For nearly a year the Covid-19 pandemic has presented consistent and everchanging obstacles for families, nannies, and well, humanity. While many are excited for the vaccine rollout and see it as the end of the road, it may be the last hurdle right before the finish line. As the distribution of the vaccine continues to broaden, families have lots of questions, and the number one question our team has been asked is, “Can I require my nanny to get the vaccine?”California is among the states with a tiered plan for vaccine distribution, and the state government projects that most residents will be able to receive the vaccine by this summer. Well parents the time has come, because according to this plan, nannies will likely be in vaccination Phase 1B.
Once this phase arrives, can you require your nanny to get the vaccine? The short answer: Yes. However, with vaccination comes nuance. You may want your nanny to receive the vaccine, only to learn that he or she nanny is uncomfortable with doing so. As your trusted advisors, we are here to help you navigate this decision and guide you into opening up a healthy dialogue with your nanny about your family’s well-being.
Requiring Vaccinations: What’s The Right Choice?
Asking your nanny to get vaccinated can be critical for your family’s health; and, as mentioned above, as an employer you are able to require vaccination as a condition for employment. However, this isn’t a simple choice, and some nannies may be uncomfortable getting the vaccine, which could leave you and your family with a difficult decision.
The reality is that many families are unwilling to lose their long-term caregiver, while others will see the risk as too great to bend on this requirement. It’s also important to weigh the risk of low morale when requiring vaccination under the threat of termination.
Though difficult, the decision is ultimately up to you. The choice will likely be easier if you’re hiring a nanny for the first time, as their employment can hinge on vaccination. Our advice, be very clear about this requirement (and any other vaccine requirements) when screening candidates.
A Note on Exemptions
Do keep in mind that you may need to make accommodations for nannies who are unable to receive the vaccine for health or religious reasons. However, according to the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), this only applies to families with five or more employees (full-time or part-time; employers with 15 or more employees are subject to the federal ADA.
These employment limits are in place because employers (families) with larger staffs can make “reasonable accommodations” for nannies who are unable to be vaccinated. Families with fewer than five employees would have a harder time making these accommodations, since going without child care would cause “undue hardship.”
Making a Plan: Tips for an Open Discussion
The decision to require vaccination isn’t always straightforward. For that reason, we advise discussing the details as a family and making a plan before you open up the discussion of vaccination with your current nanny or potential hires. Here are some tips for this process.
Make Your Final Decision
As the employer, it’s important to have a decision in place before you bring up vaccination with your nanny. Sit down with your partner or family and weigh the pros and cons of a vaccine requirement. If you decide to require vaccination, be prepared to stand firm in your decision.
Outline The Specifics
If you decide that you want your current and/or future nanny to get vaccinated, get the details in order. Consider whether you want your nanny to receive the vaccine as soon as he or she is eligible, or if you’re comfortable setting a future deadline; it can also be helpful to share with your nanny your plans to get the vaccination when eligible. It’s important to note that if you (as the employer) are requiring your nanny to get the vaccine, it is your responsibility to cover any out-of-pocket expenses (parking fees, cost of the vaccine, etc.) as well as compensation for the time it takes to get the vaccine (plus any applicable overtime).
Have a Backup Plan
Keep in mind that your nanny may decide they are not willing to get the vaccine. Your family needs to have a plan for this situation, too. Consider whether or not you’re willing to terminate your nanny’s employment as a result. Alternatively, could it be possible to re-allocate your nanny’s tasks away from direct child care? If not, be sure you’re prepared to secure a new nanny in a timely manner.
Sit Down With Your Nanny
Once you have made your decision and have formed a plan, it’s time to discuss vaccination with your nanny. Be clear about your expectations, as well as potential consequences for not getting the vaccine; however, this is a personal choice for your nanny and should be handled gently if they object. Since you likely have a close relationship with your nanny, this conversation may be difficult. However, you can make the decision easier for both of you by being open about your reasoning and listening to your nanny’s concerns.
The Covid-19 vaccine can provide peace of mind for both families and caregivers, but it’s important to remember the decision to get (or not get) the vaccine a personal decision for everyone. By making an informed decision and keeping the needs of your family in mind, you can make the best plan for your household moving forward.
Support for Families
If you find yourself needing to terminate your nanny’s employment because he or she is unwilling to get vaccinated, we would first encourage you to consult with an attorney. We recommend contacting one of our industry attorneys who are both well-versed in the laws and regulations surrounding in-home caregivers.
Lisa Pierson Weinberger
Getting the conversation started is the first step. If you have any additional questions or want to inquire about getting a nanny search started, our team is standing by to help guide you through this.
Please be advised that we are providing this as information only on these matters and are not providing legal advice. We would encourage you to seek your own indpeendent legal opinions from an attorney of your choice.