HELP! Need to Set Guidelines for My Nanny ASAP!

Updated on January 20, 2007
M.M. asks from Chicago, IL
4 answers

We have a nanny that comes to our home to take care of our 4 month old son. We pay her quite well because we also ask her to do some laundry, light housework (i.e. dishes, straightening up the baby's room etc.) and sometimes she makes us dinner (nothing big, just pre-made dishes that she has to throw in a pan or just heat up etc.) Recntly she mentioned to us that she was going out of town and would be taking three days off. I was a little upset because she is going away right at the busy time for my work (where I JUST started) and I really can't request the time off. It got me to thinking that we really did not establish with her the "ground rules" for employment. Its a sticky situation because she is my sister-in-law's little sister. I need some advice on what other people are doing with their nannies when it comes to vacation time and how you handle time (does your nanny keep track of her own hours?). Are there other things that you suggest I establish with her before they become a problem? I would also be interested to hear from people if there is anything they have their nanny doing that makes life easier: creative advice is much appreciated! Finally, do you use your nanny for after hours babysitting? If so, do you pay her the same as her normal hourly rate? Thanks for your help!

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answers from Chicago on

I agree with the other post that you need to sit down with her and have a serious discussion heart to heart.
I also have a nanny that comes in my home daily Mon - Fri since my little girl was 3 mos old:
- Vacation time: I let her know upfront that she needs to give me 2 weeks or more notice so we can find alternate arrangments.
-I keep track of her hours but she is paid a weekly salary based on 55 hours. Some days she goes home a little early or late, I don't make a stink about it and neither does she.
-Do u have an alternate caregiver in the case she gets sick and can't come over to take care of your son?
- Stuff my nanny does that maybe yours could too: laundry and put clothes away, dishes, cleans countertops, cleans bottles, cleans microwave in and out, mops the kitchen floor, vaccuums the family room floor (small), uses the hand-vaccum to clean the stairs, she dusts main furniture in the family room and mirrors, ties up the garbage, waters my plants in the kitchen, etc. She cooks lightly for my daughter and sometimes for us if we ask her to. Luckily my daughter takes 2-3 hour naps during the day that allows her to do things. Again, if she's too busy with my daughter and cannot do some housework I dont' mind; she knows my daughter's care is top priority.
- When she comes after hours or extra hours on the weekend, I pay her at her normal hourly rate. Means her salary divided by 55 hours. I sometimes have her come in on weekends if I have to go somewhere, or in the case of last weekend when I had the terrible flu and she took care of my daughter while I groaned in bed all day.
-Dangle the carrot. I keep her interested in working with us by taking her out occasionally on outings, bringing her take out food, and keeping her in touch with my family. My mom occasionally comes by to have tea with her and takes her and my daughter to a local church for a little outing. We give her yearly bonuses for the new year. I praise her caregiving and compliment her work. I give her tokens of appreciation. Basically, if they feel appreciated and respected, the less likely they will have the urge to take another job, even if it is higher paying.
hope that helped.

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answers from Chicago on


As a Stay at Home Mom who babysits for several families, this is what I would suggest to make things as smooth as possible from here on out. Just sit down with her and say that you would like to go over a few things that you feel will ease any tension in the future. Be open and honest that this trip does impact your working situation. This is a great example of why you NEED her to give you more notice. I find the more open the relationship is, the better(and I LOVE all the families I work for)
Vacations: Request that you will need AT LEAST 2 weeks notice if she plans to be out of town (or vice versa) Also, let her know that there may be times that are more difficult for you to let her take off than others.
Hours: I created a Daily Log that records the childs activities(feeding, diapering, sleeping, playing, etc) This way the family has an idea of what their little one's day was like. At the end of the sheet, I mark the time they drop their child off, and the time they pick them up. At the end of the week, the family can review the hours and pay me accordingly. The families have left tracking the hours up to me. HOWEVER, if the shoe were on the other foot, I would make sure I was tracking the hours very diligently to ensure they coincide with what the sitter is claiming. That's just me!

Okay, that is just a few things. I have lot's more thoughts if you want to discuss this. I have a unique perspective because I am, essentially, the nanny. email me at [email protected] if you want more advice. I've been through this enough time to work out the kinks!




answers from Chicago on

I apologize in advance for the length of this post.

I highly recommend Discussion, followed by a written contract based on what you agree to. As stated in a previous post, there are examples of nanny contracts on line.

Think about it this way, you just started a new job. I imagine that when you started they sat down with you and went through your job expectations along with your compensation, vacation and benefits. Use that experience to have a discussion with your nanny.

I had a contract with my nanny - handwritten but signed by both of us. With regard to "overtime", legally if someone works for you over 40 hours a week and you control what they do (i.e. nanny), you are required to pay 1.5 times their hourly rate. That's typically for during the week overtime. If you and your nanny agree to weekend babysitting - you could use her or you could find a babysitter, you could argue that this didn't apply. But, you could not "require" her to "babysit" for you beyond her scheduled time.

For my nanny, I figured out how much time each week I would need her (45 hours/week) and how much I would pay her each week. I then determined the hourly rate based on the fact that 40 hours were "regular" and 5 were 1.5 times regular. If I needed her for 50 hours, I used the 1.5X figure.

With regard to time off, I provided 10 days paid time off including sick and vacation time, but whatever days I did not use her due to my own vacations/days off from work. I know a lot of people don't do that, but it seemed fair for me to treat her as I expect to be treated...i.e. if the company decides it doesn't need me on Monday but I was planning and able to work, I'd better get paid.

You should give her your expectations of advance notice of time off (2 weeks for planned and before 10pm night before for illness for example).

I had a wonderful relationship with my nanny (my husband now stays home full time at his preference), and we still see she and her son on a weekly basis for playdates.

Being an employer isn't fun, but it does help to have open and honest dialogue. Good luck & Enjoy your new job!



answers from Chicago on

I have had a live in nanny for 4 years now (our current one has been with us for 2 1/2 years) so we pay a set salary and if we use her for extra babysitting hours, we pay her extra accordingly.
I highly recommend that you (and anyone out there considering a nanny) get a contract signed! There are many available online, or if you are interested to see what ours looks like, just send me a message and I'll email it to you.
With a contract, most of the questions like this don't come up and things seem to be understood better.
If you really like her, do sit down and explain to her your situation at work. Also explain that you really like her! She is bound to understand and will hopefully plan better next time. There are some fabulous nannies out there, but there are also some not so good ones, so if you like yours and trust her, do what you can to keep her!

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