Back in 1937, the term ‘babysitter’ was first used, and ever since, the need for babysitters across the globe has been increasing. Literally, the word means to care for a child temporarily. However, this temporary care has a lot of responsibilities, duties, terms, and conditions attached to it.
Hiring a babysitter to care for a child is necessary for many working parents. While hiring a babysitter, parents or guardians discuss responsibilities, working hours, salaries, notice periods, among other things. When such discussions are put on paper in the form of an agreement, it gives rise to a babysitting contract. If there any disputes between the babysitter and the guardians, such a contract can help in the mechanism of dispute resolution. Babysitting agreements are legally binding.
People Involved in Babysitting Contract
A babysitter or a daycare organization and their clients, who are usually the natural or legal guardians of a child, are involved in this contract. A babysitter may not always be a friend or a family member, so usually, when people are hiring a full-time professional, an agreement that is enforceable by law is signed and drafted. A babysitting contract is also entered into by a part-time babysitter and a child’s parents. Generally, the people involved are:
- Parents or guardians.
- Babysitters or nannies.
- Organizations are providing daycare services.
Why Do You Need Babysitting Contract?
There are reasons why a contract for babysitting is necessary. A majority of people opt for a babysitting contract because it makes them feel secure. Here are a few:
- Clear Understanding: A babysitting contract is a kind of a babysitting checklist. It clearly lists down what both parties are supposed to do and not do. Nothing is left to the imagination.
- Formal Document: Signing a formal document for babysitting like a babysitting form can establish expectations and make it legally binding and enforceable in a court of law.
- Dispute Resolution: Any business relationship can give rise to potential litigation in the future. A contract protects both parties.
Content of the Babysitting Contract
It is vital to make sure that all babysitting rules are written down in the agreement, and it is comprehensive, containing the minutest to the most significant details. It should include:
- The name of the babysitter, the parents, the children, the address of the house, and the emergency contact numbers.
- The hourly rate being paid by the parents to the babysitter along with the schedule and mode of payment. The overtime rate that will be paid to the babysitter should the parents come back late. The list of expenses that can be reimbursed should also be a part of the agreement as this is important when the babysitters are not doing in-home babysitting but are taking the child outside.
- The number of hours in a day/week the babysitter is being hired for, including the exact time. The frequency of their employment must be mentioned.
- The responsibilities of the babysitter viz. bathing, playing, picking the child up from school, serving dinner, cleaning up, putting the child to sleep, etc.
- Babysitting rules that are to be followed by the babysitter when they are taking care of the child. What to do when babysitting? And what not to. These are the things that a parent would not want a babysitter to do, for example, come to work when they are sick, invite someone over, smoke, drink, enter certain rooms of the house, be constantly on the phone or the computer, etc. These rules can also include the things the babysitter can do, like, eat dinner, listen to music, watch the television, among other things. This includes the ‘duty of care.’
- The agreement must also contain the rules that the children should follow and what the babysitter is expected to enforce, like setting a time for bed, barring desserts after food, limiting phone/computer/television time, etc. It should also inform the babysitter of any special needs or allergies a child may have.
- The contract can also contain a confidentiality clause.
- A notice period of the babysitter is supposed to serve before quitting. The notice period the parents are supposed to give to the babysitter before terminating their employment.
- What behaviors are strictly not tolerated and what behaviors warrant legal action against the babysitter.
- If the babysitter is not a full-time employee, then the time period of an advance notice that would be needed to be given by the parents to the babysitter to ensure that the babysitter is available.
For every household, the babysitting needs change. However, it is good to have general printable babysitting contracts to fill out every time a babysitter is hired.
How to Draft the Babysitting Contract?
While keeping the content of the agreement in mind, as listed above, it is important to draft the agreement objectively by keeping the needs of both parties in mind.
- Start the drafting of the agreement by writing the names of the parties, the children, the address of the house, and other important information required.
- Divide the entire agreement into broad sections like rules, responsibilities, conduct, compensation, termination, etc. Doing this will create an outline to further work upon.
- Make use of babysitting forms for parents to fill out and other templates available on the internet, instead of starting from scratch. Combining the custom needs, rules, and responsibilities with a babysitting template will give rise to a stronger contract.
- Be clear and avoid using long, unnecessary words. Use definitions as and when required to avoid misinterpretation of legal terms.
- Before drafting the agreement, be aware of the needs of the parents, the child, and the babysitter. Drafting an unbiased agreement is a must.
- Ensure that the grammar and the punctuation of the contract are correct. Punctuation placed at the wrong place can change the meaning.
- Include what to do in case of a dispute in the future, like alternative dispute resolution procedures in the agreement.
[ Also Read: Daycare Contract ]
A babysitting contract is personal in nature, even though it is a legal document. This is why the negotiation strategy adopted should be empathetic and consider the emotional angles. A point where the parties are likely to need a negotiation strategy is the point of compensation and working hours. Doing research beforehand about the current rates in the market can help in creating a win-win situation.
Benefits & Drawbacks of the Babysitting Contract
The benefits of having a babysitting contract are three-fold. One, it provides protection to both the parties should one sue another in court at a later date. For example, if a babysitter’s compensation has been decided according to Michigan babysitting rates and the parents refuse to pay the said amount in the future, having a contract can award protection to the babysitter or the nanny. Two, it is an exhaustive document containing all responsibilities and expectations which the parties have agreed to, weeding out any misunderstandings. Three, it is a contract that can be customized and takes into consideration the individual needs of a child.
However, one major drawback of a babysitting letter is that it takes a lot of time to draft one and multiple rounds of negotiations. Not all babysitters will agree to sign a contract right away. Also, this will cost money as legal fees for the lawyer who drafts the contract. Using the same contract for a different babysitter might not help as the terms and conditions may change with time, and the new babysitter might not agree to it, making one incur more legal fees for every time a new babysitter is hired unless you are capable of editing the document yourself. Drafting a contract also limits your flexibility about the rules of babysitting.
Most people feel secure after having a babysitting contract in place, especially when they are letting someone they do not know to their home.
[Also Read: Nanny Contract ]
What Happens in Case of Violation?
In case of a violation by the babysitter, their employment is terminated(1), and the parents have a right to sue in court as a breach of contract is a civil wrong. If the babysitter does a crime like stealing valuables or information, hurting the child, this is also a violation for which they can be tried in court under criminal laws. If the violation is done by the parents or guardians, like non-payment of dues or mistreatment, the babysitter or daycare organization has the right to compensation as this will be a breach of contract and the aggrieved party can sue in court.
A babysitting contract may not always be required when the babysitter is a member of the family or a friend, or someone who is being employed for a very short period of time. Most parents or guardians prefer having a contract as they are letting that person enter into their homes and spend time with their children without their supervision(2). Having an agreement in place creates an atmosphere of seriousness and, to an extent, deters any party from breaching the terms of the contract.