When is a Child Too Sick for a Nanny?

child too sick for a nannyOne of the worst feelings a parent can have is when their child is sick, especially when the child is too young to communicate exactly how they’re feeling, where it hurts, etc. Needing child care can complicate things when a child is ill. Parents often don’t like to leave their children when they’re not feeling well, but sometimes they simply can’t stay home. Certain illnesses are contagious, however, and so exposing a caregiver to a contagious child can become an issue. So when is a child too sick for a nanny?

A New England Nanny will provide nannies or babysitters to mildly ill children. “Mildly ill” is interpreted to mean the child:

  • does not have an excessively high fever
  • has preferably been to a doctor
  • is recuperating from an illness such as: cold, ear infection, fever, minor injury, pink eye*, strep throat*, tonsillitis, or intestinal disorder.

*For contagious illnesses that are treatable with medication, the child must be on an antibiotic for at least 24 hours.

For contagious illnesses that are not treated with medication, A New England Nanny has the right to refuse care due to the possibility of spreading the illness to the caregiver, who in turn could spread the illness to other homes/children they may work with. These illnesses include:

  • stomach flu
  • hand-foot-and-mouth disease
  • chicken pox
  • measles
  • mumps, and others

These are conditions that may warrant care being refused. A caregiver has the right to refuse to stay, if upon arrival, conditions are different that were initially described to the agency’s representatives.

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

Vaccinations Up to Date for Back to School Season?

back to school vaccinationsParents – it’s back to school time; are your kids’ vaccinations up to date? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a recommended schedule of immunizations for infants, small children, pre-teens, and teens. This schedule is designed to protect infants and children early in life, when they are most vulnerable and before they are exposed to potentially life-threatening diseases, and then to continue the prevention in older children.

The schedules show the age or age range when each vaccine or series of shots is recommended. There is also a catch-up scheduler tool to see recommended vaccination dates if your child has missed any shots. Your pediatrician can answer any questions you may have.

2018 Recommended Immunizations for Children from Birth Through 6 Years Old

2018 Recommended Immunizations for Children from 7 Through 18 Years Old

As children return to school, there are requirements in New York State regarding vaccinations. Make sure you are aware of these before your children start school. For questions regarding child care programs, schools, and post-secondary institutions, contact the NYS Dept. of Health Bureau of Immunization’s School Assessment and Compliance Unit:

Phone: 518-474-1944

Email: osas@health.ny.gov

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.

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.

Reasonable Suspicion of Nanny’s Drug or Alcohol Use

reasonable suspicion of drug or alcohol useEnsuring a safe and healthy workplace is a top concern of household employers, and one of the ways to accomplish this is to inform your nanny or other employee that drug and alcohol use is not permitted. But what if you suspect your nanny is not following this rule?

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, employers may be able to identify workers with substance abuse problems by noting aspects of their performance and behavior. While these symptoms may not mean that a worker has an alcohol or a drug abuse problem, employers should be alert to any of these aspects and may have a nanny or other household employee submit to a drug test on “reasonable suspicion.” It is very helpful to have documentation of what observable physical characteristics and behaviors were used as a basis for that reasonable suspicion in case you are ever challenged on it.

Remember, it is not the employer’s job to diagnose substance abuse, but it is the employer’s job to ensure health and safety within the work environment. Clear and firm communication with the employee focused on his or her job performance is key, as is explaining the drug-free workplace policy, performance policies, and what will occur when performance expectations are not met.

Our friends at GTM Payroll Services have created an Alcohol and Drug Use Reasonable Suspicion Checklist to guide you on what symptoms to look for and what testing procedures to follow should you deem it necessary.

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


Hiring Without Performing Background Checks? Bad Idea

hiring without performing background checksThe old adage, better to be safe than sorry, cannot be more true when it comes to using sources to hire an employee for your home. The media is rife with stories on the dangers faced when household employees are hired without performing background checks. Even more stories are bandied about the household help community by word of mouth. The dangers of hiring without background checks being performed range from theft to physical harm. All of which may be avoided by thoroughly checking an employment candidate’s background.

In early 2013, a nanny from Ireland was accused of killing the one-year-old Cambridge, MA girl in her care from physical trauma much like shaken baby syndrome. A simple background check would have showed orders of protection against her and a violent past. (While the nanny spent two years in jail, the Massachusetts state medical officer in 2016 reversed the medical decision in this case as well as two others dealing with shaken baby syndrome, resulting in the nanny being immediately deported to Ireland. The case remains in the news as 1,800 medical pediatricians petitioned the Massachusetts governor in 2016 to review the state medical officer’s controversial decision.) (The Boston Globe, WCRB)

A mother, who wrote a 2015 parenting.com article, details why a background check could have saved her family from a dangerous situation. The mom admitted she did not perform a background check when she hired her nanny via Craigslist. “Had we done a simple search,” she wrote, “we would have uncovered her [the nanny’s] history of passing bad checks and a string of arrests from her early 20s. But we didn’t, and we got burned—bad.” The nanny also worked as a restaurant hostess, a job the nanny did not disclose to her household employer, and also created a website featuring poses in various states of undress. The nanny stole credit card information from restaurant patrons and ended up in jail.

Household employers must be sure to be thorough in their checks. Employers who relied on a national agency to perform background checks are finding its checks were insufficient—and have paid dearly. In 2014, A California nanny who had been hired online physically abused the twins she was charged with caring. In 2013, a greater Boston area nanny—a notorious thief with dozens of larceny and fraud charges and who served jail time—stole some $280,000 from her employer’s checking account. And, in Chicago in 2013, a three-year-old child died from a fractured skull while in the care of a nanny with previous legal run-ins and a 2010 DUI conviction.

The importance of background checks—and the increase of parents asking for background checks on their nannies—markedly increased after a nanny stabbed two New York City children to death and then tried to kill herself. This horrific 2012 Upper West Side murder opened parents’ eyes to the dangers of ignoring background checks. As with any hire, it is wise to treat every source for finding a nanny or other household help with caution and use common sense throughout the process. Each hire should not involve any short cuts.

A New England Nanny performs rigorous, thorough screenings of all our applicants, ensuring peace of mind for any family that hires through us. Learn more about our background checks, and contact us at (518) 348-0400 for more information.

Do You Need a Non-Disclosure Agreement for Your Nanny?

nanny non-disclosure agreementIn the corporate business world, many companies require their employees to sign a non-disclosure agreement stating that any private and confidential information they come across must remain safe, as employees are privy to reports, policies, procedures, and other internal business-related communications. The world of household employment, while in a very different setting, is not so different when it comes to private information. So do you need a non-disclosure agreement for your nanny or other employee?

As a household employer, your employee has potential access to intimate and sensitive information. Whether it’s overhearing a conversation about finances, seeing a child’s medical records left on the counter, or being given the home alarm system code, your nanny must be trusted to keep information like this private and confidential both during and after their employment. Employers who are well-known in their community and those with celebrity status will be even more likely to make the employee legally bound to keep household information private.

While many employers will simply rely on good faith that their nanny or other employee will not violate that trust, some may wish for the security of a non-disclosure agreement. Such an agreement should be presented when the employee is hired, and should state clearly that the nanny is not to disclose any information pertaining to the household, whether she is on the clock or not. Households with multiple employees may also wish to state that workers may not discuss salary and benefit information with one another*.

* Under Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), employees have the right to discuss the terms and conditions of their employment, including their work hours, work conditions, and pay. However, domestic workers are among the types of employee not included in this law.

Employers that decide to use a non-disclosure agreement should also include the consequences an employee will face if they violate the agreement by disclosing – or even threatening to disclose – private information. Such consequences could be getting a court order preventing the employee from disclosing such information, or preventing the employee from going to work for someone to whom they disclosed the information. Other consequences could include the employer having the right to claim losses and damages from the employee. Termination is another potential consequence for the employee’s breaking of the agreement.

A New England Nanny’s temporary caregivers sign an agreement with the agency to not discuss or disclose private information. Families that hire long-term caregivers need to create their own agreement if they choose. 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.

Can I Make My Nanny Get a Flu Shot?

nanny flu shot‘Tis the season! As temperatures fall, the risk of illness rises. This is the time of year that many physicians recommend getting the flu vaccine. But some household employees may not want to get it. Families might be concerned, especially with nannies, that someone spending so much close time with children is not vaccinated. Can household employers require flu shots for nannies?

Generally speaking, employers with a specific reason to do so may mandate flu shots. This is particularly true when employees work with sick people or have very close contact with vulnerable populations, such as small children.

It’s also worth noting that the flu vaccine will not completely eliminate the flu, even if your nanny gets a shot. That being said, if a nanny objects based on a reason relating to his or her protected class status, you will need to look into accommodations for them. For example, if a nanny has a disability that prevents her from having vaccinations, or a nanny has a religious objection to vaccinations, there must be an exception to the rule. While vaccine allergies and side effects are rare, such medical and health exceptions must be considered.

Additionally, a nanny may react negatively to mandated flu shots and employers should consider the potential impact on retaining that nanny. To avoid possible litigation and morale issues, we recommend that employers explain the reason behind the flu shot requirement, set a deadline by which the nanny must receive a flu shot, and discuss any objections the nanny may have openly. As a best practice, employers should also communicate that they will pay for the vaccination.

The bottom line is that this issue needs to be discussed prior to hiring a nanny. If you will require a nanny to get a flu shot, they should be made aware of it during the interview process, and your policy should be in the employee handbook. Some nannies will have no objection, but others may see that mandate as a reason to refuse the job. But it’s better to know ahead of time, rather than risk hiring a great nanny and then only learning later on that she has an objection to getting the flu shot, and face potentially losing a valued employee.

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

Nanny Staying Overnight? How to Prepare

nanny staying overnightQ: We use a nanny occasionally in the  mornings and afternoons, but we are going out of town and she will be staying two nights with the kids. She has never stayed overnight before. What do we need to know? How should she prepare?

A: A nanny staying overnight on occasion is quite common among households. While many of the same rules and job duties you use for daytime care still apply, there are a few other things to consider that are specific to overnight stays.

You should:

  • Discuss pay rate
    • If you hired your nanny through an agency, most agencies charge a flat rate for temporary nannies when they stay overnight (we charge $50-$75 per night). However, if a child is up during the night for more than an hour, your hourly rate would apply on top of the flat rate for each hour the child is awake.
    • If you hired your nanny on your own, a best practice would still be to pay a flat fee for the overnight stay, and to also compensate hourly if a child will be up during the night. You should discuss the payment options with your nanny and make sure you are in agreement before the overnight stay begins.
  • Make sure your nanny has comfortable accommodations for sleeping (bed, access to bathroom).
  • Make the child(ren) aware of where she will be sleeping in case she is needed during the night.
  • If you have a baby monitor, make sure it is where your nanny will be sleeping.
  • Go over your rules for the kids’ bedtime routine, as well as the morning wake-up routine.
  • Make your nanny aware of all doors that need to be locked and alarms in the home that need to be turned on.
  • Have an emergency contact’s information visible (neighbor, friend, etc.)
  • Make sure funds are available for dinner and breakfast, if applicable.
  • Go over school lunch arrangements with the nanny if she will be taking the kids to school in the morning.

Your nanny should:

  • Go over payment options with the parent prior to them leaving.
  • Bring an overnight bag with toothbrush, sleepwear, and any nighttime personal items not normally carried along for daytime jobs.
  • Keep track of any hours she is up during the night with the kids.
  • Keep a log of the child(ren)’s evening and morning activities/incidents.
  • Ask about taking phone messages and answering the door. Ask if the parents are expecting any visitors or deliveries while they are away.

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