Why you need a Nanny or Au Pair Contract

When you hire an au pair or nanny do you have a contract?

I know it feels a bit official but hiring a child carer for the most precious people in your life needs to be official.

I am constantly seeing postings on various parenting face book groups asking questions such as:    “How many evenings are acceptable to ask an Au Pair to babysit? My nanny wants her boyfriend to stay at the weekend –  is that acceptable?  The nanny uses the family car at the weekend should –  she pay for the petrol?  The questions are endless.

This is why a nanny contract works so well.  You try to sort out as much as possible before employment is taken up.

One of the most common reasons that nannies leave jobs is because the parents make in the nanny’s eyes, unexpected and unreasonable requests. And one of the more common reasons why parents become dissatisfied with their nannies is that they feel they are being taking advantage of. The nanny may ask to have too many weekend nights off, use the family car for personal use, or be cooking food late at night.

The problem here is there are no ground rules set down and agreed before the job starts. Good communication is probably one of the most important elements of the parent-nanny relationship.  So having a detailed and mutually agreeable work agreement is the first step in making this nanny/parent relationship work well.

When you have an agreed contract it should be signed by both parents and the nanny.  That way should questions or disagreements arise you can always refer back to the contract.  Obviously a degree of flexibility is also important but that can also be written in the contract. And of course things can change and the contract can be amended and if so then it needs to be signed again by everyone.

The contract should include details of the nanny’s duties, role and responsibilities, as well as the kind of care you want for your children.  For example if you want to ensure that reading stories is an important role then it needs to be included. If you don’t want the child to watch television while they are eating this too must be stipulated.  The contract should also state the salary, when they get paid, when they start, notice for ending employment and anything else that is important.

If you work long hours out of the home the contract must specify the number of hours each day they are expected to work, and here it is a good idea to talk about  flexibility in terms of when you will return home each evening or when you need your nanny to be on-call.  Also what qualifies as over time, and what extra money the nanny will receive for any additional work required.


Other topics you might want to include:

Does the nanny have any special dietary requirements?

  • The Child’s dietary requirements
  • Rules concerning the car if it is included in the package
  • Regular meetings with the parents
  • Sick days
  • Holidays
  • Boyfriends


And of course, most important check that your nanny has an up to day first aid certificate by a reputable training company.  They need to have attended a minimum of a 6 hour training course. Their certificate will be valid for 3 years but at Safe and Sound we recommend that they also do an annual 3 hour resuscitation update.