TSLF Employment Blog

Employment Rights of Washington, D.C. Child Caregivers and Nannies

Sometimes, Washington, D.C. parents need help taking care of their kids. So they decide to hire a child caregiver to enter their home and provide childcare services. What these parents and caregivers might not know is that in some of these situations, the law will consider the caregiver an employee and the family that hires them an employer.

The creation of this employer-employee relationship can have significant consequences on the rights and legal obligations of the child caregiver and family that hires them. But before we address those rights and responsibilities, let’s first explain the importance of determining if an employer-employee relationship exists.

Washington, D.C. Caregivers as Employees

Deciding if a worker is an employee is not always easy. But the general rule is that if the family controls what the caregiver must do, how the caregiver must do it and provides any supplies or tools for the caregiver so they can do the work, then the caregiver is an employee. We can look at an example to further illustrate.

Imagine a family wants to hire a caregiver for four hours on Friday night to watch the young children while the two parents leave the house for the evening.

While the parents are gone, the caregiver is to follow a variety of instructions, such as when the kids go to bed, what they are to have for dinner and what they can play with or do before bed. Assuming this job does not become a regular event, the caregiver is probably not an employee.

However, if this family hires the caregiver on a regular basis, then the caregiver likely becomes an employee.

But there are other factors to consider. For example, if the caregiver has full control over how to watch and take care of the kids and brings his or her own equipment or tools to help care for the children, then we may not have an employer-employee relationship.

Or if the parents drop off the children at the caregiver’s home, that could be enough to classify the caregiver as an independent contractor instead of an employee.

Finally, if the parents hire a childcare agency that sends over someone to watch the kids in accordance with the agency’s policies and rules, then the caregiver is probably not an employee of the family.

So why did we spend all this time going over the idea that a child caregiver may be an employee of the family that hires them? Because of the rights it can offer the caregiver as well as the additional legal obligations it could place on the family who hires the caregiver. Below is a brief overview of what these employment changes could consist of.


If the family has paid “cash remuneration” of $500 or more in a calendar quarter, then the family could be responsible for paying the taxes that help pay for unemployment insurance for the child caregiver.

If the family has to pay the taxes for the caregiver’s unemployment insurance benefits, then the family will also need to pay the taxes for Washington, D.C.’s paid family leave insurance.


The caregiver must receive minimum wage and overtime pay. In Washington, D.C. the minimum wage is $15.00 an hour.

Paid Leave

A caregiver can take up to three days of paid sick leave each calendar year. The caregiver can accrue this leave at a rate of at least 1 hour per 87 hours worked.

Workplace Coronavirus Safety Protections

Pursuant to Mayor’s Order 2020-080, the family must provide the child caregiver with a mask. And if the caregiver has to work with another caregiver who refuses to wear a mask, the family may not retaliate against the mask-wearing caregiver if they refuse to work. Additionally, families may require the caregiver to inform them if the caregiver tests positive for the coronavirus.

Workplace Accommodations

If a caregiver is pregnant, they are entitled to reasonable workplace accommodations (that don’t impose an undue hardship on the family) and time away from work to recover from childbirth.

Summing It Up

– A family that wants to hire a regular child caregiver could be responsible for paying the caregiver a minimum wage of $15.00 an hour, as well as paying the taxes relating to unemployment and paid family leave insurance benefits.

– The child caregiver could be eligible to use paid sick leave and have reasonable accommodations if they are pregnant. Leave may also be available to recover from giving birth.

– An eligible child caregiver can accrue paid sick leave and can take up to three days of paid sick leave per year.

– As a result of the coronavirus, families that employ child caregivers have to provide a face mask to the caregiver and cannot retaliate against them for refusing to work in certain situations. 

Even if the child caregiver is entitled to a particular benefit under the law, there’s no guarantee the family will be willing to provide those benefits. But if your employment rights as a child caregiver have been violated, it may still be worth getting in touch with a skilled and knowledgeable Washington, D.C. caregiver employment lawyer. Feel free to contact the Spiggle Law Firm and we’ll be more than happy to hear your story and explain what your next steps should be.

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