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In-Home Childcare Employment Issues

Work Hours
It is necessary to state exactly what hours and days of the week the nanny is responsible for working. If your work schedule varies from week to week, you should include language declaring that that is the case, and that the nanny will be given her work schedule within 24 hours of you receiving it yourself. If you expect that your hours will change at some point in the future, leave room for change in the contract, by providing that you can change the nanny's work hours with a certain amount of advance notice (if possible, at least two weeks notice would be preferable).

Additional Children
Even if you do not plan on having more children, it would be a good idea to include a provision covering extra pay for extra kids. If your plans do end up changing for some reason, you will have one less issue to worry about. If you discuss such a possibility in advance, you can determine how your nanny feels about taking on the care of another child—particularly a newborn.

Vacation, Holidays, and Sick Days
Paid days off for the nanny need to be explicit in the agreement. State the paid holidays by name. If a holiday falls on a weekend and you wish to give the nanny another day off as a make-up holiday, specify which day it will be. If you want the days off to correspond to your own work schedule, and you do not know which days will be holidays for you from year to year, state that you will give notice of the paid holidays by a certain date—for example, by December 1 of the year before the year in which the holidays are to be given.

Insurance in a nanny situation generally refers to two different types of policies—automobile and health. If you want the nanny to drive your children to activities in your car, you will want to add her to your insurance as a covered driver. If you expect her to use her own vehicle, you can handle it in one of a couple of ways. You can purchase auto insurance for her, but that may be on the expensive side. You could agree to pay for part of her insurance premium, but then you will want to include in the contract a requirement that she present you with proof, probably every six months, that she has sufficient automobile insurance.

At the very least, you should require that the nanny have the following kinds of insurance:

  • medical payments insurance, which covers medical expenses incurred by a driver or her passengers as a result of an accident;
  • personal injury liability insurance, which covers claims by others for bodily injury;
  • property damage liability, to pay claims for damage to the personal property of another, resulting from an auto accident caused by the nanny; and,
  • uninsured/underinsured motorist liability insurance, which pays for expenses incurred in an accident either with another driver who has insufficient insurance coverage, or with a hit-and-run driver.
Some states have statutory requirements for the minimum amount of liability insurance a driver must have; however, state law mandates often do not go far enough. For liability insurance, the policy should include personal injury expense limits in the minimum amount of $100,000 per person or $300,000 per accident.

Be aware, however, that some insurance policies will not cover an accident that occurs while your nanny is performing job duties for you. Under a legal doctrine called respondeat superior, an employer can be held legally responsible for the actions of an employee that are committed during the course of the employment. One example would be an auto accident that occurs while the nanny is taking the children to school. Whether the nanny will be covered by her own policy or by yours, check thoroughly to be sure that you will not be personally liable for damages that she may cause.

The primary reason some families offer health insurance to their nannies is to attract the best candidates for the position. Unfortunately, health insurance for a nonfamily member can be extremely expensive to purchase. For that reason, if you are considering providing her with insurance, you should discuss with your potential nanny whether she wants health coverage, and if so, whether she would accept a lower salary in exchange for it. She already may be covered by her own or her spouse's policy. Whatever you both decide, include the terms in your written agreement.

More on: Childcare


Copyright © 2005 by Linda H. Connell. Excerpted from The Childcare Answer Book with permission of its publisher, Sourcebooks, Inc.

To order this book visit Amazon.com.

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