Two nanny policies that commonly arise during the employment relationship are that of disciplining an employee, and whether or not to provide severance pay should a nanny quit or be terminated.
While household employment is largely at-will employment in most states, an employer will generally take disciplinary action before dismissing a nanny or other household employee. Such discipline can be implemented in progressively more serious actions, such as a verbal warning followed by a written warning, counseling, probation, suspension, and finally termination. By employing a progressive disciplinary practice, an employer can demonstrate that the employee knew about the problems, and for whatever reason, did not improve the situation. In the employee handbook, detail the disciplinary policy, but state that employees may be fired at will. Ensure, too, that not all employee actions need go through the progressive process; a serious infraction of household policy and serious misdeed will result in immediate dismissal. If a nanny proves untrustworthy and instills fear that harm will be done to a household member or employer property, by all means, remove him/her from the workplace immediately. In the employee handbook, state that the employer will decide which situation warrants what type of disciplinary action.
Severance for a nanny or other employee that is leaving your household is discretionary. If he/she has behaved inappropriately and is being fired, then no severance is necessary. However, if the employee has been with the family for a long time, has been a good employee, and the reason for leaving is because of circumstances (say the employee is retiring, or the children are going to school, or because the family is moving away), then it is an acceptable gesture to provide some type of severance (if financially affordable) and as much notice before the end of the employment as you can (especially if the employee needs to look for another job). The amount you give as severance depends on the family finances, but also how long the employee has worked for the family. Common severance is one week’s pay for each year the employee has worked in the household, with a minimum of two weeks.
For more information or if you have questions, please contact GTM’s Household Employment Experts at (888) 432-7972.