National Nanny Training Day 2015

We had such a fun time on Saturday with a great group of nannies! We heard from the Red Cross about emergency preparedness, watched an important and impactful presentation on bullying, heard from an inspiring business woman, had a delicious lunch, and got CPR certifications done!

Here are some photos from the event (click them to see larger versions). Thanks to all our sponsors and to all the wonderful nannies that attended – see you next year!

national nanny training day 2015

The Red Cross presents tips on emergency preparedness.

national nanny training day 2015

The Red Cross “Pillowcase Project”

national nanny training day 2015

Group discussion.

national nanny training day 2015

Some of our lovely nannies!

national nanny training day 2015

Nikki Sementa does Heimlich maneuver training with our ladies!

 

national nanny training day 2015

Another successful National Nanny Training Day!

Lose Weight, Get a Tax Deduction

lose weight get a tax deductionIt’s hard getting motivated to lose weight, but here’s something that might help: The IRS  recognizes obesity as a disease and allows taxpayers to deduct certain weight-loss expenses. (IRS Revenue Ruling 2002-19)

Prior to this ruling, individuals could only claim a tax deduction for weight loss to treat a condition “associated” with obesity (such as high blood pressure) — not the obesity itself.

But as usual with tax breaks, there are a few conditions:

  • Deductible weight-loss treatments include bariatric surgery, FDA-approved weight-loss drugs, doctor and hospital-based programs, behavioral and diet counseling, and nutritionists. But you must have a doctor’s diagnosis before weight-loss expenses can be deducted.
  • Expenses related to general health, such as health club dues, nutritional supplements, diet foods or exercise equipment, are not deductible – unless they’re related to a doctor’s diagnosis.
  • Fees for weight reduction programs, such as Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig, are potentially deductible. However, the cost of diet foods or beverages cannot generally be written off because they substitute for what is normally consumed to satisfy your nutritional needs.

For more information, contact your tax preparer or visit IRS.gov.

©2015 Thompson Reuters

Vacation Time for Nannies

vacation time for nanniesTo get and keep the most talented employees, employers must treat nannies and other household employees like professionals. Therefore, offering employee benefits is an important consideration for all household employers. By providing an attractive employee benefits package, the employer is helping to maintain a satisfied workforce. Satisfied employees equal a happy workplace, which in turn equals a happy family and life for the employer.

One of the most popular household employment benefits is paid vacation time for nannies. There are no legal requirements for offering paid vacation time, but as we all know, being a nanny can be an exhausting job, and nannies need time to relax and recharge just as any other employee. According to the International Nanny Association’s (INA) 2014 Salary and Benefits Survey, 62% of the nannies surveyed receive paid vacation time as an employee benefit. In general, nannies receive about 2 weeks of paid vacation time per year, but it’s up to the employer’s discretion as to how many days will be provided.

It’s important to include the amount of vacation time offered in the work agreement at the time of hiring, along with any accrual requirements – many businesses do not allow an employee to use any paid time off until they have worked for 60 or 90 days, though they may start accumulating time off at the start of employment. The agreement should also include any rules pertaining to the use of vacation time – how much notice is required of the nanny when asking for time off, how the request should be submitted (email, text, in-person, phone call), and how many days the nanny can use at one time (can she take two weeks all at once, or does it need to be split up). Again, these rules are completely up to the employer’s discretion – you need to decide what will work best for your family and your employee.

If your family will be taking a vacation and you won’t be bringing the nanny along, it may be wise to encourage the nanny to take some vacation time during your family’s vacation. If you will be bringing your nanny with you on a trip, read about our guidelines for compensation.

Over the past decade, many employers that offer both vacation time and sick days have moved to a more flexible Paid Time Off or “PTO” benefit that incorporates both into one all-inclusive plan. If you wish to offer both vacation and sick pay to your nanny, here are a few advantages and disadvantages of combining separate paid time off benefits into a single PTO plan.

Advantages:

  • Nannies don’t feel they need to lie about being sick or having a doctor’s appointment in order to use all of their annual sick days, resulting in more transparency in the employee/employer relationship.
  • Research has illustrated that incorporating a PTO policy will result in nannies taking more vacation time and less sick days. This benefits household employers by typically receiving more notice about scheduled vacations, rather than unexpected absences due to illness.
  • Employees tend to value the flexibility that PTO provides.

Disadvantages:

  • Nannies are more likely to use all of their PTO, whereas they may not have used all of their sick or vacation days in the past.
  • Nannies tend to save all of their PTO for vacations and therefore might come to work when they are sick, which may cause illness to you or your family members.

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

Hotel Child Care Services

hotel child care servicesFamily vacations can be a lot of fun, but sometimes the parents need a little break from the kids to make it truly feel like a “vacation.” That’s where we come in! If you or anyone you know will be staying at a hotel in or near the Capital Region and could use child care services during their stay, we have the solution!

Our trusted, reliable sitters can simply stay in the hotel room with the kids, or at the family’s request, they can chaperone children to local museums and attractions, take them swimming in the hotel pool, see a movie, or grab a bite to eat.

Got pets? We didn’t forget that your pets are family too! Our animal-loving staff can feed, play with, and walk your pet so you can enjoy the local attractions or attend an event without the worry that your companion is in need of some attention.

All of our caregivers undergo a rigorous background screening including:

  • Criminal Background Check
  • Driving History Verification and Check
  • Work & Education/ Certification References
  • Drug Screening

Requesting care is as easy as 1-2-3!

  1. Contact our agency with the dates and times you will need care.
  2. Provide a credit card to cover the nominal agency fee.
  3. We will secure your sitter for you!

Sitters are paid directly by the family at the end of their shift (4 hour minimum required).

For rates or to book services, please contact us at (518) 348-0400, M-F 8:30am-5pm!

Long Term Care Insurance to Help with Senior Care

long term care insurance to help with senior careWhile often purchased through independent means, long term care (LTC) insurance as an employee benefit is being offered more often by employers. Under this LTC policy, services to meet LTC needs such as adult day care, home health, skilled nursing care, and custodial care are available to employees, their spouses, and sometimes parents or parents-in-law.

According to AARP, addressing caregiver support issues in the workplace is smart business. AARP noted that companies are finding senior care help to be advantageous because both the employer and employee benefits when workers have options that make caregiving more manageable. According to AARP, about 33 percent of large companies offer basic senior care benefits, as do 25 percent of all businesses. Most are in the form of resource materials and referral services, unpaid leave, dependent care flexible spending accounts, counseling, or back-up senior care. More progressive companies offer subsidized in-home emergency care or adult day care, on-staff geriatric care specialists, and allowing older relatives on health insurance plans.

Many employers are sympathetic to the demands of those providing senior care for their loved ones.  Via the Family and Medical Leave Act, eligible workers may access up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for family caregiving without the loss of job security or benefits. But many unions and employers have gone beyond that mandate and negotiated the following programs to help employees address their senior care needs:

  • resource and referral services that match providers with appropriate senior care resources and services;
  • pretax programs that establish a tax-free flexible spending account for senior care expenses (as well as child/dependent care expenses);
  • elder care funds that provide direct cash payments or reimbursement for senior care expenses;
  • support services that offer information and support services for retired employees and their families;
  • long term care insurance that helps employees pay for long term care for themselves and their dependents including spouse or parent; and
  • sick time for family members and flex time options  which both allow workers to use their accumulated sick leave to care for sick dependents.

Check with your company to determine if you have workplace benefits for senior care help.

Many families opt to try to save money by becoming their senior’s caregiver themselves, as opposed to hiring help to provide care to their loved one, or using a nursing home. Costs to companies with employees acting as senior caregivers can be high: according to AARP, one study showed that 75 percent of employees caring for adults experience negative health concerns of their own, including stress, depression, panic attacks, headaches, loss of energy and sleep, weight loss, and physical pain. AARP cited a study by the MetLife Market Mature Institute and National Alliance of Caregiving that said U.S. companies paid between $17.1 billion and $33.6 billion annually on lost productivity, equaling $2,110 for every full-time worker who cares for an adult.  Other AARP figures showed a cost to business of $6.6 billion to replace employees (9 percent left work or took early retirement); nearly $7 billion in workday interruptions (i.e., coming in late, leaving early, taking time off during the day or spending work time on senior care matters); and, $4.3 billion in absenteeism.

See some alternate payment methods for senior care, or contact us at (518) 348-0400 for more information.

Spring Break is Next Week!

spring break child care

2014 Nanny Salary Survey Findings

nanny salary surveyThe International Nanny Association (INA) just released the results of their most recent nanny salary survey (2014 Nanny Salary and Benefits Survey), which are summarized below. An interesting note about the 2014 survey is that it was the first time that international respondents were included. Nearly 1,000 complete responses and over 250 partially completed responses were received. Professional research firm Survey Design & Analysis conducted the survey and provided analysis of the results.

More information about the survey from Nanny.org:

Respondents were 99 % female, 92% live outside the employer’s home, 85% have some college education and 77% work full time, up from 70% in 2012. 53% report that their current employment fits the nanny job description, and 38% are nanny/house managers. 72% have more than 5 years of experience in the field.

Key findings include:

  • Average hourly rate USD$18.66, $1/hour increase from 2012
  • 49% have had a salary increase in prior 12 months, up from 38% in 2012
  • Education and experience correlate with higher hourly wage
  • 60% received an annual bonus in 2013, up from 53% in 2011
  • INA Credentialed nannies average $19.96 per hour
  • 64% are paid legally

Regarding nanny benefits:

  • 62% receive paid vacation 57% receive paid holidays, down from 66% in 2012
  • 71% receive “guaranteed pay” when the family does not need them
  • 10% receive full health insurance; 12% receive partial health insurance, unchanged from 2012. This was surprising given generous employer tax breaks that became available in 2012 for employer provided health insurance.

39% of respondents found their current job through a traditional, brick and mortar nanny referral agency, while 34% found their job online, a 10% increase from 2012. 67% have a written work agreement in place with their family. It is important to note that 80% of respondents who were placed by a nanny agency have a written work agreement. A written work agreement is a key predictor of long term retention in the position.

Survey Design and Analysis’ concluded that improved economic conditions are evident in the nanny industry; with higher hourly rate, more bonuses, more full time work. They noted that technology trends are contributing to changes in the nanny industry; evidenced by the increased use of online classes, online listing services in job search, and more employers using a payroll service. Lastly, education level and experience of nannies and most aspects of the nanny job have remained stable over the last 3 years.

View the full summary of the 2014_INA_Salary and Benefits Survey, and contact us at (518) 348-0400 for more information.

Nanny Injured on the Job – Now What?

nanny injured on the jobWas your nanny injured on the job? In New York State, you are required to have workers’ compensation insurance if you employ a nanny for at least 40 hours per week, or if you employ a live-in nanny. Workers’ compensation policies cover you and your employee in case he or she is injured while working in your home or traveling with you as part of the job. Your workers’ compensation policy contains a posting notice providing the insurance company name, policy number, and contact information.

Should an injury or illness occur, here are the steps to take:

  1. Contact your workers’ compensation carrier if there is an on the job injury or illness as a result of the employment.  The seriousness of the injury does not necessarily matter.  If the employee requires medical care or will be missing work due to the injury or work related illness, the employer should report the incident. Sometimes nothing further comes of the incident except a medical bill. However, there may be complications unknown at the time of the initial incident and reporting the claim can help to keep future bills in check.
  2. Be prepared to provide the claim adjuster with some pertinent information:
  • Date of incident
  • Name of employee
  • Brief description of the injury and how it happened
  • Your workers’ compensation policy number
  • Phone number or email address on how the adjuster can contact the employee
  1. The adjuster will contact the employee directly for further details.
  2. A form will be sent to the employee to complete.  There will be a section for the employer to fill in their information and employment information, a section for the employee, and a section for the doctor to complete.  The form is then returned to the insurance company.
  3. The adjuster will continue to correspond with the employee and possibly the medical provider until the claim is complete.

Our partner GTM Payroll Services can provide workers’ compensation policies for household employers. Contact us at (518) 348-0400 for more information.

Home Office Tax Deductions

home office tax deductionsSetting up an office in your home? Generally, in order to claim any home office tax deductions, you must use the space exclusively as your principal place of business, or as a place to meet with patients, clients, or customers. If you’re self-employed as a sole proprietor, partner, or LLC member, you may be able to deduct the costs of maintaining an office at home.

In fact, current tax law gives you several ways to qualify for a home office write-off. Assuming you’re eligible, here’s the payoff:

  • You can deduct 100 percent of any expenses that are directly related to your home office, such as an additional phone line.
  •  You can deduct a percentage of indirect expenses that relate to your entire residence, such as mortgage interest and property taxes.

There are special rules for qualified daycare providers and taxpayers storing business inventory or product samples.

The great thing about home office deductions is they go on Schedule C (if you are a sole proprietor or single-member LLC owner) or Schedule E (if you are a partner or member of a multi-member LLC). Write-offs that appear on these business schedules are double tax savers, because they reduce both your income and self-employment tax bills.

Of course, there are some restrictions on home offices, along with rules on recordkeeping requirements. And if you are an employee, different rules apply.

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

Work Agreement for Nannies

work agreement for nanniesThe work agreement is an essential document for both the household employer and nanny. A comprehensive work agreement goes a long way in establishing a successful working relationship. Not only will it prevent problems from occurring, it will set the tone of the working relationship with open and clear communications. The most effective work agreement for nannies and other household employees is in writing and covers all aspects of working in your home—including the nanny’s work schedule, required daily duties, compensation, benefits, termination, and a confidentiality clause. Work agreements can be considered an important step in building a long-lasting relationship in which all parties clearly understand their responsibilities and expectations.

The work agreement also helps safeguard the cost of recruiting and obtaining a nanny. Turnover expenses can be high, especially considering the cost of time spent to interview, placement agency fees, training costs, and employer time lost from work or other activities.

Why create a work agreement?

  • A written work agreement helps to ensure the employment of a highly skilled nanny. It protects your confidential information. If a candidate does not want to join you in developing a work agreement, or does not wish to sign one that has been developed, red flags should appear immediately. Why does this nanny not want to enter into an agreement that details his or her job? The actual existence of a work agreement acts as a tool for you to target the best candidates—and discount those who are disagreeable.
  • The work agreement is a cooperative endeavor, ideally to be developed (and revised) together with your nanny.  It details the nanny’s job, including establishing a term of employment (e.g., the nanny job may be for a one-year term, with a date to review the nanny’s performance, the work agreement, and the possible extension of the employment to another year); your expectations (spell out the nanny’s duties—be specific and include important considerations to your household, such as protecting the personal and private information contained within the home); the employee’s expectations; your household procedures and instructions your nanny will use daily in the job; and the nanny’s compensation and benefits.

As a household employer, clear expectations are paramount. This is why the work agreement is so critical to the beginning of the employer-nanny relationship, even for a relationship on the best of terms. With it, both the employer and nanny are reducing the likelihood that problems will occur.

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