Nanny Contracts 101 – Key Ingredients

By Guest Blogger Nathan Hammons, Esq.

Yesterday, we looked at why you should have a nanny contract. Today we explore the key ingredients to a good one.

# 1: Easy to Understand

Do you shiver at the thought of reading a legal contract?

You’re not the only one. Sadly, too many legal contracts continue to use outdated, confusing words like ‘whereas’ and ‘hereinbefore’. There’s no good reason or excuse for that, and definitely no need for it in a nanny contract.

A good nanny contract is easy to understand. While it won’t be like reading a celebrity gossip magazine, it shouldn’t come across like Shakespeare or the ‘click to agree’ jargon for software and online banking.

If you come across a nanny contract that makes your head spin, toss it in the garbage. Ask an attorney or nanny placement agency for one, or find a good one online. It’s worth the time and effort.

# 2: Comprehensive

As a rule of thumb, a nanny contract should be short enough to be practical, but long enough to cover all the important issues of nanny care.

Those issues generally fall into one of the following categories:

  • Employment length: start date, end date (if known)
  • Schedule: work hours, live-in or live-out 
  • Pay: hourly wage vs. salary, overtime wages, pay frequency
  • Taxes: federal, state, and local (if applicable)
  • Time off: holidays, vacation, sick leave
  • Job duties: changing diapers, feeding, laundry, etc.
  • Benefits: meals, health insurance, etc.
  • Other: house rules, transportation of children, confidentiality, performance reviews 
  • Termination of the contract: who may end the contract and how

It should be noted, however, that the issues will vary based on the specific situation. Seek professional help if you have questions about what should or shouldn’t be included.

# 3: Fair

A good nanny contract should also be fair to everyone involved.

For example, a nanny should be compensated for extra work, such as caring for another child. With respect to termination, the parents should not be allowed to fire the nanny for no reason and without notice. Likewise, a nanny should not be able to quit without notifying the parents a reasonable time in advance.

Fairness is generally one of those things you know when you see. If something doesn’t seem right or fair, raise the issue. If the road gets bumpy, you’ll be thankful for it.

This post is the second article of a five-part series on nanny contracts. Nathan Hammons is an attorney in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He’s also a father and the creator of a website with information about the legal issues of nanny care and providing a professionally written nanny contract. He can be contacted at

DISCLAIMER: This post provides information only and not legal counsel or advice. If you need legal advice, please consult an attorney licensed in your state.


  1. Define what "light housekeeping" means. Some nannies refuse to unload and load the dishwasher but if it's written in the work agreement then they know it's their responsiblity to help out that way. If parents keep adding light housekeeping duties like that without discussing originaly the nanny might get resentful thinking, "Why can't they take care of their own dishes? I'm not a maid!"

  2. I agree michelle that "light housekeeping" is not detailed enough.

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