As a parent, nothing is more important than the safety of your children. So when you’re thinking of hiring a babysitter, you want to be confident that the person you hire is reliable and trustworthy (and has a great rapport with your kids, to boot). But how can you be sure you’ve hired the real-life Mary Poppins of your dreams?
Enter the background check. While it’s a great way to find out more about your potential employee, make sure you do it the legal way with these tips:
Ask the candidate to sign a Consent to Background and Reference Check. As their potential employer, you’re not legally allowed to do a background check unless your potential employee consents, so getting permission (in writing!) is a must.
Be clear about what you’re looking for
You don’t need this person’s whole life story, so limit your background check to the relevant details:
- Character and professional references: Ask previous employers about the dependability, warmth, kindness, experience, and level of professionalism of your potential babysitter.
- Criminal background: Is there a record of criminal activity that would make you think twice about leaving this person alone with your children?
- Driving records: If you’re planning to have the babysitter drive your kids anywhere, you’ll need to research their driving record.
To get a well-rounded picture of your potential babysitter, ask to speak to a mix of past employers and family or friends. For the previous employers, be sure to get a name, address, phone number, and dates of employment. Check each of these references personally, and be prepared with questions.
Respect the limits
Some questions are out of bounds, even in a background check. Federal law prohibits you from asking about:
- Age (although you can ask if they’re old enough to work legally)
- Where they were born (although you can ask if they can work legally in the U.S.)
- Race or ethnicity
- Marital status
- Disability status
- If they’re pregnant or planning to be anytime soon
It can be tempting to forego the background check once you find a nanny you love, but don’t rush it—no matter how wonderful the caregiver, your child’s safety is paramount. A thorough background check can reveal information about a candidate that can help parents make a better-informed hiring decision.