Etiquette on Severance Pay for Nannies

Smilling nanny playing with young child
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Whether you need to let your nanny go because you can no longer afford her or because she's done something inexcusable, it's important to remember that you are her employer and should treat the end of your business relationship in a professional way. The amount you pay in severance is directly related to the reason you're letting her go, just as it would be in a large company.

Time Frame

If you are letting your nanny go for reasons outside of her behavior, such as relocation or your child starting school, let her know as far in advance as possible. If, however, you need to fire your nanny for treating your children badly, being neglectful or behaving in an inappropriate manner, you need not give any notice; she should be asked to leave immediately. The president of the International Nanny Association, Pat Cascio, explains, "I wouldn't leave my child with anyone who might be upset with me."

Amount

The Nanny Network recommends providing severance pay of two to four weeks' pay, particularly if you would like your nanny to stay on until the time that you no longer need her services (such as your child starting school, or your move to another state). Keep in mind that this is for nannies whom you must part ways with for circumstances outside of performance. If you fire your nanny, one weeks' severance is generous but not necessary.

Prevention

One way to avoid ending up in a situation where you need to fire your nanny is by making your expectations clear upfront. Unlike jobs with corporations, families usually do not provide nannies with a contract detailing the duties and expectations of child care. By outlining what you need your nanny to take care of and how you would like her to perform her tasks, as well as opening up the relationship to clear communication, you may be able to avoid the nightmare of having to fire a nanny and then finding a replacement.

Live-In Nannies

When firing a live-in nanny for issues of behavior, you will want her to leave your home, but she'll need somewhere to stay, at least for the night. It's proper etiquette to drive her and her belongings to a safe motel or hotel, and to pay for one or two nights' stay. Nanny Network suggests paying for her bus or plane ticket home if she is from out of town.

Considerations

Settle your financial obligations to the nanny immediately, making sure that you pay her for any accrued vacation time and the time she has put in for which she has yet to be paid. Your nanny may file for unemployment, at which point you will receive a questionnaire from the local labor office that you should fill out and return immediately to avoid losing the right to appeal benefits charges.

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