be used for baby.
- Screen time. If baby is 2 years or younger there is to be no screen (television, iPad, phones, videos, etc) use when nanny is caring for baby.
- Cell phone use. Specify there is to be no cell phone use when nanny is supervising and caring for baby except at what times you specify.
- Specify what play you want nanny to engage with nanny everyday. For example you should specify how often and how long you want baby to do tummy time.
Values and Beliefs and Child Development
- Specify your ideas and beliefs about you are raising your baby and how you want the nanny to incorporate them in her care. For example if your baby is crying and having problems sleeping and taking a nap specify what you want nanny to do and what you do not want her to do. For example you probably do not want the nanny to let baby “cry it out” if baby is not going to sleep. Describe your beliefs and philosophy about sleep, nutrition, safety, play, etc…
- You may want your nanny to do reading or training on child development and infant care. Specify if you require this.
- What to do in an emergency. For example when to call 911.
- Who should be called?
- Mother’s telephone number.
- Father’s telephone number.
- Grandparent or other family member or friend number.
- Require nanny understand safety is of utmost importance.
- Safety equipment in your home for childproofing home.
- Who nanny should call if something is not working at your home.
- Food safety measures you want such as how do you want baby’s milk prepared.
- Bath and water safety.
- Car seat use when in a car or taxi.
- Who is allowed to visit and take baby when parents are not home? For example you want to write in the contract the names of grandparents or other relatives that parents allow to visit and take baby.
- What visitor does the nanny if any while caring for your baby allow.
- What should nanny do if baby should become sick? When should nanny call you for baby’s illness?
- Name of pediatrician and other healthcare providers.
- Copy of baby’s health insurance card in case of emergency.
- Specify if nanny will be taking baby to pediatric visits or to any other healthcare provider.
- CPR and First Aid training and certification and how often needed updating.
- Use of car to transport baby.
- Use of subway or bus to transport baby.
- Use of taxi’s to transport baby and requiring nanny carry and use car seat when using taxis.
- Probation period and how long.
- How often nanny’s performance review.
- How will nanny’s concerns be addressed?
This is just a sample of what can be written in the contract. It’s best to have an attorney review the contract before you and your nanny sign. Remember, your baby is your most precious gift. Insist that the person caring for your baby know, understand, and care for your baby the way you do.
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Expert: Dr. Gina Lamb – Amato MD
Gina is a general pediatrician and developmental pediatrician. She has a masters in child therapy and works with a child psychologist performing office and home consultation for newborns and parents, office and home developmental assessments, school consultations and parent-child playgroups where play and art along with baby massage and other techniques are used to help parents bond and support their child’s development. Formerly, Gina was the Director of Pediatric Special Medical Needs before she went into private practice where she cared for medically fragile infants and children. She is also an Early Intervention Pediatrician for Early Intervention which assesses and treats infants from age zero to 3 years. She has extensive experience in Early Head Start programs which work with infants from prenatal to 3 years of age.