Paying Nanny Guaranteed Hours

Does anyone on here pay their nanny guaranteed hours?

We just hired a new nanny and a week into the job she asks me for the dates we are going on vacation this summer. She said that if she fills those dates with other people, we won’t have to pay her. I was like “what?” We’ve never paid our nanny for hours they didn’t work. This includes if the kids were sick and the nanny didn’t watch them, we didn’t pay.

Cue searching the internet, and I am finding out about guaranteed hours. Does anyone do this? Can you help nudge me into acceptance of this? I don’t particularly want to be an asshole or lose the new nanny over this, so I’m wondering what proponents of this practice think?

We’re hiring our nanny for 16 hours a week, so it’s not a full-time position where I’d be more inclined to provide benefits. But I can see where it’s still appropriate for smaller jobs. Do we pay her for vacation days that fall on our days, like 4th of July and Christmas Eve?

Thanks for your feedback.


Yes, we paid our nanny guaranteed hours. It’s the same as if they went to daycare–you pay for them to hold the spot for you, not for hours worked. It’s an unplanned loss of income for her if your child is sick and you don’t pay her. I think it is equitable and allows your nanny the security of knowing what her income will be week to week. We also paid for all agreed upon holidays for the same reason.


We always paid our daycare provider weekly - I had the costs budgeted for the week, and they had their income budgeted for the week.

If it was a four day week due to a stat, I still paid the same (and to be fair, work in an industry where I am paid for that day as well)


This just happened to come up from a group I’m in!


Our nanny doesn’t want to be paid on the books, so we can’t use our dependent care account from DH’s work. So I think I am in part frustrated by this. I feel like she’s getting the best of both worlds.


I was in a similar position and I thought about how our nanny had to pay out of pocket for health care. So that kind of evened it up in my books. Also, I was able to use my dependent care account to pay back family who helped us out when Ravioli got COVID and didn’t go to the nanny for a week. So maybe that’s an option for you too.


Oh! I also found, while looking at the replies to that Facebook question, that some states have a domestic worker bill of rights that strongly suggests paying guaranteed hours. Obviously not legally mandated, but still.

Domestic Workers Bill of Rights.


I feel like this would be a deal breaker for me. It’s not like this is a teenage babysitter on a weekend date night. I wouldn’t want to get on the bad side of IRS.


This is very, very common for nannies! It might limit the pool of people you have to hire from, but that’s up to you of course.


If helpful to hear, we’re in the same boat! My sense is that at least in the Denver metro, it’s standard to pay guaranteed hours,even for less than full time roles. From looking into this here I think only the top 10-20%*of nannies are willing to be paid through a payroll service, although of course you can find exceptions.

*in terms of rate


I saw it as taking really good care of the person who is taking good care of my child. Our Nanny loved Meowlet and went above in beyond caring for him, giving him genuine affection and always thinking about his growth. I felt like she was able to do this with peace of mind and complete focus on him because she didn’t have to worry about where her next paycheck was coming from.

For us, our Nanny was a single mom getting benefits from the state and wouldn’t be able to qualify if we paid her on the books. Knowing how HCOL our area is, and that even liberal states struggle to care for their mothers and children in an equitable way, I didn’t want to be part of that mess. It’s a way to care for the people in your community directly, IMO.


I think on/off the books is a separate discussion because of where I live - contractors charge 1.5-3x as much as employees, and I doubt many families want to pay 3x the going rate.

Guaranteed hours ABSOLUTELY makes sense to me. I love that your nanny has offered to try to fill some of those without charging you. One thing I’ve seen in the nanny reddit is that some nannies are happy with the guaranteed hours being a bit less than the usual hours - but it doesn’t sound like that’s your arrangement.


I don’t disagree with this and I can 100% see how this is a blessing to those who can’t pursue traditional employment for any reason.

In my case I would consider the risk too great since my employment could be jeopardized if this came to light. (I am also generally quite risk averse.)

I think the risk is worth considering for anyone, but if they are able to make a different choice I do in fact admire that. It’s complicated.

ETA maybe this means a nanny wouldn’t be an option for us. I accept that.


I’d struggle to reconcile doing it too! But then my options would be an employee at $25/h plus lots of paperwork OR $75/h


My mom was a nanny for years and she had what sounds like the guaranteed hours set up. There was a base amount she would be paid per week of employment and then she was paid hourly on top of those hours. The base amount was basically the agreement that she would be available the dates negotiated and would prioritize that family’s needs. Mom would fill in with more one off jobs on days when not scheduled.


We also paid guaranteed hours for our almost full-time nanny. We had a contract that included a set number of vacation days and sick days. Its common in our area to “require” that one of the weeks of vacation overlaps with the host family’s vacation. We did pay above the table including employee taxes and social security which doubled the cost to us. It limited the people who were willing to work for us since many nannies prefer under the table.

When we switched to a very part time (5-8 hrs/week) for a college student that I know personally through family I still paid if we cancelled (because they had held those hours for me) but I didn’t pay if they were on vacation or had other plans and asked for the time off. If it were more hours I would have


Would it help to frame this at least partly as the difference between a nanny (more professional, regularized role that ensures you have childcare coverage for the time YOU are out there earning a regular income with your own professional skillset) and a babysitter (someone who is more on-call, comes to your house semi-regularly but only when your needs and their schedule aligns)?

You are asking this person to commit to being available for you for a set number of hours on a set range of days for as long as the relationship is mutually satisfactory. Ensuring that they can predict their schedule AND their pay is an important part of them being able to commit to you. If you agree they are to be there from 8-2 on MWF and they agree, then you expect them to work around that commitment. They will not be seeking other employment during that time frame. If you suddenly need them on a Tuesday from 12-4, they have the option to decline if they have another commitment at that time. If you suddenly DON’T need them for a week or two because you are going on vacation, in my book you should pay them for the time they have blocked off. It isn’t their responsibility to find alternative work to make up for the hours you don’t need them a particular week.

I would not have the same mindset/approach with a babysitter, unless I knew I wanted someone regularly on a specific night of the week for date night or a standing professional engagement, etc.


Thanks all for your feedback. I wasn’t really familiar with guaranteed hours but it all sounds reasonable and fair.


I think it’s really cool that you asked and checked in instead of dismissng it all!


It’s partially selfish TBH. We don’t want to have to find yet another new nanny, so accepting the guaranteed hours makes our lives easier. It helps to hear other’s positive perspectives.