Quality posts with fair compensation can be difficult for nannies to come by, making it necessary to sometimes accept the occasional engagement that doesn’t quite live up to all of their expectations. Still, there are some deal breakers that a qualified, competent private childcare provider simply will not tolerate. These ten situations can, in many cases, cause a nanny to end her contract early and seek greener pastures.
- Excessively Long Work Days Without Overtime Pay – While one of the reasons that many families engage a nanny is her ability to work longer shifts than those offered by traditional daycare centers, very few nannies are willing to work unreasonably long hours without being appropriately compensated. Federal employment laws require that all nannies be paid for each hour worked, and that live-out nannies, and live-in nannies in some states, are compensated for any hours worked over 40 in a 7-day-period at the rate of 1.5 times their base hourly wage. Failure to comply, especially if you’ve promised you would, may leave you in search of a new nanny well before your contract ends.
- Salary Disputes – Disagreements over compensation can stem from misunderstandings, which is one of the reasons it’s so important to include salary information in a written work agreement that you can both refer back to. When there’s no contract in place and a verbal agreement goes awry, a nanny may simply choose to wash her hands of the whole situation, rather than stick around and fight over a disagreement regarding her compensation package.
- Tax Law Non-Compliance – Though the number of non-compliant nannies and employing families is staggeringly high, professional nannies often insist upon working for a tax-compliant employer. Fears of discovery and ineligibility for unemployment, disability, and social security benefits are all justified causes for concern, and may leave you out in the cold when it comes to your nanny if you choose not to pay the proper nanny taxes.
- Substance Abuse – When an employer suffers from a substance abuse problem, it often creates a very unpleasant environment for the nanny who cares for the children in the family. This is especially true if that problem affects an employer’s behavior negatively, as is so often the case. Excessive alcohol consumption, use of illicit drugs, or prescription medication abuse are all quick ways to get rid of a good nanny, and perhaps even invite a visit from child protective services, should their behavior be abusive towards the children.
- Harassment – Sexual or verbal harassment are situations that almost no nanny will tolerate. This behavior also opens employers up to litigation and other legal action, and can make it next to impossible to engage another nanny in the future.
- Serious Behavioral Problems – Many parents are under the incorrect assumption that all professional nannies are a version of television’s SuperNanny, and are capable of solving serious behavioral problems in the blink of an eye. Nannies and parents must work together to solve behavioral issues over a period of time. Parents who refuse to do their share of work to correct a behavior may find themselves sans nanny.
- Unsafe Work Conditions – If the conditions under which your nanny works are unsafe for her, it’s probably a sign that the environment is unsafe for the children she cares for as well. Because so many families do not have adequate workers’ compensation insurance and society has become so litigious, many nannies will simply opt to find a new post rather than run the risk of becoming injured or being blamed for a child’s injuries as a result of unsafe conditions.
- Unrealistic Employer Expectations – Nannies that are faced with completely unrealistic expectations from their employers may try to see the contract through, but will often become burned out and reach the point of no longer being able to tolerate everything that she’s responsible for.
- Breach of a Written Work Agreement – Your nanny knows that her written work agreement is put in place to protect her as much as to govern her working habits, and will usually regard it as a personal affront when her employers break that contract.
- Any Sign of Child Abuse – A nanny that finds the slightest evidence of child abuse is exceedingly unlikely to remain at her post, and will almost always report her findings to the appropriate authorities to protect the child from future abuse.
While these are non-negotiable for the majority of professional nannies, this list is by no means exhaustive. Because each individual nanny is different, yours may have her own set of unacceptable terms. Before signing a nanny contract, it’s wise for both parties to discuss any “deal breakers” to avoid disputes and reduce the likelihood of turnover.
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