Can I Make My Nanny Get a Flu Shot?

can I make my nanny get a flu shot‘Tis the season! As temperatures fall, the risk of illness rises. This is the time of year that many physicians recommend getting the flu vaccine. But some household employees may not want to get it. Families might be concerned, especially with nannies, that someone spending so much close time with children is not vaccinated. Can household employers require flu shots for nannies?

Generally speaking, employers with a specific reason to do so may mandate flu shots. This is particularly true when employees work with sick people or have very close contact with vulnerable populations, such as small children.

It’s also worth noting that the flu vaccine will not completely eliminate the flu, even if your nanny gets a shot. That being said, if a nanny objects based on a reason relating to his or her protected class status, you will need to look into accommodations for them. For example, if a nanny has a disability that prevents her from having vaccinations, or a nanny has a religious objection to vaccinations, there must be an exception to the rule. While vaccine allergies and side effects are rare, such medical and health exceptions must be considered.

Additionally, a nanny may react negatively to mandated flu shots and employers should consider the potential impact on retaining that nanny. To avoid possible litigation and morale issues, we recommend that employers explain the reason behind the flu shot requirement, set a deadline by which the nanny must receive a flu shot, and discuss any objections the nanny may have openly. As a best practice, employers should also communicate that they will pay for the vaccination.

The bottom line is that this issue needs to be discussed prior to hiring a nanny. If you will require a nanny to get a flu shot, they should be made aware of it during the interview process, and your policy should be in the employee handbook. Some nannies will have no objection, but others may see that mandate as a reason to refuse the job. But it’s better to know ahead of time, rather than risk hiring a great nanny and then only learning later on that she has an objection to getting the flu shot, and face potentially losing a valued employee.

For more information, contact us at (518) 348-0400.

Giving Nanny Time Off for Civic Duties

giving nanny time off for civic dutiesHousehold employers should be aware and well-informed of the more often-used leave laws like sick leave or Family Medical Leave, but other leave laws will arise. Employers are typically mandated to provide time off for civic duties like voting, witness leave, and jury duty, but state laws specify how much time can be allowed, payment requirements, and how much notice needs to be provided.

Jury Duty

Almost every state prohibits employees from being terminating or disciplined for serving on a jury or missing work for jury duty.  Some states even make it illegal for employers to discourage or intimidate an employee from serving on a jury.

Many nannies may wonder if they will be paid while reporting for and/or serving on a jury. In New York, employers are not required to pay an employee’s full daily wage while the employee is reporting to serve as a juror. The State will pay the $40 jury fee of jurors who work for employers of 10 or fewer employees if the jurors are not paid at least the jury fee by their employers. After three days, the State pays the jury fee to jurors who are not paid at least the jury fee. For jurors who are paid a daily wage that is less than the jury fee, the State makes up the difference.

Note: Witness leave laws are generally the same as jury duty laws.

Voting Leave

As with jury duty leave, most states prohibit employers from taking actions like disciplining or firing an employee who takes time off work to vote. Some states require employers to allow a certain number of hours of time off so an employee can vote. And some states also require payment to employees for voting leave.

In New York, employees who do not have four consecutive non-working hours between the polls opening and closing, or who do not have “sufficient” non-working time to vote, are entitled to receive up to two hours paid leave to vote. For example, if your nanny does not have at least a 4-hour break during the time polls are open (usually from 7am-8pm), or cannot make it to the polls before or after their shift, then you must provide up to two hours of paid time off so they can vote. So if your nanny works from 8am-6pm on an election day, as long as they can vote either before or after their shift, you are not required to pay for voting leave. But if circumstances prevent the nanny from voting before 8am or after 6pm, then you must allow up to two hours of paid time off during their shift so they can vote.

When a nanny will not be able to vote before or after their shift, they must submit their request for time off between two and ten days before Election Day. The employer may decide whether the leave is to be taken at the beginning or end of an employee’s shift.

Household employers should outline their jury duty and voting leave policies in the employee handbook; the policies should specify if the employer will compensate their nanny or other employee for jury duty, and what arrangements should be made with regard to time off for voting.

For more information, contact us at (518) 348-0400.

Nannies: Benefits of Being Paid “On the Books”

benefits of being paid on the booksDomestic workers hold jobs like any other professional and should be paid legally to gain important protections and advantages. You will need to pay taxes but the benefits will far outweigh the small amount taken out of your paycheck.


Here are some of the protections and benefits of being paid “on the books.”

You have a verifiable income.

If you apply for a car loan, student loan, mortgage or even a credit card, you’ll need to show that you can pay monthly installments. Being paid legally provides that. If your pay is not documented, you have no way to show that you have income.

You have a legal employment history.

Getting paid “on the books” creates a work history. This is also important when applying for a loan, credit, or your next job.

You can receive unemployment benefits.

Employers are required to pay an unemployment insurance tax. When paying legally, your family (employer) will do the same. If you lose your job, through no fault of your own, unemployment benefits will partially replace your lost wages for up to six weeks while you look for a new job.

You can enjoy Social Security and Medicare benefits.

You and your employer will pay Social Security and Medicare taxes. This money is set aside to help pay for living and medical expenses when you retire. If you are paid “under the table,” you don’t receive these benefits and may need to continue working past retirement age.

You may be eligible for a health care subsidy.

The Affordable Care Act requires everyone to have health insurance or pay a fine. A health insurance marketplace has also been created to help people find coverage. If you buy a policy through this marketplace, you could qualify for a subsidy and cut the costs of your insurance. Provided, of course, you are being paid legally.


An important distinction for household employees to understand is gross vs. net pay. Gross pay is your compensation before taxes. Net pay is your pay after taxes. Before negotiating an hourly rate or annual salary, know how much you need to “take home” (your net pay). From there, you can “gross up” your request. For example, Sara lives in New York and needs a net pay of $600 a week. She can use this nanny tax calculator to insert her net pay and calculate her gross pay, which will be $806.

Weekly Gross Pay


Federal Income Tax


State Income Tax


Social Security & Medicare


Total Taxes


Sara’s Net (Take Home) Pay


If paid “under the table”:
Sara would still owe income tax. However, she would not be eligible for unemployment or retirement benefits as her wages are undocumented and the family did not pay the appropriate taxes.

If illegally paid as an independent contractor (Form 1099): Sara pays income tax and, as an independent contractor, both the employer and employee portions of the Social Security and Medicare taxes (an extra $61).

Questions? Our partners at GTM Payroll Services relieve the administrative hassles of household payroll for domestic employers by providing a one-stop shop for payroll, tax filings, compliance and insurance. If you or your employer have any questions about being paid legally, contact GTM at (800) 929-9213 for a free, no obligation consultation.

Hiring a Pet Friendly Nanny

hiring a pet friendly nannyThere are many considerations a family must make when deciding on a nanny to hire. One such thing is if they already have or plan on getting a pet. A family with a dog, cat, or other pet may be a turn-off for a potential nanny, either due to an allergy, not wanting to clean up after an animal, or just simply having an aversion to some types of pets.

So how do you go about finding a quality caregiver who is also comfortable around pets, and may be willing to provide some level of pet care? The following are some tips for hiring a pet friendly nanny, and setting the expectations in order to retain a valued employee.

Tips on Hiring a Pet Friendly Nanny

  • No surprises. If you are advertising for the nanny position yourself online, or if you’re working with a nanny agency, make sure you disclose any pets that live in your home. You don’t want to waste your or the agency’s time finding a great nanny, only to discover at the start of employment that they have a dog allergy or will not work with a cat in the house. Also, be explicit about what types of pets you have – even if you just have a few fish in a tank, a potential nanny may not be interested in feeding the fish or cleaning filters.
  • Let the candidates know what you are looking for. When searching for your nanny, be explicit that you want someone who is comfortable working around pets, and then you are assured that those interested in the job are fine with animals in the home.
  • Make sure your job description includes any details about pet care, specifically if you intend on having the nanny provide any kind of service, such as feeding, walking, cleaning up after the pet, taking them to the vet, etc. Even something simple like “Let the dog outside when she barks by the back door” should be in the job description. This way the responsibilities and expectations are stated clearly in advance of the nanny accepting the position.
  • Be prepared to make alternate pet care arrangements. If you’ve found the perfect nanny for your family, but the one thing keeping them from accepting the job is pet-related, like having to walk the dog, then hiring someone else as a dog-walker may be the best solution to ensure you don’t lose your nanny. If the nanny knows that she won’t be responsible for those kinds of tasks, she may be ready to accept the position.
  • If you do have your nanny take on any pet care duties, make sure the compensation is clearly defined. Salary negotiation should include what you are willing to pay for the child care aspect, and then what additional payment will be made for pet care responsibilities. For example, if you were going to pay $15/hour for child care, you could make it $16/hour if pet care will also be required. This shows that you understand that pet care is an extra job and is reflected by the increase in salary.

What if you already have a great nanny, and then later on your family decides to get a pet? Adding a pet to a home can certainly change the dynamic of the household and adds more responsibilities, particularly with a baby animal like a puppy or kitten. It would be wise to discuss this with your nanny before making your decision. Many nannies become like family members, and if getting a pet would make the nanny uncomfortable and/or if she’s not willing to accept any additional responsibilities that would come along with a new pet, it could become an issue.

As with all people, many nannies love pets, and many do not. Being upfront in the early stages of hiring will help defuse any pet-related issues down the road, and will help you to hire the right nanny for your family – including your four-legged family members.

For more information, contact us at (518) 348-0400.



Nanny Tax Threshold for 2016

nanny tax threshold for 2016The Social Security Administration (SSA) announced yesterday that the nanny tax threshold for 2016 will increase to $2,000, up from $1,900 this year. This affects all employers of domestic workers – if you pay your employee at least $2,000 in 2016, you are required to pay Social Security and Medicare taxes (also known as FICA coverage). These tax rates will remain the same for 2016 as they are now – 6.2% for Social Security and 1.45% for Medicare.

A coverage threshold are wages that are required to be taxed under the Social Security program. Earnings that are less than the threshold amount are not subject to Social Security and Medicare taxes, but also do not count toward future benefits.

For more information, contact us at (518) 348-0400.

Benefits of Nanny Tax Compliance

benefits of nanny tax complianceWhile it may be tempting to pay your nanny or other household employee “off the books,” the benefits of being compliant with tax and labor laws far outweigh the risks of not following the law. Plus you’ll have peace of mind knowing you are adhering to your requirements as an employer. And you aren’t the only one that benefits from paying your nanny legally – your nanny benefits too!

Benefits for the Family

  • You are setting the stage for a professional working relationship
    • Paying “off the books” goes against best practices and standards for household employment
  • Take advantage of tax breaks
  • Avoid expensive fines from the IRS and lawsuits from disgruntled nannies/other employees
  • Reduce legal risk and audit risk from the IRS

Benefits for the Nanny

  • Legal employment record and protections
  • Verifiable income
  • Unemployment insurance
  • Workers’ comp coverage
  • Health insurance
  • Credit worthiness
  • Compliance with federal and state tax laws
  • Social Security benefits

For more information, contact us at (518) 348-0400.

Interviewing a Nanny: Asking About Disabilities

interviewing a nannyQ:  We will be interviewing a nanny who came highly recommended. But we have heard from a friend that this nanny has been in and out of the hospital lately due to back pain. Is this something we can ask her about during the interview?

A:  According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), asking applicants about disabilities prior to making at least a conditional offer of employment is not permitted. The only disability-related question you may ask pre-hire is, “Are you able to perform the essential functions of this job?” or “Are you able to perform the job duties that I have described to you?” In order to get the most useful answer to this question, you should ensure that applicants have been informed of what the essential functions of the position are through a detailed job posting, explanation during the interview, or, as a best practice, both.

In this case, the alleged back pain may no longer be troubling the nanny or, if it’s still a problem, it may be something you can reasonably accommodate. Either way, you shouldn’t ask about it. If the nanny believes she will need an accommodation, it’s her responsibility to inform you of the disability and request an accommodation. If you were to ask about the back pain or hospital visits and then not hire her, she could claim that your decision was based on her disability, or was made because you regarded her as disabled, and was therefore unlawful discrimination.

Additionally, you should not solicit any further information about the nanny’s condition from your friends – any information that would be illegal to gather from her pre-offer is also illegal to gather from other sources.

If you decide to hire the nanny and extend a job offer, then you could request a medical examination or inquire about disabilities.

For more information, contact us at (518) 348-0400.

4 Key Reasons to Use a Nanny Payroll Service

key reasons to use a nanny payroll serviceThere is more to paying your household employee then just cutting them a paycheck each week. Taxes need to be paid (by the employer and employee) and insurance coverage may need to be in place, just to start.

The four key reasons to use a nanny payroll service are:

  1. Avoiding IRS Fines and Penalties for Non-Compliance
    A payroll service will accurately prepare, submit and pay your quarterly and annual federal, state and local  taxes on time to keep you in good graces with the IRS and state tax departments.
  2. Reducing Your Risk for an Audit or Lawsuit
    Nothing can suck up your time and resources more than an IRS audit of your finances because you haven’t paid your nanny properly. Unless it’s getting sued by a disgruntled employee.
  3. Taking Advantage of Tax Breaks
    You can get some of your money back in tax breaks. Specifically the Dependent Care Assistance Program (DCAP) and the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit can potentially cut hundreds of dollars off your tax responsibility.
  4. Working with Happier Employees
    By paying taxes and being compliant your employees receive a number of benefits. They now have an employment history and verifiable income, which can help when applying for loans or credit. They may be eligible for unemployment, disability, workers’ compensation social security and Medicare benefits.

It can be difficult even for the most organized household employer to keep track of changes to tax and insurance laws and regulations that vary by state, and even by town or city. Ignoring the law and paying your nanny “under the table” will mean even bigger headaches down the road.

This is where a nanny payroll service comes in and will help make sure you’re compliant, giving you peace of mind and freeing up your time to do things in life you enjoy. Our friends at GTM  Payroll Services will take care of:

  • Paycheck distribution via direct deposit or live check
  • Electronic tax filings (or signature-ready returns)
  • Year-end tax filings including Schedule H, W-2 and W-3.
  • Compliance with federal and state tax, labor and wage laws

Contact us today at (518) 348-0400 to learn more, or just get a free payroll quote from GTM now!

IRS Publications for Homeowners

Here is a library of IRS publications for homeowners, covering many issues of concern.




Home Mortgage Interest Deduction


Includes general information on home mortgage interest, including points, how to report deductible interest and limits on your deduction.
Selling Your Home


Covers the rules for excluding from income any gain up to $250,000 ($500,000 on a joint return for married couples), the business use or rental of your home, and recapturing a federal mortgage subsidy.
Tax Information for First-Time Homeowners


Includes settlement and closing costs, real estate taxes, home mortgage interest, and repairs, tax credits for a mortgage credit certificate and documents to prove basis and adjusted basis.
Residential Rental Property


Covers rules involving rental income and expenses, including depreciation, as well as casualty losses on rental property and the passive activity and at-risk rules.
Business Use of Your Home


Contains information about who qualifies for deductions for business use of a home, including as a daycare facility.
Moving Expenses


Provides information on deductions for certain costs of moving because you changed job locations or started a new job.

















© 2015 Thompson Reuters

7 Questions to Ask a Household Payroll Provider

questions to ask a payroll providerA household employer must understand the federal, state, and local employment laws that pertain to his or her household. Many laws require the employer to obtain, file, and submit necessary paperwork. Tax laws also have paperwork requirements, such as reporting wages to the Department of Labor or a state’s Wage and Hour Division. While some laws require employers to submit forms to a designated department or division, others require employers to file completed forms and be ready to produce the paperwork when requested by government officials.

As you can see, dealing with taxes and payroll can be time-consuming, nerve-racking, and complicated. Household employers may spend more than sixty hours a year handling payroll and tax administration. It is not easy, and many household employers choose to use the services of a professional payroll provider. Many employers find security in knowing that their household payroll and taxes are taken care of by experienced and qualified professionals.

To assist with the process of hiring a payroll company, our affiliate company GTM Payroll Services has put together this helpful guide: “7 Questions to Ask a Household Payroll Provider.”

For more information, contact us at (518) 348-0400.