Fundamentals of a Nanny Work Agreement

Fundamentals of a Nanny Work Agreement

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Whether you are seeking nanny services, or are a nanny seeking work when it comes time to start a business relationship in a household it is always important to sit down and negotiate a nanny work agreement before any work ever starts. 

An agreement between the nanny and the family that clearly describes the expectations of the family and the nanny is the best way to address any issues that may come to light in regard to a disagreement or a misunderstanding.  

The more that the family and the nanny understand each other in terms of business, the better off the relationship will be. Walking into a new relationship that will affect your entire life can be stressful and even a bit scary unless there is a clear line of communication and understanding.

What is a Nanny Work Agreement?

In most situations, a nanny is considered a household employee. What this means is that the family hires them and becomes their employer. Just like any other job with an employer, there are a plethora of rules, regulations, stipulations, and expectations to become familiar with.

The work agreement of a household worker is a legal, binding document that acts as a contract between the nanny and the family. Some families will go to a professional or even a lawyer to help create the document so that it properly covers all of the details of the employee/employer relationship.

This document will, theoretically, have all of the details of the expected work relationship written out and categorized so that it is simple to understand. For example, the work agreement will have details such as work hours, days off, designated breaks, and so on. Each of the articles of the agreement should be categorized and easy to find if they need to be called upon.

What Will the Work Agreement Consist Of?

Each situation will be unique in its own characteristics and details. However, the goal of the document will always be to ensure that both parties understand the details of the job. Some of the most important factors that the agreement will contain are:

  • The name of the nanny
  • The name of the family
  • Childrens names and DOBs
  • Emergency contacts
  • Paid holidays
  • PTO and sick days
  • The date of the beginning of the relationship
  • The employment expected start date
  • How much the Nanny will get paid
  • Disclosure of benefits
  • Terms and stipulations of the employment
  • A termination agreement
  • Room for modifications
  • State and federal laws
  • A place for signatures
  • The schedule of when work will take place
  • COVID-19 clause

Of course, in order for the document to be considered valid, it has to name all of the parties that are involved in the agreement. Once the parties are identified, the contents of the agreement will be attached to the people that are named, and have signed the document.

Examples of Agreements

The more detailed the document is in regards to payment, days off, situations, and so on the more equipped both parties will be to resolve a disagreement if one happens to pop up.

There could be a section in the agreement that specifies what happens if the nanny is sick and can’t show up for work. Since all households will be different there is an endless variety of what could happen if the nanny could not make it to work.

Some households would have a serious problem if the nanny could not make it to work unexpectedly. If both of the parents have career commitments that can not be broken there will have to be some sort of backup plan in place.

The agreement could stipulate where the responsibility lies to get a fill-in for the nanny in case of illness. Would it be one of the parents that make calls to find a substitute, or would it be the nanny? However, what if the nanny was seriously injured and was unable to do anything but lie in a hospital bed? If the details for this type of situation are included in the agreement, there will be no question about how to deal with the situation.

Other questions that could arise from an absence are:

  • Will the nanny be paid?
  • How long can the nanny miss work before being laid off?
  • How many days can the nanny be paid?

Labor laws will vary from one state to the next when it comes to how many hours of sick leave a nanny can have in regard to how many hours they work, however, a worker agreement can outline its own terms as long as they are in accordance with local laws.

What Happens When the Agreement is Broken? 

A perfect example of a broken agreement would be if the agreement clearly stated that the nanny will be paid a certain amount of money per hour or per day and the employer (the family) failed to pay that amount.

Whether it is a one-time occurrence or it happens over and over again it is still a breach of the agreement and should be addressed.

Some of the things that can happen with a broken agreement are:

  • The fault is pointed out and corrected immediately
  • The fault is pointed out and both parties come to an agreement
  • Both parties can renegotiate the agreement terms
  • The party who is wronged can take steps to file a lawsuit

In most cases, when there is a discrepancy with the agreement the nanny and the employer can figure out how to correct the situation without having to go to court. Whether it is because one of the parties made a mistake or that both parties reconsidered the agreement because of a change in the dynamics of the situation such as a divorce or an illness.

However, if both parties fail to come to an agreement each of them has the right to invite the court of law to help make a decision on how to handle the breach. The big problem with this solution, however, is that it costs a lot of money to hire lawyers and go to court.

What Can Happen Without a Nanny Work Agreement

One of the biggest reasons for a nanny work agreement is that if there is ever any doubt about an agreement between the employer and the nanny there is written evidence that will back up any claims of wrongdoing that either party can make.

For example, if there is a statement in the agreement that says that the nanny gets holidays off with pay but the employer does not honor it, the nanny has proof that there was an agreement in writing and that they are entitled to that pay. 

If the employer does not specify which holidays are subjected to this agreement, the nanny can potentially claim any holiday they see fit. Whether it is Thanksgiving or Valentine’s day the nanny can assume that if it’s a holiday, they get that day off with pay.

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If the employer specifies which holidays are paid without work such as:

Major Holidays:

  • Thanksgiving 
  • Christmas
  • New Year’s Day
  • Independence Day
  • Memorial Day
  • Labor Day

There will be no room for confusion because the days are listed in plain English in the agreement and both parties have signed in agreement.

Without a written agreement in place, there are tons of situations that could cause problems for either one of the parties.

The employer could pay much less than agreed to and there would be no proof of the agreement.

The nanny could claim overtime or expect payment for days off that they were supposed to have worked but did not.

The employer could fail to provide meals or breaks for meals, even though they verbally stated that they would provide these things. 

Just about any situation you could think of might become a large problem if there is no written agreement in place. The only leverage either one of the parties could have if a legal issue came about regarding the employment relationship would be a written out and signed agreement between the two of them, otherwise, all they would have is words against words.

Discussing the Agreement

In the case where either one of the parties is reluctant to sign an agreement, there must be a discussion. If the employer refuses to provide a written agreement, the nanny should seriously consider not getting into a business relationship with them. The same goes for the employer. If the nanny refuses to sign an agreement, the employment discussion should end at that moment.

In most cases, both the employer and the nanny will completely understand the importance of having a written agreement. During the interview process, the employer should make the nanny aware that if they are hired they will be subjected to sign a written agreement that should be followed and adhered to at all times.

If when the interview process is ended and the nanny has not heard any discussion about a written agreement, they should ask the employer about it. 

Utilizing a Nanny Agency

One of the best things about going through a reputable nanny agency is that they will make sure that all agreements are intact and understood before they ever allow the nanny to begin work for the family. There will never be any questions for either the family or the nanny regarding payment, schedule, expectations, or paid holidays. 


Most of the relationships between nannies and their families are great. The only time controversy shows up is when there is a misunderstanding. The best way to avoid destructive misunderstandings is to have a clear nanny work agreement in place that explains everything and leaves no room for doubt. With clear lines of communication and a positive attitude, the nanny/family relationships will be able to flourish and the children will have the high-quality care that they deserve.

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