Should Parents Ask Nannies to Take Drug Tests?

Professional Boundaries for Nannies and Parents

I admit that I’ve been on the fence on the topic of drug testing for nannies. But last week I came in contact with a woman that works as a nanny that has trouble controlling her emotions and showed inappropriate anger yelling at another woman at the local library. Later, that nanny confessed to a friend that she takes cocaine on the weekends with her boyfriend.

After seeing and hearing her yell at the kids in her care and inappropriately scold another caregiver I now see why it’s vital for parents to make sure their nanny or au pair isn’t an illegal drug user. Not only do drugs effect the emotions and actions of the caregiver it can also lead to other criminal behaviors such as stealing to be able to afford drugs.

Obviously there are legal medications that caregivers can take that would create a false positive on drug tests such as the antibiotics amoxicillin and ciprofloxacin and Vick’s inahaler medicine that is used to relieve nasal stuffiness. But, all caregivers need to do is list all the medications (prescriptions, over the counter, and herbal) they are taking and show their prescriptions prior to the drug test.

If the background check of the job candidate is clean (such as no other prior arrests for drug use) it would be clear that the false positive is due to an antibiotic or an allergy medicine rather than an illegal substance.

After seeing the aggressive and inappropriate actions of the nanny that takes drugs the other day I do think parents and nanny agencies do have a right to ask nanny candidates to take drug tests. Parents can hire services that provide drug tests at sites such as  and

Obviously, caregivers don’t have to take the tests if they choose not to. But since the caregiver is essentially a stranger being hired to care for children and homes I do think parents do have the right to ask job seekers to take drug tests before hiring them. I do think parents should understand that the results of drug testing should remain confidential.


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