While the hope is always that a family will have a great relationship with their nanny, many times that’s not the case. Tragic incidents have occurred in homes around the country involving nannies, leading some parents to want to install a hidden camera known as a “nanny cam” so they can keep an eye on their children during the nanny’s shift. These devices aren’t solely for nannies either – some families use them to keep tabs on pet sitters or housekeepers – anyone who might be in the home when the parents are not.
While nanny cams may provide peace of mind for parents, it’s crucial to understand the laws regarding these surveillance devices before you install one in your own home.
It is legal in all 50 states for a household employer to install a hidden camera in their home. It is illegal, however, to place a nanny cam in a private area such as a bathroom or, for live-in nannies, their own bedroom. Typically these cameras are installed in a playroom, the kids’ rooms, or other general living areas.
While making video recordings is legal in all states, recording audio secretly is not always legal. In California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Washington, you cannot use hidden audio recording devices. But it is legal in New York.
It’s also important to keep in mind that if you install a nanny cam, the recordings can only be used for the monitoring of your home and loved ones. If you use the footage for business purposes or share the recordings with others, you could face legal trouble.
The benefit of having a nanny cam is being able to monitor how your children are being cared for, and to be able to address any issues immediately. It is up to the family whether or not to tell the nanny about the camera(s) – if you are installing the device based on a suspicion you have, then you may wish to keep the camera a secret if you’re hoping to “catch them in the act.” But if you are merely using it for general home safety, you might want to disclose this information to your nanny when you install it or when you hire the nanny. If you don’t tell her and she happens to find the hidden camera on her own, it could negatively impact the level of trust she has with you and your relationship could suffer. If you decide to inform the nanny about the device, you may wish to have her sign a release form stating that she is aware she is being recorded.
A New England Nanny seeks to minimize the need for our families to install nanny cams through our rigorous background checks and screening process. But we also understand that some families just want an extra layer of security when it comes to those they love most. If you have any questions regarding nanny cams, please contact us at (518) 348-0400.