Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Problem with Babysitting (also known as "Employee Moonlighting")

As an employer within the child development field, you probably have employees who arrange to babysit for families outside of their working hours. This of course seems logical and appropriate at first glance.

Here is the kicker – if the family met their “babysitter” while the sitter was/is working in your program, it has been determined (by courts) that you are legally liable for their conduct while babysitting--EVEN outside of their employment hours with you.

What this simply means is, if your employee meets a family while working in your program (they are not related or have a prior relationship with each other), the family asks that person to babysit (while your employee isn’t working for you, i.e. Friday night, after hours, while the parents are away, etc.) YOU can be held liable for anything that happens to that child(ren) while in your employee’s care.

There are court findings where the child care program was held legally liable because there is an “implied recommendation” to the parent that your employee is capable/appropriate to care for children – hence they hire them on the side. This seems ridiculous – and I have to agree that it is – but that is how the courts have viewed this situation.

To protect yourself and your program from this legal liability you may want to look into having a “no babysitting” policy in place in your program. All of our KidCentric programs have a very strict policy to address this issue. If our policy is broken, the employee will be terminated and the parent will lose their child care immediately. This is a very serious issue. We have also been legally advised that there are no waivers that will protect you from this liability.

Parents and your employees will hate this policy, but you might want to consider putting one in place if you want to protect yourself from yet another layer of legal liability. Food for thought…..and action!

Oh yes, and, of course, our babysitting policy is for sale at!


  1. As a provider for 23 years, I totally agree!

  2. Thanks Mary! I saw another post where you mentioned that we (program managers) have enough to handle in our day-to-day operations and don't need to open ourselves up to further liability. Amen!

  3. This is a conclusory and entirely unsupported post. You mention "court findings" but not a single case is cited. Under the doctrine of "respondeat superior" an employer may be held liable for the acts of an employee within the scope and during the course of her employment, but this generally will not include after-hours, off-premises babysitting, especially where the child care facility does not provide those services. If you are concerned about liability, consider asking the parents to sign a "hold harmless" agreement. A blanket "no-babyistting" policy is unjustified and inconvenient to parents.

  4. Hi Jamie,
    You are correct in noting that I do not cite any legal cases in this post. I am not a lawyer and do not have time to research legal cases. I am a child care provider who understands what I don't know and when I need to engage professional services. The information I provide in this article is based upon the advice our company received from our lawyer, who also informed us that "hold harmless" agreements are generally of little value in legal matters. Considering our highly litigious society, our policy is to err on the side of caution, especially when being advised to do so by our lawyer. My intention in this post, and with this company, is to share what we have learned over the years with other child care providers. They, and you, are welcome to heed our advice or not. We will not be changing this policy in any of our programs.