After you’ve hired your new nanny, gotten the terms of employment and work agreement squared away, and prepared your home for a live-in nanny, it’s time for her to start work. Giving her some time to get oriented is very important. Many bad experiences between nannies and employers could have been avoided if the nanny had been given a thorough orientation. Allow a half day to a full day for a live-out nanny and two days for a live-in nanny for orientation. The orientation should include:
- Giving her a key to the house
- Showing her where a spare key is hidden in case she is locked out
- Emergency phone numbers
- Written authorization if she is allowed to transport your children in a car
- Showing her any quirky locks or appliances
- Showing her how to work the alarm system, if you have one
- Introducing her to neighbors or any other people she may need
- How to handle medical situations, who to call, what she is allowed to do on her own
- Review safety information (answering the door, turning off the water, fuse box location, etc.)
- If you want her to keep a daily log of activities, go over with her what you’d like included
- How you’ll reimburse her expenses (keeping receipts, recording expenses, etc.)
Since there is a lot to go over, you might want to make a checklist of the things you want to cover with the nanny. The amount of information may be overwhelming for her as well, so the more you can put in writing, for her to review later, the better.
The nanny’s orientation is a good time to get the children and the nanny used to each other, and for you to observe the nanny’s interactions with them.
Be sure to do a thorough job checking the nanny’s background and references. Make sure you and the nanny are clear regarding expectations of discipline, childcare style, pay, and benefits. If your children are old enough to have a say, be sure to get their opinion on the candidate.
You’ll need to draft a work agreement. The agreement should be specific and include the following:
- When performance reviews will be held
- When raises or cost of living increases will be administered
- How taxes will be handled
- Holidays, vacation, and sick days
- Details on living arrangements for live-in nannies
- Transportation of children
- Details of the parenting philosophy
- What the nanny needs to do in case of emergency
- If there is a trial period, how long that is
- How much notice is required for either the nanny or the employer to terminate the contract
You can get a sample work agreement online with a quick search. There are many different styles and preferences. Find one that suits your needs.
You’ll need to do 2 or 3 interviews with candidates. The first will be a phone interview with basic information:
- How many children you have and their ages
- What hours you need her to work
- Whether you need a live-in or live-out nanny
- The salary you’re offering
- If she will be the only one supervising the children or if another adult will be in the house
- What duties you expect her to do around the house
- What activities you expect her to do with the children
- If she needs to transport the children in her vehicle or if she will be using your vehicle
- Holiday pay, vacation pay, sick pay and any other benefits you are offering.
If you are happy with the phone interview, you can ask for a second interview, with just yourself or yourself and your spouse. During this interview, you’ll get more in-depth:
- Last job (how long it lasted, why she left it)
- How long is she planning to stay in this position
- Discipline philosophy
- First Aid and CPR training
- Cooking and dietary needs
- Does she smoke?
- Visitors she may have
- Any hobbies that she may share with the children (example: musical instruments)
- Personal or religious beliefs
You will need to ask her if it is ok to do a background check, and if she will be driving your children, you probably also want to ask her for a Motor Vehicle Report. She can request this at any local DMV and they will provide it for a fee.
After you’ve checked references and done her background check, you’ll want to have another interview where she meets the children. You can also ask any follow-up questions at this time. Allow approximately two hours for this so you can watch her interact with your children.
Nanny agencies work to match up a family with a qualified nanny candidate. The agency does the screening process for you, including a background check, and motor vehicle record check. They’ll also verify the candidate’s identity and legal status with Social Security verification. Some agencies may even do drug testing. Nanny agencies generally charge an initial fee to start the search, and then will charge a flat rate or a percentage of the nanny’s first year gross salary for the placement fee. Whether you use an agency or an ad to hire your nanny, you should give yourself about six weeks for the process. If you need someone more quickly, agencies may offer temporary nannies until they can place a candidate matching your criteria.
You’ll need to know before you begin what you are willing to pay, what hours per day and per week the nanny will be working, and whether she will be a “live-in” (you supply room and board) or “live-out” (she commutes to and from your house each day) nanny.
One option in your search for childcare is hiring a nanny. This option involves the most work—you not only have to find a caregiver for your child, but you are also hiring an employee and opening your home and family to this person.
When considering whether to hire a nanny, you need to determine if this form of childcare is best suited to your family’s needs. Nannies are generally more expensive than in-home daycares or daycare centers, and nannies have a high turnover rate. But if you need childcare at odd hours, a nanny might be your only option. Parents who have children with special needs may find nannies are the most reasonable option. Parents who work at home may hire a nanny for a portion of the day while they work. A friend of mine had twins and was recovering from complications from the birth. She hired a night nanny two nights a week and said it was a lifesaver, because in those early days she was grateful for a little bit of sleep. Even if your situation is more “traditional”, you may simply prefer not to take your child to a daycare. The nanny decision is a tough one, since a nanny is a much more integral part of your life and your household than a daycare. There are definitely more legal issues involved with hiring an employee to come to your home. You pay her paycheck, pay the payroll taxes, and decide on her benefits.