10 Interesting Laws That Apply to Babysitters
Babysitters and other child-care providers are affected by many laws, as are other people, but there are a few specifics which hold more meaning for babysitters. Though there are no licensing requirements for sitters who come to your home (day-care centers have other criteria) there are some legal matters to be aware of. States and municipalities have enacted regulations that do apply to care-givers, and some of these may concern babysitters in a major way. Listed here we have some of these general and specific items, and these may answer some of the questions that come up for professional care-givers.
- Agencies – Babysitting centers and other professional child-care groups fall under federal, state and local jurisdictions, and must comply with all licensing requirements within those areas.
- States – Illinois and Maryland are the only states with specific regulations regarding ages of babysitters and the ages of the children they sit for.
- Michigan – In Michigan, under a 1973 statute, it is considered “day-care” if your children’s friends come to your house (for any reason) while those children’s parents aren’t at home. If it “happens” more than 28 times a year, for any duration (even a five-minute visit) then a day-care license is required. Many parents are understandably upset with what they call the “Big Brother” governmental approach.
- The Golden State – A domestic workers rights bill is pending in the California Assembly that would require all domestic workers over 18 to be given new benefits, including babysitters. Some of the benefits included are mandatory breaks and mealtimes. The proposed measure has come under fire from many angles as being “unrealistic” and as a law that will force people to stop using qualified adults to care for their children.
- Minors – If parents are using minors for babysitting and something goes wrong, the parents will most likely be the ones held legally responsible.
- Income Tax – Babysitters who earn more than a certain amount per year, including income from all sources, may be required to file income tax. This generally applies to adults, who tend to earn more, but the IRS doesn’t have an age limit regarding who owes taxes.
- Rules of the Road – Your sitter may or may not be old enough to drive. In some states, even a licensed driver may need to be older in order to drive with passengers or to drive at night. Check your local jurisdiction regarding this matter.
- Local – Fairfax County, Virginia has a set of guidelines that apply to babysitting within the county. The rules cover ages and time requirements for sitters and those they watch. Other communities may have similar programs, and it is up to every sitter to know which local ordinances may apply.
- Nanny Tax – It’s called the “Nanny” tax, but the regulations being referred to may apply to all that are considered “household” workers. Included here are items like unemployment insurance and minimum wage requirements.
- Non-Specific – There are many rules, laws and regulations that apply, in general, to professional child-care, and babysitters often fall under these guidelines even if “babysitting” isn’t covered specifically. One example is covered in the previous item, the “Nanny” tax.
It remains to be seen what effect, if any, that the California proposal may have. It could change the entire legal landscape for in-home child-care.