Families often wonder, “What can we do to get more stability in our childcare situation?” Why do some families seem to have one nanny after another, while a different family might have the same nanny for five or more years?
I’ve spoken to hundreds of nannies from across the USA in the last 20 years. Nannies have many reasons for quitting a job, and the list at left includes the most frequently heard complaints.
Occasionally a family outright forbids the nanny to leave the home with the child. Nannies look forward to taking a walk with the baby on a nice day, perhaps walking with another neighborhood nanny or at-home mom, chatting, enjoying the interaction. Toddlers look forward to spending an hour exploring the local playground. Webb observes, “Criminals get sentenced to house arrest – please don’t do this to your child’s caregiver!”
A live in nanny, especially one who has relocated for the job, must have the opportunity and means (transportation) to establish a social life outside the home. Generally a live in nanny who does not have reliable access to a vehicle in the evenings and weekends will not stay long.
9. LACK OF RECOGNITION
Nanny spends long hours with your children, with little interaction with other adults. Parents who are so preoccupied with the demands of their own careers and lives that they forget to express appreciation for the nanny often find themselves without a nanny unexpectedly. Words really do matter.
8. FAMILY DYSFUNCTION
Substance abuse, physical abuse, marital wars, emotional instability… any and all of these in a household can cause a nanny to quit.
7. MICRO MANAGEMENT
(SAHM and WAHM) When one or both parents spend a considerable amount of time at home while nanny is on duty problems often develop unless steps are taken up front to establish boundaries. Once established, consistently reinforce and respect these boundaries.
Nannies who are asked to run family errands – whether groceries, dry cleaning, or party gifts – should be left adequate funds in advance. When nanny is required to provide transportation in her personal vehicle, adequate mileage reimbursement should occur.
Employers, take the time to discuss wage and tax issues SPECIFICALLY at the very beginning and memorialize this in your Work Agreement. Consider giving the nanny a breakdown of the tax deductions from her paycheck with her first payment, and any time there is a change to her compensation. In New York State, this is the law! Consult a nanny tax specialist for assistance when needed.
4. POOR COMMUNICATION
The employer must make the time to establish regular communication with the nanny. Find 15 minutes once a week to just sit down and talk over the relationship and how things are going. Consider requiring a Nanny Log and actually look at it every 24 hours, jotting a note to nanny every few days with recognition, suggestions, or just the information that you might be a few minutes late on Thursday.
3. NON-COMPETITIVE COMPENSATION
New nannies especially are often eager to accept the nanny job and do not investigate local wages or costs. When nannies find out that $350 per week for a 50 hour week is NOT the norm, they will leave for a better paying job, often without notice. Remember, nannies are covered by Federal and state minimum wage statues and are legally defined as hourly employees.
2. DUTIES ADDED ONE BY ONE
Sometimes referred to as job creep, the family adds duties (housekeeping, cooking, shopping, watching your neighbor’s son after school) without appropriate compensation.
1. SCHEDULES THAT GROW, GROW, GROW
Careful! Abusing the nanny’s schedule with unplanned overtime can cost you your nanny! Just as an employer will fire a chronically late employee, a nanny will quit on a chronically late parent. And remember, always compensate for overtime. You don’t want a disgruntled employee filing a wage and hour grievance against you!
Kathleen Webb is a co-founder and President of HomeWork Solutions, a leading provider of household payroll and tax compliance services to families nationwide since 1993. She hired her family’s first nanny in 1987 and has over 20 years of nanny employment and nanny industry experience.