Hiring a nanny is a big decision that requires careful consideration. Whether you’re a new parent or a seasoned pro, there are a lot of factors to consider before starting the nanny hiring process. Industry standards, legal and tax obligations, and timing considerations are important to understand up front. You’ll also need to thoughtfully consider what qualities you’re looking for in a nanny. In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about how to hire a nanny with confidence.
Nanny Industry Standards
Before you start your search for a nanny, it’s important to understand the industry standards for hiring and employing a nanny. Here are a few key things to keep in mind.
Guaranteed hours & PTO
When budgeting for your nanny, plan to pay them guaranteed hours, 52 weeks a year. You should expect to pay your nanny even on days or weeks when you don’t need them, such as during a family vacation or other time off. You should also include a reasonable amount of PTO to cover sick days.
Standard vacation time is two weeks of paid vacation per year. It’s important to discuss beforehand whether your nanny can choose these dates freely or if you’re asking them to take their vacation during a beneficial time for the family (such as your own vacation time).
The nanny industry standard for paid sick days is one week per year. But what is considered a sick day for nannies? The rule of thumb is if your nanny is willing to work, she will be paid normally. So if she has a sore throat but feels healthy enough to work, but you don’t want her to come, that doesn’t count as PTO. Some families break PTO down into hours (i.e. so the nanny could leave a couple hours early to attend a doctor’s appointment), while others just factor in whole days.
Qualifications for nannies vary widely. An important question to ask before beginning the nanny hiring process is: “what level of education and experience are we looking for in a nanny?”
While there are no formal qualifications required to become a nanny, most families prefer to hire nannies who have:
- At least 3-4 years experience working with children
- CPR and first aid certified
- Clean motor vehicle and criminal record
Experience with children may come from different settings, such as in day care centers, private nanny experience, as a camp counselor or teacher, and more. Nanny applicants should be able to provide multiple references from their past childcare experiences.
Additional Nanny Qualifications
Some families look for nannies with additional qualifications, such as:
- Higher Education: Some families prefer a nanny with higher education, such as a degree in Child Development.
- Continuing Education: Some families prefer a nanny who keeps up with continuing education or professional memberships such as through the International Nanny Association.
Nanny duties can vary depending on the family’s needs. Families can also seek a nanny who is open with taking on additional tasks and responsibilities, which should be reflected in a higher pay rate.
Average Nanny Duties
Most families can expect their nanny’s role to consist of these standard nanny duties:
- Engaging/playing with the children
- Feeding children (this may or may not include meal prep)
- Bottle feeding infants
- Changing diapers
- Potty training toddlers
- Bathing and dressing young children
- Tidying up after children + themselves while on duty
- Washing dishes/bottles used throughout the day
- Helping children acquire new skills like teeth brushing or tying shoelaces
- Following the parents’ lead re: discipline, schedules, and family rules
Optional Nanny Duties
Some nannies are able to take on additional duties, which typically are reflected in a higher pay rate. It’s also important to consider compensation for expenses such as gas, museum memberships, or spending money for things like occasional lunches out with your children.
- Transportation to/from school or activities
- Organizing play dates
- Meal prep for the children and/or other family members
- Tutoring/assisting with homework
- Additional light housekeeping not directly related to the day’s activities (such as the whole family’s laundry or dishes, changing bed sheets, or vacuuming)
- Errands such as grocery shopping
- Household management tasks like shopping for the children’s needs or pantry items
Nanny pay rates vary widely depending on several factors:
- Nanny duties
- Nanny qualifications and experience
It’s important to understand nanny pay rate ranges in your specific location. Be careful with quick internet searches on this topic, as many averages include very low pay rates for new babysitters among nanny pay rate averages. It’s important to pay a living wage that reflects your nanny’s duties, experience, and education.
Legal Pay for Your Nanny
When it comes to paying your nanny, there are legal requirements that you must follow to ensure that you are in compliance with state and federal laws.
Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Minimum Wage: Nannies are highly valuable, qualified individuals who deserve to be paid considerably more than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. Regardless, it’s important to include that several states have their own minimum wage to consider as well.
- Overtime: Overtime law varies state by state. Understand your state’s overtime laws to ensure you pay your nanny correctly if she works more than 40 hours per week.
- Legal requirements: Most states require nanny employers to register both themselves as an employer and their nanny as an employee.
- Taxes: As an employer, you are responsible for withholding Social Security and Medicare taxes from your nanny’s pay, as well as paying your share of these taxes. You may also be required to pay federal and state unemployment taxes.
- Payroll: Many families choose to use a payroll company to ensure they are paying their nanny correctly.
When to Hire a Nanny
The timing of when to hire a nanny can vary depending on your family’s needs. A general rule of thumb is to begin the process at least 2 months in advance. Between research, creating a job description, and the time needed to find and interview potential candidates, the nanny hiring process is not one to be rushed. There is however a fine line between hiring too early, when the search could be more difficult, and waiting until the last minute, when you may have to settle for a less than ideal match.
Here are a few timing considerations to consider when hiring a nanny:
- Newborns: If you’re planning to hire a nanny for a newborn, it’s a good idea to start your search during your pregnancy so that you have plenty of time to find the right fit.
- Returning to Work: If you’re returning to work after maternity or paternity leave, it’s a good idea to start your search for a nanny at least a few months before you plan to go back to work.
- Summer Break and Back-to-School: If you have school-aged children, you may want to hire a nanny for the summer months. It’s a good idea to start your search early to mid-spring so that you have plenty of time to find the right fit. With summer break and back-to-school seasons, many families are in your shoes and nannies can be scooped up quickly.
How to Find Your Perfect Nanny
Now that you understand industry standards, legal and tax obligations, and timing considerations, you’re ready to find your perfect nanny. Let’s break down the steps on how to hire a nanny.
Determine Your Needs
Before you start your search for a nanny, it’s important to determine your needs. Consider factors such as:
- Your work schedule
- Your child’s age and developmental needs
- Your budget
- Your expectations for the nanny’s duties and responsibilities
By outlining your needs, you can narrow down your search and find a nanny who is the right fit for your family.
Create Your Nanny Job Description
Creating a nanny job description is an important step in finding the right caregiver for your family. Here are some tips on how to write a nanny job description:
- Start with a job summary: Provide a one- or two-sentence summary of the position that describes the primary function of the job. Indicate location, hours, number and ages of children.
- List the duties and responsibilities: Clearly outline the tasks that the nanny will be responsible for.
- Specify the qualifications: List the qualifications and skills required for the job, such as desired level of experience and education. Also include any specific qualities that would make a great match for your family, such as an active nanny who would want to take your kids out on adventures vs. a nanny with tutoring experience who could help your children advance academically.
- Include the parenting style: Mention the parenting style of the family, such as attachment parenting, authoritative parenting, or permissive parenting, and indicate any expectations from the nanny to follow this style.
- Highlight the work hours and benefits: Provide details about the working hours and benefits, such as flexible vs. strict hours, driving or travel requirements, and any benefits offered, like health insurance or paid time off.
- Be specific about the location: Indicate whether the job is live-in or live-out, and specify the location of the job.
Make sure to use clear and concise language to avoid any confusion about the job requirements. Proofread the job description and have someone else review it to ensure that it is free of errors and accurately represents the job.
How to Find a Nanny
There are many ways to find a nanny, including:
- Referrals from friends and family
- Nanny staffing agencies
- Online nanny search sites
- Social media parenting groups
Do your research and consider all of your options. While word-of-mouth and local connections can be great ways to find your perfect nanny, securing a nanny this way can come down to quite a bit of luck.
The benefits of using a professional nanny staffing agency are many:
- Thorough screening and vetting
- Access to top candidates
- Industry expertise and guidance
- Time and stress savings
- Ongoing support and quality assurance
Plan Nanny Interview Questions
Make a list of interview questions for nanny candidates. Here are a few sample interview questions to help you get started:
- How long have you been nannying? This question will give you insight into the candidate’s experience and level of expertise.
- Tell us about the moment you’re most proud of since you started caring for children. This question allows the candidate to share a personal story that demonstrates their dedication and passion for childcare.
- Tell us about your hobbies and interests. What do you like to do in your free time? Understanding a nanny’s hobbies and interests can give you a sense of their personality and how they might engage with your children.
- How would you structure the days with my child? This question allows you to assess the candidate’s approach to childcare and whether it aligns with your expectations.
- What activities would you do with my child when they’re older and more active? This question helps you understand how the nanny plans to engage with your child as they grow and develop.
- What appeals to you about taking care of children in their own home rather than a childcare center or someone else’s home? This question can help you gauge the candidate’s preference for in-home childcare and their understanding of the benefits it offers.
- How have you responded when a former boss has brought up unexpected issues with you? This question allows you to assess the candidate’s ability to handle feedback and resolve conflicts professionally.
In addition to asking these questions, it’s important to observe the candidate’s demeanor, communication style, and interaction with your child during the interview. Look for qualities such as patience, warmth, and attentiveness. Trust your instincts and consider whether the candidate’s values and approach align with your family’s needs and values.
Plan your nanny interview questions ahead of time, but let the conversation flow naturally. Your perfect nanny is not only someone with great answers, but someone who you can communicate comfortably with.
Begin the Nanny Hiring Process
Hiring a nanny can be a great option for families who need help with childcare. The perfect nanny will be a wonderful addition to your family: someone who cares for your children as well as lightens your mental load. Conversely, settling for a less-than-ideal nanny candidate can lead to a lot of stress and resentment. With these expert tips, you know all about how to hire a nanny and you’re ready to begin the nanny hiring process that will lead to a great fit.
At Nanny Poppins, we know that your family is top priority. We’re here to help you find the perfect nanny for your family. Complete our Family Registration Form today or contact us to start the process!