Is a babysitter an employee?

IRS Definition of a Household Employee

Is a babysitter an employee? According to Alina Wussow, Co-Founder and President of Poppins Payroll, a provider of household employee payroll and tax services, you have a household employee if…

“You can control not only what work is done, but how it is done. To erase any grey area, the IRS has issued guidance that it considers all babysitters and nannies household employees. And further, if you pay your babysitter more than $2,000 in 2016, then pursuant to the IRS, you also have to pay employment taxes.”

A Babysitter is More Than an Employee

So there you have it! The IRS explanation at least… But, your babysitter is much more than a household employee. Babysitters perform an extremely important job – they’re watching your kids in your absence. Because of this, it’s important that you get to know them really well.

Develop a personal relationship with them. It not only helps build a greater level of trust so you feel better when you leave, but also helps keep them around!  79% of parents say they have the same sitter for 2 years at most. Considering a parent needs a babysitter for about 13 years, that’s a lot of babysitters and a lot more churn than a normal employee! To minimize the churn, develop a good relationship with them so they stick around.

How to Keep a Babysitter

  1. Come home on time! Nothing makes a babysitter more frustrated than when the parent doesn’t come home on time. If you’re out having fun or you get caught in a meeting, at least let them know and ask them if they can stay later. Babysitters view it as a sign of disrespect when the parents don’t come home on time. They have lives, too – school, work, other jobs, doctors appointments, etc.
  2. Take time before or after the sit to just chat.
    • If they’re in school, ask them what they’re studying and why.
    • Ask about their classes, when finals will be, etc.
    • Ask them where they’re from originally.
  3. Tip every once and a while. It lets them know they’re appreciated.
  4. Pay them market rate for your area and pay them on time. Don’t tell them you’ll pay them next time.
  5. Ask them how the night went when you arrive home. If there were some troubles (i.e. a kid misbehaved), listen to the sitter! Don’t immediately get defensive. No kid is perfect. Think of all the times your child has misbehaved with you. Sitters aren’t miracle workers. Kids don’t magically become amazing, perfect angels when you’re gone. They’re still kids. And, sometimes, kids are worse with babysitters because they try to test boundaries. So, just hear your sitter out without getting defensive and give them tips for how to handle the situation next time.
  6. Invite them to a family dinner one night. They may say ‘no’ because, let’s be honest, what college kid wants to hang out with a family for dinner. But, it’s the thought that counts and it lets the sitter know that you consider them more than just an employee.

The IRS may treat your babysitter as an employee but they’re much more than that. Treat them as a friend or part of the family and you’ll have a more trusted, stable, long-lasting relationship with your sitter.

And, pay your nanny taxes. You should definitely do that. If you live in Colorado, we highly recommend Poppins Payroll. For $39/month, they take care of everything. It’s totally worth it.