Severance Pay for Nannies

Parent Q&A

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  • Is severance pay for a nanny customary?

    (14 replies)

    I am curious to hear from other parents whether paying a severance to a nanny you are parting ways with is market standard practice? My family and I have worked with a nanny for just over two years, but we are relocating and therefore have to part ways. Our agreement requires either party to give the other party two weeks notice, so if she decided to take another job, she was only obligated to give us two weeks notice and vice versa. Our agreement doesn’t mention severance or parting gifts. We gave her two weeks notice and are helping her with finding her next family. She has since sent us an email asking for severance (vs. bringing this up to us in person). We want to be fair but reasonable, so I’m curious what other families in East Bay have done when ending their work with their nanny. 

    A parting gift of 1-2 weeks' pay for a nanny of two years is common--we gave two--but severance pay beyond that is not. Assuming you have been paying over the table, though, your nanny is eligible to receive unemployment if she does not have a job immediately lined up.

    I don't know what's customary, but we suddenly found a preschool and had to work through how to part ways with our awesome nanny.

    We ended up delaying preschool start by a few weeks due to a previously scheduled vacation. We ended up giving our nanny 4 weeks notice, and paid her 1 week's pay extra in her final payment. I guess it could be considered severance, altho we were already planning to pay her while we were on vacay, so it was a natural blend of the two.

    We also acted as a reference and would have posted on bpn if needed. 

    We did not pay severance per se, but our nanny had accrued vacation time during her time working for us, and we paid out the unused vacation time when we parted ways.  The expectation of this was laid out in our initial nanny contract.

    In doing some checking around, unless your agreement with your nanny has a severance clause you are NOT legally obligated to pay her anything.  However, given that nannies to talk and should you find yourself needed a nanny in the future, you might want to consider paying her the standard two weeks of severance.  Two weeks is the what appears to be standard in the industry for severance pay.  Good luck.

    When we parted ways with a nanny we adored (and hope to hire back for #2, I'm currently pregnant), we and the family we shared with decided to jointly give a $500 parting bonus (less than 1/2 week's pay) along with some other small gifts (e.g. framed photo of kids). It certainly isn't required especially if not mentioned in your agreement, though in researching the topic, it sounded to me like it was not that unusual for some families to give up to a full week's pay. Tough decision, and now more awkward that she brought it up directly. Good luck making the right decision for you!

    Your contract basically provides for two weeks’ severance by requiring two weeks’ notice. When we had a nanny we had a similar provision but provided 30 days notice/severance.

    It’s up to you whether you want to increase this amount over what was agreed to in the contract. Though it’s not required, you may want to provide a parting bonus if your nanny was a good employee. 

    We are relocating as well and are giving our nanny a full month’s pay as a bonus/severance. She has been working for us nearly a year. We also helped her find another nanny job. 

    Everyone I know paid 2-3 weeks severance on their last day for nannies who had been with them up to one year. Our nanny had been with us for two years so we paid her four weeks severance after two weeks notice and made sure to secure another position for her.

    Hi there - It's not required but I think it is customary if employment is ending due to no fault of their own. Plus it's what we'd want and expect from our employers if there were a parallel situation. Severance is usually 1-2 weeks per year worked, so you'd want to pay 2-4 weeks of pay if you go this route. 

    2 week notice is required, severance is not.  Some families decide to do severance, some do a gift, and some do nothing. It really depends on how good she is, how much you liked her, and your financial ability to be generous.  She is not entitled to severance unless it is in her contract.  If you are helping her find another family and gave her full 2 week notice, she should be able to find work quickly and not have loss of income.  If she is having a hard time finding other work that might be a reason to give her a bit of severance to help, but it is totally optional.   I gave my home daycare 2 weeks’ tuition as a gift (divided between the co-owners/caregivers) when my last child left there but I LOVED them and they had all my kids there at some point.  If you end up doing severance you could do one week’s worth.  For me, the fact that she asked for it would make me less likely to give it, unless you promised it to her or it is in contract.  

    We have parted ways with several nannies due to a variety of reasons. Severance is not common practice and should not be expected. As long as you have paid her any accrued vacation, then there should be no other payments as per your contract. Definitely not necessary.

    When we parted ways with our nanny, we paid her for all unused vacation and what we would have normally given her as a bonus at the end of the year (two weeks pay). I don’t know what is customary, but in my industry our US office provide two weeks pay for each year of service if an employee is being laid off. Our Asia-based offices provide one month for each year of service.

    If you pay your nanny legally, she can access unemployment, which provides a cushion. This is a big reason we really wanted (and did) pay our nanny legally. When we parted ways (through no fault on either side), we provide a bit of a bonus since she was an amazing part of our family for more than a year and we were deeply appreciative of her efforts for our child. If you pay "under the table," it's a tougher situation since there's potential legal risk involved.

    We paid our nanny a bonus when we transitioned our child to preschool after 2.5 years in her care. I think severance pay or a parting bonus is appropriate and normal. I would ask yourself, "what would YOU want your employer to do if it were you in this situation?" I think giving her 2 weeks notice and helping her find her next family are the bare minimum and I encourage you to go beyond the bare minimum with someone who helped you with your children over the last few years. 

  • Severance pay when nanny share ends?

    (2 replies)

    Our nanny share is coming to an end.  Is it usual and customary to pay a severance or give parting gifts?  Our nanny is choosing not to stay with us as she would like to be in a share situation.  

    Generally when the employee chooses to leave there is no severance needed.  In a situation where the nanny is let go without cause I have heard of a severance bonus being common, but in your situation where the nanny chooses to leave I would personally not do a substantial severance bonus.  I would likely do a parting gift or a small gift card, but not a significant amount of cash as severance since in this case leaving is her choice and it seems she knew about the situation ahead of time and chose to leave so she likely has other work opportunities lined up.   

    Severance would be something your nanny would have negotiated when she started working for you. Do you have a contract with her? If she didn’t ask for it and you didn’t agree to it up front then I don’t think there should be any expectation of severance, especially if she is terminating the relationship. As far as a parting gift, I think that’s up to you. I gave our nanny flowers when we wrapped up with her. We had just recently given her a generous holiday bonus. Between that and some recurrent issues we’d had with her performance I didn’t think another large gift was warranted. If you feel like expressing gratitude and generosity then I’m sure a gift either small or larger will be appreciated, but I don’t think there’s a hard and fast rule to follow. 

  • I am seeking advice about best practices for parting with a caregiver. The question comes from my confusion about what my partner and I should have done in a recent situation. The nanny in question began working for us on a regular, part-time basis, one day a week, starting around February. Starting around May, she began working 2-3 days a week. For a little less than a month, from mid-August to mid-September, she worked for us full-time. Throughout this period we paid her $25/hour, on the books. This rate was higher than what we had anticipated paying a nanny, but we recognized that she was very good at her job and that she fit our situation well. We also gave her paid holidays and a small amount of paid sick time and paid vacation time.  We were clear throughout that we did not contemplate a long-term arrangement and that we planned for our child to enter full-time day care in mid-September. In preparation for her departure, we provided the nanny with an excellent reference, advertised her services, and ultimately helped her secure a full-time job that commenced as soon as our arrangement ended. We probably did not put as much thought into her parting gift as we should have, but decided on a $100 gift card to a place that we knew she liked. The next day, she messaged us to tell us that a significantly more generous gift, paid in cash, would have been in keeping with industry customs, and that we ought to be aware of this going forward. We do plan to hire a part-time nanny again down the line and we want to do the right thing. What do others think would have been appropriate in this situation? We ended up writing this nanny a check for two full days of pay (her suggestion of what was minimally appropriate), in an attempt to end the relationship on the right note, but we still feel confused. She cited BPN as a good place for us to educate ourselves -- thus this inquiry.

    When we last employed kid help, the word on the net was year-end bonus was "one week's pay."  Since we had a seasonal employee, not a full year, we gave her a bonus of about 1/52nd of the total amount we expected to pay her over the course of her work with us.  In our case, we paid $350/week for ~15 weeks so her bonus was ~$100 (350x15/52), plus a few small token gifts.  

    I'm appalled that this nanny extorted money out of you. I really wish that you didn't succomb to the pressure. A bonus is a bonus. You paid for all of the services that you received and this was just a thank you gift. I would really like to know the name of this person so that I never end up having anyone like this alone with my child. You say that she was a good nanny but I find it hard to believe that she wasn't teaching your child horrible manners. I'm seriously outraged that anyone would treat you like this. Repulsive.

    Think about what you've been given by your employers when your job ends. I've never received anything more than a payout of my unused PTO. Why should nannies be paid when no one else does?

    I think your former nanny's response to the gift was very inappropriate and that you did nothing wrong. A gift is not a gift if a specific amount is demanded, then it becomes a business transaction, like pay in exchange for work. Unless you had agreed in advance to pay her a certain amount upon termination, like a severance payment, then you owed her nothing and whatever you gave her should have been graciously accepted, even if she felt some inner disappointment. It also certainly sounds like the terms of her employment were fair by community standards and that you were very helpful in assisting her to secure new employment. I'm honestly pretty appalled at her behavior. 

    First, it was poor manners of  your nanny to comment on the gift you gave in any way, other than to say thank you.

    That said, my understanding is that the equivalent of two weeks' pay as a bonus is standard.  In your case, since she worked for you full time only one month, and 2.5 days per week most of the time, I probably would have given at the low end the equivalent of 2.5 days * 2 weeks' pay (8 hours per day x 2.5 days = $500), or at the high end, one week's pay at the full-time rate ($1000).  And yes, cash is always best.  

    It's hard when there is a personal relationship as well as a business one.  Nanny caregiving is highly personalized caregiving, but it is still a profession, and the "gift" in this case I think would more properly be considered a tip, bonus, or severance - in essence, income.  So while she was definitely rude in commenting on the gift, it appears that you paid her only about 1/5 to 1/10 of industry standard

    I'm curious about others' responses, but to my mind, your caregiver sounds incredibly ungrateful. She was a part-time employee for less than one year. You paid her well above market at $25/hr (for one child presumably?), placed her in a great new position, and gave her a parting gift on top of it. You shouldn't have felt badgered into giving another check on top of that. We give our nanny large bonuses ($500+), but that's because she's been full time with us for years. I don't think your situation called for hundreds of dollars in parting pay.

    Let me understand: You had her about half a year only, most of which part-time or less, paid her a generous rate plus extras, communicated clearly about the duration, ensured she had a great immediate new employment, were thoughtful in giving a sizable parting gift - and she complains about that not being enough?!? That strikes me as extremely ungrateful and disproportionately demanding. To expect 2 days' pay on top of the gift card might be what could be justified after a year or more of near-FT employment. Unless things have changed dramatically in the marketplace since my kids were little, I would think your treatment was more than generous and fair. Her attitude would have left me bitter, and I would look for a different person for future needs.

    I think you were more than generous with your gift, maybe if she had worked for you for a couple of years full time you should have done more. Frankly you paid her well for her services and anything over that should be taken as a gesture of your appreciation. I am an owner of a small family daycare and usually have children full time in my care for a couple of years. And I often have the siblings of first children.Some parents give gifts and others just tell me how much they appreciated the care I gave their children. Frequently parents  keep in touch with me about how preschool is going. I am paid for my services and really would never want to have my clients feel they have to give me gifts when they move on in the next step of child-hood.  You gave her plenty of notice and paid her well. I feel you did a lot for her.


    I'm fairly shocked at your story, I have to say. From your account, you were quite a decent employer. $25 /hr for a nanny is on the high end in my opinion (though I'll admit it's been 4 years since we last had a nanny, so perhaps the rates have gone up significantly with the cost of housing?) Frankly, I find it pretty appalling of her to tell you that your gift wasn't enough, since what she got sounds reasonable to me. She was with you for less than a year? I'm kind of amazed. I don't think it's standard in ANY profession to expect ANY bonus when you've worked for someone for such a short amount of time.

    Here's my take on it: This woman has manipulated you into giving her more than you wanted to and has done so by making you feel insecure about what you had offered her. But what you offered was not at all inappropriate, and in fact sounds extremely respectful and reasonable. My advice is to close the door on this lady and not let her occupy any more of your precious energy. (And if you every need another nanny, I'd be happy to recommend our former nanny who would treat you a lot better!)

    I've never heard about your nanny's industry standard customs. I've hired part-time nannies, and I have many friends who have hired nannies, so I think I know a fair bit about the industry standard.  I also researched pay rates, vacation expectations, etc. because I needed to know what my family could afford when we were looking at childcare options. 

    You sound like you were a very fair/generous employer--and your reaction to her comments was also kind. If you have the opportunity in the future, you may want to warn future employers (parents) about making sure they understand your ex-nanny's possible expectations.  Of course it's fine that she asks for what she wants, but a gift is a gift--it's not severance pay.  The caretaker should have made her severance expectations clear when she was hired or when she went full time. Her comments weren't professional--or in my opinion, accurate. 

    But, it's great that she provided your child with good childcare and you were happy with the situation! That's the most important thing.

    After many years of childcare work as a nanny, I was surprised by what your caregiver told you. I would have been delighted and grateful for getting a $100 gift card for working just a few months for a family. I don't recall many (or any) families being that generous even after several years of part time to full time nanny work for them. 

    Generally 2 weeks severance pay would be standard, and a month's notice is standard (being a different kind of job, it requires more notice than standard on both sides of the equation). But only after some time of working with the family, not with a brand new employee. She wasn't a brand new employee, but she was part time with other benefits. 

    You can also search Berkeley Parents Network Nanny Severance to find other feedback. 

    You should have messaged her to point out that a gift should always be graciously received with a simple "Thank you", regardless of the amount. She lacks manners, grace and common sense. Maybe not such a great nanny afterall.

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Parting gift for nanny

Sept 2012

We are parting ways with our beloved nanny of 3 years and are at a loss for how to express our gratitude. I plan to write her a nice letter but would also like to get her some sort of gift. But, what kind of gift do you give someone who has helped raise your child?? Would love some tips from other folks who have gone through this process. Thanks! Kat

We gave our nanny cash and a small photo book with pictures of our child throughout the time she cared for him. anon

Lots of cash (not a check) and a very thoughtful card with a small framed photo of your child with her. Anon

Our nanny has been with us over 7 years and just left since our youngest just started daycare. As a goodbye gift we gave her some money and I created a Shutterfly book with our children and her over the past 7 years. She loved it! Jessica

Hi Kat - We gave our nanny of 3 years a book of photos (we used our iPhoto on our Mac, but there are a number of self-publishing photo book options like Snapfish or Blurb and many others) along with text. We inscribed it with what you'd likely want to put in the letter you mentioned, and then we filled it of pictures of her with our child. She loved it. It's a sentimental gift, plus a good ''portfolio'' for her to show to prospective families. We even asked her to take some photos towards the end of her term of service, not telling her what they were for, but just to have documentation of all the places she took our son. photo mom

My nanny greatly appreciated severance pay of one week's pay per year worked ! She's still my close friend.

We've had a couple changes in nannies over the years, as well as their birthdays, Christmases, etc... We have always had rather young nannies who were saving up money for all sorts of things and often did not have too big of a budget to spend on unnecessarities. While my husband has always argued for giving money, I have always found that too impersonal, and have preferred to find a gift that reminds them that they have a life outside of taking care of our kids while trying to give something that they might long for but would not buy for themselves (we usually end up doing a mix of both, money AND gift). Favorites are Marc Jacobs bags (clutches I should say), Leigh & Luca scarves, Creed perfume, or beautiful jewelry from Pimlico Place on Piedmont Ave in Oakland. So far, we've had no complaints Have Fun Shopping

Goodbye Gift for Nanny

Sept 2005

It is time for us to say a fond farewell to our nanny, who currently cares for our daughter with another child three days per week. Our daughter is starting preschool in the fall and it is an amiable parting. We want to give her a goodbye gift, and her husband suggested a gift certificate for the Gap. I am wondering if other people give parting gifts to nannies (we like her a lot), what they give (cash or gifts?) and for about how much. Thanks for the advice

When our nanny left our employ we gave her a cash bonus (I think equivalent to 1/2 mos. pay but I honestly can't remember - it's been a while) and a gorgeous bouquet of flowers in a vase. I felt money would be most useful to her, to spend as she chose, but I wanted her to also have a traditional gift that let her know how much we cherished her. Amy

Meaningful gift for departing nanny

Nov 2004

My family is moving out of state so we will be leaving our nanny- share situation. We have been using our nanny for the past 16 months and my daughter truly loves her. She is amazing with my daughter and the other little boy whom we share her with. Obviously I am feeling sad and somewhat guilty over taking my 18- month old daughter away from a situation in which she is completely thriving in, but our decision to move is based on many factors (mostly to be closer to grandparents).

I want to get our nanny a gift or do something special for her to show our appreciation. English is not her first language, so I don't know how much she understands when I verbalize to her how much she means to us. Any suggestions on a meaningful gift? I know she probably mostly needs money, so maybe that would be best, but to me it seems inpersonal. Also, should I do some kind of farewell dinner, or just pick her up on the final day and say good-bye? Finally, Is there someway to prepare my daughter for this major change in her life? She is losing her nanny (who she often asks for by name), her best friend (the little boy whom we share with), moving out of her home to a new and unfamiliar place, and getting a new sibling all within a few months. I appreciate any responses. felicia

When we moved away from our nanny of 4 years, I made a photo album for her and gave her a pair of earrings. I invited her over to say good-bye and we gave her the gifts, drawings, hugs and tears. It is very hard to say good-bye and to make a big change. Like all changes, you and your little will be sad and then it will get better with time. Good luck! becky

I think you can do something that is very personal that is not expensive, like give your nanny a framed picture of her and your daughter, or a framed piece of art that your daughter made, or a typed list of all the nice things your daughter has said about her over the years, or some sort of corny thing where you spell out your nanny's name and for each letter you make a word that describes how you value her/her character. And then when you give her the personal item you also give your nanny *cash*. I really do believe that most nannies would much prefer cash to expensive gifts of another type. I know friends who got their nanny a day pass and massage at the Claremont and the nanny was so bummed. She would have much rather had the $200 to spend on her family, or herself, in a way that she could choose. Another gift is to carefully write your nanny a strong formal recommendation letter that she can take with her on job interviews in the future (even if she has already set up her next job, she can still use it in the future), and make yourself super available as a reference. Give the gift that keeps on giving...