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Legal Rights for Nannies in Your Home?

The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which has protected the majority of American workers since 1938 by providing for a minimum wage, overtime wage, etc., has specifically exempted “domestic service” employees from its coverage.  Thus, nannies have not had a federal legal right to a wage that is equal to or greater than the minimum wage, nor have nannies been legally entitled to federal overtime pay (for hours worked in excess of 40 each week). 

The FLSA does not require employers to offer employment benefits such as paid holidays, sick days, and vacations days, but many state laws do.  Many of these state laws are patterned after the basic language of the FLSA, so they exempt domestic service employees from legal rights to these employment benefits.

But all that may be changing, at least in some states.

According to the New York Times, the New York state legislature has passed bills to grant nannies employment rights to overtime wages and fringe benefits such as paid holidays, sick days, and vacation days.  Nannies would also have a legal right to 14 days’ notice before being fired . . . or pay in lieu of the 14 days’ notice.  These bills must now be merged into one cohesive piece of legislation before it can be submitted to New York’s Governor Paterson for his signature or veto.  It is expected that Governor Paterson will sign the legislation into law.

Other states have considered/are considering similar legislation.

What does all this mean for nannies and families?

1. Currently, some nanny positions offer great pay and many benefits, while other nanny positions offer little pay and no benefits. Whereas the compensation and benefits of nannies has varied widely from state to state, and even employer to employer, if legislation such as that discussed above passes, nannies in the affected states would have a minimum threshold of benefits.

2. Compensation and benefits, typically negotiated pre-hire, would continue to be negotiated for the most credentialed, experienced nannies, who would seek compensation and benefits in addition to the minimum required by law, while the less experienced nannies would negotiate less on these subjects but benefit from the provision of these benefits due to legal mandate.

3. The cost of employing a nanny would increase for some families; however, the benefits of hiring a nanny would outweigh this expense. For example:

  • COST. If you have two or more children, it may be cost effective for you to hire a nanny as many daycare centers can cost you more. Also, many families are using “nanny share”. This is an arrangement in which two families share one nanny. This cuts down on costs but you still experience the benefits of having a nanny.
  • HEALTH OF THE CHILDREN. You may have healthier children by keeping them away from the large groups of children typically found in daycare. Germs are easily spread from child to child, so daycare centers can be breeding grounds for every cold and flu of the season. When your children contract illnesses, it takes an emotional toll on both you and your children. Further, they may miss school, you may miss work, and you may incur expenses associated with doctor’s visits and medications. Your children’s exposure to germs, and thus the risks discussed here, can be dramatically diminished by simply using the services of a nanny.
  • WORKPLACE PRODUCTIVITY. If your children are sick, many daycare centers will not accept your children. However, if you have a nanny, you can still go to work as the nanny will stay home with the children. Further, if you have an attentive nanny at home with your children, you will be less likely to feel like you just can’t concentrate at work due to concern for your children. By staying focused at work, your workplace productivity remains high.

We at Nannies4hire.com take no position on this or other related legislation.  Our goal is simply to provide you with all the information you need for the work that you love.  As this issue develops, we will keep you informed. 

For related information on Benefits to Offer a Nanny, please refer to Nannies4hire.com.

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1 comment to Legal Rights for Nannies in Your Home?

  • Angela

    Domestic employees are protected under the FLSA.


    Domestic Service Employment
    The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) covers domestic service employment. This term refers to services of a household nature performed by an employee in or about a private home (permanent or temporary) of the person by whom he or she is employed. The term includes cooks, waiters, butlers, valets, maids, housekeepers, governesses, nurses, janitors, laundresses, caretakers, handymen, gardeners, footmen, animal groomers and chauffeurs of automobiles for family use. It also includes babysitters on other than a casual basis (e.g., babysitting that is not irregular or intermittent). This listing is not meant to be all-inclusive.
    If the employment in question meets this definition of domestic service employment, then the worker is probably covered by the FLSA and the employer must observe its requirements, unless a specific exemption applies.
    If the employment in question does not meet the above definition of domestic service employment, then the worker is probably not covered as a domestic service employee. However, there are several other ways to be covered by the FLSA. You may be covered during workweeks in which you are engaged in interstate commerce, are engaged in the production of goods for interstate commerce, or work on a covered construction job. Young workers may also be covered by the child labor provisions of the FLSA when they work in or about covered production establishments. You should also be aware that in certain instances we find that employees are jointly employed by more than one employer.
    For more information, please contact your local Wage and Hour District Office.

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