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How to Let Your Nanny Go

You have decided that your nanny may not be a good fit for your family.  How do you let your nanny go?

  • I. If you have a progressive discipline policy in your nanny contract or elsewhere in your nanny’s terms and conditions of employment, you should follow your policy.
  • II. Check with an employment law specialist attorney in your state to understand the laws that govern employee discharges in your area.
  • III. If you don’t have a policy on how discipline is to be handled, your attorney will generally advise that you should proceed via the following steps.
  • A. Assemble as many facts as reasonably possible about the behaviors that your nanny exhibits that make her a poor fit for your family. What specifically does she do? On what dates has she done it? Where has she done it? Have there been witnesses? These and other questions can help you nail down the specifics of the behaviors that concern you.
  • B. Put everything in writing. Document all the answers to the questions in “A” above.
  • C. Calmly and non-judgmentally visit with your nanny about the behaviors you’ve observed as compared to the behaviors that you expect. Make sure that your nanny understands why your expectations are set the way they are. Ask your nanny if she has an explanation that makes her behaviors make sense to you. After your nanny has had an opportunity to tell her side of the story, let her know that you and your spouse need to visit about all that has been said. Ask her to give you about an hour (or however long you think you’ll need) and then come back to finish the discussion with you.
  • D. When your nanny has temporarily departed, document the conversation in “C” above and discuss with your spouse how to handle your nanny. Does she need to be re-trained on your expectations? Does she need a verbal warning? Does she need a written warning? Is this offense serious enough for termination on first offense? If this is not the first offense, is there a sufficient paper trail (i.e., documentation that you have spoken with your nanny before about her behaviors as they vary from your expectations) to support a discharge at this time? If you and your spouse conclude that letting your nanny go is the best course of action, then you need to decide how you wish to handle that discharge. If she is a live-in nanny, how will you handle her moving her personal belongings out of your house? Does your state have laws on the payment of final wages, dismissal statements, and other matters? How will you tell your kids that their nanny is no longer employed by the family? How will you handle childcare during the time between this nanny’s departure and the next nanny’s hire date? (Note: make sure you properly estimate the time it will take to recruit, interview, screen, and hire a new nanny.)
  • E. When your nanny returns, calmly and concisely tell her that you have decided to let her go. Let her know how her separation will be handled moving forward (i.e., when and how she will receive her final paycheck, etc.). Ask her if she has any questions. Give her a chance to feel heard. Then, end the meeting on a professional note. Do not at any time express anger or let your emotions get the better of you.
  • F. After your nanny has departed, visit with your kids. Tell them briefly that their nanny no longer works for your family. Let them know what to expect of their near-term future (i.e., who will be attending to them until a new nanny is hired).
  • G. Follow up on any promises you made to your nanny about her dismissal. For example, if you promised to hire a moving service to pack her personal belongings in your home and move them back to her community of origin, then you need to make such arrangements promptly.

By following these steps, you can let your nanny go in a professional and legally compliant manner.

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