Whether your idea of a nanny uniform consists of a starched dress and apron combination or a sensible polo shirt and khaki pants, the question of uniforms is one that you may be facing if you’re hiring a nanny. For first-time nanny employers, navigating the world of nanny etiquette and standards can be complicated enough without throwing uniforms into the mix; for seasoned veterans, it may be a non-negotiable issue. As with many other subjects in the realm of nanny employment, there are both pros and cons to requiring your nanny to wear a uniform.
Pros
Weighing the advantages and drawbacks of a nanny uniform brings up plenty of points for consideration. Some of these points will carry more weight than others, depending upon your individual philosophies and the needs of your household. These are a few of the reasons why requiring your nanny to wear a uniform may be in the best interest of everyone involved.
Ensuring Appropriate Attire – Your nanny will need to be able to climb, run and maneuver easily in order to keep up with rambunctious children. When you control the clothing she wears to work, you can be sure that it will be appropriate for the job. Uniforms can also put the kibosh on any clothing-related disagreements; remember, everyone has their own moral compass. What your nanny feels is conservative and appropriate apparel may not suit an even more conservative employer’s ideas. When a uniform is agreed upon from the outset, there are no misunderstandings regarding a dress code.
Presenting a Professional Image – It’s not unreasonable to expect your nanny to project a capable and professional image, especially if she’s going to be taking your children on outings, driving to play dates and otherwise representing your family in the public eye.
Saving Your Nanny Time – Choosing the perfect outfit for a day of physically-demanding, potentially messy work while remaining within the guidelines of appropriate dress codes can be a bit time consuming. When her uniform is pre-selected, your nanny can shave several valuable minutes off of her morning routine.
Keeping Your Nanny’s Personal Clothing Safe – From finger paints to bodily fluids, there is a virtually endless assortment of stains and spills that your nanny’s clothing can collect. You know exactly how much you’ll be paying your nanny, and should understand that constantly replacing her clothing may not be within her budget. If you’re requiring your nanny to wear a uniform, you should be the one to supply it. When worries about keeping her clothing intact are removed, you may find that you have a much more hands-on and engaged nanny.
Designating Your Nanny as Such – For some parents, it’s very important that people realize that their nanny is an employee. If you fall into that camp, uniform requirements are a very effective way of sending that message without broadcasting an image of insecurity.
Cons
Regardless of how much you might like the idea of having a nanny in uniform, there are some drawbacks to the system. It’s important to weigh all of your options before instituting a policy that may actually make your life more difficult in the long run. These are a few of the cons to creating a restrictive, uniform-based dress code for your private, in-home childcare provider.
Complicating the Hiring Process – Though some nannies may be open to the idea of wearing a uniform, it’s not generally considered standard practice and may be off-putting for some candidates. Internet nanny forums and message boards are filled with outright refusals to accept hypothetical positions that require a uniform, so you may find that it’s a bit more difficult to fill an available position when you’re not open to negotiation regarding uniforms.
Choosing Uniforms Can Be a Long Process – In order for your nanny’s needs and your own to be met in regards to cut, fit and functionality of her uniform as she cares for your children, you may be forced to go through several different options before you find the one that works. Because time is a precious commodity for so many working parents, you may find that the process of choosing the right uniform is too lengthy.
Adding Strain to the Nanny Budget – If you plan to require that your nanny wears a specific uniform, it’s your responsibility to provide it for her. That means that you’ll also be responsible for placing orders when the selection she currently has becomes too stained or worn to be serviceable and that you’ll be adding expenses to your childcare budget. Unless money truly isn’t an object, you may find that a uniform is more expensive than it’s worth.
Potentially Demeaning to Your Nanny – For some nannies, the idea of wearing a uniform that labels her as a “mere” household employee is a hurtful one. After all, this is the person that will be partially responsible for raising your children. If the uniform you’ve chosen looks like something out of a movie from the mid-twentieth century, you’re almost certainly going to be running the risk of hurting her feelings.
Adhering to a Slightly Outdated Concept – Uniforms for nannies and other household employees may have been de rigueur decades ago, but it’s no longer quite considered standard procedure. If you require your nanny to wear a uniform, you may be seen as adhering to an outmoded tradition.
In the end, the decision to require a uniform, set a dress code or leave your nanny to her own wardrobe is one that only you can make. Carefully weighing the options and keeping an open mind can help you make the decision that best suits the needs of your family.