Who are domestic workers?
Domestic workers provide services of a household nature in or about a private home, such as home care workers, house cleaners, and nannies.
Download the sample agreements below (clicking on the Word links will start an automatic download):
- Cleaner Agreement (PDF) | (Word)
- Home Care Worker Agreement (PDF) | (Word)
- Nanny Agreement (PDF) | (Word)
Domestic workers across the United States are doing critical work to ensure that our economy functions and our families and communities thrive. Yet while care for households, children, people with disabilities, and older adults is invaluable, domestic workers—who are disproportionately women, immigrant women and, depending on the job, disproportionately women of color—too often work in precarious conditions without formalized employment arrangements. Families employing domestic workers may have little experience as employers and may not understand their legal responsibilities, their employees’ rights, and best practices for maintaining a high-quality, healthy and safe employment environment.
In April 2023, President Biden issued the Executive Order on Increasing Access to High-Quality Care and Supporting Caregivers, which directed federal agencies to undertake the most comprehensive set of executive actions ever issued to improve care for hard-working families while supporting care workers and family caregivers. The Executive Order called on the Secretary of Labor to develop compliance assistance and best practices for domestic care workers and their employers to promote fair workplaces and ensure the parties know their rights and responsibilities.
To support this effort, the U.S. Department of Labor developed sample employment agreements, for illustrative purposes, for cleaners, home care workers, and nannies. They are a tool that both employers and domestic workers can choose to use as a helpful starting point to facilitate an open discussion about and create a shared understanding of the terms of employment. The provisions in these sample agreements are only provided as examples of the types of terms and conditions of employment that employers and employees may want to address in their own private contracts.
The use of these sample agreements is not required by law. The provisions in the sample agreements do not represent legal obligations, but instead reflect topics that employers and employees may voluntarily choose to address.
Please visit this website in the coming weeks to access the sample agreements in additional languages.
What are the potential benefits of using employment agreements for employers and employees?
- Establishes clear standards, expectations, and responsibilities for both parties;
- Encourages employers and workers to have an open discussion about the terms of employment;
- Provides an opportunity to plan for potential circumstances that may arise and to reduce future misunderstanding or conflict;
- Specific needs, skills, and circumstances of both parties can be reflected in the agreement; and
- Strengthens the relationship and trust between the employer and worker.
The sample agreements do not constitute legal advice by the U.S. Department of Labor and do not reflect the full range of laws that may apply in every situation, including local and state laws that may provide additional protections and requirements. Where local, state, and federal law differ, the employer must comply with the law that provides the most protections for employees. Employers should review local, state, and federal laws to ensure they are in compliance with the law that provides the most protections for employees and should include additional legal requirements as necessary in their own agreements. Parties remain independently responsible for complying with applicable law.
Numerous laws establish rights and protections that cannot be waived or abridged by private contracts. Use of an employment agreement should not be construed to waive the rights or protections of an employee under applicable federal, state, or local law. The agreement may provide rights or protections to the relevant party that are separate from federal, state, or local law. This publication is for general information to provide a voluntary resource for employers and employees and is not considered in the same light as official statements of position. The contents of these documents do not have the force and effect of law and are not meant to bind the public in any way.
Good practices to consider when drafting an agreement
Employers and workers can consider the good practices below to determine which ones are important or applicable to their employment relationship and can add to their specific agreement. Note that the good practices listed here may go beyond the requirements of local, state, and federal law. Relying on these practices is not, however, a substitute for reviewing and complying with any federal, state, and local legal requirements related to employment, employee benefits, and other terms of an agreement.
- How can the employer communicate the family’s rules and priorities to the employee?
- Good practice: The employer can both communicate the family or house rules and their priorities and record them in the sample agreement. For those employing nannies or home care workers, it is particularly helpful to communicate caregiving priorities, parenting philosophies, expectations or relevant rules, practices, or guidelines for the person(s) receiving care in the agreement.
- What information could be included in the agreement to establish a “Nanny Share” arrangement?
- Good practice: In the case of “nanny shares,” in which multiple families employ one nanny, the agreement could identify all the employers and the names of the employers’ children; each employer’s contact information; and emergency contact information for each child. It could also set expectations around the terms for introducing new families into the agreement or the terms for one family leaving the agreement. For instance, introducing a new family may require interviews with both the existing families and the employee; a family leaving the agreement may require notice to both the other employer families and the employee.
- What can the process be for amending the agreement to add additional job responsibilities?
- Good practice: If the employer would like to add additional responsibilities beyond what was initially agreed upon, the employee and employer may agree upon them, add them to the agreement, and discuss whether it is appropriate for these additional responsibilities to come with a higher rate of pay, a reduction in existing responsibilities or other changes to the terms and conditions of employment.
- What could be included in the agreement if the employer plans to use any kinds of surveillance technology (for example, video cameras) in the home?
- Good practice: If, after reviewing and ensuring compliance with applicable law, the employer elects to use surveillance technology, the agreement could specify safeguards for ensuring the use of any surveillance technology is not overly invasive. For example, the agreement can state that the employer must notify the employee where cameras are installed, cameras cannot be installed in private areas such as bathrooms or private living quarters, and cameras and recordings cannot be used to invade an employee’s privacy or unlawfully retaliate against the employee.
- How could the employer request a paid probationary period at the start of employment?
- Good practice: If a probationary period at the start of employment is requested by the employer, the agreement may specify the terms of the probationary period, such as the duration and end date of the probationary period and the amount of notice needed to terminate the employment agreement during the probationary period. Additionally, note that by law, any time worked by the employee during the probationary period must be fully compensated by the employer.
- How can the employer set expectations that the employee hold, obtain, or stay up-to-date on certain professional qualifications, credentials and/or certifications during their employment?
- Good practice: If the employer has an expectation that the employee complete training requirements or obtain any specific professional credentials and certifications during the course of employment, then they may be included in the agreement. In such a circumstance, the time spent attending the training must be counted as hours worked and must be compensated.
- When could the employee be eligible for raises and how frequently?
- Good practice: The agreement may specify whether the employee shall be entitled to raises based on factors like performance and wage increases to account for the cost-of-living adjustment (also known as “COLA”). Any criteria or conditions may be outlined clearly in the agreement as well. Lastly, if additional responsibilities are added to the work agreement, the employee and employer may consider whether the additional responsibilities warrant a wage increase.
- When could the employee be eligible for any bonuses?
- Good practice: The agreement may specify that, in addition to regular wages, the employee may receive a bonus at the employer’s discretion at a designated date.
- How will requests for letters of reference be handled?
- Good practice: The agreement may specify that the employer will provide a reference letter upon request and/or on a regular cadence, such as an annual basis.
- What kinds of transportation benefits may be a good practice for employers to provide to employees?
- Good practice: Employers may choose to offset the cost of transportation to and from work as a benefit to the employee. For example, if an employee takes the bus to get to work every day, employers could choose to provide a pre-loaded bus pass or monthly reimbursement as an additional employee benefit.
- How can employers provide the employee with medical insurance?*
- Good practice: Employers may determine that they would like to provide the additional benefit of medical insurance or offset medical insurance premiums for their employees.
* Provision of health, dental or certain other benefits may result, under certain circumstances, in the establishment of an “employee benefit plan” covered by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), 29 U.S.C. § 1001 et seq. Employers can learn more about ERISA’s requirements for the administration and operation of employee benefit plans, including reporting, disclosure, benefit claims procedure, fiduciary, and health benefit obligations, by visiting the Employee Benefits Security Administration’s webpage.
- What protocols can employers implement to prevent the spread of infectious diseases, including COVID-19?
- Good practice: The agreement can outline agreed upon protocols for preventing and addressing infectious diseases. This can include protocols if the employer, employee, or a child or home care recipient is exposed to or diagnosed with an infectious disease, such as quarantine periods or time off; required vaccinations for employer, employee, or child or home care recipients; handwashing; and use of face masks.
- What is the protocol for the type of cleaning products that will be used in the home?
- Good practice: The agreement may outline the agreed-upon protocol around the use of cleaning products in the home (e.g., toxic vs. non-toxic).
- What measures can employers implement to prevent and address violence and harassment in the workplace, including gender-based violence and harassment?
- Good practices: The agreement may include an obligation for the employer to ensure anyone in the workplace, including all household members, other employees and guests, understand the prohibition of violence and harassment, provide the employee with linguistically appropriate information on accessible complaint mechanisms and respond promptly to any complaints of violence or harassment. The agreement can also require both employer and employee to take separate trainings on gender-based violence and harassment annually (such as an anti-sexual harassment training), provided by a third party and paid for by the employer.
- How can the employer’s and employee’s safety concerns be addressed?
- Good practice: The agreement may address any safety concerns for both the employee and persons in their care. For example, this can cover expectations about safety standards pertaining to home security, vehicle use and maintenance, pets, guests, securing weapons or guns in the house, illicit drug use, exposure to toxic cleaning products or chemical hazards, ergonomic hazards, etc.
- If the employee is unable to safely travel to work due to a severe weather event or there is an emergency, what kind of policies would be good practice to have in place?
- Good practice: The employer and employee may work together to devise a plan for emergencies, such as severe weather, in which the employee is unable to come in to work. This policy may address questions such as how pay will be handled.
- How can the employer and employee establish regular communication to ensure coordination on work performance, scheduling, and to prevent or address conflict?
- Good practice: The agreement may specify that the employer and employee will have regular check-ins to discuss any issues, as well as that the employer will conduct annual oral and written reviews of the employee’s performance. Performance reviews are a good opportunity for the employer to give feedback on things the employee does well and provide constructive feedback on ways the employee can improve performance over the next year.
- How will conflicts between the employer and the employee be resolved?
- Good practice: The agreement may include a provision outlining the process for either party to raise and address grievances. The employer and employee should communicate with each other respectfully. The employer and employee could also address concerns as they arise or at their regularly scheduled meetings. If needed, it could be helpful to consider the use of a trained mediator, paid by the employer, to help mediate conflicts that the employer and employee are unable to resolve together.
- What could the policy be if the employer requests a change in schedule or work hours?
- Good practice: The agreement may outline the procedures if the employer requests the employee to stay late or work overtime hours, including advance notice requirements and considerations of the employee’s own potential familial or personal responsibilities. Most domestic workers are entitled to overtime compensation under Federal law. If the employee works overtime hours, the employer must pay the employee at the highest applicable overtime rate required by federal, state, or local law. If staying late causes the employee to miss their regular transportation, the employer may provide or pay for the employee’s transportation.
- What is a good policy if the employer sends the employee home before the end of their scheduled work hours?
- Good practice: If an employee is available and willing to work but the employer allows or requests the employee to leave before the end of their scheduled work hours for that day, the employee could receive full pay for their scheduled hours.
- How much notice would be a good practice for the employer to provide to the employee for one-time cancellations or schedule changes?
- Good practice: The agreement can stipulate that the employer give as much advanced notice as possible to cancel or change scheduled work hours if the reason for cancelling is foreseeable. Additionally, the employer and employee may attempt to find a new date to make up those hours.
- If the employee needs to cancel or request an adjustment of the work schedule, how much notice would be good practice for the employee to give the employer?
- Good practice: If the employee requests to cancel or adjust scheduled hours worked, the agreement can stipulate that as much advanced notice as possible could be provided and that the employee and employer will attempt to find a new date for the hours to be made up.
- If the employer wants to cancel or reduce the schedule for an extended period of time, how much notice will the employer give the employee?
- Good practice: The agreement may provide that the employer will give as much advance notice as possible to the employee if the employer would like to make a mid- to long-term cancellation (for instance, if the employer doesn’t need the employee to report for 2 weeks or more). It may also provide terms for providing full or partial compensation during this extended period and/or outline that the employee and employer will attempt to find a new date for the hours to be made up.
- How much notice is a good practice to provide before terminating the employment agreement?
- Good practice: The agreement could specify how much notice is needed before either the employer or employee terminates the employment agreement. If possible, the employer can give enough notice before termination that the employee can begin to find other employment.
- What types of actions might be appropriate grounds for immediate termination?
- Good practice: The agreement may include examples of what the employer considers grounds for immediate termination, such as severe misconduct or recurring non-performance of agreed-upon job responsibilities, and the agreement would not require advance notice in such circumstances.
- What types and durations of leave are good practices for the employer to provide, and what are the recommended conditions for the employee to take each type of leave?
- Good practice: First, employers should check their state and local laws to determine what is required under the law, as many states and localities have specific laws regarding family and medical leave, sick days, safe leave, and other types of leave. Next, employers and employees may develop a leave policy contemplating the types of leave available to the employee for both predictable and unpredictable circumstances, the quantity of leave, how leave is earned (i.e., accrued or frontloaded), what the leave can be used for, reasonable notice requirements, whether there is a carryover year-to-year, and whether the leave is paid, partially paid, or unpaid. For longer-term leaves such as family or medically related-type leave, the employer may also clarify whether the leave is “job protected” and whether any provided benefits and premium contributions, such as health insurance, will be maintained throughout the duration of the leave.
- What are good practices for deciding whether national holidays are paid holidays, typical workdays, or workdays paid at a premium?
- What can be included in the agreement if the employee resides in the employer’s residence?
- Good practice: If an employee lives in employer-provided living accommodations, the space should be safe and clean, and meet all legal requirements for live-in accommodations. The agreement may include: the address where the employee will live, live-in accommodations provided to the employee (e.g., private bedroom, private/shared bathroom, storage area), the expectations for when it is/is not appropriate for the employer and/or other residents to enter the employee’s live-in accommodations, and which amenities the employee shall have access to for their own use (e.g., kitchen/cooking area, laundry, telephone, internet services).
- What steps may be taken if the employee, who resides at the employer’s residence, is terminated?
- Good practice: If the employee resides in the employer’s residence and either party decides to terminate the working arrangement, the agreement may specify that the employer provide an appropriate duration of lodging (either on-site or off-site) for the employee to secure new housing rather than requiring the employee to vacate immediately. If the employer is the party that terminates the working arrangement, they may consider providing a longer window of advanced notice prior to the termination of the agreement.
- If the employee is expected to provide transportation to a child or home care recipient as a part of their job responsibilities, what safety precautions could be in place?
- Good practice: The vehicle an employee is expected to use for transportation for a child or home care recipient, whether it belongs to the employer or employee, should be in good condition, properly insured, and registered for use as required under state and local law. The employee must have a valid driver’s license to operate the vehicle. Additionally, if the vehicle is used to transport children, the transportation should comply with applicable child passenger safety laws, such as child car seat and seat belt requirements.
- What are good practices if the employer requests the employee to work overnight or travel out-of-town in addition to compliance with all legal requirements regarding the compensability of job-related travel?
- Good practice: The agreement could specify whether the employee may be asked to work overnight or travel out-of-town. A good practice is for the agreement to state that all overnight or out-of-town travel in which the employee is asked to accompany the employer or the employer’s children, or other care recipients may be mutually agreed upon. In the event of work-related travel, employers can clarify whether they will cover all costs, including transportation; private, comfortable lodging; and a per diem, in addition to job-related travel costs that the employer may be required to pay under applicable law. It may also be appropriate for the employer to give an appropriate amount of notice to the employee when plans for travel are made.
- What is the reimbursement policy for required use of a personal vehicle during the course of employment?
- Good practice: The employee must be reimbursed by the employer for any costs associated with the use of an employee’s personal vehicle for required job-related tasks primarily for the benefit or convenience of the employer, as required by federal law. Employers may elect to provide other reimbursement benefits at their discretion.
Note: The state or city where you work might have laws that provide additional protections or benefits. Examples of other model/sample agreements are available through:
- Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General: Model Domestic Worker Employment Agreement
- Montgomery County, MD Office of Consumer Protection: Model Domestic Worker Employment Contract
- Mayor's Office of Labor City of Philadelphia, Office of Benefits and Wage Compliance: Domestic Worker Bill of Rights Written Contract
- Government of Guam, Sample Contract of Employment
- Arise Chicago, Illinois Domestic Worker Coalition, Model Contract for Nannies
- Hand-in-Hand Domestic Employers Network, National Nanny Share Work Agreement
- Hand-in-Hand Domestic Employers Network, National Childcare Work Agreement
- National Domestic Worker Alliance in partnership with Hand-in-Hand, Sample Contract & Work Agreement for Nanny Employers (care during COVID)