10 Myths About Live-In Nannies

While maintaining a relationship with a nanny who lives on-site has become a bit less common than it once was, the practice is far from obsolete. In fact, there are nannies who specialize in providing live-in care in order to help with sleep training or other overnight childcare needs. Even though this venerable childcare tradition has managed to persist in the face of many other changes, however, there are still a variety of myths regarding what live-in care is and what it entails. These are 10 of the most common misconceptions about live-in nanny care that many employers and parents still believe to be true.

  1. Live-In Nannies are Always On Call– One common misconception about live-in childcare providers is that they’re always expected to be on call. In fact, the industry standard requires that nannies have very clear hours of both on- and off-duty time. Convenience is a major motivation for families to hire live-in nannies, but that convenience is not supposed to translate to a situation in which a nanny is always expected to be at the beck and call of her employers.
  2. There’s No Such Thing as Overtime – According to the Fair Labor Standards Act, live-in nannies must be compensated for every hour worked, and in some states you will also be required to pay an overtime differential if you expect your live-in nanny to work more than 40 hours each week.
  3. Live-In Nannies are Responsible for Running a Household – There’s a difference between a nanny, a household manager and a housekeeper. Nannies, regardless of whether they live-in or out of their employers’ home, are typically responsible only for chores and tasks associated with the care of children. That means that, unless you’re willing to reclassify your nanny as a household manager or housekeeper and pay her accordingly, she should not be responsible for preparing the meals of the entire family, doing all of the laundry or deep cleaning the house.
  4. Live-In Nannies Share a Room with Kids – While it’s certainly true that nannies shared a nursery with their charges a century ago, that’s far from the industry standard these days. In fact, you should be prepared to provide your live-in nanny with a private space that includes a bedroom with locking doors, as well as her own bathroom.
  5. They Double as Personal Assistants – Your live-in nanny should not be responsible for running your errands, picking up your dry cleaning or managing your schedule unless she’s letting you know when your kids’ activities take place and helping you to plan accordingly. While some live-in nannies will take on these tasks, it’s only by agreement.
  6. Live-In Nannies Interfere With Family Time – There is a commonly held myth that a live-in nanny takes over for parents, even when you’re in the home enjoying an evening with your family. In most cases, your nanny will retreat to her private quarters for a bit of downtime during this time. Even if she is in a common area, however, a professional nanny will take a hands-off approach when you’re home and actively parenting your children.
  7. They’re Much More Affordable than Live-Out Nannies – While live-in nannies used to earn significantly less than their live-out counterparts, that’s no longer the case. Live-in nannies have closed that gap and typically only earn slightly less, perhaps $50 to $100 per week less, than live-out nannies.
  8. Live-In Nannies are Independent Contractors – There is almost no situation in which any nanny can be considered an independent contractor for tax purposes, and attempting to classify her as such could land you in very hot water with the IRS.
  9. Live-In Nannies Don’t Have Off Days – Even though your live-in nanny will be a full-time resident of your home for the length of her post, you should be prepared to honor any agreements you’ve made with her regarding off-duty time. Industry standards dictate two days off for full-time, live-in nannies.
  10. They’re Never Allowed to Have Guests – This is one area in which things can become murky, but the idea that you should ban your nanny from ever having guests because that’s the industry standard is false. Some employers do allow nannies to have guests, provided their visits adhere to a set of ground rules that have been agreed upon in advance. That being said, you’re well within your rights to restrict visits if you feel uncomfortable with them, since you’ll be providing her with ample time off to maintain her own personal life.

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