Accepting Your First Position

So you’ve come away from the interview process feeling pretty good and before you even get your thank you card in the mail, you’re offered your first nanny job. Congrats!

But before you start celebrating, there are a few important steps to formalize the acceptance process.

Expect a Background Check

Most parents make an initial verbal job offer contingent on a pre-employment background screening. A comprehensive background check typically goes back seven years and consists of verifying your identify, conducting a social security number trace, a criminal background check, reference check, employment verification, education verification,  and sometimes even a credit check and civil records check. If your employer is savvy, they may even check your online presence, so be sure your public profiles on social networking sites are cleaned up.

Since your employer needs to comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act, you can expect to receive an authorization release to complete so that these checks can be conducted.

Formalize the Offer

Once the background check has come back acceptable, the parents will likely extend a more formal job offer, typically via email or by postal letter. The formal offer should include the position title, start date, salary and any benefits that are being offered. It may also include the time frame that you have to accept or decline the offer.

Negotiating the Offer

Once you receive the offer you may or may not be satisfied with the initial job offer. Perhaps you really need paid vacation time or health insurance, or you don’t fair that the wages offered are fair. Now is the time to prepare a counter offer and present a written request of consideration.

In the request be sure to thank the family for their job offer and indicate how eager you are to work with them, but in order to do so you’d really need them to consider offering x, y, or z to make the salary package acceptable.

Depending on if the family has had a nanny before they may or may not expect to receive a counter offer. Remember, negotiating is a give and take process. If you really want to work with the family, you may need to be willing to make some concessions in order to secure the additional salary or benefits you require.

Preparing a Work Agreement

Depending on how experienced of nanny employers the parents are, they may or may not be aware of the need for a written nanny and family work agreement. A written work agreement outlines the mutually agreed upon terms of employment. Having a written work agreement is essential in clarifying duties, expectations and roles and in avoiding miscommunications and misunderstandings.

Ideally your new employer will present you with a first draft of an agreement, but if they don’t, you’ll need to put together the first draft. The International Nanny Association has a template available for sale through their website, www.nanny.org. There are also free ones available online at sites like www.nannyanswers.com.

The work agreement, at minimum, should include you and the family’s contact information, start date, review date, your weekly schedule, your specific duties, your salary and your benefits.

When talking about salary and wages, it is important to discuss them in gross terms. While many people believe nannies are independent contractors and can simply be giving a form 1099 at the end of each year, the IRS has rules that nannies are employees of the families for whom they work and as such, both the family and the nanny have legal tax obligations. Your work agreement should include a clause about tax responsibilities and your employers understanding of them. HomeWork Solutions, www.4nannytaxes.com, offer free consultations to nannies and families about payroll and tax issues, in addition to providing household tax and payroll services.

It’s also important to understand that nannies are not legally allowed to be paid a straight salary. Nannies are protected under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Translation? All nannies must be paid at least minimum wage for every hour worked and live-out and live-in nannies in some states are also required to be paid an overtime differential at the rate of 1.5 times their base hourly rate. And when it comes to state and federal minimum wages, you are entitled to the higher wage rate.

If you’ll be living in, it should also include information on your room and board, including a description of exactly was it provided in terms of accommodations and meals. If you’ll be living out, it should include if you are allowed to eat meals with the children or if you need to supply your own food.

If the parents have caregiving preferences and house and transportation rules, those should be included as well. If you’ll be using your own vehicle to transport the children you’ll want to work out any reimbursement rates in the agreement as well as commit to ensuring that you have proper automobile insurance that covers transporting children for work.

You’ll also want to include how you can terminate the agreement and what happens if you are terminated due to no fault of your own. Some employers will be okay with including severance clause for in the event their circumstances change and they no longer need your services while others will be less likely to agree to one.

Once you have an initial draft of the work agreement, you can expect to go back and forth several times before coming to an agreement you are both happy with. Once you are both happy with a final draft, be sure to get a copy of the signed agreement for your files and be sure that your employers have one on hand for theirs too.

Essential Elements to Include in a Work Agreement

A detailed written work agreement can prevent confusion and misunderstanding and help ensure that all parties “remember” what terms of employment were agreed to at the start of the position. A well-written work agreement can prevent headaches and heartaches down the road, so be sure to include as much as possible for optimal protection.

  1. Contact information. You and the family’s names, addresses, phone numbers and email addresses should be included.
  2. Start Date. Be sure to include when the contract is valid from. This is typically your first day of employment.
  3. Date of Review. Typically contracts are signed for one year and reviewed on each annual hire date. Sometimes, however, changes need to be made sooner.
  4. Information About Children. The children’s name, ages, genders and date of birth should be included, as well as any important medical information or allergies.
  5. Salary. It’s important to include your gross hourly wage rate and your overtime hourly wage rate, if applicable. Remember your gross wages are before taxes are taken out.
  6. Benefits. If your employer is contributing to your health insurance premium, providing paid vacation days or sick days or paid holidays, these benefits should be clearly spelled out in the agreement.
  7. Tax Responsibilities. As an employer your boss will have tax responsibilities. Be sure they agree to withhold and submit taxes and remain complaint with tax laws.
  8. Vehicle Use. Whether you’ll be using your own or an employer provided vehicle for work, you’ll want it notated in your agreement. If using your own, be sure to indicate how much you’ll be reimburses and who is responsible for any insurance deductibles, should an accident occur.
  9. Specific Duties and Responsibilities. Nannies are typically responsible for all tasks related to childcare. However, some parents believe a nanny also does the family’s laundry and prepares the family’s meals as a matter of practice. Be sure to document the duties and responsibilities you’ve agreed to take on to prevent misunderstandings.
  10. Non-Disclosure and Privacy Clauses. If you’re into taking pictures and you plan to post them on social media sites or otherwise share them with others, you’ll want permission to do so. Your employers may also expect you to agree to keep details of their lives confidential.

Since you may need to amend the agreement, be sure to include a provision for how that will be done. The amendment should be written and both parties should indicate in writing by signature or initialing that they accept the change.