Legal vs. Illegal Nannies

This is the fifth post in a multi-part blog series entitled: Nanny Agency NYC Tells-All: How to Find a Nanny.

I provide a lot of hand-holding to my nanny agency clients and I often find that I end up mixing in a lot of therapy as I walk them through their options as they choose the right caregiver for their family.  Today, I review the importance of understanding the impacts of hiring nannies who are legally allowed to work in the US vs. those who are not.

When people talk about legal versus illegal nannies they are not referring to citizenship status, but whether or not someone is legally allowed to work in the United States. A nanny who is not a U.S. citizen may still be in the country legally—for example on a tourist visa or a student visa—but unless she actually has a work visa or a green card, she is technically not allowed to seek employment.

That said, many parents hire nannies despite the fact that they do not have the appropriate paperwork. They get around this by paying “off the books”—that is, they pay cash under the table so that the nanny doesn’t have to report or pay taxes on the income. In the nanny world, off-the-books is so incredibly common many parents do it, even if their nanny is a U.S. citizen. This is because it is much less expensive and easier to do. In the beginning some families are not certain if their nanny will last and wait to place them on the books after that trial which they end up forgetting.

However, paying your nanny off-the-books is against the law. If you are an employer, you are legally required by the federal and state governments to report any wages paid and withhold your employee’s taxes and social security.

The important piece to understand when assessing your childcare options is there are some risks to hiring illegal nannies: they could be deported, you cannot travel with them out of the country and they could possess a more fearful attitude toward certain situations. I have had countless nannies express stories of concern when they were working illegally, one nanny felt scared to call 911, another left the park whenever she saw a police man and yet another expressed walking around with a “constant state of fear.” No American born person can understand what it is like to live in a country illegally and the rational and irrational fears that accompany a person on that journey.  If you believe hiring a caregiver with that situation will add too much risk or stress to you or your children perhaps focus on fully documented candidates.  As I will say in numerous other posts, there is no way to measure a nanny’s capabilities some of the best nannies I have seen were illegal with zero experience and some of the worst American born and bred – in this world of nannies normal measurement tools and understandings do not always apply. Since typical diagnostic measurements do not apply, having an understanding into “the mind of the nanny” which this books aims to provide, will allow you to better determine and select the perfect match

If you’re wondering how to go about your nanny search…or if you’re already in the midst of yours but are finding yourself “stuck” and in need of some advice and coaching, feel free to reach out and schedule some time to speak with Tammy.  The button below takes you to her schedule to book a time that’s convenient.

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