Nannies and au pairs should expect total privacy from employers against all searches of personal property unless nannies freely consent to such searches.
Without prior permission, parents cannot open or examine the contents of packages, bags, coats, or any personal property of nannies and au pairs. Diaries, mail, and personal computers are not subject to examination by parents without the expressed permission of the employee.
Live-in nannies and au pairs are allowed privacy in their sleeping area and storage areas, such as drawers and closets, are not usually subject to employer inspection. The consent of the caregiver should be written and obtained as a condition of employment.
If parents suspect contraband or thievery, they must contact the police and allow a police officer to search belongings. Only a police officer has the right to search for illegal goods.
Similarly, nannies and au pairs must not intrude in any of the employer’s personal property or personal affairs, unless specifically asked to do so.
Au pairs and nannies expect that all conversations revealing any personal information be held confidential between the participants. This is true of overheard conversations between parents, inappropriate remarks by children, and anything else seen or heard at the employer’s home.
All medical information is included with the other confidential knowledge that must be held private by both the caregiver and the employer.
Anything that happens in the employer’s home, except for the most trivial matters, should be kept as confidential, unless there is a clear understanding otherwise.
The only exceptions are criminal matters of child abuse. Au pairs and nannies are advocates for children. If nannies or au pairs suspect that a child is being abused they should call the local Child Protective Services (CPS) agency or the CPS agency in the state in which the abuse occurred.
Caregivers can call the National Hotline for Child Abuse at (800) 4-ACHILD to make the report if they cannot find a number for the state agency.
Caregivers should read articles at the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline, http://www.childhelpusa.org/ or the Child Welfare Information Gateway at http://www.childwelfare.gov/ to learn more about child abuse.
Parents may confirm the dates of employment to subsequent employers but should not comment negatively in any way about the applicant. Employers cannot discuss health or medications of former employees without risking legal liability.
All actions between in-home childcare providers and employers after employment have been terminated, is private information not to be disseminated indiscriminately. The essential obligation of parents is to safeguard their children. If a nanny or au pair cannot be trusted, they should replace the employee.
Employers should establish the legal and ethical parameters before hiring to prevent financial liability to the parent from a suit by an angry au pair or nanny.
The overriding legal and moral obligation of parents and childcare providers is to nurture and to guard children.
Protecting children, while respecting the privacy of others, is also an important role model to children.
Have you had any issues with parents or employers respecting your privacy?