Health Insurance for Your Nanny

health insurance for your nannyAnyone can be caught off guard by an unexpected illness or injury. Offering health insurance for a household employee benefits both the employee and the employer. Not only does it help employers with recruiting and retaining top quality nannies and other employees, but it safeguards against future health problems, minimizing surprise illnesses and the resulting absenteeism. For employees, having health care coverage limits out-of-pocket costs, protects assets, and safeguards future earnings.

More importantly, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires all individuals to have health insurance or risk being fined. The ACA can be complicated to navigate, especially within the realm of household employment. Here is a quick guide for obtaining health insurance for your nanny or other household employee.

First Steps

Before diving into the complex world of health insurance, there may be a couple of easier solutions.

  • How old is your nanny? Your employee may be able to be added to her parents’ policy if she is 26 years old or younger.
  • Is your nanny married? If so, it may be more affordable for her to be added to her spouse’s health plan, if the spouse is covered through their employer.

Obtaining Insurance

Individual health insurance plans can be purchased by:

  • Visiting your state’s health exchange or the federal exchange if your state does not offer one. See this list of states that have their own exchange.
  • Obtaining coverage directly through an insurance company, or by contacting a private exchange site.

Can You Cover or Reimburse Your Employee for Premiums?

If your nanny purchases coverage on a state or federal exchange, then by law, an employer may not cover or reimburse for premium payments. If your employee buys coverage through a private exchange or directly from an insurance company, then you can pay part or all of their premiums for them directly if they are your ONLY employee.

If you have more than one employee, you can set up a plan to help cover part or all of their premiums, and receive tax-free benefits. These plans include HRAs, POPs, FSAs, and HSAs. Through these plans, no taxes are paid by either the employer or employee on health care coverage.

Important Rules

  • Household employers that also own their own business may want to put their nanny on their business health plan. This is not permitted, because a nanny is not employed by the business – they are a household employee. Insurance companies will likely refuse to pay any benefits if you submit a claim for a household employee through a business insurance policy.
  • It’s also important to know that a household employee requesting individual coverage must apply for coverage themselves – the employer cannot submit an application or other paperwork on the nanny’s behalf. The employee must fill out the forms and submit their medical information.
  • If you as the employer are applying for a group plan, a group application must be completed by the employer and the employee must sign the enrollment forms.

Our affiliate GTM Payroll Services’ in-house insurance brokerage can guide you through the insurance rules and regulations in New York. For more information, contact GTM at (800) 929-9213 or get a free insurance quote.

New Deadline for Filing Your Nanny’s W-2

new deadline for filing your nanny's w-2Employers – including household employers – will need to file their employees’ W-2 forms much earlier next year than in previous years. The Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act of 2015 was signed into law last December, and among the many provisions is a new W-2 filing deadline for employers’ 2016 forms. That deadline for submitting forms to the Social Security Administration (SSA) is January 31, 2017. That is also the date by which employees must receive their own W-2 copies, which means if there are any errors on the forms, there is no time to make corrections before they need to be filed with the SSA. It should be noted that these changes apply regardless of whether an employer submits paper forms or electronic ones.

The PATH Act also provides a safe harbor from de minimus (minor) error penalties, including relief of up to $25 for withholding errors and up to $100 for other errors.

Household employers that do their own payroll should begin preparing now for this new deadline, as the time frame in which to get any W-2s in order is now much shorter than it has been.

Using a company like our affiliate GTM Payroll Services, however, removes the burden from the employers. GTM’s service ensures their clients’ nannies and other employees get their W-2s on time, and that they get filed with the SSA on time as well.

Contact us at (518) 348-0400 for more information.

Do You Need a Non-Disclosure Agreement for Your Nanny?

nanny non-disclosure agreementIn the corporate business world, many companies require their employees to sign a non-disclosure agreement stating that any private and confidential information they come across must remain safe, as employees are privy to reports, policies, procedures, and other internal business-related communications. The world of household employment, while in a very different setting, is not so different when it comes to private information. So do you need a non-disclosure agreement for your nanny or other employee?

As a household employer, your employee has potential access to intimate and sensitive information. Whether it’s overhearing a conversation about finances, seeing a child’s medical records left on the counter, or being given the home alarm system code, your nanny must be trusted to keep information like this private and confidential both during and after their employment. Employers who are well-known in their community and those with celebrity status will be even more likely to make the employee legally bound to keep household information private.

While many employers will simply rely on good faith that their nanny or other employee will not violate that trust, some may wish for the security of a non-disclosure agreement. Such an agreement should be presented when the employee is hired, and should state clearly that the nanny is not to disclose any information pertaining to the household, whether she is on the clock or not. Households with multiple employees may also wish to state that workers may not discuss salary and benefit information with one another*.

* Under Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), employees have the right to discuss the terms and conditions of their employment, including their work hours, work conditions, and pay. However, domestic workers are among the types of employee not included in this law.

Employers that decide to use a non-disclosure agreement should also include the consequences an employee will face if they violate the agreement by disclosing – or even threatening to disclose – private information. Such consequences could be getting a court order preventing the employee from disclosing such information, or preventing the employee from going to work for someone to whom they disclosed the information. Other consequences could include the employer having the right to claim losses and damages from the employee. Termination is another potential consequence for the employee’s breaking of the agreement.

A New England Nanny’s temporary caregivers sign an agreement with the agency to not discuss or disclose private information. Families that hire long-term caregivers need to create their own agreement if they choose. For more information, contact us at (518) 348-0400.

It’s National Nanny Recognition Week!

national nanny recognition weekThis is a very special week for caregivers across the country. It is National Nanny Recognition Week (NNRW)!

From “NNRW is a week during which families, businesses, and the media are encouraged to focus on the positive aspects of the nanny profession, the important role nannies play in the lives of the families, and the wonderful contribution they make in the lives of the children they care for.”

Here at A New England Nanny, we would like to extend a thank you to all of the wonderful caregivers that work with our agency. And since we’re celebrating our 25th anniversary this year, we wanted to give special recognition to the caregivers that have been with us for a large part of that time!

Thanks and congratulations go out to:

Gail W. – 23 years

Bette R. – over 15 years

Charlene T. – 15 years

Joy K. – 13 years

Sue Z. – 13 years

Susan S. – over 12 years

Jennifer M. – 11 years

Tammy P. – 10 years

Lynn C. – 8 years

Ariel G. – 6 years

Marisa H. – 5 years

We appreciate the hard work and dedication that you and all of our caregivers have given to our clients and the children in your care over the years. Thank you!

Should You Offer Vacation Time or PTO?

vacation or pto for nanniesOne of the most common benefits that household employers offer their nanny or other employee is paid time off. This can be in the form of sick time, vacation time or PTO (Paid Time Off). Sick time is to be used in case the employee is ill or must care for an ill loved one, and vacation time is for the employee to simply take time away from work. But what is the difference between sick or vacation time and PTO?

Vacation policies are intended to be used for the specific purpose of vacation or leisure time, and employers who offer vacation time generally offer sick leave as well. The alternative to having two separate benefits is a singular PTO benefit, which may be used for any purpose the employee chooses.

Some states consider vacation and PTO (but not sick leave) to be accrued wages. Consequently, those states require payout of unused vacation and PTO at termination and have rules limiting use-it-or-lose-it policies. In New York, whether an employer must pay for unused time depends upon the terms of the vacation and/or resignation policy. So when you create a policy to offer vacation or PTO as a benefit to your nanny, you must decide whether the nanny will be paid for any unused vacation time or PTO hours should they leave the job.

While New York does not yet have a state law that require employers to offer paid sick leave, it is a national trend and such a law may come to New York soon. Should a paid sick leave law be enacted here and you decide to offer a PTO plan instead of paid sick leave, it is critical that you ensure the plan meets all the requirements of the mandatory sick leave law or ordinance. What household employers do need to abide by in New York is the state’s Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights, which guarantees domestic workers at least three days of paid rest each year after one year of work for the same employer.

Regardless of which benefits you choose to offer, you’ll want to make sure they are clearly articulated in writing and that your employee(s) are made aware of what is available and how the policy or policies operate.

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

Is My Nanny an At-Will Employee?

nanny at-will employeeYes, nannies are at-will employees. In every U.S. state except Montana, employment is presumed to be at-will, meaning either the employer or the employee can legally terminate the employment relationship at any time, with or without notice, and with or without cause. The employer has not guaranteed employment for a period of time, and the employee has not promised to stay; therefore, either party can end the relationship without financial penalty. There are, however, exceptions and limitations to the at-will relationship, so employers should still be careful when terminating an employee.

When a nanny and a family sign a long-term agreement for employment, it is not a legally binding contract with regard to the exact amount of time the nanny will be employed. Rather it’s setting expectations for the employment relationship, and serves as a commitment the family is making to the nanny, showing that they want the nanny employed for the length of time designated by the agreement, but does not guarantee that length of time. However, if there is language in the agreement that states a nanny must give two weeks’ notice before leaving, and then the nanny quits without giving such notice, the agreement can be viewed as a legally binding document should the family wish to pursue legal action against the nanny for violating the terms of the agreement.

It’s important to keep in mind that at-will employment does not permit an employer to terminate employment based on the employee exercising a legal right or belonging to a protected class (e.g., race, sex, religion, national origin); such a basis would be illegal and could lead to a discrimination claim. Consequently, the safest way to terminate an employee is to have documentation that justifies the legitimate business reasons behind the termination. This documentation would include infractions of policy, instances of poor performance, and any disciplinary or corrective action taken. The more an employer can do to show that they gave a terminated employee the chance to improve, the better.

The bottom line is that while at-will employment makes it sound like you can terminate a nanny at any time, with or without notice, and with or without cause—and to a degree you can—legitimate and documented business reasons are always your best bet.

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

Nanny vs. Day Care: What’s the Right Option for Your Family?

nanny vs. day careAmong the multitude of decisions that parents have to make is, if necessary, what kind of child care they will need. Should they hire a nanny? Should they use a day care facility?

While it’s an important decision, it doesn’t have to be a stressful one if the parents understand the differences between using a nanny and enrolling in a day care. There are pros and cons to each, and all must be considered.

Here are the key differences between using a nanny and using a day care center.


The Pros

When a family hires a nanny, they become the employer. They make the schedules, they decide on the duties that will be performed, and they provide specific instructions for the child’s care. They also negotiate the nanny’s salary and benefits, so they know the exact cost of using this kind of child care. Many families value having control over the situation; schedules can be changed as needed, and parents can ask the nanny to provide updates throughout the day.

Families with non-traditional schedules can hire a live-in nanny to care for a child in the evening and during the night. There are certain requirements a family must provide in this situation, such as a private place for the nanny to sleep with a bathroom. But for families that can accommodate one, a live-in nanny may be a good option.

Some families want their child to have one-on-one attention from a caregiver, which a nanny provides. The nanny can adjust their approach based on both your instructions and how the child reacts to different things throughout the day. There is no competition for attention; a child may form a real bond with their nanny, and some families consider that a key piece of the child care puzzle.

Having a nanny can mean less busy work for parents. Lunches and snacks don’t have to be packed in the morning; the nanny can handle getting a child dressed, something all parents know can be a laborious task. Winter weather can make it even more difficult to pack up and get a child out of the house; a nanny can handle that instead. Some families have their nanny do the kids’ laundry, light house cleaning, prepare dinner, or other simple but time-consuming jobs that a parent would be grateful to find done when they get home from work.

Families that hire a nanny through an agency have access to helpful child care resources, along with guidance and support from the agency, including back-up care should their regular nanny not be able to come to work.

Using a nanny for child care means families may be eligible to claim the Dependent Care Assistance Program (DCAP) or Child and Dependent Care tax credit, which can help offset some of the cost of the nanny’s salary and benefits.

The Cons

If a nanny calls out sick one day, or needs several days off due to an unexpected emergency, families that hire on their own (not through an agency) will need to find a replacement or take time off of work to care for the child. This can be disruptive for the parents, but also for the child, especially if they have started to form a bond with their nanny. Being dependent on one person for child care can cause these inconveniences.

Many families find nannies through online job boards; these nannies are not required to have any specific education credentials or certifications (such as CPR or first aid). A family searching for a nanny with all the qualifications they require can be time-consuming, and performing background checks becomes the parents’ responsibility. While there are legal protections for nannies in many states, there is no regulation process for anyone who wants to be a nanny; all the hiring decisions are made by the family.

Any family that pays a nanny over $2,000 (2016) in a year must also pay employment taxes; families must file all applicable nanny tax forms, Social Security, Medicare, federal and state unemployment insurances, and income taxes. Some states also require that a household employer have a workers’ compensation policy in case a nanny is injured or becomes ill while on duty.

Hiring a nanny means a family is now running a business with one employee. They need to negotiate salary and benefits, such as vacation and sick time, health insurance, and even retirement benefits. Families are advised to create a job description, a work agreement, and must ensure they are complying with applicable discrimination and harassment laws. Figuring out all the obligations of being a household employer takes a lot of time and effort (but using a payroll service like our partners at GTM Payroll can take all that off your plate).

Day Care


Day cares provide socialization for children that many families find integral to their child’s development. Children in day care learn about sharing, playing with others, interactional behavior, and other social skills. They make friends and develop relationships with their peers.

Many day cares bring in special instructors for art, music, or dance, and day cares usually have far more toys, art supplies, and playground equipment than any one family. Children get to know many of the day care staff, not just the teachers in their room, so that when there are substitutions it’s not stressful for the kids.

Many day care teachers have educational backgrounds in childhood education and/or psychology, so they can form a curriculum based on the children’s ages and maturity levels. Children in day care often come home knowing their ABCs, numbers, colors, and shapes.

Day cares run on a set schedule, and many of them are open past 5:00pm to accommodate families getting off of work. Many also open early, around 7:00am, to assist families who need more time in the morning to get to their jobs.

Day care center employees have been background-checked and screened. Many require that their teachers have a degree in an appropriate field, along with CPR and first aid training. Parents may find peace of mind knowing that day cares are state-regulated and subject to laws regarding teacher-child ratios, safety, and cleanliness.

Many day cares provide snacks, and some also provide breakfast or lunch, which means families don’t have to spend as much time getting food together in the morning. Children are often exposed to new foods and learn to try new things at day care, something they may be much more reluctant to do at home.

Families can help offset the cost of day care through the DCAP; this plan allows individuals to qualify up to $ 5,000 of their annual salary federal and state income tax-free.


While some families value the set schedule a day care provides, it can become an inconvenience if a meeting is going late and a parent can’t get to the facility by closing time. Day cares charge extra for late pick-ups, so it may be a struggle to balance work responsibilities and the day care’s hours.

Some children may find the stimulation at day care overwhelming; new faces, lots of new experiences, and perhaps more noise than they are used to. While day cares emphasize socialization, it may not be the right environment for a child.

More kids mean more germs. Children are more likely to develop colds and viruses in a group environment, and then they bring those germs home, which mean parents and other family members may find themselves getting sick more often than usual. If a child has a fever or vomits, most centers will require the child stay home until for at least 24 hours (or as long as it takes for the fever to go away); that means arranging other child care or staying home from work until the child is healthy enough to return. Day cares charge their regular rate whether the child is there or not.

Along with being closed on major holidays, many day cares close on various days throughout the year for professional development and training, or for religious holidays. On those days, if the parents still have to work, other child care arrangements will need to be made.

Day care centers sometimes have high turnover rates, so if a child forms a bond with one or more of the staff, they may struggle if those staff members leave.

The Costs

For some families, after considering all the pros and cons listed above, their decision about child care may depend most heavily on the cost.


According to the International Nanny Association’s (INA) 2014 Salary and Benefits Survey, the national average hourly wage for nannies was $18.66, with some wages over $22 per hour. 62% of nannies surveyed received paid vacation time, and 12% received either full or partial health insurance.

If a family hires a nanny for 40 hours per week and pays the average of $18.66 per hour, the cost to the family would be $746.40 per week, or $38,812 a year. That does not take into account the costs involved with the hiring process; using an agency means paying a membership or placement fee, and hiring through an online job board means families will pay for background checks. Workers’ compensation and health insurance are additional expenses as well. If a family decides to use their accountant or a payroll service to handle the payroll and tax responsibilities, those are also additional costs to consider.

Day Care

The cost of using a day care center varies greatly from state to state, and changes based on the age of the children. In general, the older the child gets, the less day cares charge; some centers also give families a discount if they have more than one child enrolled.

For example, according to Child Care Aware of America, the average annual cost for infant day care in New York is $14,144; for an infant and a 4-year-old in day care, the average annual cost is $25,844. In Florida, infant care averages $8,694 annually, and $16,362 for an infant and a 4-year-old. In Illinois, the costs using the same examples are $12,964 and $22,531 respectively.

Additional costs need to be considered for using a nanny or babysitter when the day care center is closed or if the child is sick and can’t attend day care.

Ultimately parents know better than anyone else what is best for their family, both financially and emotionally. It’s not a decision to be made lightly, but having all the information and understanding the pros and cons to each option will make the decision a little easier.

Back to School Transition for Families and Nannies

back to school transition for families and nanniesIt’s almost that time of year again when the relaxed schedules of summer end, and the rigid school day routines begin. With back to school season upon us, many families need to start preparing for trying to get their children back on a schedule. There will be homework and after school activities, and everyone has to be up earlier in the morning and in bed earlier at night. This is something the family prepares their nanny for as well.

Nannies should  know in advance what the criteria is for the school year in terms of the schedule and or any changes that will impact their jobs. Their job description may change with regard to the number of scheduled hours if she is caring for school-aged children, along with the demands of the job, such as getting the children up and ready for school, packing lunches, meeting the children at the bus stop, and helping with homework. If a family currently has a nanny who doesn’t usually perform functions like meal preparation, transportation, or homework help, they need to discuss these duties with their nanny and see if she is willing to take on these new tasks. If so, additional compensation may need to be negotiated. If not, it may be time to find a new nanny.

Another thing to consider is the age of the children. Often nannies who have been with a family for a while move on to another position once the children start going to school full-time. Sometimes that nanny will stay with the family and take on other responsibilities like housekeeping and running errands. But some nannies may only want to do full-time child care, and in that case, the nanny will move on to another family. This type of situation can be potentially difficult to deal with. The children she cared for during her employment will certainly have questions about why she’s no longer with them, and in the case of younger kids, they may have developed a real attachment that can be difficult to reconcile. The family should be involved in communicating an employee’s departure plans with the children. Families may ask the nanny to explain to children why they are leaving the home, what his or her plans are, and how the change may affect the family. Sometimes hearing the news from the nanny may allow the children to understand the situation better.

All in all, this time of year can be a little uneasy with regard to child care, but we are here to make the transition easier for both families and nannies.

Contact us at (518) 348-0400 and let us know how we can help.

Can You Manage Your Nanny’s Off Duty Behavior?

manage your nanny's off duty behaviorLet’s say a family friend saw your nanny at a social event, and they told you your nanny was engaged in questionable behavior (drinking, foul language, etc.). Managing your nanny’s off duty behavior may be a concern. Can you tell your employee how to behave when they’re not on the clock? How much influence do you have?

While employers have the right to regulate employees’ on-duty conduct, they are legally more limited in how much control they can exert when employees are not on duty.

We know issues may arise when employees engage in social activities after hours where they feel they can let loose or otherwise act in a way that is inconsistent with policies when they are working in your home. While an employer can’t regulate what goes on in that setting – in fact, many states protect legal off-duty conduct – you can expect and require that there not be any residual effects that carry over into the workplace. For instance, if a nanny made threatening comments about a certain religious group on their Facebook page, and these comments were seen by you or your child who then felt uncomfortable in the workplace (your home), you would need to address this behavior.

Keep in mind although legally you cannot control your employee’s behavior off the clock, you can ask for discretion in certain areas. Discuss the possibility of issues like this during the interview and early employment process, and lay out clear expectations. Advise your employee to limit who can see their social media activity and reiterate to them that their conduct, even when not on duty, is a reflection both on them and on the family they work for – you! The best thing to do is express your concerns up front. This should help limit problematic behavior when your nanny is off the clock.

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

Child Care at the Desmond Hotel

We’re quite busy this summer providing child care for company conferences all over New York! We’ve already been to Thousand Islands and Lake Placid, and last week we took care of some great (and cute) kids at the iconic Desmond Hotel in Albany during a Public Policy and Education Fund of New York conference.

Here are a few photos from the day. Give us a call if your company is having a conference or event and needs child care!

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