What You Need to Know Before Getting a Nanny Cam

nanny camWhile the hope is always that a family will have a great relationship with their nanny, many times that’s not the case. Tragic incidents have occurred in homes around the country involving nannies, leading some parents to want to install a hidden camera known as a “nanny cam” so they can keep an eye on their children during the nanny’s shift. These devices aren’t solely for nannies either – some families use them to keep tabs on pet sitters or housekeepers – anyone who might be in the home when the parents are not.

While nanny cams may provide peace of mind for parents, it’s crucial to understand the laws regarding these surveillance devices before you install one in your own home.

It is legal in all 50 states for a household employer to install a hidden camera in their home. It is illegal, however, to place a nanny cam in a private area such as a bathroom or, for live-in nannies, their own bedroom. Typically these cameras are installed in a playroom, the kids’ rooms, or other general living areas.

While making video recordings is legal in all states, recording audio secretly is not always legal. In California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Washington, you cannot use hidden audio recording devices. But it is legal in New York.

It’s also important to keep in mind that if you install a nanny cam, the recordings can only be used for the monitoring of your home and loved ones. If you use the footage for business purposes or share the recordings with others, you could face legal trouble.

The benefit of having a nanny cam is being able to monitor how your children are being cared for, and to be able to address any issues immediately. It is up to the family whether or not to tell the nanny about the camera(s) – if you are installing the device based on a suspicion you have, then you may wish to keep the camera a secret if you’re hoping to “catch them in the act.” But if you are merely using it for general home safety, you might want to disclose this information to your nanny when you install it or when you hire the nanny. If you don’t tell her and she happens to find the hidden camera on her own, it could negatively impact the level of trust she has with you and your relationship could suffer. If you decide to inform the nanny about the device, you may wish to have her sign a release form stating that she is aware she is being recorded.

A New England Nanny seeks to minimize the need for our families to install nanny cams through our rigorous background checks and screening process. But we also understand that some families just want an extra layer of security when it comes to those they love most. If you have any questions regarding nanny cams, please contact us at (518) 348-0400.

Should You Bring Your Nanny on a Family Vacation?

vacation nannyDo you ever take a vacation with the kids, only to feel like you need another vacation when you get home? Traveling with children can make for some unforgettable memories, but it can often be a drain on your energy and make you feel like you can’t fully enjoy your trip. That’s where a “vacation nanny” comes in.

For most families, bringing a nanny on vacation means an extra set of hands and eyes. If you’re traveling to a crowded city or theme park, having those extra eyes keeping watch on the kids can create peace of mind. Some parents may need to get some work done while on vacation, so a nanny would then help to entertain the little ones during that time. If the kids are still taking naps, the nanny can stay with them during nap time so the parents can have some genuine vacation time together.

Parents also might want a fancy dinner out during the trip, and having the kids’ usual nanny with them might be a better option than using a hotel’s babysitting service (if they have one).  Speaking of familiarity, some children may feel uncomfortable in new surroundings far from home. Having that familiar person with you who you trust and who knows your kids well can make them feel less apprehensive about being in a foreign environment.

As tempting as it sounds to have a nanny with you, it’s critical that parents realize that their vacation time is not the same as their nanny’s vacation time. A nanny who travels with a family and performs work responsibilities should be paid accordingly. Here are some quick tips on how to compensate your nanny for your family vacation:

  • Outline exactly what the nanny’s job responsibilities and hours will be prior to departing.
  • Your nanny needs to be paid for all travel time to and from the destination, as well as costs for flights, accommodations, meals, and any other travel-related expenses.
  • Your nanny should be paid the normal salary for all hours they are “on the clock.”
  • Nannies should have their own space for sleeping, either in a separate hotel room or their own bedroom within a hotel suite or time-share.
  • Any weekly hours over 40 need to be paid as overtime pay (one and a half times the regular hourly pay).

You do not need to compensate a nanny during any of her own free time on the trip when she is not doing anything work-related.

Make sure you discuss any travel plans with your nanny well in advance of booking a trip. Many nannies will gladly accompany you on a vacation, even if they are working, because it may provide opportunities to travel to places they otherwise could not visit. But some nannies may not want the responsibilities of child care when they’re in an exotic locale. In that case, you can ask an agency for a temporary nanny just for the vacation.

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

 

A Walk in the Park

a walk in the parkToday is National Take a Walk in the Park Day! The kids are off school, so scoop them up and get them outside. According to Nationaldaycalendar.com, taking a walk at a local park is an excellent way to clear one’s mind from the stresses of the day, re-energize and at the same time, improve health. Even if the weather is a little damp, you can still enjoy the beauty of our local parks.

So where to go? Check out this list of Capital Region parks, then get out and take a walk in one (or more) of them!

Albany Area

  • Albany Pine Bush Preserve
    • More of a nature center than a park, it offers interactive exhibits about local wildlife and plants. Then take one of the hiking trails and see the animals and flowers you read about in the nature center!
  • Jennings Landing (formerly known as Albany Riverfront Park)
    • A beautiful stretch of walking paths along the Hudson, you can watch boats on the river or stroll along the tree-lined walkway to a playground.
  • Crossings of Colonie
    • Enjoy the large playground, hedge maze, and winding paths through trees and around the big lake.
  • Washington Park
    • Tulip season is the best time to visit this park, but year-round the large fields, playground, and walking path around the lake make this park worth a visit.
  • Buckingham Lake Park
    • The brand new playground is great for kids, and a walk around the pond offers views of wildlife and various flowers and trees.

Schenectady

  • Central Park
    • Tons of trees, green lawns, woodland trails, a small pond & an outdoor public swimming pool are all here. The rose garden must not be missed!

Troy Area

  • Peebles Island State Park
    • Located where the Hudson and Mohawk Rivers meet, the park offers great river views along the miles of paths through the gently rolling and wooded landscape.
  • Frear Park
    • A beautiful part of Troy, it features nature trails, tennis courts, a golf course, and an ice rink.

Saratoga Springs

  • Saratoga Spa State Park
    •  Enjoy the picnic areas and shady stream side trails as you wander over the many acres. The park is also home to the National Museum of Dance, the Saratoga Automobile Museum, and the Gideon Putnam Resort and Roosevelt Baths and Spa.
  • Congress Park
    • Right in the center of town, this park features beautifl landscaping, hot springs, the Canfield Casino, and an historic carousel.

Other Areas

  • Thacher State Park
    • Take a walk along the cliffs, enjoy woodland and open fields, and have a picnic at one of the many available sites. The Indian Ladder Trail is one of the most scenic you’ll find in the region, and there is a new nature center and playground.
  • Grafton Lakes State Park
    • Miles of nature trails for hiking and biking, plus horse riding trails. When it’s warm enough, the lakes offer swimming, fishing, and boating.

So whether it’s National Take a Walk in the Park Day or not, there are plenty of parks around to get out and enjoy nature with the kids!

Payroll and Tax FAQs from Nannies

payroll and tax faqs from nanniesAs a nanny or other domestic worker, you may have questions about your employment status and tax obligations. Even if it’s just a temporary placement, it’s important to understanding your (and your employer’s) responsibilities at the beginning of employment.

Here are some payroll and tax FAQs from household employees.

Am I an employee or an independent contractor?

In almost all situations, nannies and other household workers are employees and not independent contractors. If you take instruction from the employer, have your schedule set by the employer and use your employer’s supplies, tools, and equipment, then you are an employee. If you work under your own conditions, sets your own schedule and use your own supplies, then you are an independent contractor. Tax agencies like the IRS treat nannies the same way as people who work in an office, retail store, or restaurant.

Do taxes need to be taken out of my paychecks?

Yes, if you earn more than $2,100 (2018) from one family during the year. In that case, your employer must withhold Social Security at 6.2% and Medicare at 1.45% of your gross pay. Your marital status and how many allowances you choose to claim on your W-4 form will also impact how much federal and state income tax is withheld from your paycheck.

Will I need to pay any taxes?

Even if you earn less than $2,100 (2018) from any family, you will still have to report any wages earned during the year on your annual income tax return. Be sure to keep an accurate record of your earnings to help you pay both federal and state income taxes for the calendar year when you file your tax returns.

Our friends at GTM Payroll Services have a nanny tax calculator to help you figure out how much in taxes will be withheld from your paycheck.

What if my employer doesn’t want to pay taxes?

Your employer is required by law to withhold taxes if they are paying you more than $2,100 (2018) in a year. We realize that many families want to avoid paying nanny taxes and would prefer to pay you “off the books.” But the truth is that being paid legally isn’t just in their best interest – it’s in yours as well. Here are some reasons why your employer should follow the law:

  • Your employer can take advantage of their employer’s flexible-spending plan (commonly called an FSA) and deduct your salary as a qualifying expense.
  • The IRS may investigate, fine or penalize families that don’t report your wages; they must withhold taxes for you and disclose the amount on their personal income tax return.
  • In order to add funds to your Social Security account, give you the ability to obtain credit, and protect you if you become unemployed, you must be paid legally.
  • You and your employer will have a happier employment relationship. The risk of an IRS audit for your employer is greatly reduced , as is the risk of hefty fines for not following the law. And you will have a legal, recorded employment history and be eligible for Social Security, Medicare, and unemployment assistance.

Read more about legal pay for household workers, and contact us at (518) 348-0400 for more assistance.

National Nanny Training Day 2018 Schedule

national nanny training day 2018On April 21, 2018, A New England Nanny will host a regional event for National Nanny Training Day! This year will be bigger and better than ever.

We’re excited to be in a new location this time – the Capital District Child Care Council (CDCCC) in Menands! They have a wonderful space for us to host our event.

Here’s a look at what we have planned for the day:

  • A workshop by Kathleen Harland, an Infant and Toddler Specialist at the CDCCC. Kathleen will offer tips and advice for caregivers with kids in this age group.
  • A discussion with Charlene Therrien, a long-time senior caregiver with our agency. Charlene will talk about the growing demand for senior care, along with helpful hints on caring for and working with seniors.
  • Miranda VonFricken is a Motivation Coach and will be at our event to help our caregivers with setting personal and professional goals, along with personal wellness.
  • CPR training for those who are not yet certified.

Lunch will be provided as well, along with raffle prizes and great giveaways.

Register here for this free educational event!

Hiring a “Mary Poppins” Nanny

hiring mary poppins nannyHaving placed nannies for over 25 years, we can say honestly we have seen it all when it comes to families hiring in-home caregivers. When a new mom calls to find out about our agency, one thing we often hear is “Can I have a Mary Poppins nanny?” Unfortunately, wanting to hire Mary Poppins and pay her $10 an hour is not very realistic. Mary Poppins used magic to care for the Banks children. The nannies we place do not seem to have those magic powers. But they are loving and nurturing individuals who are dedicated to caring for children and making a difference in a child’s life (despite not having a fashionable hat and a parrot umbrella when they show up on your doorstep).

Families need to be honest about their expectations of the person they will be hiring, as well as their budget. Although many tend to equate babysitters and nannies, ask yourself whether you would hire the high school student down the street care to care for your 4-week old baby on a full-time basis. Nannies are not babysitters. In fact, the majority of them have chosen this as their career.

From our years of experience, there are a few key points to keep in mind when hiring a nanny:

  • Nannies need to be accommodating and flexible with the families they work with. On the flip side, the family also needs to be accommodating and flexible with the nanny they work with.
  • Make sure there is a connection with the nanny and feel comfortable with your decision. We’ve seen families hire the first person they interview and others who hire the tenth person.
  • Consider your job description and the attributes you are looking for in the person you hire.
  • Share your child rearing philosophies with the candidates; having the same approach can be very helpful, since it means both of you are on the same page.

As you go through the process of interviewing various personalities, if you finally think you found your “Mary Poppins” (or as close as you can get), make sure to check references and conduct a background check. We have encountered so many families that find their nannies elsewhere and end up having to come back to the agency for a replacement because they did not do the proper screening prior to hiring.

Our last tip: if anyone mentions paying your nanny “off the books,” understand that as a household employer, you are responsible for paying your nanny legally.

We have heard so many wonderful stories about how a nanny becomes a part of the family. A New England Nanny has placed nannies who have been working with the same families for 5, or even 10 years, and that is what makes our job so rewarding. Call us at (518) 348-0400 and let us know how we can help you!

Making the Relationship Work: A Nanny’s Perspective

making nanny relationship workMany years ago, one of our nannies – Siobhan – provided some great insight into how families and nannies can keep their relationship healthy and productive. We thought it would be a good time to revisit this, as her observations and advice still ring true.

I have been a full time nanny for over 6 years now, and during that time I have learned a lot about forming a great relationship with the families I have worked for. As with any type of relationship, the realtionship between family and nanny should include both trust and open communication so that it can be successful in the long term.

Having a nanny is unlike any other boss-employee relationship. The nanny is not there to help you run a business; instead you have a nanny to help teach your children and treat them in the same way that you would.

Having an open stream of communication is very important right from the start. Letting your nanny know what your expectations are early on is a great way to ensure that you are on the same page moving forward.

Trust is another important part of having a nanny. You need to trust that if something goes wrong or something new and exciting happens then your nanny will tell you about it. For example, if there is a problem with your children’s behavior, your nanny should feel comfortable telling you about it. Being on the same page with how you want your children to behave is very important. If your nanny does not allow your children to jump on the bed for safety reasons, but you let them do it, then your children will be confused and will say “But mommy lets me do it!”

Remember that your nanny is always using her best judgment in all of the different situations that arise when taking care of children. If your nanny puts your child in time-out, there was probably a good reason for doing so. If you then come home and tell your child that they can get out of time-out, you will just be undermining the nanny’s judgment and send a message to your child that they do not have to listen to the nanny when you are around.

The ultimate goal is for you to feel like your nanny is part of your family’s team. You should feel completely at ease leaving your children with their nanny, knowing that when you get home your children will be healthy and happy, and your house will be in order.

 

How Much Should I Pay My Nanny?

how much should i pay my nannyOne of the most frequent questions we get asked from our families who are hiring a long-term nanny is how much they should pay them. How much to pay a nanny is something to figure out early in the process, not after you decide to hire someone. This way there are no surprises for either side.

Remember, hiring a nanny is hiring a professional to work in your home, much like a small business owner hires someone for their team.

If you’re hiring through an agency like ours, we will help you determine an appropriate offer for the type of nanny you’re seeking. But to get a general idea of all the factors that influence what you’ll pay your nanny, see the list below.

Factors for how much you pay a nanny

  1. Fair Labor Standards Act
    Full- and part-time nannies are covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). They must be paid an hourly rate that is at least the federal minimum wage or the minimum wage for your state or city if it’s higher. Overtime pay of time and a half must also be paid for more than 40 hours of work per week.
  2. Location
    As with most jobs, nannies that live in areas that have a higher cost of living or in metropolitan areas tend to be paid more. According to the latest research by the International Nanny Association, the average hourly rate for a nanny in California is $23/hour. Washington, New York, Massachusetts, and Maryland are also on the higher end of the pay scale with average rates of at least $20/hour. But in an area like the Capital Region, the average pay rate is around $15/hour.
  3. Live-in or Live Out
    Will your nanny be live-in or live-out? A nanny who lives in your home could be paid less if they are receiving room and board.
  4. Full-time or Part-time
    Are you hiring a full-time nanny or is it a part-time position? A full-time employee has more job security and may receive benefits that can keep their hourly rate lower than a part-time nanny.
  5. Experience, Education, and Training
    As with most professions, experience counts. Think about how many years of child care you would like to have in a candidate. What about certifications, formal education, or training in a child care field? The more experience, education, and training a nanny possesses, the higher her pay will be.
  6. Responsibilities
    What other responsibilities will your nanny have? Will they be expected to cook dinner, wash dishes, do laundry, walk the dog, or pick up the kids from school? Also, will your nanny need to be on call? Will they be expected to care for your children if you’re called into work? Additional responsibilities and being on call could increase the pay rate.
  7. Number of Children
    The number of children the nanny will care for will impact pay. The more children, typically the higher the pay.
  8. Benefits and Incentives
    As you determine your nanny’s hourly rate, you may want to consider benefits and incentives for your nanny. This will also help you attract and retain the best talent. Consider paid time off, paid holidays, health insurance (or health insurance stipend) and a retirement plan. Also, think about bonuses for excellent performance, annual cost of living increases, and reimbursement or increased pay for completing training or getting a degree.
  9. Tax Obligations
    When budgeting for your nanny’s pay, remember you have employer tax obligations on top of what you pay your nanny. Check out GTM Payroll Service’s easy-to-use tax calculator to help you figure this out.The tax calculator will also provide your nanny’s gross and net pay. Your nanny will be most interested in their net pay – or take-home pay. This is the amount in their paycheck after taxes – such as income tax, Medicare, and Social Security – are taken out. Their gross pay is their take-home pay plus the taxes that will be withheld. Make sure you and your candidate are clear about gross and net pay to avoid any confusion come pay day.

When you have agreed on compensation, put the hourly pay rate and other policies in a written work agreement.

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

Valentine’s Day for Families and Nannies

valentine's day for families and nanniesValentine’s Day is upon us, and families and nannies both often wonder how to help the children celebrate. While store-bought cards are thoughtful and convenient, they will adorn the counter or windowsill for a few weeks, then ultimately retire to a drawer somewhere, even with the best of intentions to be saved for years to come. Why not make this year’s gift something sentimental and give the “drawer of memories” a bit more room?

We asked our friends on Facebook for some of their favorite Valentine’s Day gifts to give to parents, as well as some of their favorite to receive as a nanny.  Here is a brief list of the most popular responses.

For Parents

A dinner date with the kids

Plan a special dinner at home with the family’s favorite foods, and have the children help make everything! Let the kids give the dining room a restaurant name, leave an “RSVP card” for the parents to open in the morning, have the kids create a hand-written menu, then slip it into a sheet protector or laminate it using clear packing tape.

Mommy Money/Daddy Dollars

A new twist on the old classic: coupon books.  Most dollar stores sell packs of blank printouts of “money,” allowing the children to decorate each dollar and assign it a value. You can help them create a Valentine’s Day sales flyer to give their parents! Ideas could include “movie night” or “reverse bedtime” (the children tuck the parents in to bed, and read them a story).

Memories

Parents are often guilty of having stacks of their children’s artwork on desks, in drawers, and in boxes, waiting to be put into scrapbooks or frames.  Why not create an affordable and fun display for them to admire, display, and store the works of their aspiring artists? By hitting up your local thrift shop or going to an art supply store with a coupon (almost all are available digitally), you could pick up a shadow box (also called a collector’s case) for about $5. By carefully placing the most recent masterpiece backed by cork board or a matte to the front of the glass, and using poster putty to keep it in place, you’ll have a few inches of space to store previous pieces. (Tip:  If you save one piece from each month, you can scan them to have printed as calendars for the holidays!)

For Nannies

Valentine’s Day breakfast

Mornings can be hectic for the entire family, the nanny included! But with a bit of prep-work the night before, you can surprise her with a treat to start the day, and let her have some time with the family. You could make heart-shaped pancakes the night before, and reheat them in the toaster or oven a few minutes before the nanny arrives.

Kids Cash

Using the same concept as “Mommy Money” or “Daddy Dollars,” give your nanny a Valentine’s Day bonus in the form of fun activities to do with the kids! Have them create a sales flyer that caters to her.

Memories

One of the best gifts you could possibly give a nanny for Valentine’s Day would be memories. Nannies sometimes have multiple families, each with multiple children in them, so they end up with lots of “stuff.” Rather than presenting your nanny with another well-meaning gift certificate or trinket, why not plan an outing for her and the children, and be sure to offer to pay for any photo-ops that are provided at the event. This way, not only will she have the experience, but also a great memory of it. (Bonus: once you see the picture, be sure to scan it or take a very clear picture of the picture, so you can print it and frame it, along with a heartfelt note of thanks!)

How Nannies Benefit from Being Paid Legally

nannies benefit from being paid legallyFamilies benefit from legally paying their nannies or other domestic workers by staying compliant with the law and being able to take advantage of tax breaks. But a nanny benefits as well from being paid legally even though they may see a little less in their paychecks.

If you’re hiring or looking to transition a current employee to “on the books” and she doesn’t want taxes taken out of her pay, explain these nanny benefits and protections that they’ll enjoy.

Nanny Benefits of Legal Pay

1. Verifiable income

If your employee applies for a car loan, student loan, mortgage or even a credit card, they’ll need to show that they can pay monthly installments. Being paid legally provides a verifiable income to show the lending institution. If their pay is not documented, they have no way to show that they have a job that brings in a steady income.

2. Legal employment history

Having a work history is also important when applying for a loan, credit, or their next job. Being paid “on the books” creates a legal employment history that banks and lending institutions as well as future employers can verify.

3. Unemployment benefits

As an employer paying your workers legally, you are required to pay unemployment taxes. This is an employer-only tax yet it’s your employee who benefits. If your nanny loses her job, through no fault of her own, unemployment benefits will partially replace their lost wages for up to six weeks while they look for a new job. Amicable splits are common in household employment and this is a benefit your nanny will want if they find themselves without a job.

4. Social Security and Medicare benefits

Social Security and Medicare taxes will be taken out of your nanny’s pay. This money is set aside to help pay for their living and medical expenses when they retire. As an employer, you’ll also pay into their Social Security and Medicare. If your nanny is paid “under the table,” they won’t receive these benefits. As a result, they may need to continue working past retirement age.

5. Health care subsidy

Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), a health insurance marketplace has been created to help uninsured people find coverage. If your nanny wants to purchase a policy through the marketplace, they could qualify for a subsidy and cut the costs of their insurance. For example, a nanny who makes $40,000 and lives on her own in New York City would save 38 percent on their health insurance premiums. Of course, this is only available to them if they are paid legally.

6. Employment benefits

As an employer, you may want to provide benefits to your workers to help retain your best employees. A 401k retirement plan and health insurance plans that may be cheaper and provide better coverage than the ACA marketplace are a couple of perks that would set you apart from other employers. But your nanny will be need to paid legally in order to take advantage of these benefits.

The benefits and protections of being paid legally far outweigh the small amount of money that will be taken out of their pay each week.