Infant day care slots are in short supply, and when available they are very expensive. Here in greater Washington DC it is common to pay $2000 a month or more for infant day care.
Increasingly families are investigating a nanny share arrangement when the parent returns to work after maternity leave.
Nanny share refers to typically two families sharing the services of one nanny for their child care needs. A nanny in a share arrangement may either watch both family's children together, or work in an alternating basis for the two families when the parents are on a part time schedule.
Nannies in a nanny share arrangement typically are paid a bit more than the nanny would command working for an individual family - allowing the nanny to maintain her income level in a depressed job market. On an individual family basis, however, the family in the nanny share may save many thousands of dollars a year in child care expense compared to other market alternatives (infant day care or individually hiring a nanny).
Some important considerations:
- Parenting styles should be compatible. Families need to carefully discuss with each other not only their infant care preferences but also project out to when the children become toddlers. The nanny caring for two infants will typically have prior infant experience, and will likely prefer to interact with the babies as one would with twins. Nap schedules ideally would be coordinated, as would meals, outings, etc.
- A three-way, detailed work agreement should be developed between the families and the nanny to cover compensation, benefits, hours, duties, sick and vacation time for the nanny, and many of the "sticky wicky" items that arise. For instance, if Family A takes a week of vacation, is it understood that Family A will still pay the nanny? What happens when a family leaves the share? Will they provide notice, or continue to pay the nanny for a period of weeks in lieu of notice? Most families find the greatest success when they model these financial provisions after those of a day care center. You pay the center the full month whether you take a vacation or not for example.
- Logistics. Will the share be hosted in one family's home, or alternate on some basis? Are there two cribs? High chairs? How are diapers, wipes, food, etc. supplied? Tandem strollers? Car seats and a vehicle for transportation?
- Taxes. Both families become employers and are obligated for the employment taxes (nanny taxes) for the portion of the nanny's compensation that they pay.
- Insurance. This is very important, especially for a host family. Have a frank discussion with a licensed insurance agent about liability, workers' compensation, and perhaps auto insurance options before you start the share.
- Sick child (and sick nanny) policies. Again, the daycare model tends to work best. Fever, flu, vomiting or diarrhea, and rashes typically indicate a child is too sick for daycares, and will likely indicate the child is too sick for the share too. What do you do when nanny is sick?
- Schedules. What happens when one family is late to relieve the nanny? How do you cover the nanny's paid time off (doctor appointments, vacation, etc.)?
We have clients who have been happily involved in stable nanny shares over several years. We also have some clients who change share arrangments more than once a year. Attention to the details and mutual respect for the agreements are absolutely key to the successful nanny share.