As a mother and business owner I have employed many nannies. My children are now young adults but they still recall these caregivers with fondness. As an agency owner and employer I know there can be many advantages to developing a close relationship with your nanny. But how close is too close? When does the boundary between employer and employee become so blurred that one or both parties start to feel uncomfortable
When I hired a nanny for my 3 year old daughter I felt very comfortable about my relationship with her. One day I came home from an appointment and noticed she was wearing a sweater that was identical to mine. I asked her where she bought the sweater and she said it wasn’t hers. She was cold and went into my dresser and borrowed my sweater. Of course this was not a big issue but I did feel uncomfortable about the fact she felt we had a relationship where she could go into my room and borrow my clothing. I didn’t say anything about this but promised myself I would if something similar happened again. Luckily it didn’t
Employers may be asked by their nanny to borrow money and the employer may feel they are uncomfortable refusing especially if the favour is related to the health and well being of their nanny. Nannies may feel uncomfortable if an employer discusses personal information about the family that is not related to their job.
A nanny job is very different than a traditional office or retail type job and often the employer wants to make the nanny feel like part of the family especially if they are live-in nannies. It is important to offer support to your employee –within reason. It is not a good idea to assist her with marital advice or lend her money. This doesn’t mean that, as an employer, you should be in the dark regarding marital problems or financial difficulties but referring her to another resource to assist her is more appropriate then becoming personally involved.
A respectful drama free relationship will benefit every one involved especially the children. We recommend that a detailed contract be drawn up. This contract should clearly outline the salary, compensation for use of your employee’s car, over time compensation and any additional issues that may become grey areas.
Over time you may become close to your nanny –after all she is taking care of your children. The problem occurs when the line between employer and employee becomes blurred. I have heard many employers and nannies describe the close friendship they have after the employment relationship is over. This is beneficial to the children as well as the adults involved. But during the employment relationship it’s important to maintain clear employer-employee boundaries to avoid uncomfortable situations that could be potentially damaging.