The novel coronavirus that has swept the globe has created countless new situations for working parents with children. Whether it be stay home orders, the family's or nanny's legitimate safety concerns, or changes in work situations for parents, we are in somewhat uncharted territory.
Here we will discuss coronavirus situations involving a nanny share.
A nanny share is a situation where a single nanny is employed by two (occasionally more) families to care for the children of both families simultaneously. In a typical nanny share, the care is provided for the children in one home, and the families independently pay (and employ) the nanny in a pre-arranged fashion that splits her income. Both families are employers, both families issue a W-2 form at the end of the year, and it is a best practice that both families and the nanny enter into a three-way written work agreement to spell out their mutual understanding on pay, sick child care, vacation, and notice of termination of the agreement.
Situation 1: One Family Needs to Leave the Nanny Share
While not unique to the Coronavirus situation, many share situations have experienced a job loss in one family, or simply one family leaving because they want to socially isolate their children completely.
Ideally you have pre-planned for a family leaving the share in your 3-way agreement. Typically both families and nanny agree to a notice period (usually between 2-4 weeks), and the family leaving agrees to either provide notice or pay in lieu of notice of their intent to leave the share. After the departing family has fulfilled their financial commitment, the nanny can and should immediately file for unemployment insurance for that job loss. Because the nanny essentially has two jobs, she will receive partial unemployment insurance based on the loss of that part of her income. This will be paid to her from the state unemployment insurance fund, not the departing family, as the family had been contributing to that insurance fund via payroll unemployment taxes.
What if the departing family was the one hosting the nanny share?
Unfortunately, the family left in the share will become the host family, generally effective immediately. The families and nanny need to arrange the return of property - a pack and play for instance that the non-host family provided, car seats the nanny may have, etc. It goes without saying that all items should be thoroughly sanitized.
Situation 2: The Host Family in the Nanny Share now has a Work-From-Home Parent
We have spoken to parents where the host family suddenly has one or two parents working from home, and the activity level in the home becomes too much with all the children.
Some possible solutions here include:
1. The families' roles change in the relationship, and the alternate family begins hosting. Do bear in mind if your agreement had a cost differential to the host family, this needs to be reversed and the nanny payroll provider needs to be made aware of this.
2. The share relationship will terminate - see situation 1 above. It does get tricky if both families want to keep the nanny! Ultimately it is her decision which family she wants to continue working for. Neither family owns the nanny. Her considerations will include relationship with the parents and children, finances, and even her commute. She will be entitled to file for unemployment against the employer she is no longer with, as the circumstances of her employment changed through no fault of her own.
3. The newly work-from-home parents may even choose to find an alternate place to work. One of our share clients actually arranged to work in the non-host family's home and it is working out fine.
Situation 3: The Nanny is No Longer Available
This is all too common right now. The nanny may have her own children to care for with schools closed, she may commute via public transportation and not want to run the exposure risk on crowded buses and subways, or she may be ill or under quarantine due to her own exposure.
This is the worst case scenario for the families, as no-one has notice and there is quite possibly no defined timeline for when the nanny will become available again.
According to recent Department of Labor guidance, if there is a stay at home or shelter in place order in place in your community or the nanny's community, the nanny is eligible for unemployment for her job loss. Alternately, if the nanny is staying home to care for her own children due to school closure she may apply for emergency paid family leave and receive partial replacement from both families for up to 12 weeks. In most cases unemployment insurance is the better financial choice for the nanny, and the easier route for the families.