Why The Best Nannies Use Agencies
Nannies have a variety of resources to find a nanny job. There are sites like Care and Sittercity, word of mouth, local Facebook groups, and agencies. While nannies should utilize any and all resources to secure their next position, it's important to recognize that using an agency is the best option for a nanny. I want to be clear, however, that an agency is only the best option if it is truly a good agency. The benefit of using a good agency ensures the nanny isn't taken advantage of. There are agencies out there that don't advocate for nannies, so it's imperative nannies do their research before deciding which agencies they want to work with. The best way to find out if an agency advocates for its nannies is by asking other nannies in the area what their experience has been like and which agencies they recommend.
Here are the benefits of using an agency:
- Contract negotiation
- Guaranteed hours
- Vacation/sick time
- Mediation when problems arise
- Higher pay
- Guidance on how to communicate with employers
- Interview preparation
- Resume/portfolio assistance
When using an agency, a nanny can focus on just connecting with the family and finding the right match. An agency takes care of everything else, including the dreaded contract negotiation. Oftentimes during contract negotiation, nannies are afraid to speak up. Many nannies feel when a family hands them a contract, that they don't really have a say in it and must sign it as is. Even if a nanny feels parts of the contract are negotiable, it's still hard to confidently bring up those items to the parents. Because of this, nannies can often get sucked into agreeing to much more work than they feel comfortable with (like parents' laundry, parents' dishes, family meals, etc.) and they often accept lower pay than they feel they are worth. When working with an agency, nannies do not have to feel uncomfortable bringing those things up with parents because the agency will bring it up for them! A nanny will simply tell the agency they would like to counter offer the pay rate or that they aren't comfortable doing parents' laundry, and the agency will communicate that to the family and negotiate on behalf of the nanny. This doesn't mean the nanny will always get what they are asking for, but it takes the pressure off the nanny because they don't have to negotiate with the parents themselves.
Furthermore, a good agency is going to ensure everything is being done legally and fairly. Guaranteed hours are an industry standard and agencies make sure parents know this. An agency will also make sure a nanny is receiving a W-2 rather than a 1099 (which is illegal). Things like overtime often go amiss and parents either don't know the laws or they find loopholes to bypass those laws. A good agency will make sure overtime is absolutely being paid and they will explain to the parents why it's so important to follow the law as it pertains to employing a nanny. In addition, an agency helps prepare nannies for interviews by helping them develop a more comprehensive resume and portfolio and briefing them before they meet with a family in person.
Finally, an agency is there when problems arise. Just like with contract negotiation, an agency is a resource for the nanny when they are having trouble with something at their position. Agencies offer tips on how to handle situations and how to properly and professionally communicate with parents. Agency owners are very busy so they can't sit down and mediate every problem, but they can offer support so you don't have to handle it entirely on your own. Plus, if a big issue arises that requires mediation, an agency should offer a consulting referral for the family and nanny to use.
In sum, there really is no reason for a nanny to not use an agency. Using an agency doesn't cost the nanny anything (if an agency ever tries to charge you, run!) and it helps nannies find more professional, legal, and fair positions. Generally speaking, parents who use an agency do so because they want to find the best nanny for their family and they want to employ their nanny fairly and legally. So, what do you have to lose? Do your research, apply to a good agency, actively look for a job on your own, and see what happens!