Communication is Key
One of the most essential components of a successful parent-nanny relationship is clear and open communication. Families who foster an environment where communication is not only expected, but praised will set a precedent for the nanny and the children as well. A thorough nanny contract that is agreed-upon before the hiring process is complete is the first real step in a successful nanny-family relationship.
Due to the untraditional working environment of most nanny jobs, nannies are often expected to work odd hours and the boundaries of expectations between the family and the nanny can easily blur. This is true for all nannies, but especially for live-in nannies. A nanny contract should establish these boundaries right from the beginning so that both parties are comfortable in knowing what to expect. One of the primary causes of disputes and, ultimately, high nanny turnover tends to be parents who make unexpected, and, for the nanny, unreasonable requests in the form of extra hours or additional tasks. On the family's side, parents are often displeased with nannies that use their cars for personal errands, leave the house without permission, invite overnight guests into the home, or make unapproved purchases. Oftentimes, nannies tend to be non-confrontational, while parents can be quick to reprimand a nanny who is behaving outside of the terms of what the family expected. Many nannies will avoid conflict and decline to discuss their issues or dissatisfaction with their jobs, letting tension build to the point where they will leave the job abruptly rather than attempt to resolve a dispute.
You and your nanny can avoid these types of issues by agreeing on a mutual nanny contract before the hiring process is complete. An effective nanny contract should contain an itemized statement outlining the nanny's responsibilities and your expectations pertaining to discipline, growth and progress of your family. It should provide a thorough explanation of your nanny's salary, benefits and pay dates, along with any deductions for applicable taxes, Social Security, and health insurance. One mistake that many families make with nanny jobs is declining to file appropriate taxes and paying nannies "off the books." This is a bad move that can jeopardize the family and the nanny and comes at a high price financially due to fees and fines if you are audited. Including an outline of who is responsible for the various types of employment taxes in the nanny contract ensures that each party knows what taxes it is responsible for covering. In addition, it is important to check into your state's requirements for disability, unemployment and worker's compensation insurance for nannies.