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The New Sick Leave Law and your Nanny

Is being a nanny even a real job? Does a nanny or sitter have the same rights as an employee of a company?

Many employers have questions about how the new law impacts the employment of their nanny.

Emily Dills, President of Seattle Nanny Network, Inc., helps you sort the answers out.

Employment Law and the Nanny

As an employer, you are required to pay your nanny “on the books”. Failing to do so means at the very least your nanny will not have credit history, which helps them to apply for a home or car loan. All too often a nanny will inadvertently alert the IRS to the fact that their employer did not pay taxes when they attempt to apply for unemployment benefits. The result is, you guessed it – the IRS finds and fines the family. Don’t let this be you. Pay the applicable taxes. We work with and recommend that you do too.

Is the Nanny Eligible for Benefits?

Until recently, the only legal requirement of nanny employers was to do the above – pay taxes. However, due to a change in the law effective January 1st, 2018, (which impacts almost all employers – more on this in the next post), it is now required that hourly workers be paid one hour of sick leave for every forty hours worked. This is accruable after 90 days of employment.

For a full time employee, this can be about 52 hours of paid leave per year. Wow! That’s a lot for a small employer who is not a company but a private home you say? True, but read on to see why this is a good thing, and why it’s not as complicated as you think.

Why does a Nanny Need Benefits?

The nanny industry is unregulated. This means anyone can call themselves a nanny, and anyone can act as a recruiter who places them in private homes. Private home employees are marginalized due to this lack of regulation, and the industry as a whole (along with the children for whom they care) suffers as a result.

By offering fair pay and benefits, the career choice of being a nanny gains respectability and the profession attracts more qualified people. This is a win for everyone.

Is my Childcare Provider a Sitter or a Nanny?

Your sitter, like a nanny, is an hourly employee, and hourly employees by law must receive one hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours worked. However, there’s a tax threshold of $2,100(updated from the previous $2,000) which typically differentiates the two. In a nutshell, if you pay one person less than $2,100 per year, you’re beneath the required reporting threshold. This is applicable to most babysitting arrangements. If you pay a person above the $2,100 threshold within a year, you will need to report to the IRS. This would be applicable to both part time and full time nannies. If you employ that person more than 40 hours per year, you will need to offer one hour of paid sick leave for each 40 hours worked.

Next week we answer the following questions: “Do I have to pay sick leave on top of the vacation time I already offer?” and “What employees are exempt from the sick leave benefit?”

Emily Dills is the President & COO of Seattle Nanny Network, Inc. Washington State is blazing the trail for domestic workers’ rights with their Public Health Initiative 1433, the same ballot measure that also raised the statewide minimum wage. Seattle Nanny Network has participated in the commission for domestic workers created by Working Washington since its inception. For more information, visit


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Copyright © 2018 Emily Dills. All Rights Reserved

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