Nanny and Family, working together:
Detailed information provided by members of S.A.N. (Seattle Area Nannies)—Seattle’s largest network of professional nannies.
Keeping it Legal
Nannies are LEGALLY considered household employees and must be provided with a W-2. Not paying employer taxes or misclassifying a nanny as an independent contractor by providing a 1099 may be considered tax evasion. (IRS Publication 926)
Washington State Sick Leave went into effect on January 1, 2018. Most employees in the state of Washington, including most nannies, are entitled to one hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours they work. Any unused hours, up to 40, roll over to the following year. (Washington State Initiative 1433) Employers should have a back up plan. Nannies often feel guilty when they are ill. Employers should encourage their nanny to practice self-care, guilt free.
Banking hours is illegal. An employer must establish a workweek (7 consecutive 24 hour periods) and must pay overtime when hours worked exceed 40 per workweek. Hours cannot be moved from one week to another. Hours worked must be compensated for in the week they were earned. (Fair Standards Labor Act)
Nanny Industry Standards
(the basic things most nannies expect)
A written contract that includes pay, work schedule, well-defined specific duties, expectations, benefits, and termination clause, is a basic necessity of a nanny employment arrangement. This gives both parties a legal document that they may refer to in order to clarify agreements.
Guaranteed Hours (Guaranteed Pay):
Though not required by law, this is a standard that most experienced nannies will refuse to work without. Guaranteed hours assure the employer that the nanny reserves their availability for the family even if the nanny’s service is not needed during regularly scheduled hours. (Ex.: the employer takes a vacation or sends the nanny home early, etc.), much like a family would pay to keep their spot in a daycare. Guaranteed hours also assure the nanny of a regular pay amount so the nanny doesn't have to worry that they cannot pay their bills due to not being needed at work. It is the nanny’s schedule that is “guaranteed”, not the number of hours, unless the nanny’s schedule is consistently flexible. The nanny is compensated as if the hours were worked, including overtime (this includes weeks when a paid holiday falls, or paid sick day is used, the nanny’s pay should include the guaranteed OT and their pay should not be reduced). Additional time off of the nanny’s choosing may be unpaid (if they have exhausted their paid time off). Any additional hours worked outside of a nanny’s regular schedule are paid in addition to the hours (schedule) guaranteed. OT kicks in after 40 hours in any given workweek.
The most common paid holidays are, New Years Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. Some employers agree to give Friday or Monday off for major holidays that fall on a weekend. Employers with additional holidays off often pass this benefit on to their nanny. If the nanny is asked to work on a paid day off, they should be compensated at least twice their normal rate (they are making their normal rate to stay home, time and a half is not worth their day off, and you would have to pay someone else the full rate, so you may as well pay your nanny double time).
Two weeks is standard for a full time employee, ideally the nanny chooses both weeks. When an employer is on vacation, guaranteed hours kick in, thus the nanny is still paid. Some families will ask their nanny to come to work while they are away, and some nannies will agree to help out, however it is customary to let the nanny take the time off. A nanny is generally hired to do child-related duties, so if they agree to pet/house sit, do general housework, or errands, this is outside a nanny’s scope and additional compensation should be offered.
Notice and Severance:
Two to four weeks notice is standard. It is best for both nanny and employer to abide by the same amount of notice. If an employer who agreed to 4 weeks notice decides they do not need the nanny for the full 4 weeks, it is customary for the employer to pay severance in lieu of the remaining notice. A nanny with 4 weeks work, may be relieved immediately with 4 weeks pay.
1-3 days is standard. If the weather is too dangerous for driving, such as school districts are closed, many employers will comp the day, regardless of what is standard, to keep everyone safe.
This could be either cash, or an employer-provided credit card. It covers child related, and household expenses such as supplies for activities, meals/snacks on outings, memberships, or errands you and the nanny agree to.
Food & Beverage:
Employers may offer an open kitchen to allow their nanny to ear or drink anything within reason. Many also offer to let the nanny add things to the grocery list and/or buy their meals and snacks with petty cash or an employer provided credit card.
If a nanny drives their own vehicle, it is standard to pay them mileage according to the rate set by the IRS. This amount often varies from year to year.
Business Use Auto Insurance Rider:
If a nanny is required to use their car to drive the child(ren), it is standard for the employer to pay for a business use rider, if required by the nanny’s insurance company. The cost is usually nominal, around $15 a month.
It is customary for the nanny to receive and annual merit and/or a cost of living raise after each 12 month work period. If additional children are added to the nanny’s responsibilities, they should be given a raise for the new workload.
When traveling, all expenses are paid for by the family. All hours worked, including travel time, are paid by employer. Travel may include an inconvenience and/or an overnight fee as the nanny is not on vacation or home in their comfy bed. They may have additional expenses for travel that the inconvenience fee may cover, such as pet boarding, plant watered, etc.
Great Benefits to Attract the Best Nannies
Health Insurance / Health Insurance Stipend:
Employers paying all or part of the nanny’s health insurance is becoming a popular perk and may offer a tax benefit to the employer.
Professional Development Allowance:
This is a nice perk for the nanny who loves continued learning. Offer a yearly amount to cover the cost of trainings, courses, and classes that are related to the nanny field. This also benefits the employer.
College Tuition Reimbursement:
For continued learning in the childcare field.
This perk offered to your nanny for a job well done will be very much appreciated.
This is a very nice gift that is always appreciated. 1-2 weeks pay, or a gift that is equivalent, is standard, but not everyone can afford that. Whatever you can afford will be very appreciated. (If you hired your nanny around the holiday, or first of the year, it is customary to keep the annual and Christmas bonuses separate)
Unlimited Bus Pass:
For nannies who do not drive.
This is a thoughtful gift to help your nanny stay on top of their physical health, which in turn, helps them keep up with the physical demands of the job. A variation of this is to purchase multiple visits for the nanny to visit their favorite massage therapist, yoga or pilates studio on a regular basis.
Retirement Plan Contribution
Building a Good Working Relationship
Respect Nanny’s Time:
Come home 5 to 15 minutes early to recap your children’s day so your nanny can leave on time. If you are running late, communicate as soon as possible. Often nannies have plans after work. If they bus, and they have missed their bus due to employers’s tardiness, it would be kind to offer an Uber/Lyft ride for them.
Respect Nanny’s Work Space:
Your home is also your nanny’s place of employment. Your nanny will do their best to leave your home at least as clean as they found it, if not better. Many nannies find it difficult to work in a home in regular disarray, such as having a sink filled with dishes that were not used during the nanny’s work hours. The employers should take care of messes created while the nanny is not on duty, and not leave it for the nanny to do unless the nanny agrees to, and is compensated extra to do so.
Being a great nanny is demanding work. A nanny tries to remain engaged, patient, and creative at all times while the child is awake. Nannies do not have breaks like most other hourly employees. When the opportunity arises for a nanny to be able to take a break, it should be encouraged and taken guilt-free. Trust their time-management skills.
Avoid job creep:
Piling on extra duties that the nanny did not agree to in the contract, or is not compensated extra for, is known in the industry as job creep, and should be avoided. Most nannies do not mind helping out with extra chores from time to time, but unless it is in the contract or the nanny is compensated extra, it should be appreciated and not become an expectation.
National Nanny Recognition Week is the last week of September, every year. Nannies who feel appreciated will work harder to make their employers happy. Say thank you for the extras they do, bring them home a souvenir from your trip, remember their birthday, give thank you cards, and offer small gifts throughout the year. Little things will add up. Showing your nanny appreciation is a top contributor to satisfaction and happiness on the job.
Always talk to your nanny with respect, and do not undermine them with the children. Back them up. Have an open-door policy for issues that come up. If you would rather they do something differently, talk to them privately and review your expectations.
Respect Your Nanny’s Pronouns:
Ask your nanny what pronouns they prefer.