We break down how to negotiate your salary and contract as a nanny. Here are six steps to help you lock in your next job.
How To Negotiate Your Nanny Salary & Contract
The salary of a nanny can vary greatly. The biggest factors that come into play are experience, location (urban vs rural areas) and job responsibilities. One thing that remains pretty consistent across the board is that many nannies feel marginalized, undervalued and underpaid for the important work they do.
It’s an unfortunate reality that our country does not allocate enough money to our children, schools and childcare. But unless you are politically driven, we’ve got to work with what we’ve got. Let’s talk about what you can do to negotiate your nanny salary.
I’ve heard countless variations of this perspective shared by a long-time nanny, Dee Dee Morris.
As she puts it:
“I often get the sense that the nanny profession isn’t recognized as a chosen career. But many nannies invest in our career paths. We go to school, take specialized training classes and attend workshops to enhance our knowledge. We strive to learn how to better meet the needs of the families we work for. We love doing what we do, but want to be respected and appreciated for all that we do.
It’s understandable that not all families can afford a nanny. But if that’s the case I really wish they would consider other options such as a nanny share or hiring a nanny who offers a discounted rate for the perk of bringing their own child to work with them. There are some affordable daycare centers and even more cost effective home daycare.
Instead, so many families offer miserably low wages and expect us to perform a laundry list of other household responsibilities in addition to caring for the children.
As it usually goes, sadly, some nanny desperate for work inevitably comes along and accepts the disparaging offer. It happens over and over causing the industry to sink lower and lower.
We nannies need to take a stand!”
So let’s take that stand here and now, nannies!
Let’s talk about negotiating rate and responsibilities.
Nanny Salary & Contract Negotiation Action Plan
1. Determine your desired rate
Of course, your desired rate is six figures plus, right? But be realistic. Unless you have interviews lined up with high net-worth families, it will do you justice to understand the average nanny rate in your area.
Do your research:
- Indeed is a resource that you can use to give you the average rate in your area. Payscale is another. They also provide a rate range. If you are just starting out, expect an offer on the lower end. If you have many years of experience, aim towards the high end of the range.
Crunch your numbers:
- What do you need in order to pay your bills and rent or mortgage?
Figure both your ideal rate and also the rate you cannot/will not go below.
2. Practice professionalism
During the job search, be sure to send thoughtful messages that are free of typos. Show up to the interview on time, dressed to impress with a copy of your resume or portfolio in hand. If you demonstrate that you take your job seriously, you will be more likely to be taken seriously and attain respectable offers.
3. Be engaged and proactive during the interview
You are interviewing them just as much as they are interviewing you. It is your responsibility to decide if this family would be a good domestic employer. Listen carefully to the job description. Take notes. Ask follow up questions if they are not detailed.
- Remember- most often, nannies have been through the interview process far more times than parents. Respectfully take the lead if they don’t cover all the bases.
4. Consider compensation and logistics
Will they be paying you professionally or ‘under the table’? We strongly urge nannies to reconsider offers that will not provide you a legitimate work history. While skirting taxes might be tempting in the short-term, the long-term effects can be hurtful. Without a legitimate work history you will not quality for unemployment. You very likely won’t be able to obtain social security benefits or secure any loans for a car or a lease or mortgage.
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A great benefits package is worth a lot. A good benefits package might also include:
- ‘Guaranteed pay’– most regular part or full-time positions guarantee a certain number of hours per week. If they don’t end up using your services that week, they still pay. That way you can count on steady income.
- Other common benefits include paid time off for sick or personal days, paid holidays; some even provide you health insurance.
There may be some perks that go beyond benefits and pay. It could be that you jive with the family or the commute is half your current or former commute. Maybe the hours are perfect for you.
Only you know what matters most to you.
5. Thoughtfully consider
If you are offered a position, don’t feel you have to respond on the spot. Thank them for the offer and request a day or two to consider.
If the offer is hands-down great, by all means, jump on it!
But what if the offer is not great?
How to approach a less than ideal offer:
If it’s down right despicable, don’t just say thanks but no thanks. Do your part in elevating the nanny industry! If the offer is significantly below the average going rate in your area, respectfully educate on the going rate and cite a resource to back it up.
Then, state your minimum rate. If they are not able to come up to that, let them know that you must decline.
The employer will be far more likely to hear you out if you offer empathy with your message. Let them know that you understand that childcare costs are intense for the average family. There are more cost conscious options such as a nanny sharing or home daycare that are more cost conscious.
(Nanny sharing is a great recourse. Nannies can earn 33% more than their single family rate while families save 33%. Families and nannies alike can search viathevillage.com for a share family.)
If the offer is close to what you anticipated but you wouldn’t feel good accepting it as is, speak up and communicate what you would need to add that would make you feel excited about the offer.
Start with thanking them for the offer, reiterate the value you offer and make your ask.
I really appreciate the offer, thank you.
It was great meeting Billy. He is very sweet and so creative. I think we will have a lot of fun working on art projects together. And I’d be pleased to use my previous experience as a tutor to help him work through the issues with math that he’s been experiencing.
I would like to explore if the offer has any wiggle room. I would be happy to accept the position if… (insert your ask).
6. Formalize your agreement!
This last step is the most important step in setting things up for success.
It is critical to put things in writing. If your future employer hasn’t mentioned anything about a contract, take the lead. After accepting the offer, let them know you’d like to outline the terms and duties to ensure you have an understanding of the job expectations.
*Pro-tip! Via The Village offers great contract templates that are free that you can download and edit.
Putting things in writing will help catch misunderstandings before they happen and move you towards swift resolution if disputes do occur.
A contract is an essential tool in your negotiation toolbox that you will utilize throughout your employment. It is how you will negotiate raises and prevent/manage ‘scope creep’.
Most nannies who have been in the game for a minute have experienced at least some degree of scope creep. It is more likely to happen if upon hire, the duties are listed vaguely. Example- “care of children and light housework”. The problem with vague duty descriptions is that it leaves room for interpretation. Light housework could mean 10 different things to 10 different people.
It is imperative that duties are outlined in detail so you can understand job expectations before sealing the deal with signatures. So often nannies say, “If I would have known the job entailed all of this, I would have negotiated a higher rate!”. It is your responsibility to be sure you understand what the position entails. If it is more than you bargained for, you need to respectfully communicate that.
In the event scope creep occurs, contracts give you leverage. As the job evolves, your responsibilities may, too. Your employer might start to ask more and more of you. If you are willing and able to perform the additional duties, then the contract can be revisited. When more is expected of you, it is not unreasonable to expect a higher rate. It is a prime time to re-negotiate your rate at the time you agree to additional duties.
Negotiation is a skill and it will take practice. Good luck!
Only you can decide if the terms are agreeable to you. If you cannot come to agreeable terms, resume your search on viathevillage.com. Nannies can sign up free to search for a new position, nanny share family, and other nannies nearby. Best wishes.
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