Thursday, December 8, 2011

Nanny Contracts 202 – Advanced Topics

By Guest Blogger Nathan Hammons, Esq.

Previously, we covered the key ingredients to a good nanny contract and mistakes that are commonly made.

Today, we delve into a few things that can turn your good nanny contract into a great one.

# 1: Trial Period of Employment

It’s stressful when a nanny begins a new job. The children meet and hopefully bond with their new caregiver. The parents pass on a great deal of information and hopefully come to trust their new employee. And the nanny enters a household, hoping to bond with the child as well as the parents.

Normally, the stress lessens after a few weeks, when trust forms and everyone gets used to their new roles. In some cases, however, it comes to light that the nanny is not a good fit.

For that reason, it’s wise to include a trial period of employment in your nanny contract. A trial period allows parents and the nanny to part ways quickly and without too much pain, if things aren’t working out. It also gives a nanny a vote of confidence, once he or she makes it to ‘full’ employment.

To include a trial period in your nanny contract, address two things. First, state the length of the trial period. One month is usually fine, but it can be shorter or longer if desired.

Second, state specifically what it takes to end the nanny contract during the trial period. For example:

During the trial period of employment, the parents may end the nanny’s employment for any reason by giving him or her at least one-day prior notice. The nanny may discontinue his or her employment for any reason by giving the parents at least two-days prior notice. The number of days required for prior notice can be changed, if desired.

# 2: Transportation

Your nanny contract needs to have a section about transportation, if you expect that that nanny will ever drive the children, even to a nearby park.

To address transportation, keep two things in mind. First, ensure that the nanny is properly reimbursed. If the family’s car is used, the nanny should be reimbursed for out-of-pocket expenses (e.g., gasoline). If the nanny’s car is used, the nanny should be reimbursed for gasoline, depreciation, insurance, and other costs. A complex calculation isn’t needed – simply multiply the IRS standard mileage rate (currently 55.5 cents a mile) by the number of miles the nanny has driven the children. (The 55.5 cents a mile includes gas, so don’t double pay.)

Second, ensure that motor vehicle insurance is properly in place. If the nanny’s car is used, the nanny should contact his or her insurance company and ask if an ‘endorsement’ or ‘rider’ is required because the nanny will use the vehicle during employment. If the family’s car is used, the parents should have the nanny added as an ‘occasional operator’ to their insurance policy. The parents should also ask if an endorsement or rider is needed because a household employee will be using the vehicle. In both cases, review insurance limits to make sure they are adequate.

# 3: Confidentiality

There’s a good chance a nanny will come across sensitive information while working. A nanny might hear about family finances or medical issues. Or perhaps an oddball relative that did something embarrassing.

Whatever the situation, it’s usually wise to address confidentiality in your nanny contract. For example, you could include the following:

The nanny acknowledges that information he or she obtains about the parents and the children, including but not limited to information about their health, finances, career, and household, is confidential. The nanny agrees not to disclose that information to anyone for any reason, unless legally required.

While most nannies keep sensitive information to themselves, the provision serves as a helpful reminder. It also allows parents to sue for breach of contract, in the unlikely event a nanny tells a family secret.

This post is the fourth article of a five-part series on nanny contracts. Nathan Hammons is an attorney in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He’s also a father and the creator of, a website with information about the legal issues of nanny care and providing a professionally written nanny contract. He can be contacted at

DISCLAIMER: This post provides information only and not legal counsel or advice. If you need legal advice, please consult an attorney licensed in your state.


Steph 6 said...

I think a huge problem can be the type of personal errands a nanny can run while working. I have had some jobs let me doing anything at all and others I couldn't even depoist my paycheck while working.

Most parents will allow you to go to the bank and post office and maybe the pharmacy. While grocery shopping for the family I might pick up something I need (pay for separate) but that's about it.

I've had friends get their nails done while I babysit the kids they are getting paid to watch! My boss and I thought that's not fair to the nanny's boss or me! She should have paid me her $17 per hour while she got her manicure, pedicure and lunch and I changed her charges' diapers and fed them.

I think you should include personal errands in the work agreement to help define what's acceptable or not from the beginning. If the nanny thinks it's too restrictive than she shouldn't even accept the job.

Kathleen Webb said...

The confidentiality agreement should be mutual - family too can learn confidential information about nanny's life and that should not be passed on to prospective employers.

Join us on FB said...

Do you have a confidentiality agreement in your nanny job contract?

Tiffaney Smith Yep

Melanie Manning Yes.

Sarah Moser Mine do.

Sarah Fekete Klink I have in the past but my current family didn't include it this time.

Desiree Termine Nope!

Kizzie Tuti Fruti Jones Yes

Chantelle John Yep. 'at times you may come across or be told sensitive information about our private affairs or financial situation, it is expected that you will not discuss this information with anyone' or something along those lines.

Deborah Lucas Yes.

FB Page said...

Did you have a trial period?

Michelle: yes 1 month but lets be honest both Nanny and parents know if its not a good fit ! ( children too )

Molly Osborn: sometimes things work really well during the trial period but as time goes on after being hired, they don't

AnnaLorena Alonso: I am a nanny, and work for a family of 7...the transition took 3 months, I take care of the little one, 2 years old from 6 to 8 pm. I the begining I was little frustrated, buth then communication really helps and mom is aware about kids needs and nanny needs!! we are doing teamwork

Tiffaney Smith: Yep

Sarah Fekete Klink: Never have had a trial period and will never agree to one either.

Diana Ancira: It depends on the family,It can be a day or a week,You can politly offer what youre comfortable with,You dont want to lose another oportunit either!

Molly Osborn: it can be tough to find the right nanny position, it's all about the nanny parent communication/relationship and what you can agree on and be comfortable with, discipline wise, schedule etc...