The Importance of Nanny Daily Reports

nanny daily reportEmploying a nanny or other domestic worker is often mistakenly handled as an informal work situation. In fact, it is a professional endeavor requiring formal personnel practices and policies. One of these practices can be receiving a daily report from your nanny. Many parents want to know details about what their child(ren) did all day, including things like meals, snacks, naps, activities, any places you went, and any behavioral issues (good or bad). If a child is sick, the report is a great place to record any medication given, including the dosage and time administered. Parents can use the report to write reminders or important information their nanny might need on a given day.

Some parents may wish to keep the reports in a binder to track their child’s progress and routines, and see how things change over time. A collection of reports can be a fun gift to give the child when they are older.

The nanny daily report can be on a simple pre-printed form that the nanny fills out throughout the day. Many examples of these can be downloaded for free online – just search for “nanny daily reports” and you’ll see many sites that offer these, such as this one from parent24.com:

nanny daily reports

If you and your nanny have more high-tech leanings, there are many apps you can download to track feeding schedules, diaper changes, activities, and medical information. Many of these apps allow for photo sharing and notes so no detail is missed. Some apps also let you track your nanny’s hours and any overtime that occurs. Many of these apps let you add other family members or school staff, and the information is synced in real time so all parties have all the info at the same time. Some of the apps we’ve come across are Daily Nanny, Baby Connect, and Nanny Notes – you can find them in the Google Play Store (for Android devices) or the App Store (for Apple devices).

Whether you use the printed version or an app, make sure you and your nanny discuss these reports so the nanny knows what’s expected of her, allowing for good communication and a smooth working relationship.

 

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.

 

Performance Review for Your Nanny

performance reviews for nanniesCompanies of all sizes establish periodic (written) reviews and evaluations of employees. It is a good employment practice for household employers to conduct performance reviews for nannies, because it allows the employer and employee to communicate what the employee has accomplished and areas that may need development. With the reviews, nannies are provided an opportunity to improve, and the employer has a documented history of the nanny’s performance and problems.

While informal employer-employee discussions relating to job performance and goals are encouraged and expected throughout a nanny’s tenure, it is common practice for an employer to perform a formal written performance review at the end of an employee’s introductory period, and then on a scheduled basis. Many employers choose to review nannies on a yearly basis. Some prefer to evaluate employees every six months. The work agreement and the employee handbook should detail expected review times.

When reviewing a nanny’s work performance, employers need to remember to focus on work performance and not on the employee’s personality or characteristics. Employers should:

  • be as positive as possible, but very clear about situations—speak frankly and in a straightforward manner;
  • offer a review of both strengths and weaknesses;
  • cite specific examples of when the employee has exceeded, met, or failed job expectations;
  • set reasonable goals for the employee to work toward (and meet) in developing and improving skills;
  • schedule a second review to determine the employee’s progress if her or his performance is weak (this could be done in three months or six months—whichever is considered a fair amount of time for the employee to improve and demonstrate better performance); and,
  • list in the review any disciplinary actions, including termination, if the employee fails to improve his or her performance.

Employees may thoroughly examine all performance reviews and may provide a written opinion to be placed in the personnel file. Some evaluation forms have a designated area for the employee’s response. It is common practice for both the employer and employee to both sign the review. This documentation helps protect the employer from any false claim made by a current or former nanny.

Performance reviews may or may not be accompanied by a salary increase consideration. Employers should clearly state that salary increases are awarded in light of an employee’s significant performance and at the employer’s discretion—and certainly are not guaranteed. Salary increases are evaluated by the employee’s:

  • ability to perform all job tasks and functions;
  • attendance and punctuality;
  • willingness to work;
  • ability to cooperate with other employees and household members; and,
  • adherence to all household policies.

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

Writing and Implementing a Household Employee Work Agreement

household employee work agreementA household employee work agreement is a detailed outline of the employment engagement. It establishes a clear understanding between you, as the employer, and your employee regarding their duties and responsibilities and helps reduce the likelihood of issues and misunderstandings during their employment. A household employee work agreement will also set the tone of your working relationships with open and clear communications.

Follow these tips as you prepare your own household employee work agreement.

Writing a Household Employee Work Agreement

  • Take your time and thoughtfully consider what to include in the work agreement.
  • If you plan to use a standard work agreement template, customize it to suit your household’s specific needs.
  • Specify the nanny’s schedule, wages, benefits, and job responsibilities.
  • If there is a time frame for employment (i.e. temporary placement), include those dates in the agreement.
  • The agreement should be easy to read and understandable by all parties involved.
  • Consider including a confidentiality clause that extends during and after employment.

Implementing a Household Employee Work Agreement

  • Once completed, discuss the work agreement with the employee and answer any questions and concerns they may have.
  • If the employee expresses a concern that can’t be resolved, recommend that the employee seek their own legal counsel.
  • You and your employee should sign and date the agreement. Provide a copy to your employee and keep a signed copy in the employee’s file.
  • The agreement should be in place prior to the employee’s start date.
  • Send A New England Nanny a signed copy for our records.

We are here for advice and input into creating your work agreement. Contact us at (518) 348-0400 for more information.

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.

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.

Political Discussions with Your Nanny

political discussions with your nannyOne of the things some household employers struggle with is the idea that their home is a workplace when their nanny or other employee is on the clock. Because the home is a casual environment and not separate from where the family lives, it’s hard to draw the line between home and work when an employee is on duty. Employers that have a successful relationship with their employee recognize that their home is a workplace, and create policies accordingly.

This year has already been an intensely political one (and will continue to be), with the presidential campaigns creating a lot of passion and debate on both sides. Because of how much the campaigns are in the news, it seems to be a natural topic of discussion, especially in a more relaxed setting like a family’s home. But it’s crucial to remember that just like in an office environment, political discussions with your nanny may not be a good idea.

The key thing to keep in mind is that you have a professional relationship with your nanny. While it may seem more casual because the nanny works in your home, it’s his/her workplace. So what do you do if your nanny shows up one day wearing a shirt in support of a particular candidate (especially if it’s a candidate you dislike)? Or has a campaign pin on her purse or backpack? Are you allowed to ask that it be removed from your home?

Generally speaking, a private employer can ask an employee to remove political signs—or otherwise limit political expression in the workplace—as long as they don’t run afoul of protected Section 7 rights or applicable state laws.

Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act gives employees the right to talk about the terms and conditions of their work. While this law protects some political activities, it doesn’t give employees a right to display political signs on their person or the right to discuss, during work hours, politics that aren’t work-related. It is also important to keep in mind that several states more broadly protect the political speech of employees while off duty, so household employers should focus on workplace behavior and not on limiting the beliefs or protected outside activities of their employees.

So what happens if you’re a nanny, and the family you work for tries to initiate a political discussion, even something as simple as asking who you’ll be voting for? In this case, it’s up to you as the employee to decline to discuss it. Tell them that you prefer not to talk politics at work, that you have a professional relationship and are uncomfortable bringing up personal issues. The family must accept this and respect your wishes, just as you must accept and respect their wishes should they not want you to wear clothing or have items that bring political issues into the home.

The bottom line, again, is that your home is a workplace when your nanny is there, and political discussions should be avoided. Keep the relationship professional and focus on topics that either pertain to the job or are just small talk. Families should include a section in their employee handbook regarding political or religious discussions. That way you are covered if an employee ever takes issue with your restrictions.

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

Another National Nanny Training Day Success!

We had another fantastic event this past Saturday for National Nanny Training Day! It was our highest-attended event yet.

Everyone enjoyed our speakers Michelle McNabb, Christina Nazarenus, and . Your presentations were very informative and engaging, thank you so much for coming!

Thanks as always to Nikki Sementa for performing the CPR training and certification for our nannies. We appreciate you helping us out year after year!

And special thanks to our friends at CAPCOM, The Children’s Museum of Saratoga, Bounce Around, Chuck E. Cheese, Miracles on Lice, and GTM Payroll Services for sponsoring our event.

And of course, thanks go out to all the nannies who attended! We love working with you and we’re so glad you could join us.

Here are some photos from Saturday. Thanks again to everyone involved in making the 2016 National Nanny Training Day a great success!

Christina demonstrates some housekeeping techniques.

Nikki giving CPR instruction.

 

national nanny training day 2016

Our awesome group!

Celebrating our 25th anniversary this year!

Great info on lice treatment and prevention from Miracles on Lice.

Nanny Jenifer and Michelle McNabb enjoying the day.

Saying Goodbye to Your Nanny

Saying goodbye to your nannyAll good things, and possibly some bad things, must come to an end. One of the most difficult aspects of being an employer is to face the end of an employee relationship, whether terminating an employee or dealing with a resignation.

There are certain ways to handle the end of a relationship, which should be provided in the household’s employee handbook and the work agreement, and should be consistent with relevant laws. The best strategy that any employer can use when terminating an employee, accepting an employee’s resignation, or saying goodbye to your nanny is to address the situation as soon as possible and to be honest.

Always end an employee relationship professionally. Deal with it head-on and without delay. Often, an employer’s first instinct to terminate an employee should be acted upon, since it is seldom that the employer’s perspective or situation changes.

When the relationship ends on good terms, some households make an employee’s goodbye an event, involving the entire family in a dinner celebration or a night of reminiscing. Some employers provide the employee with an album with stories and photos, while others may provide a more businesslike gift, such as a watch or a plaque.

One of the most potentially difficult situations to deal with when a nanny leaves is how it impacts the children. Whether the nanny is leaving on good terms or was terminated for unfortunate reasons, 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 household employer should be involved in communicating an employee’s departure plans with the family. Household employers 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.

Employers should reinforce to their children that they are not at fault for the nanny’s departure. Depending on their age, you can be honest about why the nanny is leaving, whether for good or bad reasons. But it’s important to stress that it was nothing the children did to make the nanny leave. Explain to them that some goodbyes are natural, and just because the nanny is leaving, the family need not lose all contact with her. It is merely a change in the relationship; perhaps something that goes from full-time contact as an employee to visits as a guest or a friend, or even an occasional babysitter.

Recognize that there can be a positive ending when one employee leaves, and take the necessary time to prepare the family for a new hire.

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

Nannies and Nut Allergies

nannies and nut allergiesIf you are the parent of a child with a nut allergy, you may be wary of having a nanny or other caregiver in charge when you are not there to ensure your child’s safety. This is a common concern, but one that can easily be addressed and handled professionally, allowing you to maintain peace of mind when your nanny is on the job.

Reputable nanny agencies will tackle the issue of allergies before hiring or placing a nanny. When a potential nanny is being placed in a home where a child has a nut allergy, the nanny will be made aware of it and advised about what precautions to take, such as making sure to read any labels on food they may be bringing into the home, and to not consume any nuts prior to arriving at the home, as nut dust and particles may be present on the nanny’s clothing or skin; severe allergic reactions can occur just from the dust, not just by consuming the nuts themselves. Parents may feel more comfortable instructing the nanny not bring any food into the home at all, if the family will provide food for the nanny while she is working.

Nut allergies can be an issue when going out to restaurants. If the parent says it’s ok to take the child out to eat (they may even have a list of approved restaurants), the nanny should make sure to inform the server about the allergy.

Unfortunately, allergic reactions can still happen even after precautions have been taken. It’s important for nannies to be aware of the signs of exposure so they can properly handle the situation. A child’s allergic reaction may include rashes or hives, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, sniffles, wheezing or difficulty breathing, and dizzy feelings. By recognizing the symptoms of a reaction, the nanny may be able to care for the child in a timely manner and avoid the need for emergency services.

In extreme allergic reactions, anaphylaxis may occur, which can be life-threatening if not treated immediately. Kids that have severe allergies need to be monitored extra closely to avoid any exposure that may result in anaphylaxis. Parents who have a child at risk for this type of reaction may want their nanny trained on using an EpiPen to inject medicine into the child during a severe reaction. In this case, the nanny should make sure to always have the EpiPen at close hand, and to take it with her if she leaves the house with the child.

As long as there is good communication between the parents and the caregiver regarding a child’s nut allergy, emergency situations can be avoided and a quality nanny-family relationship can be created.

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