5 Common Nanny Mistakes To Fix Right Now


"Can you start yesterday?!?", is a common feeling we all have when we find the right nanny for our kids. You may be in a rush, but don't neglect these key steps for a long-term successful outcome. Taking the time to do things correctly upfront will improve the chances of a great relationship, which is critical for your kids. And if you've already hired your nanny, it's never too late to implement the right changes, right now, with the resources below.   

1-   Paying less than minimum wage

Not only is this illegal, but some cities have higher minimum wages than the state, so you need to check. Read more about California's minimum wage from the Labor Commissioner's Office, and Minimum-Wage.Org and the UC Berkeley Labor Center both detail which cities have higher rates than the state.

2-   Paying "off the books"

If you need to let go of your employee for any reason, you and your employee will have peace of mind if you have been paying them legally ($2,100 or more during the year is the trigger). They will be able to file for unemployment to tide them over until they find the next job. If your employee cannot find a job right away, she has the right to file for unemployment, and she will be required to report any previous employers.  

And don't forget, by paying legally, you can take advantage of caregiver tax credits.  And last but not least, you will sleep better knowing you are paying right. (Note: If your employee is asking to be paid under the table, here's what to say.) .

3-   Not checking to see if you have worker’s compensation insurance.

If there's an injury that happens while your employee is working for you, you are the one that will be responsible.  You need to check your workers' compensation coverage by calling your homeowner's or renter's insurance provider. Laws vary by state and by insurance company. You might already be covered for a part-time employee (in California), for example, or you might need to add a rider.

In many states, including California, it is the law to have workers' compensation for any household employees. In California, the employee would be covered if he or she works at least 52 hours or earns at least $100 in the 90 days before the date of injury. This will protect you from medical costs and lost wages if your employee becomes ill or injured on the job. You don't need to be told how scary-high medical costs can be in the U.S.!

4-   Not paying overtime

Every state is different. California household workers can't work more than 9 hours in a day, or 40 hours in a workweek, unless the employee receives 1.5 times the hourly wage (and it goes to 2x over 12 hours/day). Click here for California's overtime details

5-   Not agreeing to a formal contract

Even though your nanny might be a super-star, you still need a contract. Contracts get you both on the same page. It can also address sticky situations like playdates (some nannies request extra payment for each additional child), expectations with cleaning and errands, how much time the nanny can spend on the cell phone, driving requirements, confidentiality with family matters, and of course, compensation. Download a comprehensive nanny contract here that you can modify for your needs, and check this off your list!