When and How to Fire a Nanny

August 8, 2016

Firing a nanny won’t be the most pleasant experience of your life, but it’s something you may be faced with in the future. Why should you do it? How much notice should you give? How should you do it?

What Are the Grounds for Firing a Nanny?

You shouldn’t terminate your employment contract with your nanny because of unintended mistakes or human error.

You have good reason to fire a caregiver when:

1. Your Caregiver Has Become Unreliable

For instance, if they are always late, have poor attendance or cannot be counted on in times of dire need, you may want to let them go.

2. You and Your Partner Do Not Feel That Your Children Are Safe in Your Nanny’s Care

You should consider firing your nanny if leaving the children with them has become stressful because your trust in them has been misplaced or lost.

3. Your Children Are Unhappy When the Caregiver Arrives

This one can be more of a warning sign than a definite reason to fire. Some children cry for months at a new daycare or with a new nanny due to their own anxiety. But if your children don’t feel comfortable and at ease with their nanny, and instead show signs of fear and distrust, or have become withdrawn when around him or her, you may consider letting them go if nothing changes over time.

4. The Caregiver Does Not Follow Your Instructions Even After Several Reminders

If there have been several instances of repeatedly making the same mistakes, or disregarding what you have specifically told them, you have cause for firing them.

What If the Nanny Makes a Serious Mistake?

It is okay to leave some room for human error. When you are not sure, stop before becoming angry, and ask yourself if you or your partner could have made a similar mistake. Is the error one that can be forgiven? Was anyone seriously hurt? Were lives put at risk?

It can help to talk about the situation, reviewing the facts and figures with your nanny. If it is indeed an isolated incident, then having a chat with your nanny can be a learning experience. In fact, doing so and showing forgiveness can solidify trust and gain your nanny’s loyalty. However, you should emphasize that if reoccurs, you will indeed fire your caregiver.

In the case that the error was so serious that it compromised your child’s safety and lost your trust, it is okay to let him or her go immediately.

Should I Use a Nanny Cam?

Some employers choose to videotape their caregivers for legal reasons or because trust has been lost. You’ll want to check your province’s law to determine if it’s legal to tape someone without consent. Personally, I think you should be upfront with your nanny and let them if you plan on using nanny cams. I understand the desire to ensure your children are receiving proper care while you are not home but you may want to consider alternatives to achieve similar objectives. For more on nanny cams and the alternatives to nanny cams read: The Nanny Cam Debate.

How Much Notice Should I Give?

In most cases, you should let your employee know ahead of time so that they can prepare or search for another job. Sometimes, though, having them around after the contract has been revoked may be a liability so be prepared to ask them not to work during their notice period.

How much notification you give them depends on the reason for dismissal. Try to honour contracts that state around two weeks time. However, if you have been having problems with the nanny being continually late or absent, or otherwise not valuing your family’s time, you can dismiss them sooner.

How Do I Fire the Nanny?

Follow these steps in order to properly let your nanny go:

  1. Have the conversation at a time when no children are present. Your conversation must be free of interruptions.
  2. Never do it on the phone or through email. Firing an employee should be done in person. The one to deliver the news should be the parent who has had the most contact with the nanny.
  3. It’s best to keep the conversation short and simple: “We’re sorry, Mary, but this situation is not working out.” Don’t use labels or speak too personally, such as saying something like, “You’re lazy” or “messy.”
  4. Expect that your nanny will be upset and/or defensive. And be prepared. She may express some hurt feelings, but if you are prepared to listen to them, you will also not be hurt back.
  5. Your nanny may decide to leave sooner than your two-week notice. Have a backup plan for someone else to take her place if you need extra child care.
  6. Do not feel pressured to give a positive reference if you think this individual will absolutely not be a good employee or caretaker.
  7. As for the final paycheque, give the entire wages your caregiver was entitled to — including vacation pay. Need help with nanny payroll? check out: HeartPayroll
  8. If he or she asks to say goodbye to the children, listen to your gut feeling and common sense before allowing it.
  9. Keep it simple when explaining the situation to the children: “She’s not coming back, but it’s not your fault.”
  10. Make sure you get any personal items back. It may seem obvious, but make sure your nanny has returned all of your keys, children’s items and anything that is not her personal property.


Terminating a contract is a tough decision for anyone. However, done the right way, at the right time and with the right words, you can bring back your own sense of security and safety, which is the best thing you can do for your family.

For more helpful articles and practical tips on topics like how to maintain a good relationship with your nanny follow the CanadianNanny.ca blog. It is possible to find great nannies who will become positive, vital members of your family unit and bring joy to your children plus value to your life.

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