Your Nanny Contract

By: Andrea Marsland, Fogler, Rubinoff LLP

You have made the decision to hire a nanny and you have finally chosen “The One”.

Your next step is to make her an offer of employment.  This should be done by way of an offer letter with an attached employment contract.  The contract will set out the terms and conditions of employment.  Below are some important considerations for when you are preparing your contract.

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  1. Use Uncomplicated Language – If your nanny does not understand what the contract says, chances are it will not be enforced.  A large number of nannies working in Canada are from other countries.  As a result, English is often their second (or even third) language.  Make sure your contract is written in plain English.
  2. Stipulate Whether Her Salary Is Being Paid Net or Gross – Nannies often negotiate their wages from a net perspective.  They will tell you how much they want to “take home” at the end of the week.  This is a distinctive feature of the nanny subculture.  To avoid any confusion on this issue, your contract should stipulate whether the wages you are offering are “net” or “gross”.
  3. Make it Clear Who is Paying the Taxes and Statutory Deductions – If you have made the decision to hire a nanny, and you have educated yourself on what’s involved, you know that hiring a nanny is like hiring any other employee.  Taxes and statutory deductions (CPP, EIC) must be deducted from your nanny’s wages.  In addition, you must also pay the employer’s share of CPP and EIC.

    If you plan to pay your nanny gross wages and you expect her to pay her own taxes and deductions, which I do not recommend, make sure you clearly explain her obligations to her and that you set them out in your contract.  Most nannies will assume you are remitting the taxes and deductions on their behalf.

    If you plan to remit the taxes and deductions on your nanny’s behalf, which I highly recommend, you can make your life simple and include the net amount you are offering to pay her in your contract.  That way, there is no misunderstanding about what her “take home” pay will be when she gets her first paycheque.

  4. Include a Termination Clause – Hopefully things work out and you will be happy together for a very long time.  Unfortunately, things don’t always go the way you planned.  Your contract should clearly stipulate how much notice you will give your nanny if you decide to let her go.  Your contract should also stipulate how much notice you expect your nanny to give you if she decides to resign.  The absolute minimum notice period you can provide for are those set out in your applicable employment standards legislation.  Your nanny may also have entitlements at common law for which it is recommended you seek legal advice.
  5. Include a Trial Period – You would not buy a car without a test drive and you should not hire a nanny without a trial period.  Before going back to work, or before leaving your nanny alone with your kids, you will want to make sure you are comfortable with her.  Your contract should include a trial period during which you can terminate her employment, without notice, if things are not working out.  The mandatory notice periods are set out in your applicable employment standards legislation.  Having said that, your nanny may also have entitlements at common law for which it is recommended you seek legal advice.
  6. Set Out Who Pays for What if You are Hiring a Live-In – If you are hiring a live-in nanny, it is important to be specific about her living arrangements and her financial obligations (if any). For example, your contract should stipulate that your nanny gets a private room (preferably with a key) and, it should also provide for whether she has a private bathroom or not.  Your contract should also clearly stipulate whether your nanny is responsible for any ancillary costs associated with your living arrangement, such as phone lines, cell phone, Internet, cable or any other such services or devices.
  7. Be Clear About Your Expectations – The start of your relationship is the best time to set the ground rules and to lay out your expectations. The more detail you provide about your expectations, the better off you will be in the long run. Your contract should include a section that addresses your nanny’s duties, anticipated schedule, household rules and child developmental goals.
  8. Include a Confidentiality Provision – Many parents are concerned about the confidentiality of their household activities, habits and customs.  To address this concern, your contract should include a confidentiality provision that stipulates that she is not to discuss family information outside of the home.
  9. Last Bit of Advice – Get professional advice if you need it. Hiring a nanny is no different than hiring an employee for your company. Treat it like a business and take all the necessary steps to make sure you are meeting your legal obligations.

Andrea Marsland is a Partner at Fogler, Rubinoff LLP. Andrea’s practice focuses primarily on employment-related issues, including hiring employees, terminating employees, drafting contracts and employment policies, providing practical day-to-day human resource advice and litigating employment-related matters.  If you need help with your nanny contract, feel free to call Andrea directly at 416-365-3703 or email her at amarsland@foglers.com.

Photo credit: jeltovski from morguefile.com

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