Standard Nanny Benefits and Why They’re Important for Employers to Understand

There are very few legally required benefits for nannies.  Some states require paid sick leave, fewer require family leave, and there are a little over a dozen domestic workers bill of rights that require basic human rights like sleep time and breaks.  That’s it.  Employers aren’t legally required to provide any paid time off, any financial security for employees relying on them for their livelihood, or any training to help caregivers excel at one of the most important jobs around; caring for kids.  In a perfect world, nannies (and all employees, regardless of their field) would receive a competitive wage and benefit package that allowed them to live a healthy, balanced, satisfying life and feel valued for the contributions they make.  Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world.  Enter standard benefits. 

As in-home professionals who provide high-quality, personalized nanny care and child-related household support, nannies have moved from hoping families would provide a benefits package reflective of the job requirements, their qualifications, and the market demand to requiring it.  (That movement is still happening and is an uphill battle for many.)  They bring experience, education, and specialized skills to the table and require professional level wages and benefits in return. 

Who decides what the industry standard benefits are?

There are no laws or industry organizations that determine industry standard benefits.  Instead, they are set by the workforce. They are the benefits the majority of quality caregivers require in a job and, in response, the benefits the majority of quality employers provide. 

It’s important to note that industry standards are not the personal wish list of any business, organization, or individual. If Nanny Care Hub could magically set benefit standards, they would include full health care, expansive paid family and parental leave, among other things. And employers would have government support in providing them. 

So what are the standard benefits for nannies?

Guaranteed Hours
The overall gist of guaranteed hours is a family guarantees to offer their nanny a set number of hours, generally per week, within a set schedule, generally the nanny’s regular schedule.  If the family chooses not to use the nanny’s services for the guaranteed number of hours, the nanny is paid for them anyway. In exchange, the nanny is available and able to work during those hours if needed.

There are a lot of misunderstandings around guaranteed hours.  Let’s correct the most common, problematic ones.

  • The nanny is not guaranteed a set amount of money or to being paid every week of the year.  If the nanny chooses to take off work and doesn’t have available PTO, that time goes unpaid. 
  • The family cannot ask the nanny to make up guaranteed hours at a later date.  That’s banking hours.
  • The family cannot change the schedule so the nanny works days or hours outside their normal schedule to meet the guaranteed hours threshold.  For example, if a nanny is guaranteed 40 hours during an 8 hour a day Monday – Friday schedule, the family cannot ask the nanny to work 10 hours a day Thursday – Sunday to accommodate their long weekend. 
  • If the family needs the nanny to work outside their typical schedule, those hours are paid in addition to guaranteed hours.  For example, if the nanny is guaranteed 55 hours a week during a 11 hour a day Monday – Friday schedule and the family goes on vacation for a week and then wants the nanny’s help for 5 hours on the Sunday they return, they’d pay the nanny for 55 guaranteed hours and 5 worked hours. 
  • The nanny must be available and able to work during their guaranteed hours unless a different agreement has been negotiated and outlined in the nanny contract.  For example, if the family’s vacation gets canceled, the nanny is required to go back to work unless there’s a different agreement in place.

For an in-depth look at guaranteed hours, download my e-book here.

2 Weeks Paid Vacation
2 weeks paid vacation is standard within the industry for both full-time and part-time nannies.  Within the nanny community, there is a passionate debate around if it’s appropriate to offer one week of vacation at the nanny’s discretion and ask the nanny to take the second week when the family takes their vacation.  I encourage employers to have a conversation with any potential hire around this before making a final decision to ensure everyone is on the same page.

Paid Major Federal Holidays Off
It’s standard for nannies to receive all major federal holidays off with pay (New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas). 

For full-time nannies, if the holiday falls on a Saturday or Sunday, the nanny generally receives the observed holiday (Friday or Monday) off with pay.  Part-time nannies generally only receive the holiday off if it falls on a regularly scheduled work day.

Paid Sick Days
Paid sick time is designed to ensure your nanny can take the time they need to care for their physical and mental health without suffering the financial hardship of lost income.  This is a fundamental need for everyone, however it’s especially important for those whose work it is to care for others. 

Some states legally require employers to provide paid sick time to their employees.  For states that don’t, full-time nannies generally receive 3 to 5 paid sick days per year.  For part-time nannies, the standard is a bit more variable depending upon the nanny’s schedule.  The more hours they work each week, the more sick days they should be given.  These days are in addition to other paid time off. 

Comprehensive Contract
Not only is having a comprehensive contract a best practice, it’s become an industry standard.  As the creator of the A to Z Nanny Contract, I’m biased; I believe it’s the best contract in the business.  It’s helped thousands of employers and nannies create fair, balanced agreements.

Mileage Reimbursement
This isn’t technically a benefit since it’s a reimbursement of costs paid out by the nanny, however, many still lump it together with benefits.  When a nanny uses their car for work, they should be paid the IRS mileage reimbursement rate for each mile driven.  That’s 67 cents a mile in 2024.  This includes miles driven transporting the kids and doing household errands. 

Expanded Benefits

The standard benefit package outlined above is a minimum package; the benefits every entry-level nanny should receive.  So what about nannies that have additional education, experience, and skills?   Since there’s not a career ladder in our industry, additional qualifications are acknowledged through higher wages and expanded benefits.  The most requested expanded benefits I see are:  

  • additional paid time off such as additional vacation, minor holidays, personal days, and additional sick days
  • paid professional development days and dollars
  • health care reimbursement
  • retirement account contribution
  • use of family car for work purposes

There are many expanded benefits not listed here.  What is of value to one nanny may not mean much to another so employers and caregivers should work together to develop a creative package that fits their individual needs.

Why is it so important for employers to understand standard benefits?

The compensation package employers offer is key to attracting and hiring a quality caregiver and retaining that nanny long-term.  It not only contributes in tangible ways to a nanny’s health, well-being, and overall happiness, it shows they are recognized and valued as the professional they are. 

Qualified caregivers that do accept jobs at less than competitive rates and with few or no benefits tend to be new to the industry and unaware of the standards or desperate for a job and willing to accept less because they need to bring home a paycheck.  These situations save employers money in the short term, however, they lead to dissatisfied and unhappy employees who are always on the lookout for a better job.  That constant frustration and ready-to-move-on mentality along with the inevitable caregiver turnover isn’t good for the employers or nanny and most importantly, it’s damaging to the children.   

What about employers who can’t afford to offer these benefits?

Unfortunately, this is too often the case.  Every child deserves the very best care however, our society doesn’t provide a level playing field here.  The hard truth is while lots of families want a nanny, only a minority can truly afford one.  No matter how much nannies sympathize with the difficulties parents face in their search, they can’t be expected to sacrifice their own needs and those of their families by accepting less than they deserve.

Employers who find a nanny is out of reach can explore a nanny share or family care (in-home daycare).  They both can offer quality care at a lesser cost.  It’s better to have high quality care in a different setting than less that quality care in your home. 

Do you need help in your nanny or job search? I can help. Email me or set up a free 15 minute consultation to get started.

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