What should I look for when hiring a nanny?
MOLLY: This question came from a reader in upstate New York who has been frustrated by the process of finding the right nanny.
We reached out to Nathaniel Hammons, an attorney based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and also an Adjunct Professor at Marquette University Law School. Nathan provides expert legal counseling to parents interested in hiring a nanny at MyNannyContract.com.
MOLLY: Nathan, what is your Top 5 list for hiring a nanny and what legalalities should people watch out for?
NATHAN: Finding a nanny is a difficult task because you are inviting a stranger to care for your child. Even with safeguards and organizations in place, it’s important that you gain a full understanding of the type of person you will be bringing into your home. Building trust and understanding begins during the interview process and doesn’t end until the day your child is ready to care for himself.
It’s important that the nanny you hire has a personality that you can relate to. A charming nanny with a sense of humor is a delight to work with and will provide a healthy environment for your child to learn and grow. A reserved nanny with a temper may ignore needs or denigrate a child when nobody is around. It is recommended that you hire a nanny that is like yourself because the child will be more likely to warm up to them. Additionally, this type of nanny will perform more like you when making decisions.
The child should always have a say in who will be their caretaker. During the age before a child can speak, the only way they can display their feelings is through emotion and body language. Keep a close eye on these qualities when the nanny candidate interacts with your child. This does not mean you should throw a nanny out of your home if the baby cries when being held, but use their body language to gauge some understanding of how the baby feels about the nanny compared to other candidates.
A prospective nanny must be willing to perform all the tasks required of them. Be clear and concise when presenting the nanny with the duties they must complete on a timely basis. If certain tasks must be completed on a daily or weekly basis, it should be clearly stated in a contract or during the interview process in writing. Legally you may enter a gray area if there is a task you require of the nanny but you have not specifically mentioned it in the contract. Additionally, because nobody is perfect, it is wise to include a stipulation within the contract to allow you to add duties at a later date. Adding this kind of language may require you to also give something extra whether it be bonus pay or some other benefit.
Many parents who find the perfect nanny find that she may be willing to lower her salary to meet their needs but this person is much more likely to leave prematurely from the position. Additionally, when creating a budget, don’t forget that if you plan on having the nanny work for greater than 40 hours, she is entitled to overtime pay. It is important to write explicitly the number of hours the nanny will be expected to work and the hourly wage so that overtime can be easily calculated if necessary.
5. Legal Protection
Mentioned already were tips when writing a contract to protect the working relationship with the nanny. Historically, lawsuits and sometimes criminal investigations have arisen for several reasons including requiring a nanny to work longer hours than her contract stated, discriminating against certain races or sexual orientations during the hiring process, hiring a nanny that is not legally an American citizen, and refusing to pay overtime. Keep these legal issues in mind while working with a nanny.
MOLLY: Thanks for some great advice Nathan! To learn more about writing contracts for nanny’s you can visit Nathan at MyNannyContract.com.