The PSP Guide To Hiring a Nanny/Babysitter: Step 1: WHAT do I want, WHAT can I expect and WHAT will it cost me?

Based on the feedback of its membership of over 5,000 families strong, the Park Slope Parents Guide to Hiring a Nanny is an amalgamation of best-practices, insights and honest expressions culled from years of experience by a diverse group of parents who have all been where you are now.

 

 UPDATED AUGUST 2014-- BETA VERSION. (Please send any feedback to   )

Hiring a nanny means you are embarking on an employer/employee relationship. Let Park Slope Parents, with its 12+ years of experience, guide you through out the process. The nanny/family dynamic is often more emotionally charged than most working relationships because it centers on the care and wellbeing of your child(ren). Park Slope Parents gives you the tools to better trust your judgment and balance your emotions while offering practical tips and advice.

GROUND RULES

These are the ground rules to a successful hiring experience as well as maintaining a great relationship with your nanny. These rules are based on 12+ years of both personal experience as well as thousands of questions and responses on our Park Slope Parents Advice group. You can add to most of these rules the clause "unless you agree on something different before hiring." Everything is negotiable, but it's difficult after the hire to re-negotiate things that are standard practice in the area without appearing stingy and creating a strained work environment.

Have a written work agreement. The work agreement you have with your nanny will list pay, vacation, exact holidays, sick days, and other important things that will come up in the future that may be unforeseeable or even impossible now. Trust us on this one, you'll save yourself awkwardness and misunderstanding if something is in writing to refer to.

Don’t cut corners in hiring. This is a complex, time-consuming process if you are starting from scratch. While it feels easy to "go with your gut," (which we do recommend you trust!), you should back it up by checking multiple references, observing the nanny more than once with your child, and having a trial period before you commit to a long-term employment situation.

Know what type of working situation you are offering. Will you be working from home? Do you need flexible start/end times but can guarantee enough hours to give a nanny financial security? Are you planning on having more kids down the line? Will you want to modify your nanny’s hours when your kids start school? Knowing what you are offering will allow you to find the right fit and set appropriate expectations.

Remember that the overwhelming majority of nannies are good, honest people. However, do your homework. It's up to you to double-check references, ask the right questions, do background checks and look to the future and evolve with your kid(s)’ needs. Even if your best friend used a potential nanny, give yourself the peace of mind that comes with crossing your t’s and dotting your i’s.

Know who YOU are so you can hire the right nanny for your family. You need to look inside yourself to see what kind of manager you'll be. If you prefer to have lots of control, make sure you hire a person who can handle that level of micro-management. Need the nanny to be proactive or reactive? To be self-sufficient? You'll need to find that person.

This is an employer/employee relationship. No matter how much you (and she) feel she is "part of the family," knowing yourself is important in making the right choice for a nanny.

Realize that having a nanny can be an emotional experience like no other. Power issues, personal issues, privacy issues, class/race issues - all of these can create emotions that may bring uncomfortable feelings. While it is an incredible relief to have someone help you take care of your child(ren), it can also stir up a lot of feelings about what you want to provide for your family. This unique relationship will hopefully grow stronger over time but keeping your feelings in check and communicating is integral to the process.

Voice of experience: “I know how hard it is to hire someone to take care of our little ones. It is hard to trust what seems like a complete stranger with our children. Your children are going to be exposed to a lot of strangers in their lifetimes (doctors, teachers, other parents), so it is a gift for a child to be able to develop a loving relationship with someone outside the family early on. It is also a gift to you. Think of what peace of mind you will have if you are able to talk with and understand and trust the sitter, thus knowing your child is in good hands from the start.”

 
WHAT do I want, WHAT can I expect and WHAT will it cost me?

WHEN SHOULD I START LOOKING?

A month beforehand is more than enough for most people to find a nanny. It does depend on the time of year as June, July and August are “high nanny season” with a lot of people looking for nanny jobs. However, there are always good candidates available.

Okay, now that we have covered the ground rules and you are ready to look, let’s figure out what to expect!

WHAT DO I WANT?

What can you expect work-wise? The easy answer is anything you negotiate and pay for. However, let’s back up. Here are some questions to ask yourself regarding what you need.

    Do you want someone who takes your child to lots of classes/play dates or someone who plays more at home?
    Do you want someone who will prepare children's meals? The whole family’s meals?
    Do you want someone who will run errands (dry cleaning, shopping for food, etc.)?
    Do you want someone who will manage other people who may come to your house (e.g., a once-a-week cleaning person; plumbers, delivery people)?
    Do you want someone who will care for or deal with pets?
    Does your child need extra discipline or extra affection?
    Is your child mellow or high energy?
    Do you want someone who will follow your precise plans every day or someone who will develop her own daily routines?
    Do you want someone who checks in frequently or who is more independent?
    Do you need someone who can handle assistance with homework?
    Do you have any special religious considerations, such as a caregiver who will keep your family kosher?
    Do you want someone who only does baby-related housework or additional housework around the home?

NOTE: Create a precise list of the tasks, both daily and weekly, and put that in the Work Agreement (which we will discuss later).

Special Considerations

    How much experience do you want the person you hire to have? Some people want a nanny with years of experience, believing the nanny will have the brevity to tackle daunting tasks like potty and sleep training. Others want someone who with less experience because they think the nanny will be more open to your way of doing things. Note, a nanny with more work experience may come from a job with higher pay than a new nanny.

“We hired a very young inexperienced nanny and after a 2-week training she is as competent as more experienced nannies. If you are not set on a particular age, give young nannies the benefit of the doubt.”

    Do you want a male or female nanny? About nine in ten nannies are female (according to past PSP Nanny Pay Surveys) but consider all options.

“A young energetic male has turned out to be a boon for us. Ours is great because he’s good with both an infant and our 8-year-old son.”

    Does it matter that the nanny has children? Some people feel a nanny who is also a parent adds experience and perspective that non-parents lack. However, if the nanny has small children and you need a caregiver to work long hours with the flexibility to stay late at short notice, you may feel guilty asking a nanny who is a parent to stay late. No answer is correct, but it’s worth considering.

    What beliefs does the nanny hold? There are some nannies who hold strong beliefs about issues surrounding homosexuality, race religion and out-of-wedlock children. Since a full-time nanny is likely to spend 30+ hours a week with your child you want to make sure that the nanny holds beliefs that line up with yours in areas that are important to you. While you might not be a _____ (same sex couple, inter-racial couple, single mother by choice), your children might have playdates with friends who are. Are you okay if your somewhat religious nanny tells your child(ren) about Easter? Vetting the nanny up front about these issues can help you feel better about your nanny being a positive influence on your child (ren).

Knowing what you want up front will help guide you to the right decision in hiring. There is a certain amount of “trusting your gut” in choosing a nanny, but you also need to keep in mind the type of temperament you are looking for in a nanny and the hands on things you want them to do so that you can prepare potential nannies for the job they are applying.

Scheduling

Find a nanny that can fit into your schedule: not the other way around. Be sure to ask yourself these questions before you even start your search:

- Part-time or full-time?- What exact days?
- Do you need someone to come early in the AM or stay late in the PM?
- What national holidays do you get off at work?
- Will you be doing any business travel and need overnight, weekend or extended coverage?
- Do you want someone who can stay late for after-hours events?
- What days off does your own work give you? Do you need your nanny to work the day after Thanksgiving?

Sure, we know Monday is always followed by Tuesday, but what about all those every-other-Wednesday meetings and every-third-Saturday track meets?

Know what holidays you'll be giving your nanny off and discuss these before the hire. The top 6 holiday, (New Year's Day, Christmas, Thanksgiving, Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day) are given almost ubiquitously, but the secondary ones (day after Thanksgiving, MLK Day, Columbus Day) are less clear. If you have to work, it's imperative that you make these clear when you hire. If you are a freelancer who gets paid only when you work and can't afford these extras, discuss this up front so you don't end up giving your nanny additional paid days off because of your own guilt.

For frame of reference, the average total number of days a nanny receives for vacation and holidays is 20 days.

WHAT CAN I EXPECT?

Responsibilities

Now that you’ve got a sense of the type of person you want, let’s also turn to what you expect in terms of basic responsibilities. That is, what can you expect a nanny to do on the money you can afford? Cook? Clean? Do laundry? The short answer is “anything you negotiate.” If you’re job description indicates that the job is a nanny/housecleaner and you pay the higher going rate for such a person, great. However, here’s what the 2013 Nanny Survey Data shows are typical childcare responsibilities:

    90% Washing bottles/dishes that your child(ren) use
    86% Fixing the child(ren)'s meals
    84% Taking child(ren) to extra-curricular activities (e.g., music class, storytime)
    71% Arranging playdates
    62% Doing the child(ren)'s laundry

 Now let’s add in household responsibilities. Three out of four employers have the nanny do “light housekeeping” which includes putting away toys and cleaning up the table. Less than one in four nannies does other household work such as cleaning the kitchen (22%), buying child-related supplies (20%), washing the whole families dishes (17%), doing all the household laundry (14%) or dry cleaning drop-off and pick-up (7%).

You can ask that nannies for some things that will save you time and mental energy. You can have them add to a list of items that are running low (milk, diapers, wipes) or stock a diaper bag or your child’s exercise/dance clothes at the end of the day. If you have a child who naps this could be a good time to fold kid laundry and tidy up.

So what does this mean if you really would like to have a nanny who does heavy housecleaning (10% of employers say their nanny does heavy housecleaning)? You can find someone to do this, but make sure to negotiate this up front and pay the person a higher competitive rate. It may be easy to think that since your baby sleeps so much the nanny has time to clean during nap time, but that doesn’t last long since two daytime naps drop to one quickly. Let’s also be serious—if you can’t get it all done during the day, how do you expect a nanny to do it?

Policies

Knowing what you think about certain things and laying it out for the nanny before you hire is an important step in finding someone who will abide by the rules of your house. People differ about what is and isn’t okay behavior, and your nanny may have a different experience with different families and use that as a frame of reference. We’ll cover this again in the work agreement, but here are a list of behaviors to think about, along with data from the 2013 Nanny Compensation Survey about people’s permissiveness to certain behaviors:

Behavior

OK

Not OK

OK with permission

Not Applicable

Watching TV while child(ren) sleeps

72%

12%

4%

13%

Using the computer/Internet while the child(ren) sleeps

68%

9%

6%

16%

Napping while the child(ren) naps

55%

25%

9%

11%

Running her personal errands while on duty

48%

15%

34%

3%

Personal calls beyond check-ins on her cell phone while watching my child(ren)

46%

36%

16%

2%

Giving treats such as ice cream or candy

32%

25%

37%

6%

Here are things people are typically NOT okay with:

Behavior

Not OK

OK

OK with permission

Not Applicable

Listening/wearing headphones/earpieces

84%

4%

1%

11%

Watching TV while my child(ren) is awake

82%

4%

6%

7%

Using the computer/Internet while my child(ren) is awake

73%

7%

7%

13%

Taking my child(ren) to visit her friends (not a playdate situation)

68%

6%

20%

6%

Having other adults without kids in our house (NOT a play date situation)

58%

8%

29%

5%

Taking care of other child(ren) while taking care of my children (e.g., not a playdate situation OR nanny share)

56%

5%

31%

9%

Taking the child(ren) shopping to “shop”

45%

23%

22%

11%

Taking my child(ren) to the nanny's home

36%

13%

36%

15%

 

Whatever you feel about these policies (and regardless of how you conduct yourself), it’s important to make your preferences clear when you hire a nanny. While some of these things may not be relevant now, they will come up. Thinking through them and discussing them ahead of time will help set the framework and establish boundaries needed for a good working relationship.

WHAT WILL IT COST ME?

The Basics: Vacation and sick days

Know how many weeks of vacation YOU are likely to take. If you typically take 4 weeks a year, you'll be expected to pay your nanny for all 52 weeks even though 2 weeks of vacation is what nannies typical receive. Since your nanny is available to work and you've hired her to work full time, she will expect to get paid. However, you may be able to negotiate an overnight weekend, or a few late nights here and there to swap for extra vacation weeks you take if you negotiate these in the hiring process when you hire her. One of most frequent questions about nannies that comes up on PSP is “I agreed to 2 weeks’ vacation when I hired the nanny but I’m taking more. Do I pay her.” The answer is, “yes you do, unless you’ve negotiated something else up front.”

Give your nanny at least two weeks of paid vacation if she's working full-time. It's best to give her at least ONE week of that of her own choosing. (Part-time nannies get a percentage of the 2 weeks; 3 days/week translates to 6 vacation days a year; 4 days = 8 days and so on).

Discuss sick days AND replacements. Most employers report that their nannies rarely take time off, but paying your nanny if she is sick is important to her ensure financial stability. Plus, you don't want her coming to work if only out of fear of a day’s lost wages if she's sick, do you? (The Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights mandates 3 paid days of rest per year once your nanny has been with you for a year.)

Also factor in that you’ll need to pay a replacement in addition to your nanny’s wage. Sometimes the nanny can help you come up with a replacement. Discuss whether you will pay out sick days that are not taken as this can add up to a week's pay (the majority don't pay out, but you need to be clear). What happens if the nanny takes more than agreed upon sick days? Discuss that as well.

Give personal as well as sick days (although these can be one and the same). Nannies may need time off for work-hour appointments (e.g., dentist, legal, school). Ask them to give you ample time to work out their schedule (preferably 2 weeks, but no less than 48 hours) so you can make other arrangements.

Dollars and Common Sense

Guaranteed pay. Your nanny has made herself available to work for you X hours each week; whether you use her is irrelevant. Most nannies want and need to have the security of having the same pay each week (who wouldn't?). If you come home early from work, if the grandparents come into town and the nanny didn't work all the normal hours, guaranteed pay means they still walk away with the same amount they can count on to cover their expenses. There can be wiggle room and day swapping here and there, but negotiate this up front or resentment can build. Furthermore, almost half of all employers play a set amount PLUS more if she works more than the hour agreed upon.

The standard end-of-year holiday bonus is one week’s pay. This is not connected to a raise or paid time off and but paying a holiday bonus is virtually ubiquitous (94% of employers) in December. If the nanny has not been with you for very long (less than six months) you may pro-rate the pay, but it's best to pay it forward rather than skimp.

You'll pay more for flexibility and housework. You may swap hours here and there, but you'll need to pay more per hour for someone who comes early and works late, stays at the last minute, or does more than just tidying the kids’ related mess. Be up front about what you expect her to do (more on that in a bit). Be careful about gradually adding more responsibilities later since job creep is one of the main reasons nannies give why they quit a job.

Keep track of hours worked. By law you need to pay "by the hour." Even if you feel you are paying a guaranteed rate, you need to work in overtime vs. hourly rate for your records. The Wage Theft Prevention Act (WTPA) requires you to give notice of written wages, overtime, regular payday and employer contact information

If you come home early and let the nanny leave, you should pay her for a full day. The vast majority (84%) of employers pay if they come home early since they’ve contracted for a set number of hours. Much like guaranteed pay can be, a nanny who has agreed to come for a certain amount of time should be paid for the time set aside unless you have an agreement to the contrary.

Overtime should be respected and is the law. The Domestic Worker Bill of Rights (DWBR) mandates overtime of 1.5 the hourly rate for hours worked over 40 hours. Throwing a few extra bucks in doesn’t cut it legally. Also, if you decide on a ‘guaranteed’ rate of pay that includes hours over 40 (e.g., $750 for 50 hours) the nanny is not making 750/50; $15/hr;). She is making X rate for up to 40 hours and 1.5x that for above 40 hours. This will be reflected in the WPTA you are required to fill out. If you swap hours one week to the next know that even if you and your nanny agree to it the law says that you must pay overtime for more than 40 hours in a given week.

Give a raise at the appropriate time. After your nanny has worked a year she will expect a raise. A raise of $1/hr is typical (62% of employers give this much) although some people give a weekly amount of $25 - $50. If you have an extra child and the nanny will watch both children, a $2/hr raise is typical. Give these separately or tread lightly. Not giving an annual raise because you are giving an increase in pay due to a second child can be seen as scrimping and lead to tension in the relationship.

Paying “on the books” will give you peace of mind. There are so many reasons to pay ‘on the books’ for both you and your nanny (see below). Park Slope Parents urges you to make this happen. When you hire a nanny you’ll need to make sure the person is willing to be paid on the books since the norm in Park Slope is that you pay off the books. Many don’t know the benefits of paying on the books so may push back; so prepare to educate them.

Factor in ancillary expenses. There are expenses you need to decide on that will factor into the overall cost of hiring a nanny. One perk 43% of employers give is an unlimited MetroCard. Extra spending cash (typically $15-$25/week) is also something left for the nanny to pay for extra items the child or household on the run. It’s also standard to pay for a car service if your nanny stays past 8 or 9pm. Also add the extra week’s pay for the end of year bonus.

Think ahead to any future arrangements that call for creative situations. If your child will start preschool you may want to negotiate fewer hours for your nanny. Bring this up when you’re hiring a person. However, given school holidays, sick kids and summer camp off weeks it may be worth the extra piece of mind to have your nanny 'on call' (paid full-time for part time hours) even when you don't need her full-time. You can also work out creative ways to fill the time she's not working (e.g., have her stay late one night a week for a date night, take the kids overnight once a month, etc.). Even if you have a newborn and are hiring a nanny, thinking towards the future and raising this before the hire to make sure that the nanny is amenable to future possibilities.

Discuss things like snow days and emergency situations. Expect to pay when extenuating circumstances (e.g., Hurricane Sandy) arise. If public transit isn’t running, you may need to make special arrangements and pay to get your nanny to work.

A nanny share can save you money. One option for childcare that can save you some money is a nanny share, where a nanny takes care of one or more children from multiple families at the same time. It can be a complex arrangement as parenting philosophies and sick days may get tricky. PSP has a “Step-by-Step Guide to a successful Nanny Share” to help you navigate how to set up this arrangement.

SUMMARY OF PAY (based on the Park Slope Parents’ 2013 Nanny Pay Survey)

Norms for Pay (based on average pay)

     1 child –$15.06/hour (range $12.50- $17.00)
     2 children –$16.44/hour** (range $13.00- $20.00)
    3 children – $17.77/hour (range $15.00- $21.00)
     **The two child rate is based on two children of the same family, not a nanny share (which is closer to $11/hr per family).

Add MORE to this base rate if you are paying for:

    Part-time hours (vs. full-time)
    Flexible schedule (staying late, starting early)
    Teaching a second language
    Heavy household cleaning (anything more than tidying up and doing kid dishes)
    On the books (about 15% more but will give you peace of mind for you and your nanny)

Ancillary expenses to factor in to overall nanny expenses

    MetroCard (if you provide one; about a 4 in 10 of employers do)
    Holiday “bonus” (more than 95% of employers give a holiday bonus; with 60% giving 1 weeks’ pay, 26% giving 2 weeks’)
    Money for late night cab fare (typically 8pm or 9pm, later in the summer)
    Weekly spending money (snacks for kids, quick purchases, etc.) ranging from $15-$25/week

JUST DO IT… You should keep documentation of hours worked, days not worked, and what you pay your nanny for future records regardless of whether you pay on or off the books (you can create a sub-calendar in Google for this purpose.) While your nanny may work out great and they are never needed, it’s good to have just in case.

LAWS ABOUT HIRING A NANNY:

You need to be aware of the laws surrounding the employment of nannies. These laws apply to all domestic workers, regardless of whether they are paid on or off the books or their eligibility to work. Don’t fool yourself that you’re “helping out someone who wouldn’t otherwise be able to work,” or “paying someone twice minimum wage so they should be grateful.” This is an employment situation and you’re an employer. She may feel like part of the family, but she is not. She is your employee (a position of power) and you her employer. This is a special relationship and boundary to respect. Please pay attention to the laws below, know what your nanny is entitled to, and know what your responsibilities are as well as consequences of not following through.

 Here are some important documents to read and understand:

NEW YORK DOMESTIC WORKERS BILL OF RIGHTS (DWBR)  

 Spells out mandatory overtime compensation over 40 hours, paid time off, and more. In short, the DWBR gives your nanny:

    The right to overtime pay at time-and-a-half after 40 hours of work in a week, or 44 hours for workers who lives in their employer’s home.
    A day of rest (24 hours) every seven days, or overtime pay if they agree to work on that day, even if they have worked less than 40 hours.
    Three paid days of rest each year after one year of work for the same employer.
    Protection under New York State Human Rights Law, and the creation of a special cause of action for domestic workers who suffer sexual or racial harassment.

WAGE THEFT PROTECTION ACT

This requires new employers to provide yearly written documentation of their pay rates (including nannies paid off the books), proper wage statements, current employer information and more. Notification should occur at the time of hire and between Jan 1- and Feb 1 of each year. Copies of the notice must be kept for 6 years but don't need to be filed. Templates can be found here.

UNEMPLOYMENT ELIGIBILITY

Workers paid on and off the books are eligible to file for unemployment benefits even if they have not paid taxes on their income.

WORKER’S COMPENSATION AND DISABILITY INSURANCE

A nanny who works 40 or more hours per week for the same employer must be covered by workers’ compensation insurance and disability benefits.

PAYING ON THE BOOKS:

Park Slope Parents takes paying on the books very seriously; it’s the law. If you pay a nanny more than $1900 in a year (in 2014) you are required to pay Social Security and Medicare. You may be able to use a pre-tax flexible spending account and child and dependent tax credit which can help offset the extra cost of paying on the books. If you paid your nanny more than $1,000 in a quarter you must pay unemployment tax (both federal and NY State). You must also pay workman’s compensation. Overall it’s about 15% more to pay your nanny on the books.

We’ve heard stories over the years of people who have been caught in nasty post-employment snarls paying back taxes, unemployment and overtime for nannies. We advise that you hire a service to help you with tax prep as it can be complicated. We have a list of PSP member reviewed nanny payroll services here. However, many people do pay on the books staying organized by using spreadsheets at home and setting up calendar/email reminders for when to file the appropriate paperwork. We partnered with Home Work Solutions to develop a step by step guide here: The NY Nanny Payroll Quick Start Guide

On the Books: Benefits for your nanny

    You help your nanny accumulate retirement benefits
    Your nanny has a written record of a work history tied to her SSN (or employment number). This record can help her buy an apartment/house that she might not otherwise qualify for. (Note, you can also pay a undocumented worker on the books)
    Your nanny may qualify for earned income credits
    Your nanny will have unemployment if you need to dismiss her (Note, your nanny can apply for unemployment and receive it even if paid off the books).
    Your nanny will accrue Social Security, Disability and Medicare benefits

On the Books: Benefits for You

    If your company has a childcare flex account you can pay using pre-tax income to offset costs
    You can get childcare tax credits (which help offset the extra costs) (IRS form 2441)
    You can sleep better at night knowing that you are doing the 'right thing.'
    You don't need to worry about penalties or feel threatened by a former nanny about “turning you in.”

Past data shows that employers say they pay their nanny off the books at the nannies request, but please remember that you, as the employer, must take the responsibility for penalties, unemployment, back taxes and fines.

"The fact that we pay our nanny on the books puts our relationship on a very professional and respectful level. In return, she is more than flexible with time off and we basically help each other out with scheduling."

OVERALL COSTS

To help you figure out your costs Park Slope Parents has put together a spreadsheet to help you approximate the costs related to hiring a nanny.

Nanny Compensation Spreadsheet

Enter data or delete data in highlighted cells

 

Disclaimer: this spreadsheet is for approximation purposes only. Further, it does not condone paying off the books as an acceptable practice)

  
  

Overtime rate

Hourly Rate (Ave--1 child ave = $15.06; Ave 2 children = $16.44; Ave 3 children - $17.77);

$                         15.06

$             22.59

Hours worked per week (Pay over 40 is 1.5 times)

35

 

Weekly pay off the books

$ 527.10

 

Approximate cost with on the books taxes/fees included (approx. 15% on top of gross)

$ 606.17

 
   

OPTIONAL (but expected)

  

Spending Cash/week

$25

 

Metrocard (30 day unlimited is $112/month)

$112

 

After hours car service

?

 
   

YEARLY TOTALS

 

On the Books

Yearly Pay

$27,409.20

$ 31,520.58

Yearly Spending Cash (50 of 52 wks)

$1,300

$     1,300.00

Yearly Bonus (typically paid in December)

$ 527.10

$     606.17

Yearly Metrocard Stipend

$1,344

$1,344

   
 

Off the Books

On the books

TOTAL YEARLY CHILDCARE EXPENDITURE*

$ 30,580.30

$ 34,770.75

Final Thoughts about Pay from Park Slope Parents Members

Pay at a level you can sleep with at night. You know how hard this job is. You know how much you love your child. You know how critical a role a caregiver will play in shaping your child's behavior, views and personality. And you know how ridiculously expensive it is to live in New York. Your pay, to the best of your ability, should reflect those understandings.

Creativity can stretch your dollars. If you can't afford overtime, figure out a creative way to reduce extra hours. Maybe one parent leaves for work much earlier to come home earlier, while the other does a later job shift. This reduces the overall time a child spends with a caregiver. Perhaps a friend could help out by taking care of your child on, say, Friday afternoons and you watch hers for a few hours Saturday morning. Some parents also do a nanny/ daycare combination. And maybe, if you have a great boss, your nanny brings your child to work one afternoon a week and takes a nap there.

It’s difficult to decrease pay and benefits after you’ve given them. If you start by giving your nanny robust pay and benefits and things change for you financially it’s hard to take things away. Adding benefits (such as a MetroCard or half-year raise) can go far to make a nanny feel appreciated.

Nannies think they know what you can afford. If you come home with shopping bags full of new clothes every week but are paying her under market, expect her to be unhappy. No one expects you to overpay just because you are well off. But she will expect you to pay fairly.

Nannies know what other nannies are paid. If you get an experienced nanny who has been in the neighborhood for more than a year, they have friends. Most talk about pay, bonuses, and what responsibilities they have. They therefore know via comparison if they are doing more work for less pay. Paying fairly is the way to go.

"You may be able to find someone who is willing to take less pay, but I would be careful; sitters in this neighborhood talk to each other a LOT, and know what other sitters are making. They will often NOT let you know if they think they are getting the short end of the stick. I'm not trying to sound alarmist, but I thought I had treated my sitter extremely well when she left me with no notice for a better offer. Now I am squarely in the camp that you need to pay a sitter the going rate and not think you are getting something for nothing if you are paying less, because that just isn't very likely.”

Special Pay Circumstances

What do you pay for overnights? Weekends? Travel? There are no absolute standards of pay for the following situations, but here are some guidelines:

Sleep-over/Overnight...Set amounts range from $50- $200 after typical hours have passed, with $100 the most frequently mentioned rate. Some people switch extra days off for an over-night.

Weekend...People do either flat rates (typically $125-$250 per weekend day) or a "daily rate plus" ($50-$150 extra per night). You might also negotiate switching a weekend day for a few weekdays.

Travel Pay...Most people pay the normal daily rate plus an extra day rate (from $50-$100 day; $200-$300 a week) and cover everything related to travel (airfare, car fare, food, hotel). Some break the day into shifts (morning, afternoon, night) and the nanny works two of the shifts. Many employers give the nanny time off to explore and enjoy the place where they are traveling.

LAY IT ALL OUT IN A WORK AGREEMENT:

Once you know what you want you should address what you want in a work agreement.

Use the template provided by Park Slope Parents here as your framework for making sure that you are covering items that, if not addressed, will come up later and cause angst. It’s the go to document for you and your nanny that spells out who expects what and who promised what. According to many families that didn’t use a work agreement, it’s the top thing they wish they did differently.

Here are some “must have” topics for your work agreement. It’s also helpful to show this to your candidates at the in-person interview.

LEGAL MUST HAVES:

    Regular Rate of pay
    Overtime Rates of pay (The DWBR mandates overtime be paid at 1.5 for any hours over 40 OR if the worker works on their designated day of rest)
    Basis (e.g., shift, hourly, weekly) (NOTE: Paying on the books requires pay at an hourly rate).
    The employers intent to claim allowances (e.g., tip or meal allowances/lodging) as part of the minimum wage
    Your name
    Your telephone number
    Your legal address
    Acknowledgment of paid time off (The overwhelming majority of employers give more than this, but the DWBR requires 3 paid days after employee completes 1 year of work)
    Policies on sick days
    Schedule and number of hours
    Vacation specifics (including information how many weeks are at the Nanny's choosing and how many are agreed upon , personal leave, holidays, and hours of work
    Regular and overtime rates of pay

Pay day

PSP RECOMMENDED MUST HAVES:

    Duties (including household expectations)
    Emergency Contact Information for Children
    Emergency Contact For Nanny
    Confidentiality Agreement
    Family/ House Rules
    Trial period*
    Termination/Severance Details
    Disciplinary action (like probation terms for tardiness).
    Family Policies:
          TV Usage
           Discipline Issues
           Kitchen Privileges
           Kids and sleeping (e.g., cry it out)
           Nanny sleeping/ break issues

         
    Schedule for a Raise (Having an anticipated timeline for annual raises or extra kids, including amount, can help avoid confusion and problems later, but may also box you in a corner if your financial situation changes).
    Medical Information
    Information about transitions (willingness of a nanny to switch from full day care to part daycare/ part housekeeping; schedule changes if a baby is born)
    Overnight Care
    Traveling with the Family

OPTIONAL HAVES:

    Schedule for a Raise (Having an anticipated timeline for annual raises or extra kids, including amount, can help avoid confusion and problems later, but may also box you in a corner if your financial situation changes).
    Medical Information
    Information about transitions (willingness of a nanny to switch from full day care to part daycare/ part housekeeping; schedule changes if a baby is born)
    Overnight Care
    Traveling with the Family

A Note About a Work Agreement

Some people don’t think a work agreement is necessary, or worse yet could be legally damaging if you’re hiring someone who is undocumented. Some people feel that it makes the relationship feel cold, can intimidate the nanny and send a message of no confidence, and others want the flexibility of not being bound by written documentation. Regardless of your reasons, it’s best for you and the nanny to have things in writing as a reference document. So whether you have a full document like the sample work agreement provided by PSP, or just a one-sheet outline of things like pay (required by the Wage Theft Prevention Act) and vacation, it gives both employer and employee a point of reference so that misunderstandings and “but you said when we talked” are not sources of tension. It also sets a level of professionalism and respect that is important to have in the relationship.

By the way...don't be surprised if a nanny does not want to sign an "official" nanny contract. Some are worried because they may not be legally allowed to work in the U.S. and as such they don't want to sign something that could come back to hurt them. Some (and this may be a hesitation for you as well) don't want to sign an agreement without consulting a lawyer (who they may not have; or have the money to afford one).  Regardless, going through a written document of expectations, signed or not, will help you and your Nanny be on the same page.

“We should never lose sight of the fact that this is a business transaction, but we should also never lose sight of the fact that this is so much more than just a business transaction.”

KEY TAKE AWAYS FROM STEP 1

    Figure out exactly what you are offering in terms of pay, vacation, and holidays.
    Have a clear idea of what your expectations are—and be realistic
    Know where you stand on policies regarding sleeping, playdates, errand-running and more.
    Understand the laws and your responsibilities as an employer.
    Do the math so you know what you'll be spending and won’t be surprised by extras.

UPDATED AUGUST 2014-- BETA VERSION. (Please send any feedback to   )

 Let's move to Step 2: WHERE to Look