Legal Advice for Nannies

10 Legal Facts Nannies Must Know

While many nannies consider their work arrangement to be informal, it’s not. Accepting a nanny position establishes you as a formal employee of the parents whom hire you.

Surrounding that formal relationship are many legal considerations. As a nanny, it’s important to be knowledgeable about the legal facts that may affect you. These include:

1. Nannies are not independent contractors.

While it’s a common misconception, nannies are not independent contractors. Nannies are employees of the parents for whom they work if they are 18 years or older and paid more than $1800 (2012 threshold) per calendar year.

2. If you are transporting children in your vehicle, you need proper coverage.

Some auto insurance policies have exclusions for business use. If a nanny is transporting children in her vehicle as part of her regular work responsibilities and is in an automobile accident, coverage may be denied. The nanny is also not covered by the family’s insurance policy should she be driving her own vehicle and get into an accident. In fact, employers can be held responsible for any injuries an employee causes while doing work for the employer. Nannies should confirm that their policy allows for transporting children for business and if it does not, they should upgrade their policy, which may result in a higher premium.

3. If you are transporting children in your employer’s vehicle, you may not be covered by insurance.

If you are using a vehicle provided by your employer to transport the children, you should be added as an additional insured provider. While automobile coverage usually follows the vehicle, it typically extends coverage only to the insured or the insured’s family.

4. To legally accept a nanny position, you must be eligible to accept work in the United States.

Many individuals from overseas are surprised to learn that securing a nanny job in the United States isn’t so easy. Nanny employers who wish to hire and employ a nanny legally are required to verify a candidate’s eligibility to legally accept employment in the United States. Nanny employers must complete and retain Form I-9 from the United States Citizen and Immigration Services for each nanny that they hire.  

5. As a live-out nanny, you are entitled to overtime pay.

Live-out nannies are non-exempt employees and must be paid at least minimum wage for each hour worked. Live-out nannies are also entitled to overtime pay at the rate of time and one half for every hour worked over 40 within a 7 day period.

6. As a live-in nanny, you must be paid for every hour worked, and in some states, are eligible for overtime pay.

Live-in nannies must also be paid for each hour worked and depending on the state where you live, may be entitled for overtime pay. To learn if you are entitled for overtime, contact your state agency that governs employment.

7. While nannies talk salary, they aren’t salaried employees.

While nannies and nanny employers use the term salary when discussing financial compensation, nannies are non-exempt employees and must be paid at least minimum wage. To comply with the Fair Labor Standards Act, for nannies who work over 40 hours per week, the salary must be broken down into base hourly rate and overtime hourly rate and the base hourly rate must meet or exceed minimum wage.

8. During a nanny interview, some interview questions may be illegal.

While nanny employers can certainly ask if you are able to travel or work overtime, questions that allude to your ability to do the job, they can’t ask if you have children or what your childcare arrangements are.   When faced with an illegal question, you can either answer, refuse to answer or ask the interviewer to clarify the question in terms of your ability to perform the job.

9. Nannies are considered court mandated reporters. 

Nannies have an ethical and moral obligation to report suspected child abuse to the proper authorities. While some states specifically name nannies as court mandated reporters, others require all people to report their suspicions.

10. While many nanny employers offer compensatory time in lieu of overtime, doing so is not legal.

In exchange for working overtime, nanny employers may suggest you take time off rather than pay you your overtime rate. While this is legal for government employees, nannies are not eligible to receive comp time, according to federal laws.


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