- Start the search: by asking the experts – Personal referrals, when a great care giver is leaving her current position, may also be invaluable as they can lead to a wonderful relationship. Agencies, while expensive, can offer the best selection of qualified candidates. The INA is a great resource to tap.
- What to ask in the interview? Scenario based questions, ‘What would you do if……a b c happened?” What are your thoughts on discipline, what techniques do you prefer? What aspects of the job do you particularly enjoy/not enjoy?
- Red flags? Little or no previous experience. No references or weak letters of recommendation. Can’t provide proof of legal status.
- Check it out: Background checks are a must, even if you’re going with the nanny of a good friend who you’ve known for years.
|Jo Barrow, 2013 Nanny of the Year|
- Start with the right set-up: Write a detailed job description. Dedicate enough time to work with the new Nanny, side by side, to show her the ropes, your preferences and expectations.
- The hand-off: Some parents take a few days with the Nanny before leaving her alone with their kids; others may want to wait a week. Barrow recommends spending 2 full days together.
- Keep the lines of communication open. A parent should schedule times for weekly check-in meetings to make sure your children are happy and well-cared for.
- Make sure your caregiver knows how much you appreciate her/his efforts.
- Unscheduled Time Off – While nannies typically get paid for 52 weeks per year, some employers do not want to pay their nanny for days that she doesn’t work – even if the reason she’s not working is no fault of her own. For example, if the parents give the nanny an unexpected day off because mom doesn’t need to go to work or grandma is visiting and can watch the kids; some parents will not want to pay their nanny, even though the nanny is willing and able to work. The same is true if a family plans a vacation and doesn’t want the nanny to come along. While the employers may wonder why they should pay their nanny if she’s not there, the nanny may wonder why she is getting docked pay given she was planning on working. Determining how to handle unscheduled days off, including employer issued ones and the nanny’s sick and personal ones, will go a long way in reducing anxiety and uncertainly in both parents and nannies.
- Additional Duties – Sometimes a nanny’s job will grow and change over time and additional duties and responsibilities become required. Working out in advance how a nanny employer will request additional duties and compensate her nanny for them will prevent confusion and clarify expectations. Before sealing the deal, nannies and employers should discuss how the nanny’s duties, responsibilities, and compensation would change if the parents welcomed a new baby, what to do if job creep begins to occur, and what the specific duties are as it pertains to the nanny’s current role.
- Transportation – In addition to discussing if the nanny is allowed to take the children out and to where, it’s essential to discuss how the children will be transported. Some families provide their nanny with a “nanny mobile” and allow her to take children on whatever age-appropriate outings she sees fit. Others opt for the nanny to drive her own vehicle to and from outings and reimburse their nanny using the IRS business mileage reimbursement rate. Whether your nanny is driving the family’s vehicle or her own, it’s essential to confirm that the nanny is properly insured for transporting the children for work and that the proper safety seats are installed and used correctly. Some nannies will only accept posts where they can transport the children, others don’t really care. Discussing transportation up front allows nannies and parents to confirm that they are on the same page with regards to transporting the children.
- Reimbursements – Many parents provide their nanny with a credit card linked to their account, others leave a set amount of petty cash for the nanny each week, and still others ask the nanny to spend her own money and turn in her receipts with a written request for reimbursement. It’s important for nannies and parents to communicate about how money for the children’s activities and outings is handled. Discussing a budget with regards to purchasing craft supplies, outings, dining out, and the likes will help ensure that the nanny and the parents are on the same page.
- Termination – No one starts their first day on the job thinking about how their last day will end, but all nanny jobs eventually come to an end, and it’s important that nannies and parents include a termination clause in a written work agreement that outlines how the agreement can be broken. The termination clause should spell out how much notice the nanny must give if she wishes to resign, how much notice the parents must give the nanny if they are letting her go without cause, any severance pay that will be issued, and on what terms and how unused accrued paid time off will be handled. The termination clause may also include a confidentiality agreement and a clause with regards to the parents giving the nanny a letter of reference.
Nannyjobs.org did a post listing 10 questions you cannot ask a potential nanny during an interview. Here are the top 6:
1. Do you have diabetes, hepatitis or any other disease?You cannot ask questions regarding an applicant’s health or health history, period. You can ask if there is anything that will limit their ability to perform the duties of the job.
2. Have you ever been married or divorced? Marital status is another item you cannot inquire into.
3. What is the nationality of your family? Any question that relates to race or ancestry can be considered discriminatory. Simply asking the ethnicity related to their last name would fit into this category.
4. Have you ever filed a work comp claim? That’s right. You cannot ask them this question. You also cannot ask them how much work they missed due to illness in their previous jobs. This information is not considered appropriate for making a hiring decision.
5. Are you a heterosexual? Sexual orientation or sexual preference questions are also not allowed, as discrimination on this basis is considered illegal.
6. Where do you go to church? Religious affiliation or beliefs are not to taken into consideration. However, you can identify your own religious affiliations and beliefs. In doing so, you could ask them if they would have any conflicts with working for a family which holds these beliefs.
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- Change their diapers – Now this may not seem like a big deal, but diapers do not need to be changed in a public place. A public restroom would be acceptable, but laying the child down in the middle of the shopping mall to change their diaper is not appropriate.
- Physical punishment – Hitting, spanking or slapping a child is not an appropriate disciplinary measure for a nanny under any circumstances. It can generally be assumed that if she uses physical punishment on the children when they are in public, she certainly is using it behind closed doors.
- Leave them unattended – Leaving children in a car in the parking lot or sitting by themselves in a restaurant booth, while the nanny runs an errand or attends to other personal needs could be considered child endangerment, which is a crime. The nanny’s number one priority needs to be the welfare of the children at all times.
- Berate them – Belittling kids for any reason is not appropriate for any mature adult. It is inexcusable from someone who is supposed to be a trained childcare provider. This is certainly as true in a private setting as it is in a public setting. Words hurt!
- Claim them as her own – Why a nanny would do this is hard to fathom, but her working relationship to the children should always be made clear if it is questioned in a public or a private setting.
- No Driver’s License – For some families this would not be an issue, but for many it would be. It limits the nanny to public transportation, a cab or another driver to get her and the children to any location.
- Suspended Driver’s License – This could certainly be a concern for parents who were expecting the nanny to provide transportation for the children at different times. The reason for the suspension could be a cause for concern also, especially if it was alcohol related.
- Poor Driving Record – A background check will provide the full driving record of the individual during the previous years. A long history of traffic violations for speed, careless driving or driving under the influence would be a big red flag on a background check for a nanny.
- Convictions for Theft – Previous convictions for theft or shoplifting are a serious issue for any employee that you would be allowing to enter your home, and especially one that would be on the premises unsupervised.
- Illegal Drug Use – A history of illegal drug use can become evident through the criminal history check. Another issue that employers are not likely to overlook in a nanny candidate.
- Active warrants – If the individual has active warrants issued against them by law enforcement agencies, these may show up on a background check. It is important to remember that a warrant is not a conviction of a crime, but it is still is reason for concern if the nanny did not reveal the information herself.