Responsibilities of a Nanny Employer

employersBeing a nanny employer is very different than owning a company and employing company workers. Nanny employers are household employers, so there are a different set of legal and industry standards that they must adhere to. Here’s a look at what those responsibilities are.

Pay the “nanny tax”. Household employers are required to pay taxes on their nanny and other household employees. This includes paying the employer’s portion of Social Security and Medicare and withholding and submitting the employee’s portion of those taxes. Plus, you are also responsible for paying state and federal unemployment. There might also be additional taxes owed depending on where you live. Paying your nanny legally not only protects you from back taxes, penalties and fines, but it offers your nanny a lot of benefits. She’s able to prove her income so she can buy a car or lease an apartment, it gives her unemployment protection and it adds to her Social Security retirement account.

Develop a detailed job description. As the employer, it’s your job to clearly outline exactly what you need from your nanny. That includes her schedule, childcare related tasks such as your child’s laundry, cooking healthy meals and cleaning up the bedroom and playroom, household related tasks such as family laundry, grocery shopping and dinner precreation, the type of daily environment you want her to create, activities you want her to engage your child in and other requirements and expectations. Unlike group care, where the owner or teacher decides what caregivers do, in nanny care that falls to the parent. This allows for a lot of customization, but also means parents must give some real thought to what they want and need from their nanny. A written job description gives the nanny clear guidance about what’s required of her.

Create a nanny contract. While there isn’t a legal requirement to have a nanny contract in place, it’s a very smart idea. As the employer, it’s your job to define exactly what your nanny is required to do, set performance goals, outline on-duty guidelines and detail a host of other things. The easiest and most effective way to do that is through a comprehensive nanny contract. A contract or work agreement will outline the wage and benefits offered and make sure both you and your nanny are on the same page about all the issues within the employment relationship. This will help you develop good communication habits and avoid common problems along the way.

Communicate with your nanny on a regular basis. Just like you’d have regular staff meetings at your company, you need to have regular meetings with your nanny. Daily check-ins are a great way for your nanny to fill you in on what she and your child did during the day. However, those few minutes at the end of the day aren’t enough. Monthly family meetings let you know how your child is doing, if there are any challenges or issues that need to be addressed and how things are going within the employment relationship. Often, your nanny won’t bring up a problem during the daily check-in, but will talk about it during a scheduled family meeting. Effective communication is one of the most important ingredients in a long term, successful nanny/family relationship, so investing in regular meetings over the short run will lead you to success over the long run.

Support your nanny in her role. You hired your nanny to care for your children and you trust her to use her best judgment as she does that. Give her the authority she needs to be an effective caregiver with your children. Let your kids know that you and the nanny are on the same team and support each other’s decisions. Follow through on the rules and consequences she puts in place. Not only is that the best approach for your children, it’s also the way to be a great employer.

Treat your nanny as a professional. Although your caregiver works in your home, she’s still a professional. Respect the boundaries of her job description and don’t allow favors and unrelated tasks to become part of her day. Honor her daily schedule and make sure that you’re home on time or that you give her ample notice if you have to be late. Pay her on time without reminders. Provide her with the supplies she needs to do the things your kids love to do. Treating your nanny like the professional she is will go a long way in making her a happy employee.

It can be hard juggling the responsibilities of having a nanny sometimes. But parents who take their role as nanny employers seriously are more likely to have happy nannies who want to stay in their jobs for the long haul.