If you have an in-home caregiver (or plan to hire one), you may decide to place a nanny cam inside your home. Is this legal? Should you tell your nanny it’s there? You may have questions and we have the answers.
1. Can I legally install a nanny cam in my home?
It’s legal in all 50 states to make a video-only recording of what’s happening in your home. You don’t need to tell your nanny you’ve installed a hidden camera.
While you may have the right to use a nanny cam in your home, those rights are waived if you engage in criminal behavior.
A nanny cam can only be used for acceptable and reasonable purposes like monitoring your child’s safety or preventing theft. It can’t be used for illegal reasons such as voyeurism, blackmail or disclosing private information about your nanny to the public or for commercial purposes.
If you have any concerns about the legality of your actions, you may want to consult a criminal defense attorney. They may be able to help you steer clear of inadvertently committing a crime like eavesdropping in your state.
2. What about audio recordings?
This is where it gets a little tricky. Audio recordings and video recordings are often looked at differently under the law.
For example, it’s illegal to record someone’s voice without their permission in these 15 states:
- New Hampshire
In these states, you need to inform your caregiver that you have a nanny cam that records audio. The notice should be given in writing and could be part of a work agreement or nanny contract.
* While Hawaii allows one-party consent for audio recordings, it requires two-party consent if the recording device is in a “private place.”
3. Can I put a nanny cam anywhere in my house?
In most states, you can’t legally place a camera where someone has an expectation of privacy such as a bathroom. If you have a live-in nanny, you shouldn’t put a camera in their bedroom or living area.
Even if your state doesn’t expressly ban the use of hidden cameras in a private area, you shouldn’t assume it’s legal or morally acceptable to do so. If you plan to install a nanny cam, stick to common areas like a living room, playroom or kitchen.
4. Can nanny cams be hacked?
Like any device that is wireless and can be connected to the Internet, there is always the chance that your nanny cam can be compromised.
Here are some steps to help make your camera more secure:
- Require a password to access your WiFi network that is not the default password for your router
- Change the password for the camera’s software from the default immediately after you install it and then every three months
- Make your password a combination of letters, numbers, and special characters that is difficult to guess
- Register your camera with the manufacturer to receive security updates
- Turn off your camera when it’s not in use
- Disconnect the camera from the Internet for at least a few minutes every week
Some of the more sophisticated cameras may include a form of signal scrambling to help prevent hacking.
5. Should I tell our caregiver that we have a nanny cam in the home?
There are pros and cons to this question.
Some nannies may turn down your job if they know you have a nanny cam, which may make it tougher to find a suitable caregiver for your child. However, if you explain that you trust your nanny and that the use of the camera is for your peace of mind and child’s safety, then a nanny may find that reasonable. By telling them about the use of a nanny cam, you’re establishing honesty at the start of your professional relationship.
In fact, your nanny may not care if you have a camera or not. They may just want to know one way or the other. Having a nanny cam could also work to their advantage. A recording can confirm their version events if, say, your toddler gets a scrape or bruise and the nanny cam footage shows that your nanny was correct in saying he fell down on his own through no fault of the caregiver.
A nanny cam system with two-way audio can provide some additional benefits for you and your nanny. If your caregiver isn’t close to a phone but near a nanny cam, they can contact you for help or with questions. You can also use it to communicate reminders, ask questions, or pass along information without needing to text or call.
If you don’t tell your nanny ahead of time and they discover you have a camera recording them, you may jeopardize or create doubt in your relationship and they may decide to look for employment elsewhere.
On the other hand, you’re more likely to catch negligent behavior if your nanny is unaware there is a camera. Although it may create an uncomfortable situation if you need to address actions that were caught on camera without your nanny knowing they were being recorded.
Remember the use of a nanny cam is not to catch your nanny in the act of doing something neglectful or dangerous. It’s to prevent that from happening in the first place and ensuring your children are safe. Letting your nanny know they’re being watched may be enough to positively influence their actions.
It’s a good idea to include the fact that your home has a nanny cam in your work agreement or nanny contract. When your nanny signs the document, they are acknowledging that they may be recorded on video during their employment.
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