Hiring or rehiring a nanny during COVID? Here are some answers to frequently asked questions.

See Also: Nanny Employer Checklist During COVID-19.

1. When should the nanny we employ come back to work?

I wish we had an easy answer for you, but in this time of uncertainty, changing conditions and region specific guidance, we are each going to have to make our own choices based on current facts as well as our own comfort levels. Some suggestions, what guidance is your state and city providing? What current recommendations is the CDC providing? What level of health risk exists in both your and your workers’ household? What support system and resources do both you and your worker have if someone gets sick?

2. The nanny we employ takes public transportation and I’m not sure what to do.

Discuss together each transportation option available — private car, taxi, Uber or Lyft, car pool, bus and train. Take into consideration the social distancing potential for each and what supplies may be needed to ensure safety. If there is an additional cost, provide a travel stipend to the worker. Be flexible with the work hours to avoid rush hour if taking public transportation.

3. How do I navigate the delicate conversation around exposure to individuals outside our household? We want to visit my parents soon and I’m not sure who our employee sees in her free time.

We all need to balance transparency on risk of exposure as well as give each other privacy and agency over our own choices. Start out the conversation by sharing who you have been exposed to and what measures you’re taking in those instances. Have you seen your sister for a walk with masks and social distancing? Have you gone over to a friend’s home and allowed your children to play together? Be honest and see how your worker feels about this level of exposure. Then ask her who she has seen — followed by a discussion of future plans. Click here for more guidance on navigating difficult conversations.

4. We’ve never made a written agreement before. How do I do that?

Create an agreement between you and your employee. You can use our sample contract as a starting point and make any necessary revisions. Our template is available in various printable and digitally fillable formats in both English and Spanish. After completing the standard contract, also fill out Our Agreement for Nanny Work During the Coronavirus Pandemic, which has important information and joint commitments on staying healthy in the current circumstances. Be sure to print two copies and sign, or fill out and sign digitally and email a copy to your worker. Get the templates for the contract and agreements here.

5. What is fair pay?

Fair pay is compensating your worker with a livable wage. You can reference this calculator based on the standard of living in your area to gain insights. Importantly, a livable wage is different than the minimum wage. (In many metropolitan areas, minimum wage is $15). Note that overtime pay (1.5 x the hourly rate) is paid for any work over 40 hours a week or 8/hours a day. Fair pay also takes into account prior experience as well as what responsibilities are included (pet care, house cleaning, amount of children).

6. What benefits should I provide?

We recommend paid sick days (Full time: 3-5 days, Part time: 1 hour for every 30 hours worked) and paid vacation days of the workers choosing (Full time: 2 weeks, Part time: 1 hour for every 30 hours worked). Consider an end of year bonus, usually between one and two weeks pay. Additionally, suspend work with pay if anyone is exposed to, experiences symptoms or tests positive for COVID-19.

7. How do we manage our nanny share safely?

Nanny shares are an arrangement between two or more families hiring a childcare provider. The families reduce the cost of childcare for themselves by sharing, and at the same time, the nanny earns more for the increased work. What is most important, in the context of COVID-19, is to ensure that you are in full communication to ensure collective safety. The employers need to be in agreement on new practices to avoid confusion when having the conversation with the nanny they employ. (If you haven’t made a written agreement for your share, click here).

8. Both of our kids are home now. You suggest additional compensation but our income has also been impacted. What is fair?

Extra work should be compensated but we are all hurting right now in our own ways. This is an instance where open conversation and creativity goes a long way. Consider reducing hours to be able to pay at a higher rate, provide extra paid days off, cover other expenses like transportation which was mentioned above, and discuss what responsibilities you can take off the worker’s plate.

9. We are hiring a live-in nanny. What are the best practices?

As with hiring any domestic worker, you should create a clear work agreement that details work expectations including hours and responsibilities . A live-in nanny should not be on-call all hours of the day and should be paid for all hours of her work including overtime (Anything over 8 hrs a day, 40 hours a week). You should provide private space with a bathroom and access to food in the home. Communication to keep the nanny and your family safe is important—commitment to social distancing, open communication about your contact with others and risk of exposure.

10. How should we manage part-time childcare work?

The guidance we offer for hiring a part-time childcare worker is the same as working with a full-time nanny—create work agreements, provide paid time off, offer benefits through a program like Alia. Still, the conversations about collective safety may be even more important if the part-time nanny is working with more than one family. Discuss what social distancing is possible and create open communication about risk of exposure and who you are both in contact with. If it is possible to coordinate with the other employer, connect to ensure everyone’s safety.

11. What financial relief is available under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) for domestic employers?

There is not explicitly an exemption for household employment but the employer should consult their tax accountant to determine whether they can get tax credits under the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act or Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act.

12. I’ve asked the nanny to change her clothes and take her temperature upon arrival. How do I maintain this practice everyday?

Whatever safety measures you take in your household – everyone should take together. If you’re asking this of the nanny, each member of your household should also take your temperature daily and commit to a change of clothes for equivalent public exposure. And make this daily ritual as easy as possible! Provide a secure and private area for the worker to change and a space for her to leave extra clothing if she’d like or cover the costs for the clothes the nanny will be using at your home. Keep an extra thermometer with alcohol to sterilize nearby.

13. What Personal Protective Equipment should I provide?

In order for your employee to work safely in your home, they will likely need access to a mask and gloves, ideally multiple sets. Consider your situation and whether they will also need a gown, goggles, or other equipment to work safely. Your employee should be protecting themselves on the way to and from work as well.


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