While this is not legal protection (and we maintain that the best way to legally protect yourself and your nanny is to pay her "on the books"), ultimately it is you and your nanny's decision about the level of legal risk you're willing to take, as well as the costs (financial as well as legal).
Just a reminder --the PSP website has roughly 125 pages of information on hiring a nanny including interview questions, sample work agreements, questions for references, nanny share information and more:
As a PSP member said in one of the early nanny compensation surveys,
"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."
Please read through the material below, give it to your nanny for comments and feedback, talk amongst your fellow parents about what seems reasonable/missing/overboard, and give us feedback.
Park Slope Parents
The Nanny/Employer Relationship: Making It a Great One
Compensation and Job Responsibilities
Have a work agreement that includes:
Pay rates (both regular and overtime), paid time off (vacation, sick days, holidays), regular rate and overtime rate, termination issues (will you pay out unused sick days, vacation, etc.). This document doesn't have to be a stuffy, legal document.
Have a detailed orientation about household rules/expectations, how things work, rules about your condo/co-op, expectations about eating food, etc.
Give your nanny vacation time of her own choosing. (2 weeks if a full-time nanny is standard).
Guarantee pay. Pay on time, pay each week (beforehand if you'll be out of town), don't nickel and dime things.
Avoid job creep. Don't change the job description after the fact by adding new small tasks without compensating for them. Doing children's laundry should not morph into doing the family's laundry (including picking up the dry cleaning)
Avoid time creep. If you're supposed to be home at 5, that doesn't mean 5:05 or 5:15. It's disrespectful and unfair to your nanny to be late.
Avoid being a creep. Don't over manage or micro-manage, but instead give your nanny the space and ability to do her job without being a helicopter employer. This goes especially for stay at home and work at home parents.
Be realistic. If you can't get much done during the day with your kids, don't expect that your nanny will be able to either.
Your nanny is not your housekeeper (and not the housewife you wish you had). Don't demand heavy household chores to be done unless you've discussed this when you hired her and she's being compensated adequately.
Pay your nanny all of the 52 weeks of the year (even if you take 6 weeks off). She is available to work whether you decide to use them or not.
Don't be a nanny broker. If you are going to be out of town don't pimp your nanny. It may save you money, but more often than not it leads to more headaches and bad feelings.
Give your nanny petty/emergency cash. It's okay to ask where the money went, but don't expect itemized accounting unless it's agreed upon.
Create open lines of communication. Periodic performance reviews will help this process, as will asking her opinion and respecting it.
Agree upon the best forms of communication for both of you. Texting may be good for you, but your nanny may not have a smart phone. (Consider sharing a Google calendar.)
Set aside time for performance reviews. If your nanny doesn't know how to do her job better, you can't expect her to do a better job.
Communicate about changes and transitions. Give your nanny a heads up in advance if you are going out of town, keep her informed about transitions your child is going through, and listen to and respect her ideas.
Respect and Appreciation
Courtesy and consideration. Say hello in the morning and ask how she is rather than jumping into the tasks of the day. Offer her a cup of coffee or buy her lunch when she's not expecting it.
Respect your nanny's time. Be clear at the outset what the time commitments are and stick to them.
Respect your nanny and the job she does: Treat her as a valuable employee. Taking care of kids requires time management skills and a world of patience.
Remember your nanny has her own life. She has her own family, her own interests, and her own boundaries. Respect those boundaries and don't push them. She is not "part of the family." She's a trusted and valuable employee.
Keep the relationship on level playing ground. Keep roles clear and work with your nanny in an atmosphere of mutual respect.
Support your nanny when there is conflict with the children. If you don't back up your nanny in front of the children it undermines her authority.
Keep your feelings in check. Having a nanny can bring up issues in employers (e.g., being a `good parent', letting someone else `raise' your children). Be aware of those feelings but don't let them impair your relationship with your nanny. Don't take work (family, partner, etc) frustrations out on your nanny.
Disclaimer: This post has been written for educational purposes only by Park Slope Parents and is not meant to be legal advice and should not be construed as legal advice or be relied upon. The post may contain errors, inaccuracies and/or omissions. We recommend checking with a professional for specific advice.