No, it’s never too late to create a nanny contract. Ideally you want to create a nanny contract as the last step in the hiring process. A comprehensive contract will guide you through all the ins and outs of the employment relationship including the nuts and bolts details of the job (e.g. hours, pay), your and your nanny’s expectations, and the ground rules for the relationship. Going through this process before the nanny begins makes sure you’re all on the same page and there aren’t any misunderstandings going in.
But even if your nanny is already on the job, you can (and should) still create a contract. It doesn’t matter if she’s been there for one month or one year, now is always the perfect time to put one in place.
If you’re having a problem with your nanny, a contract is a great way to bring up the issue, begin working together towards a solution and record the agreements made.
EXAMPLE: You said during the interview that your nanny could use her sick days to see the doctor. Last week she told you on Tuesday that she had a non-emergency appointment on Thursday. You had to cancel a client meeting to cover the morning. This is the second time it’s happened.
YOU MIGHT SAY: Megan, let’s set a time to talk about scheduling doctor appointments. I absolutely want you to be able to see your doctor when you need to. I also want to make sure that I’m able to get coverage for the time you’re gone. Let’s talk about a way to make that work for both of us. And to make sure we both have a clear understanding of how it will work, this is a great time to put a nanny contract in place. It’ll help us get on the same page and avoid any more misunderstandings going forward.
Maybe there’s not a specific problem, you just seem to be covering the same ground over and over again. Another great reason to talk about the issues, clarify the terms and record the details in a written agreement.
EXAMPLE: Your nanny’s doing a great job but you’re having to ask her to do things that you think she should know are part of her job like taking out the kitchen trash when it’s full or getting rid of broken toys. You can tell she’s getting frustrated with you and the ongoing requests.
YOU MIGHT SAY: Debbie, I’d like to talk about how things are going. You’re doing a great job and I appreciate all that you do for us. My concern is that when we talked about you keeping the kitchen clean or straightening up the play room, we didn’t define exactly what those things meant and I don’t think our definitions are lining up. It’s been confusing for me and I’m sure it’s been frustrating for you. It would be really helpful for us to talk about the details and create a nanny contract so moving forward, we’re both on the same page.
Both parties always feel better when they have a clear understanding of what’s expected of them, what they can expect from the other person and a detailed record of the agreements they’ve made together. It’s a fundamental part of a successful employment relationship.