You’ve scoured Craigslist or hired a nanny agency and think you’ve found the perfect nanny for your family. And then the tricky part hits: How much should you pay your nanny? Discussing salary with a potential nanny can be uncomfortable. After all, this is someone who you will otherwise be treating as a member of your family, and salary discussions are a cold, hard reminder that this is a business arrangement. However, making salary clear from the very beginning is important for a good relationship going forward. Here are some guidelines for paying your nanny:
Nanny versus Babysitter
A nanny is a skilled professional and must be paid like one. In general, nannies make at minimum of 10-15 dollars per hour at the low end of the spectrum. Keep in mind that you are paying for a nanny’s years of experience and nannies are paid more than babysitters. Very experienced nannies can command $50-100,000 a year, so make sure the nanny you’re looking to hire is a nanny you can afford, and be sure to pay her what she’s worth or she will leave as soon as she gets a better offer.
Minimum Wage Considerations
No matter how young or inexperienced your nanny is, and no matter how many extras you include in the compensation package, you absolutely must pay her at least minimum wage, even if she is salaried. The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour, but it may be higher in your state. Check local laws to be sure.
Live In Versus Live Out
If you’re planning to have your nanny live in, her room or guest house cannot be her sole form of compensation. If you offer your nanny a very nice guest house or apartment, you can pay her slightly less since she won’t be having to pay rent, but you still must pay her at least minimum wage. Childcare in exchange for room and board can cause you to run afoul of federal laws and will likely prevent you from getting a skilled nanny.
A nanny’s primary offering to your family is her experience. A skilled and experienced nanny may have a dozen or more years of experience with a child your age. You should absolutely factor your nanny’s experience into your pay package, and keep in mind that ten years of experience babysitting is not the same as ten years of experience as a nanny. Generally speaking, a nanny with a year or less of experience is considered a new nanny; a nanny with 2-5 years is in the mid range, and a nanny with more than five years is a seasoned professional who can command a very high salary.
While education cannot compensate for limited experience, a highly educated nanny can generally command a higher salary than a less educated nanny, particularly if your nanny has a degree in early childhood education or has gone to a professional nanny school.
Number of Children and Responsibilities
The number of children your nanny will be caring for should be factored into her compensation package, since more children require more work. If you have special needs children, you should also be paying more. Conversely, one child will mean a lower salary. The responsibilities you expect your nanny to fulfill should also be factored in. The general rule is that the more you expect your nanny to do, the more you will need to pay her, just like with any other job. An important note: Even when children are sleeping or at school, you still need to pay your nanny, since if the children woke up she would be expected to care for them. You’re not just paying for her labor; you’re also paying for her time.
If you’re trying to hire a highly skilled nanny but are concerned about your ability to pay, consider other forms of compensation. While nonmonetary nanny compensation will not make up for an unfairly low salary, little bonuses can make a huge difference. Can you provide her with a gym membership, a nanny car, or other perks? If so, these can make the difference between hiring a mediocre nanny and an excellent one. Consider offering her paid vacation and sick days, and allowing her to travel with the family as well.
While a nanny can be expensive, keep in mind that you are paying for top notch care for your child. Consider what you think is fair and what will likely keep your nanny happy for several years. You may have to budget, but the rewards of having a satisfied and skilled nanny are immense.