Why You Need A Nanny Contract

A hand signing a nanny agreement

The search is over, and you’ve found the perfect nanny. You’ve clearly outlined the job description, and you’re on the same page. But before you hand over your children (and the keys to your house and car), there’s one last box to tick: a nanny contract. 

Some families think nanny contracts are impersonal and unnecessary. After all, this person has glowing references and the same parenting philosophy as you. Even the dog loves them! 

But the personal nature of this arrangement is precisely why nanny contracts are a must. A handshake or verbal agreement won’t cut it with this much at stake. 

What's a nanny contract?

A nanny contract is an agreement between you and your nanny that clarifies your expectations as an employer. 

Do you expect your nanny to cook and clean? Join you on family vacations? Discipline your kids? 

Is it legally required? No. But your nanny will be making a million decisions a day. Putting everything in writing keeps you on the same page and prevents any confusion and surprises down the line.

How to write a nanny contract

You don’t need to write your nanny contract from scratch. There are nanny contract samples, examples, and templates found online. But Nanny Lane’s contracts give you the support to create a custom nanny contract that fits your needs.

As soon as you have a draft, share it with your nanny. 

Go over it together and make any adjustments. 

Remember, the clearer you make the job expectations now, the happier everyone will be in the long run. 

Once you and your nanny sign the contract, both parties should keep a copy. 

Ideally, nanny contracts prevent issues from arising in the first place and offer peace of mind. But if any disagreements do arise, you both can point to the nanny agreement.

What to include in a nanny contract  

Being a professional nanny is a serious job. 

A nanny contract makes sure that your nanny treats it that way. They protect you both and allow for a clean break if the relationship doesn’t work out. 

Not every nanny contract is the same. Each family is different and so are their needs. 

Some families focus on a nanny’s main areas of responsibility, and others want every task included. There is no right or wrong way to write a contract. 

The basics: 

Any nanny contract template will include the what, when, where, and how much.

Make sure your nanny contract includes:

  • Start date. It’s important to put something in writing. You can always change it later when you go over the contract. 
  • Salary. What will your nanny’s hourly wage be? Will they be paid weekly or bi-weekly? Are you handling payment yourself or using a payroll service? Tip: factor in the number of kids when calculating compensation
  • Role. What are your nanny's responsibilities? Here’s where you’ll list any extras like laundry, pet care, or light housework. 

A nanny agreement should also clearly outline:

  • Hours. Reliability is as important for the nanny as it is for you. If you know you’ll require flexibility from your nanny, put it in writing. 
  • Guaranteed pay. Protect your nanny if you’re homesick and don’t need them or go on vacation without them.  
  • Overtime. As a domestic employee, your nanny is covered under the Fair Labor Standards Act. That means they have to be paid overtime
  • Tax information. Legally, you need to pay taxes on your nanny’s salary and give them a W-2. You can manage nanny taxes yourself or use a payroll service.
  • Reimbursement. If your nanny does pick-ups, you could pay for mileage, public transportation, or parking. If you plan to be in constant contact with your nanny, you might cover the cost of their cell phone plan. 
  • Petty cash. How will you handle minor expenses that come up like treats or a new set of markers? Will you give your nanny a petty cash fund? Or reimburse them later? 
  • Social media. Your nanny needs hard and fast rules around phone use. This means personal use as well as a policy on making TikToks with your kids or sharing photos of them.  
  • Performance review. Booking a regular sit-down with your nanny is essential. Create space to talk about what’s working well and what’s not. If your nanny is due for a raise, now’s the time to discuss it. 
  • Termination clause. What are the reasons you might fire the nanny? How much notice should the nanny give if they plan to quit?

For live-in nanny contracts:

  • Confidentiality. Your nanny will be privy to the highs and lows of family life, so discretion is key. As funny as your two-year-old’s bath meltdown is, you probably don’t want it showing up on your nanny’s Instagram story. 
  • Communicate. What will your nanny’s day look like? Are they responsible for making the kids breakfast and giving them a nightly bath? Are they on pick-up duty? Will they book vet appointments? Letting them know now gives them a chance to ask questions.  
  • Downtime. Respecting when your nanny is off the clock is especially important in close quarters. If your nanny is trying to relax on the couch and the kids start begging them to do a puzzle, they need to feel comfortable saying no.
  • Food. Employers usually provide live-in nannies with all their meals. The two of you should go over dietary restrictions, likes, and dislikes. What about eating out? Will you provide an allowance? 
  • Accommodation. Your live-in nanny will expect their own bedroom, but what about a bathroom? Will they have their own? or share with the kids. If you have the space, separate accommodations boost privacy and make it easier to clarify your nanny’s hours. 

For nanny share contracts:

  • Address. Will the nanny always be at one family’s house? Or will they alternate days, weeks, or months? 
  • Parenting philosophy. Do both families parent in the same way? If you have different approaches to outdoor time, discipline, or toys that are off-limits, put it in the contract. 
  • Screentime. No family is the same. If one set of kids are allowed their iPads after school, but you have a strict no-screens policy, your nanny needs to know.  
  • Illness. Do you have a backup plan in case the nanny gets sick? Having extra nanny contacts on your phone keeps disruption to a minimum.  

You should also have a family-family contract to keep everyone on the same page. You can find sample nanny contracts for nanny shares online. 

The extras

Here’s where you’ll finetune your nanny contract based on your needs. You’ll need to add sections that aren’t included in those nanny contract samples and templates like:

Compensation and benefits

  • Benefits. If your nanny is full-time, you’ll want to write down benefits, like vacation time, personal days, and paid time off. 
  • Paid sick days. Sure they can stir, soothe the baby, and crack up your four-year-old simultaneously - but sometimes these baby whisperers get sick too. Check your state’s policy to make sure you’re meeting the minimum requirement for sick days and include it in your benefits package. 
  • Bonus. Will you offer an annual, or holiday, bonus? How will it be calculated? A bonus shows appreciation. It’s also a chance to sit down with your nanny to discuss future goals. 
  • Vacations. If you don’t plan to bring your nanny on vacation, consider synching up your travel schedules to minimize disruption to the family’s routine. 
  • Mental health. Think about your nanny’s physical and mental health needs to avoid nanny burnout. When you’re constantly caring for others, it can be easy to neglect your own needs.
  • Paid Training. Investing in your nanny shows them they’re invaluable. And covering courses like yearly CPR training, nanny training from the Nanny Institute, or a cooking class will pay for itself in no time. 

Additional house rules

When it comes to the care of your children, no detail is too small. Let your nanny know what’s acceptable.

  • Alcohol. What’s your policy around alcohol consumption? Decide how you feel about drinking during the day and where a glass of wine with dinner fits in. 
  • Guests. Are you okay with your nanny’s family dropping by? What about their partner? Whether the answer is “only after you’ve met them” or “no never,” write it down. As the employer, you call the shots. Laying out expectations eliminates the guesswork.
  • Downtime. If you don’t want your nanny napping, lounging, or under no circumstance using family amenities like a pool, hot tub, or fitness room, put it in the contract. 
  • Monitoring. If you plan on stitching a nanny-cam into your child’s favorite bear, your nanny deserves to know. 

Expectations around family travel

The earlier the notice, the better if you plan to travel — especially if you expect your nanny to join you. Be clear about job expectations while you’re away, including work hours and time off. 

Paying your nanny

Now that you’ve found a nanny and drawn up a nanny contract, what’s left? 

It depends on how you want to manage your nanny’s pay and taxes. Don’t worry about missing a nanny payment or a tax filing with a nanny payroll service. Especially if you’re a nanny share family, payments are complicated enough. Our nanny share payroll service makes it easy.

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