7 Nanny Transition Tips

nanny transition tipsEnding a job is never easy.  Whether it is the nanny’s or the family’s decision, or a mutual agreement to part ways, there are many things for nannies to take into consideration during this time of transition. To help you through this challenging and unsure time, we have developed some nanny transition tips and helpful resources to get caregivers back on track and on the way to the next great chapter in their career.

Transition Checklist

  • Make sure to return any items that your employer provided you during employment (i.e. car or house keys, car seats, garage door opener, gas card, cell phone, etc.).
  • Make sure you understand the process of receiving your final paycheck and any remaining pay (severance) that has been agreed upon.
  • Ask for a letter of reference from your employer.
  • If applicable, contact the agency you were placed through to notify them of the situation and to reactivate your profile with them.
  • If you have been involuntarily terminated or you feel you are entitled to unemployment benefits, contact your state’s unemployment office to find out if you are eligible (see resource #2 below).
  • If you have medical or dental insurance through your employer, find out if you are eligible for COBRA or Mini-COBRA (see resource #1 below).
  • Make sure to update your previous employer if your address changes so the proper W2 year-end tax information is sent to the correct location prior to January 31st of the following calendar year.

Helpful Resources

1)      Health/Dental Continuation Coverage

2)      State Unemployment Benefits

3)      Job Placement Resources

  • NannyJobs.com (http://www.nannyjobs.com) is a job posting site where household placement agencies recruit for nannies and other household employees.  Create a profile, apply to jobs, and search the agency directory for a placement agency near you.
  • My Next Move (http://www.mynextmove.org/): Search careers by keywords, browse careers by industry, and discover your interests and related careers.  Receive a job market outlook, salary range, and suggestions for similar occupations.     
  • Sponsored by the US Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration, CareerOneStop (http://www.careeronestop.org/) provides local resources to explore new careers, find education and training, get advice on resumes and cover letters, interview tips, salary negotiation, and more.

Best of luck in your job search and your future endeavors!

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.

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.

Best Practices When Terminating Your Nanny

best practices when terminating your nannyNo one wants to be in the position of terminating the employment of a nanny or other household worker. Making the process smoother starts with establishing policies and procedures at the time of hire. Here are some quick tips to terminating a household employee the right way:

When the Employee is Hired

  • Establish detailed information in your employee handbook regarding your firing policy and practice as well as severance policy.
  • Obtain a signed confidentiality agreement from your employee.
  • Detail termination procedures in the work agreement.

Before You Inform Your Employee of Termination

  • Prepare a concisely worded termination letter with information on final payment.
  • Practice what you will say. Be prepared, consistent and concise.
  • Gather materials kept in the employee’s file — signed work agreement, performance reviews, history of absences, etc. — to support your termination decision.
  • Ensure that all explanations are legitimate and that your actions can be documented.

When to Inform Your Employee of Termination

  • Avoid any lead time between firing and departing. The best time to set a termination meeting is at the end of the workday.

How to Break the News

  • Meet without children or dependents present.
  • State the decision to terminate twice.
  • Have an adult witness present.
  • Allow for your employee’s response to avoid one-way communication.

What Else You Need to Say

  • Review your severance policy.
  • Let them know they can apply for unemployment compensation (assuming you have been paying “on the books” by paying federal and state unemployment taxes).
  • Reiterate the confidentiality agreement that the employee signed at the beginning of employment. What the employee has learned about the family is private, and that confidentiality was agreed upon for the term of employment, as well as after employment ended.

What Else You Need to Do

  • Provide the employee with a checklist and deadline to return employer property, such as the employee handbook, security codes, keys, car seats, and other family items.
  • Escort the employee from the premises.
  • For security reasons, notify neighbors and your child(ren)’s school that your employee is no longer works for your family.
  • Pay your employee for all hours worked up to termination.
  • Provide a letter of reference for future work (if appropriate).
  • If you have provided health insurance coverage, follow COBRA by offering the employee the option to continue their coverage. Even if exempt from COBRA requirements, consider extending to the employee an option for continued health insurance coverage.

Letting go of a household worker can be stressful and upsetting. With the right preparation and proper procedures in place, you can conduct an effective termination meeting. For more information, contact us at (518) 348-0400.