Looking For A Nanny

This post is part of a multi multi-part blog series under the headline, “Looking for a Nanny? Why Simply Searching “Best Nanny Agency NYC”, or “Nanny Placement Agency” into Google Doesn’t Work.

Nanny Salaries are important and they’re something I discuss with each of my nyc nanny agency clients during our very first meetings.

So how much do nannies make?

Just as important as figuring out what you need from your nanny is how much you can afford to pay her. Thinking about a nanny’s salary ahead of time is crucial, because you don’t want to spend time checking references and doing interviews with someone who you ultimately can’t afford to hire. I always recommend that my clients do a weekly rate rather than an hourly one, because in general, a weekly rate is less expensive than if you were to calculate the week’s salary hour by hour. Nannies generally have a “magic number” in their head that is the amount of money they need to make each week—for example, $900—and once they’ve met it, they’re happy and don’t get hung up on the exact hours. What that magic number is will depend on the average rates for your area (you can find this out by asking friends or plugging in your zip code on Care.com), the nanny’s previous salary, and the kinds of duties involved in your job. I usually advise parents to come up with two numbers: the first number is what you want to pay, and the second is what you would be willing to pay if the most amazing nanny ever walked through your door.

When looking for a nanny, you should also think about any additional compensation and benefits that your nanny will receive so that you are prepared to discuss them during the process and when you make an offer. These include:

  • Overtime refers to any hours beyond what you and the nanny agree will be standard for your nanny salary. Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, Live-Out nannies who charge an hourly rate are entitled to an overtime rate of time and a half. Some nannies will command higher rates for weekends, holidays, and travel.
  • Most nannies, both full-time and part-time, will expect to receive an annual bonus of 1-2 weeks’ pay. You should decide now how much you will pay and when you will pay it so that you can present it to the nanny as a part of your offer.
  • Health insurance. Providing health insurance is not standard, but it may be required for some nannies hired through high-end agencies. Health insurance is expensive, so I usually recommend that parents keep it in their back pocket and use it to sweeten the deal only if the negotiation gets tough. In some cases the family will choose and pay for a new policy; in others they will pay the nanny an annual or monthly stipend to cover all or part of the premium cost of a plan that she selects.
  • Nannies typically get the standard Big Six: New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, July 4th, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Anything in addition to these six will need to be a part of your negotiation. Be sure to discuss exactly which holidays she gets up front so there is no confusion later on.
  • Standard vacation is 1-2 weeks with pay. Parents usually stipulate that they get to choose one week—often chosen to coincide with a family vacation so they don’t need to pay for extra childcare coverage—and the nanny gets to choose the other one. If you have a flexible schedule, you can offer more in exchange for a lower weekly rate, or as a perk if the nanny is choosing between offers.
  • Sick Days and Personal Days. Parents usually group these together and offer 3-5 per year, to be used as the nanny needs them. When it comes to sick days, however, I recommend a more flexible policy if you can manage it, because ideally you don’t want to your nanny coming into work and sharing her illness with everyone else in the house. Instead of a number, you can say “unlimited within reason” or “with approval.”
  • I strongly suggest contacting your tax advisor or a nanny tax professional (firms like 4nannytaxes.com) that can provide a nanny tax calculator, nanny payroll services, and give you advice on properly paying nanny taxes according to the applicable federal and state rules.