Shifting the Narrative: Nannies as Household Employees and Advocating for Their Rights

by | Jan 11, 2024 | Blog, Nannies


In the realm of domestic work, particularly in the context of hiring a nanny, there has been a longstanding misconception that treating a nanny as an independent contractor (1099) or paying them “under the table” is a feasible and acceptable practice. However, it is crucial to understand that this narrative is not only outdated but also illegal, with significant consequences for both the employer and the employee.

Let’s dive in….



Recognizing the Legal Framework

Contrary to popular belief, nannies are considered household employees, not independent contractors. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) defines household employees as individuals hired to perform duties within or around a private residence. This includes nannies, housekeepers, and caregivers.


Misclassification Risks

Misclassifying a nanny as an independent contractor can lead to serious legal repercussions. It’s essential to acknowledge that household employees are entitled to certain rights and benefits, including minimum wage, overtime pay, and other protections that independent contractors do not typically receive.



Tax Evasion Consequences

Paying a nanny in cash, without proper tax withholding and reporting, commonly referred to as “under the table” payments, is illegal. It constitutes tax evasion and can result in severe penalties for both the employer and the employee.


Employer Liabilities

By paying “under the table,” employers may find themselves liable for back taxes, fines, and legal actions. Additionally, the practice denies nannies access to important benefits such as Social Security, Medicare, and unemployment benefits.



Pathway to Citizenship

Recognizing the essential role that domestic workers, including nannies, play in our society, it is crucial to advocate for a pathway to citizenship for these essential workers. This ensures that they are afforded the same rights and opportunities as other members of the workforce.


Basic Rights and Protections

Nannies, like any other employees, deserve basic rights and protections. This includes fair wages, reasonable working hours, and access to benefits such as paid time off, healthcare, and retirement plans. Advocacy for these rights contributes to a more equitable and just society.



  • Provides comprehensive guidance on the tax obligations of household employers, including information on payroll taxes for nannies.
2. HomePay 
  • Offers resources on household payroll, tax compliance, and legal considerations for employing nannies.
  • Advocacy document outlining the rights and protections domestic workers, including nannies, should be entitled to.
  • Advocacy organizations working to secure rights, dignity, and fair treatment for domestic workers.
  • Fact sheet discussing the importance of paid time off for domestic workers.
  • Campaign advocating for common-sense immigration policies that protect the rights and dignity of immigrant women and families.
Shifting the narrative around hiring nannies involves dispelling misconceptions about their employment status and acknowledging the legal and ethical responsibilities of employers. By recognizing nannies as household employees, advocating for their rights, and ensuring compliance with tax and labor laws, we contribute to a fair and just working environment for these essential caregivers. It’s time to embrace a responsible and ethical approach to employing nannies, fostering a system that respects their contributions and safeguards their well-being.