A. Good question. Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. However, we can offer some general guidelines. The first question to address is whether there is a contract? If so, is termination addressed in the contract? If there isn’t a contract, the issues become complicated. Taking these one at a time.
If you want to avoid the legal pitfalls associated with termination, you should begin your family-nanny relationship with a well drafted contract. Such a nanny contract will provide controlling rules regarding termination for cause and termination without cause. Termination without cause usually requires notice to allow for a relatively smooth transition in employment for both parties. Termination for cause usually involves conduct explicitly prohibited in the contract, which justifies immediate termination of the contractual relationship. A well drafted nanny contract will outline the conduct worthy of termination for cause.
In short, if there is a contract controlling the employment relationship, the employment relationship should be ended in accordance with its terms.
If there is no contract defining the employment relationship, the status of the nanny would likely be considered “at will.” At will employment can be terminated by either party with little to no notice. However, please note that employment laws vary from state to state, so if you have any doubts about whether your’s is an at will state, please consult with a licensed attorney.