Nanny Work Agreements 101

By Dana Barnett, Washington State Organizer, Hand in Hand: The Domestic Employers Network 
(Estimated reading time: 3 minutes)

A woman holding a baby in her arms. The baby has a pacifier in her mouth and is smiling up at the woman. Image credit: Edward Eyer. 

Hiring someone to care for your child in your home is one of the most important decisions we can make, and of course, we want it to go well. Our hope is that the relationship with the person we hire will be easy, warm, and organic and that we can address issues and work things out as they come up. However, lack of clear expectations is one of the biggest sources of conflicts for nannies and employers, which is why having a written work agreement is so important. The key to maintaining a great relationship with the nanny you hire is to ensure everyone is on the same page!  

Benefits of a more formalized work agreement with a nanny 

  • For you, the employer, it’s a great opportunity to be clear about your needs and expectations and, like any workplace agreement, it increases the likelihood that the worker you employ will meet your standards for care. 
  • For the worker, a written description of job duties, benefits, and work terms fosters job stability and builds trust, giving a worker a full understanding of what you expect from them and what they can expect from you. 
  • For both of you, sitting down together to shape a written agreement is a great way to get to know each other. Later on, the agreement will serve as an important foundation to help in moments of transition or challenge, and can ensure accountability on both sides. 

What should be included in a nanny work agreement?  

Here are some ideas: 

  • Family priorities: Issues to consider may be parenting philosophy, times for meals, naps, night sleep, habits you want your child to learn, use of the childcare provider’s first language if different from the employer’s, food restrictions or allergies, cultural or religious practices, and views about gender and sexual orientation. 
  • Communication and evaluation: Establish a clear understanding of what kind of communication you and your nanny will maintain throughout the workday. Set times to debrief each shift and set regular times for paid evaluation and check-ins at different intervals. 
  • Define hours including meal and rest breaks: Providing regular breaks for meals and rest is not only a best practice, in many places like Seattle, it is also the law. Sometimes it is not possible for a nanny to have a 30-minute uninterrupted break, in which case the employer should pay extra for that time. Learn more about the Seattle Domestic Workers Standards Ordinance
  • Pay: What is the agreed-upon rate of pay, and when will your nanny be eligible for wage increases? Please keep in mind the cost of living in your area as you determine a fair and family-supporting wage.  You can use the MIT Living Wage calculator to help you set a wage here. 
  • Confidentiality and privacy: Make an agreement about things like posting on social media and the use of home surveillance technology (aka Nanny Cams). 
  • Health and safety: Map out protocols around Covid-19, vaccinations, social distancing practices, and accessibility needs for all parties.  
  • Vacations and sick time: We encourage households to provide regular vacation and sick time to their nannies. Depending on where you live, regular accrual of sick and safe time may be required by law. 
  • Washington State paid sick leave requirements 
  • Seattle Paid Sick and Safe Time Ordinance  

Need help? Hand in Hand offers free downloadable model agreements for childcare, nanny shares, house cleaners and more resources for WA household employers: Resources for WA Domestic Employers  

You can also find more on work agreements, including tips for communication and workplace evaluations below: 

About the Author
About the Author

Dana has been active in social movement organizations for equity and justice across a range of issues and campaigns. Prior to joining Hand in Hand, Dana worked for over two decades as a mediator, and race equity trainer, both on staff for organizations like the Washington State Bar Association and the Mediation Center of Dutchess County, as well as a consultant. Dana became involved with the domestic worker rights movement in 2019 and served as a member of the Seattle Domestic worker standards board where she was the chair. Dana is also a member of the Washington State Labor & Industry advisory board for ending the exclusion of domestic workers’ eligibility for workers’ compensation.  
Dana and her partner are East Coast transplants in Seattle who are raising their child far away from family and support networks, and deeply appreciate the domestic workers in their lives who make it possible to hold together a household and work full-time. She is excited to continue that work as the Washington Organizer for Hand in Hand and to keep building the domestic workers’ rights movement in Seattle centered around care, interdependence, solidarity, self-determination, and dignity. 

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