Nanny’s Guide to Negotiating Contracts

You’ve gone through the process of applying, interviewing and successful trial. The offer of the “dream” nanny job has just landed on your table, congratulations! Unfortunately, sometimes dreams turn into nightmares.

To prevent disrupted sleep and stress, you need to make sure that you have a good contract. Recently, someone has asked me (not for the first time) to look over their contract because of the dispute about their notice period. If your contract is half a page long and it doesn’t even identify the full names of signed parties, there is nothing legal or binding about that, let alone about the notice period.

Many websites and agencies will have a guide on how to write a nanny contract. For the parents. It is important that the nanny has a contract; it’s your policy and procedure as well as a legal document. It tells you how to work, what your role and responsibilities are, it covers you for any eventuality. You are a professional! Act like it, recognise your own value and negotiate with gusto. As with any situation, effective communication is paramount. The more detail you include in your contract, clearer it is for both sides. And remember- if it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it!

Here is my Nanny’s Guide to Negotiating Contract:

1- Contract must be in place before you start your new job. Make it clear to the employer that you will only start the position once the contract has been signed. If you don’t, who will guarantee that you will get paid on time, that you will get notice period and payment when the employers don’t need you anymore, how will you argue your working hours, overtime or holiday period? Any delays, remind the employer gently and tactfully that the contract is a legal requirement.

2- The names and addresses of both, the employer and the nanny- employee.

3- Start date. Start date should be determined by point one. Get the contract in by the start date.

4- Place of work, relocation. This sounds like a basic part of the contract, but there are few things to consider:

Work address – Work address must be clearly stated, but it’s ok to be flexible.

For example, if the family’s home is being renovated, it is usually not too much trouble to commute to another home. But you should still consider the implications of renovation taking longer than you expected.

Relocation – If your employer relocates, are you willing to travel, relocate yourself or would you prefer to look for another position? Making this part of the contract gives you options in the future.

5- Going on holiday with the family

Holiday with the family is rarely a holiday for the nanny. I cannot deny visiting some amazing places when I worked as a nanny, but I was lucky. My nanny family was considerate of my own needs as well as of their own.

Firstly, think if you do want to travel with the family at all.

If you are happy to do so, consider:

The hours – if you cannot leave at the end of your working day, your wage must reflect that.

Expenses – agree on all the expenses beforehand, including the travel insurance.

Sleeping arrangements – you will probably be expected to share a room with the children, which can be tiring, but the reward are the morning cuddles and they are of the best kind.

 6- Role and responsibilities

Your role and responsibilities should be clearly defined to prevent misunderstandings and disagreements. If you have agreed to do light cleaning, ask the employer to specify what do they mean by “light” cleaning- it may mean something you were not prepared to undertake.

Your role and responsibilities will change over time as children grow, this should be reflected in reviewed copy of your contract. Review of contract should happen at least once a year, same time as a review of your wages.

7- Hours of work/ Breaks

Hours of work should also include a section for overtime.

We all understand that the employer may get hold up sometimes, but constant lateness should be addressed here.

It’s up to the nanny, you can be flexible and exchange the extra time spent at work for early leaving the next day, however I would recommend to avoid doing this on regular basis as it could form a bad habit.

The overtime should be paid every time.

Make it clear at the beginning, that any time spent discussing child’s day must be a part of the working hours. You have your own life and everyone will be much happier if you have clear boundaries in place.

Breaks

Ensure that you include taking regular breaks during the day. It is common practice to take a break during the child’s rest time.

8- Pay/ PAYE  

Your wages should be discussed and agreed upon before you accept the position.

Include in the contract that you will receive monthly payslips to ensure that you have a proof of your wages being declared to HMRC. Also make a note of your PAYE reference number for the future.

This is very important, without this evidence you cannot apply for a mortgage, loan or even find rented property if you need to move in the future.

Identifying this information in the contract will give you confidence to ask for this information from your employer.

9- Holiday

You are entitled to 5/6 weeks paid leave every year. This includes all 8 bank holidays.

10- Maternity leave/Pension

Maternity leave

You are entitled to Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) if you have been at the same employment for 6 months.

Everyone has the right to 52 weeks of leave and this is regardless of how long you have worked for the employer.

Antenatal classes- you are entitled to have paid time off for any appointments, which are on the advice of GP, Health visitor or Midwife.

Pension

From June 2015, employers have duty to offer Pension scheme to all nannies, if they qualify for the auto-enrolment or not.

Nanny qualifies for the auto-enrolment after age of 22 and earning Tax Free Allowance or above.

If you don’t qualify, you still have a choice to join a workplace pension.

11- Sickness

If you are ill for longer than three consecutive days, you are entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). Check that the employer is offering to pay you SSP. This is usually paid as your normal rate of pay and it is up to the employer to apply to reclaim any costs from the state.

If you are ill for longer than the week, you will be expected to produce medical certificate to the employer.

12- House rules/ Petty cash

Employer should identify (in the contract or on the separate sheet) house rules for any employees.

Petty cash- it is important that you agree on how you will cover any extra costs that you may occur as part of your working day. Having some money set aside and replacing it with the receipts for children’s classes, buying nappies, etc…, is the easiest way.

Trying to “extract” the money from the employer on regular basis doesn’t inspire trust and can cause irreparable rifts in your relationship towards them.

13- Confidentiality

Confidentiality agreement should be part of every contract. If the employer doesn’t mention using of the child’s photographs, storing them on your phone and safe use of social media, you should suggest adding it to the contract.

14- Ofsted registration

If you are asked to be part of the Voluntary register for Ofsted, include this in your contract.

As per your agreement with your employer, include who will cover yearly registration fees.

15- Insurance

If you are required to have Public liability insurance by your employer (which I would recommend to every nanny), ensure that the employer includes details of their Employer liability insurance too.

16- Written permissions

It is a good practice to cover yourself, as a lone worker, by having written permissions to discuss the child with other professionals (for example- GP, teachers at school, other professionals like Speech and Language therapist…), administering the medicines, taking children on all day outings.

And few other points:

17- Probationary and Notice period

18- Grievance/ Complaints procedure

19- Misconduct/ Disciplinary procedures

Happy negotiating 🙂

About Martina Vanickova

Martina Vanickova is the founder and CEO of The Training Umbrella, private assessment centre, delivering accredited childcare courses to nannies, nursery staff, child minders and teaching assistants in London, Dubai, Abu Dhabi and looking to expand to China."As small children, adult learners are each unique and special individual and it is my and the company’s ethos to treat each person as such. I believe that this is one of the contributing factors to our 100% success completion rate since we opened in 2012. There are many training providers, who see profit before the well-being of their learners. How can we raise standard in the industry, if we view learners as “money bags” and qualify individuals who should, frankly, never be employed to look after our children? If you are looking for a reason to see why I do what I do, this is it." MartinaMartina is ardent defender of nanny rights and she is currently looking to explore this area professionally. Martina is a passionate promoter of gender equality, who believes in supporting other women to achieve their full potential in business and personal life, while harmoniously sharing their lives, with their partners, whatever the gender.

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