How To Dismiss Your Nanny: The Way To Handle This Delicate Task

Letting an employee go is difficult for most employers. It has to be handled with finesse, or bad feelings can ensue in the wake of a poorly handled firing.

Dismissing a nanny can be even worse, particularly if they have been with you for quite some time.

In this post, we offer some tips for handling this delicate task correctly and legally. Although it is hard on all parties involved – especially children, if they have grown attached to the nanny — it can be less painful if it’s done with aplomb and professionalism. Keep these tips in mind if you have decided you must let your nanny go.

1. Make sure grounds for firing are included in your employee’s contract.

Although firing them may be the furthest thing from your mind when you hire a nanny, it’s important to think ahead. What could this individual do to make you want them off your payroll and out of your home, if they live in? During the initial phase, it may seem as if nothing in this setup could go wrong. Remember: no matter how thoroughly you vet this person, having them in your home presents challenges, and it doesn’t always work out the way employers hope. Anticipating problems means you – and your nanny – won’t be surprised by them later should they arise.

2. Do performance reviews that include any problems or shortcomings.

Let’s say your nanny has a chronic problem with tardiness, and shows up for work 15 minutes past the agreed upon hour when their day should start. Be sure to broach this subject right away, write everything down that is said during the meeting, and supply your nanny with a copy of this document. If you have a written record of times when you raised these problems with your nanny, when the time comes to dismiss them, the nanny cannot claim the firing came out of nowhere.

3. Be sure to know your state’s employment guidelines regarding terminations.

Every state has different rules on severance packages, giving notice, and other matters involved in employer-employee relations. Familiarize yourself with all these regulations before sitting down with your nanny and giving them the news.

4. If you want them gone immediately, consider increasing termination pay.

If there is any reason you are concerned for the wellbeing of your child, it is vital that the nanny is dismissed immediately. Adding to their severance package may induce the individual to leave with little fuss. It may seem counterintuitive to reward someone with financial inducements whom you no longer trust, but it may be worth it to have their keys given back and your peace of mind restored immediately.

5. If you have hired through an agency, contact them right away.

Agencies vet their nannies thoroughly, but sometimes it is possible for a candidate to hide a red flag that would tip off potential employers, even today, in the era of Google searches and background checks.  Be sure you have documents that cover all the reasons for dismissing the nanny, and see to it the agency is fully informed of all the issues that led to the firing.

6. If the children are grown, the nanny may know the time has come to move on.

Not all dismissals are because of unprofessional behavior. Once your children reach a certain age, or move out to attend college, having a nanny may no longer be necessary. Try to anticipate that day by including an “end date” in their contract, perhaps when the last of the children turns 16 or 18. You can always revisit this clause, but building it in right from the beginning is a good way to avoid problems later.

7. Before the nanny exits, sign a letter together stating you agree to all terms.

Showing them a document that specifies why they are being fired is a good first step. However, before their departure, you should have them sign a letter stating they understand, and agree to, all terms related to the dismissal. Doing this wards off any future complaints that the nanny was not fully, or properly, informed of your reasons.

8. Should they be allowed to say goodbye to your child?

This is, strictly speaking, more of an ethical dilemma than a legal one. Your child or children may have become attached to this person, even if you feel their performance has been sub-standard. Unless you have reasons to want them out by the end of the day (theft, substance abuse, or neglect) allowing your child to say goodbye may be a way to help heal the disappointment they will feel about losing this individual.  After all, a child cannot understand the intricacies of employer-employee relations and job performance. All they may know is that their nanny is leaving, and so allowing them to part ways amicably may be best. Only you, as their parent and the employer, know how to properly handle this tricky interaction. If you do decide that saying goodbye is acceptable, supervising the exchange may put your mind at ease.

Dismissing any employee is stressful for even the most seasoned employer. Firing a nanny, who may have been living under your roof and developing a close bond with your child, has the potential to mushroom into a legal and emotional battlefield for the entire family. That’s why it is so important that you make the right hiring decision, that you choose a candidate who is the perfect fit for your household. Using a nanny referral agency like Elite Nannies helps to avoid potential problems that come when applicants are not fully screened and vetted. At Elite Nannies, we do this work in advance, to ensure your family is matched with the ideal nanny, a person who will come to feel like an integral part of your home, someone who will be there to love and support your child for years to come.