To Tell or Not to Tell: Letting Caregivers
Know About a Nanny Camera

Should your nanny know that they're being observed through a hidden camera?

If you employ a nanny, babysitter or au pair to care for your children, there's a good chance you have at least one nanny camera installed in your home. These hidden surveillance devices are an effective way for parents to monitor a caregiver's behavior around their children. While it's clear that a nanny cam can help ensure that your children are safe in your absence, it can be difficult to decide whether to let your nanny know about the hidden camera's presence. Some parents opt for full disclosure while others choose not to share this information with their nanny. Let's take a look at both sides of this complicated issue and weigh the pros and cons of each option.

The Case for Full Disclosure

In many cases, parents feel comfortable letting their nanny or babysitter know there are hidden surveillance cameras in the house. Some parents feel that a caregiver is more likely to remain on their best behavior if they know that they're being watched. Nannies are aware that a nanny camera doesn't just capture evidence of abuse or neglect, but it could also catch a caregiver spending too much time texting or slacking off on their duties. Other parents may reveal the presence of hidden cameras simply because it feels like the right thing to do. Letting a caregiver know about surveillance in the home could prevent some potentially embarrassing situations for her. For example, if a nanny needed to change her shirt when she was on duty, she may choose to retreat to the bathroom to do so if she knew that cameras were rolling.

If you do decide to let your nanny know about the presence of hidden cameras in your home, it's important to address any concerns she may have. Let her know that you have no suspicions about her actions around the kids, and reassure her that you're just taking steps to make sure you can feel confident and comfortable about your children's safety when you're not around. Most experienced and professional caregivers have no problem with the presence of nanny cams in the home; a nanny who responds negatively to the idea of cameras may not be the best fit for your family.

Keeping Secrets

While some parents opt to tell their nanny about hidden cameras in the home, others decide not to tell caregivers about their nanny cams. The main benefit of withholding this information is the ability to catch a nanny in the act of bad behavior. Unfortunately, this tactic can backfire in a couple of ways. Instead of preventing bad behavior, you're merely "catching" it. In a situation where abuse or neglect is suspected, you may not want to wait until the behavior is caught on film to take action.

By not stating the fact that you have a nanny camera, however, any abuse you do capture on film could be used to prosecute a caregiver, preventing them from inflicting further abuse to other families in the future. If the nanny knows that cameras exist, they may act on their best behavior, or they may bring the child out of view of the camera to do their damage.

Also, withholding information about hidden cameras can cause a serious breach of trust between you and your children's caregiver: If your nanny discovers a hidden camera, your working relationship with her is likely to be damaged, and she may even quit.

Are There Legal Reasons to Tell?

If you're considering telling your nanny about a hidden camera because you're afraid of any legal ramifications, you can put your concerns to rest: It is legal in all states to make a video-only recording in your home without informing anyone. The fact that nanny cams are typically hidden has no impact on their legality. As long as your hidden cameras aren't installed in a bathroom or a live-in nanny's bedroom, you aren't committing any privacy violations.

If your nanny camera records audio as well as video, certain legal restrictions may apply. Parents who live in the states of California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, Oregon, Pennsylvania or Washington must inform their nanny before making an audio recording. Without the nanny's consent to an audio recording, evidence of neglect or abuse captured on the tape would be inadmissible in court.

It can be difficult to decide whether to let your nanny know that there are hidden cameras in your home. While there are benefits to telling your caregiver about the presence of these cameras, it may make sense to withhold this information in certain situations. There's no single right answer, and your decision will likely be influenced by your individual relationship with your nanny.