Termination of your Nanny’s contract should almost never be your first recourse in disciplinary situations with your nanny.
Of course there are the dreadful situations that we hope would never ever happen, that fall into “gross negligence” or “gross misconduct”, where immediate termination is called for.
Occurrences such as theft, or that your child was put in grave danger by a nanny’s actions (or non-actions) fall into these categories.
However, usually there’s an escalating series of warnings and corrections that come before you decide to let your employee go.
• You must ensure that you follow the guidelines drawn up by ACAS, and that are in the Nanny’s contract for this situation.
• Following the correct procedures. work with your nanny through any potentially troublesome issues, ensuring that you’ve examined all the angles and worked though the correct procedures, before deciding that termination is the best course of action.
• Ask yourself “Can the Situation Be Saved?” – in other words, are things really as bad as they seem? Your Nanny is someone who sees your children all the time, and even within the bounds of the employer-employee relationship, things can feel closer or more complicated than they might in a corporate environment, which is why it’s important to take a step back and look objectively at the facts.
-What has the nanny done that you consider to be grounds for termination?
-Has it happened before?
-Was it a wilful violation of a rule that you previously made clear, or something that happened due to miscommunication?
It just might be possible to salvage the situation, and it may be possible to either issue a warning, or organise a meeting instead of terminating your Nanny’s employment.
• Is a Contract in Place? The Nanny’s contract should always have been drawn up and signed within the statutory time guidelines, and that contract should have a section that clearly outlines your termination policies, as well as information regarding pay and working hours etc. Make sure that you abide by the regulations you’ve drawn up so the nanny can’t accuse you of breaching the contract.
• If you’re having issues with your nanny, BEFORE you do anything, ask yourself: have you done everything possible to communicate your wishes and dissatisfaction? Have you been clear at every turn about what’s expected of your Nanny? Sometimes, what appears to be a situation beyond repair is actually just a case of crossed wires. In all but the direst of cases, you should take a night to sleep on the situation and examine things clearly – there could be alternative routes to take to sot those issues.
• Consider your children! This is a major consideration. Your children develop a personal relationship with your nanny from the start, and that bond isn’t something that can just be brushed off. For you, it’s a business relationship, but for your kids, it’s much more. Removing the nanny from their lives could very well mean eliminating a powerful, caring presence they’ve come to rely on. You might be able to explain to older children what’s going on if you fire the nanny — even without getting into the details — but it’s going to be tough to explain that to a smaller child. Consider what that disruption might do when you’re weighing termination options.
• Perhaps (depending on how long the Nanny has been employed by you) you could consider a probationary period in which your nanny is closer to termination than usual, and needs to show marked improvement to keep her job, even while she still has the full rights and benefits that come with the position. The length of the probation is up to you; maybe two weeks or a month, or whatever you feel would be fair and give your nanny enough time to fix her mistakes and improve her performance. Remember, you and your nanny have the same vision: to provide the best care possible for your children. Let that guide your decisions.
As a member (and Chairman of) of the Association of Nanny Agencies, Norma Lewis Nannies can help Clients with this kind of issue, as we supply our Clients with Contracts and induction checklists which have been drawn up by lawyers so that they comply with Employment Law regulations.
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