When Nannies Drive the Kids: Best Practices and Laws

nannies drive kidsWhile some families choose to have their nanny stay in the house with the kids all day, many choose to let their nanny take their kids out, be it to the movies, a park, sports practices, or any other appointment or activity. Families need to decide how the nanny will transport the children – will the nanny use her own car, or will she use a family vehicle?

The overall goals when your nanny drives the kids are to make sure your children stay safe, ensure that you or your nanny have adequate insurance in case of an accident, and to know how to properly handle gas and other expenses. Depending on what arrangement you make, there are different rules and regulations to consider.

Is Your Nanny a Good Driver?

If you hired through a nanny agency, they will have checked the nanny’s DMV records for traffic violations, convictions, accidents, suspensions, and license expirations for a least the last three years. If you hired on your own, you should ask the nanny to obtain her records, which is available from the state DMV, possibly for a small fee.

Alternatively, you can ask your auto insurance company to run a motor vehicle report using your nanny’s driver’s license. It won’t be as comprehensive as a DMV report, but you’ll see any traffic violations, conviction dates, and accidents, and the insurance company probably won’t charge you.

Before hiring the nanny, if you plan to have her drive the children, you can ask her references about any driving-related issues.

If you are exceptionally cautious, taking a test drive with your nanny to experience her skills is another way to feel confident about letting her chauffeur the kids.

What Will the Driving Rules Be?

In the work agreement or contract, any driving rules or requirements should be detailed, such as making sure all speed limits are followed, texting while driving is prohibited, no talking on the phone (or hands-free only), and whether any other passengers besides the kids are allowed in the car. You can also determine to which locations the children can be driven, with the option of adding to that list as necessary.

Confusion and miscommunication can be avoided by including these details in the paperwork, and it ensures you and your nanny are on the same page.

Should My Nanny Drive My Car?

Having your nanny drive a family car is ideal when it comes to safety – you are in charge of the vehicle’s maintenance so you know the shape your car is in. If the nanny will drive your car, you need to add her to your insurance policy, for which you’ll need to send your insurance carrier a copy of her license. Make sure you review coverage options with your insurance company, even if the nanny will only be driving your car occasionally. There could be a slight increase to your premium for nannies who are younger or have incidents on their driving record.

Should My Nanny Drive Her Own Car?

Safety is the name of the game. If you want your nanny to use her own car, step one is to make sure her vehicle has passed state inspection. If you want to pay to have a mechanic look at her car, that could be beneficial as well.

If your children are still in car seats, there are many concerns to keep in mind. The nanny’s car must be able to accommodate the size of the car seats and the nanny must know how to ensure the children are seated in them correctly and securely. If the seats will be removed after the nanny’s shift and then replaced on her next shift, she must know how to install them correctly.

Another safety measure to take is to make sure the nanny’s car isn’t messy and has any items that could fly up and injure the children.

What Kind of Insurance Coverage Do I Need?

If your nanny driving her car and has an accident, the nanny’s medical payments coverage and bodily injury limit on her own policy would cover any injuries to the children. While coverage for bodily injury varies by state and is sometimes as low as $10,000 per person or $20,000 per accident, that may not cover the cost of a serious accident. You will want your nanny to have adequate liability insurance coverage in case the children sustain any injuries in an accident.

Ask for a copy of your nanny’s insurance card before she drives the kids anywhere. Check it periodically to ensure it stays valid and coverage doesn’t lapse.

What if My Nanny Gets Hurt in an Accident?

Your workers’ compensation insurance carrier and the auto insurance company (your or hers depending on which car she was driving) will need to be notified of an incident. Remember workers’ comp is required for household employers in New York. Your workers’ comp policy would cover your nanny’s injuries and any lost wages if she misses work, because she was injured while on the job.

Do I Need to Reimburse My Nanny for Gas and Mileage?

Your work agreement should detail any reimbursement arrangements for when your nanny is driving her own car.

If your nanny is driving a family car, it’s advisable to reimburse her if she buys gas or has to pay for parking or tolls.

The standard mileage rate issued by the IRS calculates the cost of gas, maintenance, and depreciation. You can abide by that rate or set your own. If you will be reimbursing, your nanny should keep a detailed log of the mileage and gas she uses.

You could consider flat-rate compensation if your nanny will drive a consistent number of hours or miles each week. This rate would be calculated to cover her expenses every week. But if anything changes – she’s driving more miles or the cost of gas increases – make sure you adjust her compensation.

Neither you nor your nanny will have to pay taxes on gas and mileage reimbursements, as it is not taxable compensation.

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

Our New Office is Officially Open!

We are excited to announce that we have moved our office to downtown Albany! We held a ribbon cutting ceremony today to celebrate the event.

Our new location will allow us to provide more personalized service to their clients and partners in the area, while continuing to serve the needs of families all over the Capital Region. We are happy to be part of the Albany community, and excited to show off our new space to clients, caregivers, and partners.

Please check out some photos of our new space (click photos to enlarge). Thanks to the Capital Region Chamber of Commerce for hosting the event!

Director Melissa Schoonmaker with agency owner Guy Maddalone

Debra, Melissa, GTM sales rep Rolly Merrill, and GTM VP of Operations Todd Maddalone

 

Matt Cannon from Albany County, GTM’s Director of Marketing Chris Chariton, GTM’s Controller Diane Maddalone, Melissa, Guy, Debra, Capital Region Chamber CEO Mark Eagan, and Todd

 

Do You Need to Pay Taxes for a Summer Nanny?

summer nanny taxesSchool will be out soon, and if you’re going to be hiring a nanny to care for the kids during the summer, you might think that since it’s only a temporary job, you don’t need to worry about payroll taxes or even insurance. But those requirements may apply even if you’re only hiring for the season.

Our friends at GTM Payroll Services have put together this list of what you need to know about paying taxes on a summer nanny:

Your Summer Nanny is an Employee

The IRS has consistently ruled that a nanny is an employee and not an independent contractor.

This distinction is important. With an employee, the worker and employer each pay Social Security and Medicare taxes. An independent contractor pays both their share and the employer portion of these taxes.

Why is a nanny considered an employee?

She is a worker who:

  • works under the direction and control of her employer
  • has her schedule set by her employer
  • uses the employer’s tools

Essentially, you are telling your nanny how to care for your children and when to show up to your to home to work. When she is working, she is using your tools, such as plates and utensils to serve lunch.

An independent contractor is told what is needed to be done and possibly when it needs to be done by. However, they determine how the work will get done, when they will perform the work, and will use their own tools to do the work.

Your Summer Nanny Makes $2,100

If your summer nanny passes the $2,100 cash wage threshold, then Social Security and Medicare (FICA) taxes need to be paid by both you and your employee. You each have a responsibility of 7.65 percent of cash wages for FICA for a total of 15.3 percent.

Your employee’s obligation can be handled through a paycheck withholding and you can remit both your and your employee’s taxes quarterly using Form 1040-ES.

A summer nanny can very easily reach this threshold. Let’s say she makes $10/hour for 25 hours of work per week for 10 weeks. That’s $2,500 in cash wages triggering the FICA withholding requirement.

There are some exceptions. Do not count wages you pay to your spouse, child under the age of 21, parent or any employee who was under the age of 18 at any time during the year.

You and your summer nanny may also agree to withhold income taxes from their pay. It’s not required that you withhold but it may be preferred so that your nanny won’t owe all of her tax obligation come tax time. You can remit income taxes quarterly.

Your Summer Nanny Makes $1,000 in a Calendar Quarter

Federal unemployment taxes are owed if your summer nanny makes $1,000 in any calendar quarter. We’ve already shown how easily this threshold can be reached. This tax is an employer-only tax (do not withhold from your employee’s pay) and is six percent on the first $7,000 in cash wages. You may also owe state unemployment taxes.

Again, there are some exceptions. Do not count wages you pay to your spouse, child under the age of 21 or parent.

You will need to pay unemployment taxes for employees under the age of 18 if they make $1,000 in a calendar quarter.

You May Need Workers’ Compensation

Workers’ compensation is usually required for household employers in New York. If your summer nanny works 40 hours in a week, even for just one week, you need workers’ compensation coverage for the entire time she works for you.

Follow Minimum Wage & Overtime Rules

Since your summer nanny is an employee, she is protected under the Fair Labor Standards Act. This means she must be paid at least New York’s state minimum wage, which is currently $10.40 per hour. Overtime also applies. Hours worked over 40 in a week need to be paid at no less than time and a half. There are some exceptions for live-in employees.

File Year-End Tax Forms

At the end of the year, you will need to provide your nanny Form W-2 (Wage and Tax Statement)while filing Copy A of this form and Form W-3 (Transmittal of Wage and Tax Statements) with the Social Security Administration. You’ll also file Schedule H (Household Employment Taxes) with your personal tax return.

Please contact us at (518) 348-0400 for more information about hiring a summer nanny. For more info about paying nanny taxes, call GTM at (800) 929-9213 for a free, no-obligation consultation with a household employment expert.

Another Successful National Nanny Training Day!

nntd 2018We’ve been hosting National Nanny Training Day events for more than 10 years now, and this year’s was one of the very best! The Capital District Childcare Council’s (CDCC) meeting space was perfect for us, and our presenters were fantastic: Charlene Therrien talked about her experiences as a senior caregiver and provided advice for those looking to add senior care to their skill set; Kathleen Harland, an Infant and Toddler Specialist at the CDCC gave great tips and insight into working with those age groups; Miranda VonFricken helped our caregivers with personal and professional goal setting; and Nikki Sementa once again provided CPR certification to our nannies who hadn’t yet gone through the training.

We gave away some great raffle prizes, had a delicious lunch, and spent the day with the wonderful caregivers who provide such incredible service to our families. It’s truly gratifying to hold this event each year. If you missed it this time, make sure you join us next year!

Here are some photos from the event – click each one to enlarge.

Kathleen Harland discusses infant and toddler care.

Our fearless leaders Deb and Melissa!

Charlene Therrien discusses being a senior caregiver.

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!