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.

2016 Household Employment Laws

2016 household employment lawsIt’s a new year, and with that come changes or new laws and regulations that impact employers across the country, including household employers. Here is a brief overview of 2016 household employment laws.

Minimum Wage
The minimum wage went up again in this year in New York, rising from $8.75 to $9 per hour. Household employers need to ensure that they are paying their nanny or other employee at least that amount. If you are already paying an employee more than the minimum wage, you are not required to increase their rate of pay.

Mileage Rate
The standard mileage rate changed on January 1st of this year to 54 cents per mile for business miles driven, a decrease of 3.5 cents from 2015. This applies to employers who ask their nanny or other employee to use their own vehicle when performing work-related duties (transporting children, running errands, etc.). Household employers affected by this change should make sure to revise their expense reports and policies accordingly.

Nanny Tax Threshold
Also note that for 2016, the domestic employee coverage threshold amount has increased to $2,000, up from $1,900 last year; this means that you are required to pay taxes if you pay a nanny or other household employee at least $2,000 in a year. For those employees that earn more than $200,000 in a year, employers are required to pay an additional Medicare tax of 0.9%.

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

New 2016 Mileage Rates

new 2016 standard mileage rateThe 2016 standard mileage rate has been announced by the IRS. This rate is used to calculate the deductible costs of driving a vehicle for business. This applies to household employers who choose to let their nanny or other household employee use their car for performing their job duties.

Beginning on Jan. 1, 2016, the standard mileage rate will be 54 cents per mile for business miles driven, a decrease of 3.5 cents from 2015. Household employers affected by this change should make sure to revise their expense reports and policies accordingly.

Please contact us at (518) 348-0400 if you have any questions.

Mileage Reimbursement Rules for Household Employers

mileage reimbursement rulesBefore a family hires a nanny, the nanny’s compensation should be discussed and detailed fully, including any mileage reimbursement that may occur.

Mileage reimbursement rules apply to household employers who choose to let their nanny or other household employee use their personal car for performing their job duties. This includes running errands, picking up and dropping off children from school or other locations, taking a senior citizen to an event, shopping, or any other task that the employer asks the nanny to do which requires the use of his or her own car. Commuting to and from the family’s home is usually not considered reimbursable mileage.

In January, the IRS issued a new standard mileage rate for the year. This rate is used to calculate the deductible costs of driving a vehicle for business. The standard mileage rate for 2015 is 57.5 cents per mile for business miles driven, an increase of 1.5 cents from 2014. Most families use this IRS rate as the standard for reimbursing their nanny for mileage.

Some families may opt to reimburse their employee for gas expenses or provide them with a gas card, rather than compensation for mileage.

Any arrangements made between the employer and employee should be detailed in the Employee Handbook; it may be also useful to include a copy of an expense report to help both parties keep track of any mileage or gas used.

For more information about this or any other household employment issues, contact us at (518) 348-0400.

Can My Nanny Drive My Car?

can my nanny drive my carIf your nanny or other household employee is going to be driving your car, you need to check your insurance policy and make sure that he or she is a listed driver. This is especially important if the employee will be regularly driving family members to and from appointments, school, and for outings. Other safety precaution measures that should be done with regard to driving safety include:

  • checking the employee’s driver’s license validity and for any record of violations and accidents (this is done prior to hire);
  • asking about an employee’s driving experience at the interview (especially if the employee is not from, or has limited driving experience in, the United States, or is particularly young);
  • ensuring the employee knows how to safely install child seats and all the regulations required for doing so according to child ages, if necessary; and,
  • an employer should make sure his or her car is safe, clean, and ready for the employee to use.

It may also prove useful to go on a driving test run, before you hire the employee, so you can experience their driving skills yourself.

NOTE: According to the International Nanny Association, auto accidents are probably the most common type of claim involving a nanny and his or her employer. So, employers need to fully understand what and who is covered by their insurance policies. To be safe, employers may want to consider adding the nanny or other household worker to his or her auto insurance policy.

To what extent does an auto insurance protect an employer and the nanny when using a car during work hours?

Check with your insurance agent about what your particular policy covers. Major liability could exist if your household employee is not properly covered under the household’s auto insurance policy. The following is a summary of New York’s auto insurance:

For occasional users (babysitters) driving the family’s car, protection is offered through the liability and medical insurance segments of the insured’s (the family’s) car insurance. An occasional user driving his or her own vehicle is protected under the liability and medical insurance segments of the employee’s car insurance.

A regular user (full-time child care provider) driving your car should be listed as a driver with the insurance company. This protects the employer in the event that an accident occurs when the employee is driving the family’s car. An employer who does not notify his or her insurance agent of the regular user risks the insurer not renewing the insurance policy.

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