Have You Ever Had a Trial Period?

Respecting Professional Boundaries for Nannies and Parents During Trail Periods

Some nanny agencies recommend nannies and families have a trial period before signing a work agreement. Although I don’t like the idea of having caregivers being on probation, I do understand that trial periods can be arranged professionally to benefit both parties. Most importantly, parents must realize that having a trial period does not excuse them of the responsibility of paying their nanny legally. Here are some professional ways to have a trial period.

Those who encourage trial periods believe that within a few days the parents and nannies may be able to determine if the arrangement is the right fit or not without either party being penalized. The benefits to parents include that they won’t have to pay the agency a placement fee until after the trial period which helps reassure the parents that the nanny is a good match for their family.

The parents also won’t be required to provide severance pay if they decide to hire another nanny and the caregiver can also choose not to accept the job gracefully without having to give the parents a lengthy termination notice.

But, nannies still must be paid for the days worked during the trial period. If the trail period only lasts a few days both the parents and nanny can save the time and energy of filling the work agreement, (and perhaps W-2 forms) until after the brief trial period.

However, Breedlove and Associates explains, “…please know that the law does not absolve families of their tax and legal responsibilities during the trial period. Families are legally considered to be employers the first day the employee shows up for work – whether it has been labeled a “trial period” or not. Therefore, in order to prevent potentially-expensive tax and legal mistakes, it is important to understand the law and the compliance process from the outset of the employment relationship.”

After the trial period the parents and nanny will need to sign a work agreement with the details of the job, benefits, and submit the required tax paperwork if both parties want to work together.

Do you prefer having a trial period before signing a nanny work agreement?


  1. Michelle says:

    I don’t like the idea at all. I think it’s unfair to the nanny. Parents can take advantage of a nanny when the parents just need temporary care.

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