Don’t Cross the Line: Don’t Snoop

Respecting Professional Boundaries for Nannies

Nannies and au pairs work in the homes of their employers giving them access to nearly all the family’s intimate belongings and personal information. It may be tempting to look at a bill or financial statement left out on a desk or counter, but in-home caregivers must resist the temptation to sneak-a-peek at the family’s personal and private information. It is unacceptable and it is reason enough to terminate a nanny or au pair that is found snooping through family paperwork, bills, bank statements, or private files.

Whether a nanny signs a confidentiality agreement or not, an important characteristic that separates a professional nanny from a mere babysitter is that a professional respects the private family issues of their employers. A good guide is for nannies to consider how they would feel if the parents saw their personal information that they would prefer kept private.

We recommend that nannies and au pairs consider our confidentiality checklist below:

1. Use discretion about the family’s privacy. Do not gossip about private family issues. Refrain from using names of family when getting advice for general issues.

2. Do not post photos of the children in emails, on web sites, Facebook, or anywhere online without parental permission.

3. Do not share personal information about the children online or in nanny chat groups (ages, names, addresses, or where they attend school).

4. Do not read family personal mail, emails, or snoop into their personal affairs.

5. Do not enter the parent’s bedroom, closets, drawers, and bathroom without permission.

6. Do not discuss important issues about the child to the teacher or doctor without the parent’s knowledge (unless criminal child abuse may be suspected, when communicating with teachers and doctors for advice is recommended).

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