Parent’s Guide to Hiring a Nanny

  •  01/25/2022
  • By Andrea Collatz
  •  Employer

Few things in life are as important as the safety of your child. That’s why it’s such a big deal finding the right person to look after your offspring. You can’t always be present to keep a watchful eye, which is why many busy parents opt to share the responsibility with a nanny. According to Care.com, the percentage of families seeking a nanny share (in which two or more families employ one nanny and share the cost of her salary) increased 23% in 2017 as compared to 2015. However, for most parents, entrusting a stranger with their child’s safety can seem especially terrifying—how can you be rest assured that your little rascal is in good hands

Although there’s no hard and fast method to guarantee a child stays out of harm’s way while Mom and Dad are away, there are certainly best practices to consider when hiring a nanny that may offer parents better peace of mind.

Before diving into our guide for vetting caregivers, it’s important to know that one of the quickest ways to better your chances of finding someone great is by running a pre-employment background check on any nanny applicant that you’re seriously considering. In many states, nannies are considered in-home employees. And, like any small business, you want to screen for things such as lousy credit and relevant criminal backgrounds as well as verify their identification.

For near-instant reports on the person you want to bring into your home, run a background check with TransUnion ShareAble for Hires.

Click to learn more about employment screening with shareable for hires.

Consider Your Needs

The first step in learning how to hire a nanny is determining what—not who—you’re looking for. Nearly 60% of families with children under six are made up of two working parents. If you are one of these families, you may need a nanny who can provide ample support to keep your household running.

Before you begin your search, ask yourself:

  • Are you hiring a full-time nanny to provide childcare so one parent can return to work
  • Does the nanny need to live in your home
  • Do you have any unique requirements that must be met

Use considerations to narrow your search parameters and focus on the type of caregiver you need.

How much should you pay a nanny

Hiring a full-time nanny can be akin to hiring a non-exempt, hourly employee, as the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) states that all nannies must be paid for every hour worked. The FLSA also states, in part, that employers must pay nannies a minimum wage of no less than $7.25 per hour ($4.25 for youth employees under 20 years of age), although casual babysitters may be exempt from this requirement. Please note: your state may have a higher minimum wage.

Keep in mind that if you’re looking to hire a nanny to work more than 40 hours within a seven-day period, that may require the nanny to be paid overtime unless otherwise exempt from the requirement. Normally, the overtime rate is time-and-a-half, but be sure to check with your specific state laws.

Be sure to research the average in-home childcare rate in your area to make sure your offer is consistent with other parents seeking childcare. Although the minimum wage requirement appears to be $7.25 per hour (check laws applicable to you; consult legal counsel with questions), the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the median hourly wage for childcare workers was $11.17 in 2018. If you’re hiring a full-time nanny but only offering minimum wage, then you might lose out on a great care provider who can earn more from another family.

Your compensation should be fair, but also realistic. Remember that you’ll need to cover any potential activity expenses, and if you plan on hiring a full-time nanny as a long-term employee, then you may want to consider leaving room for raises and bonuses down the road.

What if I can’t afford a nanny at the average pay rate

Nannies can be expensive to hire, and the cost can vary significantly based on location.

Graph showing top 5 least affordable states for childcare.

As evidenced by the graph above, families in states like Californiapay nearly 20% of their income on childcare. If you can’t afford a nanny or other forms of childcare in your current financial position, you may need to make some changes to your budget.

In some cases, you may also be able to lower the rate of pay by providing other benefits that are a lower cost to you. However, if you are considering this option, keep in mind that these benefits should be incentive enough to offset the lower income. This could include vacations, end-of-the-year bonuses, use of a vehicle, and other perks.

Pro-Tip: Remember to set money aside for taxes. Nannies generally must pay Social Security as well as federal income tax on their earnings, and as an employer, you're also generally obligated by the federal government to pay Social Security taxes. Additionally, some states may require you to pay unemployment taxes, so always do your research (and consider talking with legal counsel) beforehand to create a complete picture of expected costs.

How to Find a Nanny

Once you understand your unique needs and budget, you can begin searching for a nanny to hire.

Ask people you know

More than 11 million children in the U.S. under five years of age receive childcare from a nanny or other provider; it is likely you have a friend or family member who can make a recommendation for a nanny. Requesting references from people you trust can be a great way to hire a nanny that someone vouches for firsthand. Maybe they hired them as a caretaker in the past or perhaps they can attest to a nanny’s exemplary character. Whatever the case, a personal reference can help inspire more confidence in your hire.

Post an online ad

Online ads are one of the easiest solutions when trying to find a nanny. Fortunately, there are plenty of reputable online options to choose from that have a vast network of caretakers, and their database typically includes qualifications, past experience, and references. They can also be a great option for helping you hire temporary help while traveling.

Consider a placement agency

There are nanny placement agencies that can help families find the right care for their children, but these services can come with a hefty price tag. According to NannyFAQ, when you hire a nanny through an agency, the fee ranges between $1,000 and $4,000.

University job boards

If you want to hire a student who can provide full-time care, then check out local university job boards. You may be able to find students who are looking for nannying positions while completing their degrees.

Write a Nanny Job Description

Whether you’re posting online or soliciting trusted referrals, it’s important to create a thorough job description to find the best match for your in-home childcare needs. Childcare needs vary based on schedules, logistics, expectations, and needs of the children. It may be helpful to determine all of the responsibilities that your ideal caregiver would take on during a typical day before writing the job description. Aside from lovingly and safely caring for your family members, what else is important to you

  • Experience: If you only want to hire nannies with several years of experience, be clear about that when writing your job description. This may help weed out any inexperienced candidates.
  • Certifications: If you’d like your nanny to be certified in CPR or have other types of qualifications and training, then note those expectations early in your job description.
  • Transportation: Will the nanny be driving your kids to and from school or appointments If you expect them to chauffeur, then be sure to check their MVR reports to help verify a clean driving record.
  • Other responsibilities: Be sure to list any and all expectations upfront, including those that might fall outside the scope of “childcare”, such as light housework or occasional dog-walking.

For more inspiration, check out this nanny job description template from Workable.

How long does it take to find a nanny

Hiring a nanny can take time. In most cases, one to two months should be adequate to find applicants, hold interviews, complete all the pre-hiring steps, and give them time to onboard.

Depending on your circumstances, it can be difficult to slow down and take time to find the best possible fit for your family. However, it can be highly beneficial to take a slower approach and move through these essential steps for hiring.

Hold Interviews

With your options at hand, it’s time to create a list of nanny interview questions. WhattoExpect.com offers starter questions that you can use for inspiration:

  • What duties did you perform in your last position
  • Why did you leave your previous job
  • Do you have a reliable means of transportation
  • In occasion, would you be able to stay late if something came up
  • Do you have plans in the near future that would impact how long you would be able to remain at this job
  • How old were the children you’ve cared for previously
  • Are you certified in CPR and baby first-aid training If not, would you be willing to become certified
  • What’s your favorite part of being a nanny
  • What kinds of activities would you do with my child during the day
  • How would you discipline a child
  • What would you do if my child had a medical emergency

Asking straightforward nanny interview questions from the start could help you get a better understanding of how they would engage with your kiddo, protect their safety, and handle an emergency scenario should one arise. If you’re satisfied with your candidate’s answers, then you might consider a trial run as the next step in your checklist for hiring a nanny.

Pro-tip: Although meeting a nanny in person before hiring them is a must to see if the fit is good, consider conducting a brief phone interview before bringing a candidate into your home. This step could save time for both parties.

What qualities should you consider in a good nanny

The qualities to look for in a nanny can vary based on your personal priorities and values. However, some key ones could include a genuine passion for children, punctuality, trustworthiness, and flexibility.

In addition, you may want to find a nanny who understands the importance of child development and makes it a priority. In fact, 66% of nannies surveyed by the Amslee Institute felt that childcare classes were the best way to develop these skills and were open to completing such courses.

You may also want to inquire about the types of training and safety courses your candidate has completed. There are a variety of certifications nannies may have.

Graph showing common types of certifications for nannies and the percentage of nannies who have each.

Conduct a Trial Run at Home

Once you feel comfortable, it may be helpful to bring your little one to meet with potential nannies and observe how the pair interacts with one another to determine whether the applicant is a good fit. Depending on your comfort level, this could be as simple as having the applicant spend a few hours with your child or as thorough as a full week trial period in which they complete all of their nanny duties.

It's wise to conduct this trial run at your own home or the location where the nanny would be watching your child. That way, your child can feel more at ease and in their comfort zone while interacting with a new stranger. For the best gauge on whether they are the right nanny for family's needs, you want the trial run to closely mimic what an average day would be like if they were hired. This is a critical part of the "hiring a nanny checklist" because it also provides you with a chance to monitor for any troubling activity between the applicant and your child.

What to consider after the nanny's trial run is over

After the nanny's trial run is complete, you want to set aside time to give and receive some feedback. To grasp useful takeaways from your discussion, you might want to touch on:

  • Their first impressions
  • Whether they felt they could meet the demands of the position
  • If there were instances they specifically struggled with
  • How your child reacted when they were disciplined by the nanny
  • Your feedback on what you observed

While it can be awkward to have a stranger in your home, try not to hover too closely. You want to get a genuine feel for how their interactions will be when they are with your child one-on-one. Good or bad, honesty is key in these conversations.

Check References

When hiring a new employee, 80% of HR professionals check references for potential candidates. Either before or after the interview and trial session, checking and verifying your prospective nanny's provided references is a must. The applicant should be prompted to list past families they've provided childcare to-whom you need to call and confirm-including the age of the children and the duration of their employment.

When following up with references, there are several questions you should consider asking:

  • Was the individual reliable
  • Were there any notable issues or incidents while your child was in their care
  • Can you describe their personality
  • Did your child enjoy their time with them
  • In addition to duties directly related to childcare, did they handle any other responsibilities

You'll also want to ask if the candidate would be eligible for rehire; if the answer is "no," it could be a red flag.

Screen Your Childcare Professional

When it comes to leaving your child with a caregiver, the reasons to run a background check are obvious. The potential nanny could be concealing a criminal history, irresponsible driving records, and/or a falsified employment history. According to the Child Welfare Information Gateway, babysitters and other non-relatives are responsible for 4.2% of crimes against children under six years old. With statistics like this, it's clear that screening your prospective nanny is essential.

Generally, you must obtain/receive your applicant's permission to conduct a background check and you'll typically need to comply with Fair Credit and Reporting Act (FCRA) regulations. If you're screening an applicant manually through available public records, then be sure to exhaust your list of databases to help ensure no critical information slips through the cracks.

Rather than performing your own detective work and making sure your candidate would make a great nanny with whom you could trust your child, consider relying on a professional pre-employment background check that can help you make an informed hiring decision. ShareAble for Hires offers background reports that can include:

  • Work history
  • Address verification
  • Credit reports from TransUnion
  • Review of past bankruptcies
  • Any past felony and misdemeanor offenses in state databases
  • Records from the FBI, Homeland Security, and DEA
  • A search of the National Sex Offender Public Registry

Learning how to hire a nanny can be challenging; take advantage of pre-employment screening services and run a comprehensive background check on your potential caretaker.

What if the candidate does not agree to a background check

If a potential nanny does not want to agree to a background check, move onto the next candidate. Their reluctance could be an indicator that they have something to hide and as such, are likely not someone you want to trust with your child.

How much do pre-employment background checks cost

It may be tempting to sign up for the cheapest background check you can find. However, not all background checks are created equal. You do not want to forgo certain information for the sake of saving 20 bucks. Your child deserves the best nanny, and a full pre-employment screening is a small price to pay for greater peace of mind.

Check this article's final paragraph for background check pricing and critical factors you want to look for before hiring a nanny. Remember to check laws applicable to you and consider talking with legal counsel.

Establish a Contract

Once you've settled on a candidate you believe is a perfect match for you and your family, you may want to establish a signed contract. A written agreement serves two main purposes: to protect yourself legally; and ensure there is no confusion about the position's requirements.

Even if you are not particularly familiar with contract writing, creating a basic agreement is fairly straightforward. For starters, you should consider including:

  • Employment start date and duration
  • The work schedule they will be expected to adhere to
  • All job responsibilities
  • Compensation and pay schedule
  • Additional reimbursements or payments that should be expected
  • Expectations regarding holidays and paid time off
  • A list of instances that will be grounds for termination
  • Expectations of regular reviews and raises
  • Stipulations regarding the care of your child

According to the International Nanny Association, as of 2017, approximately 69% of nannies had a written agreement with their employer. This percentage has increased over the last three years and is expected to continue to become the norm when hiring a professional nanny for your family. You should consider talking with legal counsel about requirements applicable to you and with respect to a written agreement.

Note: If your prospective nanny seems reluctant to put their commitment in writing, it may be a red flag.

Graph showing common types of certifications for nannies and the percentage of nannies who have each.

Information is Greater than Your Gut

It can feel easy to interview nannies until good rapport makes it feel like you’ve found the right one. That may work just fine, but when you’re looking for someone to take care of your kids, look further than just your feelings.

A thorough pre-employment background check from ShareAble for hires offers comprehensive TransUnion credit, background and Identity Verification reports. Use this information to screen your next nanny with confidence. With actionable data delivered almost instantaneously, the minimal cost of an employment background check can provide invaluable peace of mind when hiring a caretaker for your child. Start screening with ShareAble for Hires to confirm you’re making the right nanny hiring decision today.

Senior Marketing Analyst, TransUnion ShareAble

Andrea Collatz

She focuses on topics that empower small business owners through data, insights and industry best practices.

RELATED ARTICLES

Recruiting and Hiring Statistics: Data Small Business Owners Need to Know

recruiting and hiring statistics

Recruiting and Hiring Statistics: Data Small Business Owners Need to Know

Learn about the state of recruiting and hiring in 2021 with this helpful infographic. We’ve compiled all of the recruiting stats small business owners need to make informed hiring decisions.

Andrea Collatz

Gaps in Small Business Background Checks [5 Costly Mistakes Employers Can’t Afford to Make]

Three employees, labeled good, better, and best

Gaps in Small Business Background Checks [5 Costly Mistakes Employers Can’t Afford to Make]

Learn about common gaps in small business background checks and avoid these 5 costly screening mistakes employers can’t afford to make.

Andrea Collatz

How to Do a Background Check on Someone

How to do a background check on someone

How to Do a Background Check on Someone

Wondering how to do a background check on someone? Read through this guide from ShareAble to learn how.

Andrea Collatz

6 Strategic Tax Filing Tips for Small Businesses

Tax Risks for Small Businesses

6 Strategic Tax Filing Tips for Small Businesses

Save money by maximizing your small business tax return with these strategic tips. Learn how

Andrea Collatz

How to Hire a Freelancer to Help Your Small Business

hiring freelancer for small business

How to Hire a Freelancer to Help Your Small Business

Hiring freelancers? They can help SMB’s maximize labor budget and boost business growth. Make sure you know how to background check them with these tips.

Andrea Collatz

Small Business Hiring Timeline [Infographic]

Small business hiring timeline

Small Business Hiring Timeline [Infographic]

How long does It take for small businesses to hire nowadays? Find out the average duration to hire a new employee with our infographic.

Andrea Collatz

Top Employment Screening Articles for Small Businesses in 2021

Top Employment Screening Articles for Small Businesses in 2021

Top Employment Screening Articles for Small Businesses in 2021

Discover the latest on small business hiring and screening with this roundup of the most popular ShareAble for Hires blog posts for business owners and hiring managers in 2021.

Andrea Collatz

Employer Reference Check Questions: 8 Things You Must Ask

Employer Reference Check Questions: 8 Things You Must Ask

Employer Reference Check Questions: 8 Things You Must Ask

Checking references is a smart way to reduce risk and learn more about your candidate. Learn how to check references and which questions to ask.

Andrea Collatz

Employer’s Guide: How to Review a Resume

How to spot resume fraud

Employer’s Guide: How to Review a Resume

Resume warning signs can be easy to overlook.  Learn what to look for when reviewing resumes with this guide from ShareAble for Hires.

Andrea Collatz

Resume Fraud: How to Tell if Your Applicant’s Resume is Inaccurate or Misleading

How to spot resume fraud

Resume Fraud: How to Tell if Your Applicant’s Resume is Inaccurate or Misleading

Resume fraud can fool even the most experienced of hiring managers. Learn how to spot lies on resumes with background checks from ShareAble for Hires.

Andrea Collatz