Hiring a nanny?
Canadians who hire nannies should use an employment contract. Employment contracts are safeguards that save money and reduce risk.
The problem, however, is that going to a lawyer for a solid employment contract to hire a nanny is too expensive or too complicated for many Canadian families. As a result, many Canadians copy and paste lousy employment contracts from the internet.
Every free employment contract template we found on Google geared towards families hiring nannies was unenforceable for one reason or another, with several common defects, most notably a clearly void termination clause. Worse, none of the sample nanny contracts had a valid probationary clause.
Our platform, goHeather, solves this problem. Our platform sells lawyer-made, provincially local employment contracts that families can download to have their nannies sign. Our contracts are industry standard, modelled after the latest in legislation, jurisprudence and employer-friendly terms.
goHeather is the solution to nanny employment contracts for families who choose not to retain a lawyer. Instead of using a lousy employment contract you find online, use goHeather’s free-to-build Canadian employment contract template and sleep easy knowing you are better protected. Try it today for free.
What makes a good nanny employment contract in Canada?
Most importantly, well-done Canadian nanny employment contracts have two key features, among others, that provide strong protections:
- A valid termination clause limiting the nanny to statutory notice/severance only. This means if your nanny sues you for severance, you will only owe them one week of pay for every year of service as per the province’s employment standards legislation, rather than Canadian common law, which can be several months of pay per year of service in the case of relatively short service.
- A probationary clause that allows the family to legally terminate a nanny without notice in the first 90 days if things don’t work out.
In addition, a solid employment contract for a nanny will include many other standard terms and conditions, for example, duration (indefinite vs fixed term) and wages.
Policies and procedures for handling the kids don’t need to go in the contract- they can be oral, written or unwritten. If a contract had every rule a parent wanted to enforce, the contract would be endless! to that end, job descriptions are not required in an employment contract because duties are implied into the employment relationship by the job title and your managerial discretion.
goHeather employment contracts for nannies in Canada have all the key terms and conditions you need. Build one for free to see. We have unique rules and set clauses depending on the province you are located in.
Do nannies say yes to signing employment contracts?
Yes, in our experience, nannies will typically sign an employment contract. Some may refuse, which may be a red flag. Employment contracts are standard business documents, so it would be unusual if someone didn’t want to sign one. However, remember that our experience applies to reasonable employment contracts, not overly onerous, harsh and unfair contracts. In other words, if the employment contract you offer your nanny is reasonable, they likely will sign it. And yes, including a termination clause and probationary clause is reasonable.
Must a nanny sign an employment contract?
In most provinces, no, nannies do not have to sign written employment contracts. Like all employment relationships, a contractual relationship is formed when a nanny accepts employment regardless of whether there is a signed written employment contract. If there is no signed written contract, the common law applies rather than explicit terms and conditions in a written contract. In addition, local employment standards legislation sets a floor for things like wages, overtime, rest periods and leaves, among others. Still, it is always a good idea to use an employment contract because an employment contract's very purpose is to contract out of less-friendly common law terms and allow the employer to set terms and conditions explicitly. There is simply no down side to having an employment contract.
Is a nanny a regular employee?
Yes, generally, nannies are regular employees. Nannies who work nearly exclusively for one family, mostly full-time, and not occasionally, would likely never be considered an “independent contractor”, regardless of whether they live in the house.
In this way, nannies (sometimes called "domestic workers" or "home workers" as per employment standards legislation) have the same rights as any other employee in Canada.
Read this article from a Toronto law firm for more information on the employment law of nannies.
In conclusion, Canadian families hiring a nanny should protect themselves from liability by using an employment contract. However, Canadian families should beware of the free templates for nanny contracts found online because all of them are void in Canada for many different reasons, notably termination terms, which have to be carefully crafted to be enforceable. Instead, Canadian families should hire a lawyer to draft an employment contract or use goHeather, which builds you an employment contracts from our employment contract templates made and updated by our in-house, locally licensed Canadian lawyers. You can add your own custom text to our contracts, which you should do to set things like regular hours of work, which may be required in your provinces.
Tip: Google your province's employment standards website about nannies and research what you need to include in your contract before using goHeather. If see a required term you have to include in your contract and the goHeather form doesn't already have an option to include that text, add it to the goHeather contract using the custom text option.