Monday, August 27, 2012

The Pros and Cons of Nanny Trial Periods

Have You Ever Worked a Trial Period?

I have often heard that nannies and families should have a trial period before signing a work agreement. I actually never had a trial period at any of my nanny jobs. Here are some possible pros and cons of the arrangement.

Many agencies encourage trial periods because within a few days the parents and nanny may be able to determine if the arrangement is the right fit or not without either party being penalized. The parents won't have to pay the agency a placement fee until after the trial period which helps reassure the parents that the nanny is a good match for their family. The parents also won't be required to provide severance pay if they decide to hire another nanny and the caregiver can also choose not to accept the job gracefully without having to give the parents a lengthy termination notice. The nanny will be paid for the days worked during the trial period, but both the parents and nanny can save the time and energy of filling the work agreement, (and perhaps W-2 forms), until after the brief trial period.

However, Breedlove and Associates explains, "...please know that the law does not absolve families of their tax and legal responsibilities during the trial period. Families are legally considered to be employers the first day the employee shows up for work – whether it has been labeled a “trial period” or not. Therefore, in order to prevent potentially-expensive tax and legal mistakes, it is important to understand the law and the compliance process from the outset of the employment relationship."

After the trial period the parents and nanny will need to sign a work agreement with the details of the job, benefits, and submit the required tax paperwork.

As a nanny looking for a job my concern would be if I had a choice between more than one job I might want to accept the job position that was a "sure thing" in which the parents were willing to have me start immediately.

Lora Brawley of says another problem with trail periods is when parents or caregivers misuse them as a temporary fix. She explains, "Some parents and nannies use trial periods as a ruse to fill an immediate need with no intention of committing to a long-term employment relationship. In these cases, a parent needs childcare while she searches for the right nanny or a nanny needs a regular paycheck while she searches for the right job. Instead of being honest about the temporary nature of the working relationship, these parents and caregivers find a quick match and operate under the guise of a trial period while they continue their search. This deceitful maneuver is devastating to the unsuspecting party who’s left with nothing when the parent or nanny moves on."

So, have you ever had a trial period?


Denny said...

I've never done a trial period, but the last paragraph rang a bell with me. In my current job search, I met one family that I like a lot, but it doesn't make sense for us to commit to anything long-term because they need a nanny for a lot fewer hours than I need work, so we instead have decided on a temporary arrangement. I'll be their temporary nanny while I look for a full-time job and they look for someone who prefers fewer hours. Unlike the situation mentioned in the article, w are clear about it being temporary. I have had parents mention the idea of a trial period, but I haven't done this in any jobs I took.

Anonymous said...

I am a male nanny & had the exact situation in the article above happen to me- the family needed a nanny as a quick fix solution.
I got the feeling the parents weren't truely concerned with who was taking care of their children- as long as their professional & social lives weren't disrupted, this attitude adopted by the parents shocked me as children are the most precious of all worldly treasures & to treat them as if they were a commodity really shocked me (as they treated me as a commodity too).

Neil Ickles said...

I, for one, am all for a trial period, as long as all the terms of the trial period are laid out and truly and clearly understood by both parties. It should be made clear to both parties that the trial period is for the sole purpose of establishing whether the candidate is the best fit for the family that wants to hire a nanny. It’s also a time for the nanny to figure out if he or she can handle everything the family needs from him or her as a nanny. Any other conditions for employment should be discussed only AFTER the trial period and its results have been discussed.

Fiona Littleton said...

Trial periods make sense but they do scare me. Everyone is on their best behavior so I'm not convinced of their benefit yet.