The How & Why of an Effective Nanny Employment Agreement

Written by: Ingrid Kellaghan

Why a Nanny Agreement is Important

It is so important to starting out on the right foot with your nanny. You want to show your new nanny that she's valued, that she fits into your family culture, and she's likely to be supported and successful in her new work environment.  A Family and Nanny Agreement may be the most important tool to ensure your nanny has the information and resources she needs to do her job - well!

A Family and Nanny Agreement, although not legally required, sets the framework for a successful relationship because details are worked out ahead of time and the ground rules firmly established.  The contract should not be a one-time document that gets tucked away in a drawer.  Most families review it annually and update it any time significant changes occur (e.g., new baby!). Think of it as a job description and employee handbook all rolled into one – helping everyone get on the same page.

What should a contract cover? 

Your nanny’s job duties and responsibilities should be covered in detail. The International Nanny Association (INA) sells a Family and Nanny Agreement that you can purchase on their website.  The document covers a wide variety of topics including salary, benefits, insurance, and tax considerations, as well as family and nanny expectations, household information, health and emergency, meals, vacation, and much more.

Possible components of your agreement:

  • Wages and pay schedule. (e.g., will your nanny be paid weekly or bimonthly).
  • Work hours (e.g., 8:30am – 5pm).
  • Taxes (e.g., Employer will deduct all applicable taxes from the nanny’s paycheck and make tax payments)
  • Benefits (e.g., Personal time off, sick pay, paid holidays, health insurance, transportation reimbursement)
  • Duties & responsibilities (e.g., children’s laundry, meal preparation, etc.)
  • Access to family vehicle/usage rules or rules around use of the nanny’s car.
  • Occasions when the nanny must stay late. (e.g., will you provide additional pay)
  • Procedure for when your nanny is sick (e.g. nanny must call by 6:30am).
  • Do activities need to be pre-approved by family or does the nanny of the authority to plan her own day (e.g., visits to museums, playgroups, activities, etc.)
  • House rules (e.g. certain rooms are off limits, whether or not nanny may invite visitors over).
  • Performance/Merit Pay Increases.
  • Guarantee pay increase for additional children.
  • Naptime method, schedule, and whether the nanny can let the baby cry and for how long.
  • Discipline (e.g., time outs)
  • TV and computer access (e.g., what type of programming and how much TV time per day.
  • Cell Phone policy.  Can nanny make or accept personal calls during work day?
  • Daily Activities (e.g., child must have 30 min. of tummy time, 30 min. of reading stories, etc.)
  • Meals (e.g., meal preparation, off limit foods, food allergies.)
  • Snacks (e.g., nanny may only give child snacks from approved snack list)
  • Safety (e.g., children must wear bike helmets)
  • Authorization to release child (e.g., grandparents)
  • Procedure if medical emergency arises. (Be sure to keep a letter in a predetermined place authorizing your nanny to take your child to the doctor or emergency room and seek medical care.)
  • Terms of separation (e.g. how long must a notice be given by family and nanny).

Is a Nanny Contract Legally binding?

As with any employment agreement, a nanny contract is hard to enforce.   Illinois is an "employment at-will" state which generally means an employer can terminate an employee for any reason. However, sometimes the nanny is being fired for gross negligence or willful disregard for the terms/conditions of employment which is why it is very important that the nanny and family both sign off on the Nanny and Family Agreement.  Be sure to make copies for your nanny to keep and review.

If you are interested in receiving a sample nanny/family agreement please email Our office would be delighted to email you a free template.

Posted on October 25, 2012 at 9:42 PM