Shares: So What Exactly Is A Nanny Share?

Nanny shares have become a popular option in the nanny world over the last several years but many parents and nannies are unclear about what a nanny share is and how it works.  Let’s dive in and get some clarity.

A nanny share is joint position where two employers (sometimes more) come together to provide one nanny job.  It doesn’t matter if the children are cared for in one or both of the employers’ homes.  It’s the coming together part that is key here.  Nanny shares are considered joint employment meaning the employers are responsible together, and individually, for compliance with employment laws.

The Evolution of Nanny Shares
Nanny care is the most expensive type of childcare in our country. Although many families want in-home care, most can’t afford it.  There’s a growing segment of families that can’t afford a nanny as an individual employer however with the discount a nanny share offers, they can make the numbers work.

So how much is the discount?  A nanny share costs 25 to 35% less than hiring a nanny for your family solo.  It’s important to note that a nanny share is still an expensive childcare option compared to group care.  No matter what the arrangement, a nanny is always more expensive than daycare.  (The rare exception is if you have multiple children and are comparing nanny rates to an elite daycare or preschool is a large metro area.)

From the nanny’s perspective, a share is a great deal too.  A nanny can earn 30 to 50% more in a nanny share than she can earn working for a single family.  This is particularly attractive to two groups of nannies; those in smaller, lower paying markets and those who are at the top of their market’s pay range.  For each group it’s a great way to break through the wage ceiling.

So What Makes A Share A Share?
Nanny shares have similar characteristics that are unique to them.

Joint Employment  Two families come together to provide a full-time or part-time nanny position.  The families work together to provide a competitive wage and benefit package to the nanny and provide a joint job description, detail expectations, and outline instructions. Employers are responsible together, and individually, for compliance with employment laws.  This means that if one co-employer fails to follow employment laws and regulations properly, the other co-employer may be on the hook for it.

Share Rate  The nanny negotiates the hourly share rate she feels is appropriate for the job and the families decide how to divide the rate between themselves.  Families generally split the share rate in half although sometimes they decide to split the rate in a different way that works better for them.  This is common when the nanny cares for the children exclusively at one family’s home.  For example  the host family may pay a lower portion of the share rate because they’re providing food, diapers, and all day air conditioning every week.  Or the host family may pay a higher potion because they’re getting the benefit of household help each week.  Different things will work for different shares.

NOTE:  If there are times when the nanny is caring for the child of one family solo, that family generally pays the nanny’s single family rate.

A quick note about minimum wage, a hot topic of debate in nanny groups.  Each employer DOES NOT need to pay minimum wage.  The nanny must earn minimum wage for every hour worked so the share rate, what the nanny makes in total, must meet federal or state minimum wage requirements.   This is a moot point in practical terms because in every area of the country, a competitive share rate is at least two times the minimum wage.  So if the families are paying a competitive rate, they will by default be paying at least minimum wage.

Joint Compensation Package  The families work together to provide the nanny with the standard benefits and often more.  Because they’re working together, it’s cheaper for each family.  They may evenly divide the costs or they may divvy up the costs depending upon the resources of the each family.  Family One may provide a car for the nanny’s use during the day because the parents take the train to work.  Family Two may take on the costs of securing a back-up caregiver for the nanny’s vacation because Grandma does it for next to nothing.  One of the great things about a nanny share is that the families can be creative in putting together an attractive package for their caregiver.

Joint Decision Making  Both families work together to make decisions about the share (in consultation with the nanny of course), from how they’re going to cover sick days to what classes the kids will attend to how much screen time will be allowed during the day.  The success of the share relies heavily on this factor.  It ensures that each family gets a say in all aspects of the care their child receives and ensures the nanny isn’t caught in the middle trying to please two employers who want opposing things.

Equal Prioritization  In a share, the needs and preferences of each family are given equal weight.  This is why joint decision making by the parents is so important.  It ensures that both families feel they’re being treated fairly.

What A Nanny Share Is Not
A nanny working for two families that know each other
, even if the families occasionally ask the nanny to care for the kids together, is not a nanny share.  That’s a nanny working two jobs where the parents are friends and sometimes help each other out of a childcare bind.

A nanny bringing her own child to work is not a nanny share.  Both situations involve non-related children being taken care of together but that’s where the similarities end.

When a nanny brings her child to work, the family’s needs and preferences remain the focus of the job.  Of course the nanny provides great care to her child and makes sure his needs are met but the joint decision making and equal prioritization, key elements in a nanny share, are absent in this situation.  For example in a share, the parents decide together which classes to enroll the kids in.  When a nanny brings her child to work, the parents decides which classes to enroll their child in and the nanny’s child comes along.

The ability for a nanny to bring her child to work with her is considered a benefit (one nannies really value!) like paid time off or health insurance.  It impacts the hourly rate she’s asking for the same way other benefits do, she looks at the package as a whole and decides if and how it impacts her rate.  Sometimes she’ll lower her rate slightly, sometimes she won’t.  It depends on many factors including location, starting rate, other benefits, job description, and overall market.

A caregiver caring for her own child and another child in the caregiver’s home is not a nanny share.  This situation pops up a lot in facebook groups and job boards.  A stay-at-home mom advertises she’s available to “nanny in her home” while she cares for her own child.  This is not nannying or a share.  It’s a family care center.

I hope this article helps you decide if a share is the right option for you.  And don’t forget there’s an A to Z Nanny Share Contract to help guide you through the ins and outs of what’s legal, standard, and fair.