Best practices for hiring/bringing back a nanny in the time of coronavirus

Hopefully some of these questions will be easy to answer if you’ve been having frequent, open conversations with your nanny about how they’re doing, whether they’ve been sick, and their family situation.

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RESOURCES TO HELP YOU:

If you are thinking about bringing a nanny into a Nanny Share/POD situation, look through the document BRAINSTORM: PODDING/BUBBLE FAMILIES.

 

Other great PSP resources:

 

Slate has an article on How to think through your family’s coronavirus decisions, which spells out these decision-making steps:

  1. Frame the question
  2. Mitigate risk
  3. Evaluate risk
  4. Evaluate benefits
  5. Decide

 

And the New York Times has an article on How Housekeepers and Domestic Helpers Can Safely Return to Work: “To keep everyone safe as cleaners and other household workers come back, ‘trust has to go both ways.’” Also check out Roxane Gay's column on Is It Safe to Keep Employing a Cleaner? Wrong Question, Lady!

 

The National Domestic Workers Alliance has a fact sheet on Coronavirus’ Economic Impact on Domestic Workers.

Hand in Hand has a toolkit on How to be a Fair Care employer during the COVID-19 crisis in NYC.

If you and your nanny live in different zip codes, you might also check this map to see if your nanny lives in a high-COVID zip code, as that increases the likelihood of your nanny bringing the virus into other neighborhoods.

corona zip map

Also check out Amid the Coronavirus Crisis, a Regimen for Reëntry from the New Yorker, which discusses how we can successfully return to some aspects of public life while keeping the epidemic in check:

“The four pillars of our strategy—hygiene, distancing, screening, and masks—will not return us to normal life, but, when signs indicate that the virus is under control, they could get people out of their homes and moving again. … I have come to realize that there is a fifth element to success: culture. It’s one thing to know what we should be doing; it’s another to do it, rigorously and thoroughly.”

Consider having a hygiene log (and health and safety plans) that you both fill out so that, if you DO have your nanny come back, your nanny and your family can feel comfortable with the level of hygiene and safety you are both maintaining.

 

If you're hiring a new nanny and need to discuss their attitude toward Covid precautions, try to be subtle and nonjudgmental about it while still gathering the info you need. Ask what sort of activities they like to do with kids, and if they offer "taking them to restaurants/bookstores/shopping" without adding "during non-Covid times," that tells you something about their levels of caution. Similarly, when it's time for an in-person interview, you can tell a lot from whether they show up appropriately masked, ask if they should remove their shoes,  and ask for a place to wash their hands.

 

Bringing your nanny back to work: Questions to think through

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Your levels of trust in your nanny/your overall comfort levels

  • What is your level of stress about illness? How does that inform your level of comfort with your nanny coming back?
  • Does the level of comfort/relief/ability to get work done/family sanity provided by having your nanny come back outweigh the level of discomfort created by having them come back?
  • How much do you know about your nanny’s living situation right now?
  • Do you feel that your nanny and your family are on the same page about hygiene and precautions? What about the people with whom your nanny is living or socializing?
  • Does your nanny have underlying conditions that put them at high risk for complications from COVID?
  • What precautions are you comfortable asking your nanny to take while working for you?
  • What are you expecting of your nanny in terms of off-hours socializing and social distancing?
  • Do you trust that your nanny will be diligent in taking the precautions you need to feel safe?

 

Your nanny’s family/home situation

  • Is your nanny living with people who are high-risk?
  • Is your nanny living with people who are essential workers?
  • Does your nanny have kids? If so, are you comfortable with them bringing their kids to work with them?
  • Is your nanny going to have to leave their kids in an unsafe environment if they come to work?

 

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Nanny share–specific questions

  • If you’re in a nanny share, how can you bring the families together safely?
  • If you want to POD with another family, is your nanny okay with that?

 

Your family’s buy-in

  • Do your kids want your nanny back?
  • How can you mitigate fears your children may have about your nanny getting them sick or vice versa? (Of course, reassuring them that everyone will be taking precautions can help.)
  • Are you on the same page as your partner and extended family?
  • Will having your nanny back impact whether other family members feel comfortable seeing you and your partner and kids? How will this affect cousins? Aunts and uncles? Grandparents?
  • Can you assure your nanny that your family will help to protect them by practicing social distancing?

 

Scheduling

  • Do you need your nanny for the same number of hours as before? More? Less?
  • If you are not traveling to work, what hours are you really needing your nanny to work?
  • Will you phase in slowly and see how it goes? Will you hit the ground running?

 

Precautions and indoor safety

  • What precautions is your nanny willing to take while at work? Are they willing to wear a mask in your house? Are they willing to wear a mask at home in their house?
  • Are you providing masks, gloves, and whatever your nanny needs to feel protected at your home, at their home, and when traveling in between?
  • Is your nanny willing to have a change of clothes that they leave at your place for when they come?
  • Are you willing to have your kids wear a mask when your nanny is in your home if you deem that necessary?
  • Are there any other ways you can mitigate risk for your family and your nanny?

 

Socializing and outdoor safety

  • Is it okay for your nanny to socialize with their nanny friends in the park?
  • Can your kids go with your nanny to the park?
  • Can your kids and/or your nanny remove their masks at the park?
  • We talk about wearing masks as a sign of respect and responsibility to other people—is your nanny on the same page?

 

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Activities and learning

  • With everything closed, what kinds of things will your nanny do with your children?
  • If your nanny has a car, are you comfortable having your kids go with them for some excursions to places like the beach or on a hike?
  • If school doesn’t open in the fall, will your nanny be able to help with remote learning?

 

Pay

  • Are you paying on the books? If not, is it time to start?
  • If your nanny becomes sick after returning to work, will you be able to keep paying them even after you’ve paid the required amount (two weeks’ sick pay and 10 weeks FMLA)?
  • If you have your nanny work fewer hours, will you pay less?
  • If you’re creating a POD with another family and that family has their own nanny, do you pay both nannies for less time?
  • Is there a reason to provide hazard pay? If you are paying your nanny the same amount for fewer hours, do you consider this to be hazard pay? Does your nanny agree?
  • If you are picking your nanny up from their home, do you count travel time as work time?

 

Your home as a workplace

  • If you and/or your partner are working from home, is there space for your nanny?
  • Will you be expecting your nanny to take the kids out whenever you’re working?
  • If the weather is bad, are there spaces other than your home where your nanny can spend time with the kids?

 

Your nanny’s commute

  • What kind of exposure will your nanny have coming to and from work?
  • How do you feel about your nanny taking the subway or bus?
  • How do you feel about your nanny taking an Uber or other ride-share? Are you able to pay for that service?
  • Can your nanny take a personal car or get a ride?
  • Can you pick your nanny up and take them home?
  • Does your nanny have a license, and if so, are they comfortable driving?
  • Is renting a car for your nanny to travel back and forth an option? If so, can you provide your nanny with a gas stipend?
  • Are you willing to help your nanny out with car insurance?
  • Is there parking available outside your home?

 

Traveling this summer

  • Are you planning on traveling this summer?
  • If so, will you be wanting to take your nanny with you?
  • If your nanny doesn’t want to travel with you, will they feel comfortable saying no?
  • Will you continue paying your nanny while you’re away if they don’t travel with you? If not, can you help them find another job during that time?

 

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Contract

  • How do you need to change your nanny’s contract or work agreement in order to reflect the current situation and near future?
  • How do you need to change it for the further future?

 

Exposure

  • Has your nanny been exposed to COVID-19 already?
  • Is your nanny willing to take an COVID-19 antibody test? If so, can you ask them to do so before coming back to work? Can you help them pay for the test?

 

Your nanny’s level of comfort

  • Does your nanny feel comfortable coming back to work?
  • Will your nanny feel pressured to come back even if they have hesitations?
  • Do you feel that your nanny will be honest if they’re not comfortable coming back?
  • Is your nanny afraid of losing their job if they don’t come back? If so, are those fears founded?
  • Would your nanny feel more comfortable if your family were tested for COVID-19 and/or for antibodies?
  • Would your nanny feel more comfortable if they and your household took daily temperature checks?
  • If your nanny works fewer hours, is lower pay something they are amenable to?
  • What reassurances can you give your nanny that they will not get sick? What precautions are you taking in order to keep them safe?

 

Societal risks

  • Are you putting others in your area, like neighbors in an apartment building, at risk?
  • If your nanny lives in a neighborhood with a high concentration of COVID cases, do they jeopardize your neighbors by coming to work? (See this map of NYC Coronavirus cases by zip code.)
  • If your nanny lives with older people and could bring COVID home with them, how could that impact their family members?
  • If your nanny spreads the virus to your family or another family, what consequences can it have down that family chain? Think parents, grandparents, kids, etc.

 

Worst-case consequences

  • If your nanny comes back to work and catches COVID from your family, what are your plans to help?
  • If people in the nanny’s family catch COVID and lose income, do you have any obligation to help out their extended family? If so, what does that help look like?

 

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