What is the legal age for babysitting?
There is no law that says what age you must be before you can babysit. However, if you are under 16 years old it is against the law for you to babysit during school hours without permission from your principal.
Parents can decide how old a babysitter they hire should be. It is their job to hire someone who can look after their children properly.
Parents may consider...
- your age and maturity
- your experience as a babysitter
- the age and number of their children
- how long you will be babysitting (a few hours, one evening, overnight)
- whether you can handle any special needs of the children
Parents have a responsibility to...
- choose a suitable babysitter for their children
- give you instructions on how to care for their children
- make sure their house is safe, for example, no broken stairs, fire traps or dangerous materials in the house
- be home at the stated time or phone to let you know they will be late
- give you instructions on how to deal with anyone who telephones or comes to the door
You may have your own guidelines about babysitting. For instance, you may decide not to babysit more than two children at a time or children under a certain age.
When do labour laws apply?
In most cases, labour laws that set out things like minimum wage and holiday pay do not apply to babysitting.
The right to minimum wage, holiday pay, and maternity leave only apply to someone who works as a domestic. That is someone hired to...
- care for children
- do housekeeping and cooking
- work for a certain number of hours on a regular weekly basis
A babysitter who cares for children occasionally, on a short-term basis (for example while parents go out for dinner or a movie) would not be considered a domestic.
How much should I get paid?
You and the parents can work out together what your wage is. The agreement you reach is called a contract. Legally binding contracts create obligations to do certain things. Parents agree to pay you a specific amount and in return you agree to care for their children. The area of contract law sets out the rules for making and enforcing agreements. When either person breaks their part of the agreement a breach of contract occurs. The courts may be able to help you enforce a contract.
When you agree to babysit...
- find out what the usual wage for babysitting is in your community
- talk with the parents about wages
- make an agreement about how much you will get paid
- If the parents do not pay you...
- ask the parents why they are not paying
- take another adult with you to talk to the parents and try to settle the problem
- ask an adult to help you take the parents to Small Claims Court to sue them for your wages
Unless a significant amount of money is owing, suing is not a very realistic option. So, it is important to make suitable arrangements for payment and not let any amount owing grow larger by continuing to babysit when reasonable arrangements for payment are not being met.
Do I need to pay income tax on money earned babysitting?
- most casual babysitters will not earn enough income from babysitting alone to owe income tax
- if you earn more than the amount of the personal exemption allowed by Canada Revenue Agency within one tax year, you will need to report that income on your annual tax return
- parents may still want a receipt as they may be able to use it for their income tax return
Will the parents take deductions off babysitting pay?
- parents who hire you to babysit do not need to take any deductions off your babysitting pay
- parents who hire you to babysit their children on a casual basis are not generally considered to be your employer
- if you think you might earn more than your personal exemption in a tax year, you may want to put some of your earnings away to pay the income tax when it becomes due
To find out more about whether you need to file a tax return, you can contact the nearest Canada Revenue Agency office, listed in the Government blue pages of your telephone book.
What can the parents expect me to do?
When parents hire you to babysit their children, your job is to...
- look after them in a way that is reasonable according to their age
- be responsible for the children and keep them safe while they are in your care
- follow general instructions on how to look after them
- give medication only on the parents' instructions, never on your own
If you put a child (who is under 10 years old) in a situation where their life or health is in danger, you could be charged with a criminal offence.
What if something goes wrong?
If something goes wrong your first concern must be to make sure you and the children are safe. You should know how to contact emergency services and how to get a hold of the parents in an emergency. You should also know what to do in an emergency. For example, you should have a plan for how you would get yourself and the children out if there was a fire.
If you break something or someone is hurt while you are babysitting, you may be able to work it out with the parents. For example, if property is damaged...
- the parents may be able to get insurance to pay for the damage
- you and the parents can agree on who pays for all or part of the damage
If the parents don't come home...
- call your own parents
- call a crisis line
- call the police
Can the parents sue me?
If something goes wrong and you cannot work the problem out with the parents, they may sue you if they believe it was your fault.
You may be responsible if you didn't take reasonable care considering your age and maturity.
If the parents of the children put you in a situation that is too difficult for you to handle, any damages or injuries could be their fault.
Are my parents responsible if I am sued?
Your parents are not usually responsible for damages you cause while you babysit.
Your parents may be responsible if...
- they know about your actions and do not do anything
- they give you advice about a certain situation
- they allow you to get into a situation you cannot handle
Looking after someone's children is a serious job. Some things to do ahead of time are...
- take a babysitting course
- talk to the parents about what they expect from you
- make an agreement with the parents about how much you will be paid
- plan a safe way home in advance
- ask the parents for any general or special instructions
- ask for instructions for handling incoming phone calls
- find out what to do if someone comes to the door
- find out where to contact the parents if there are problems
- know the numbers to call in case of emergency, for example, police, doctor, fire department, poison control centre, a close neighbour or friend
- always make sure your own parents know where you are babysitting and how to reach you
For information on babysitting courses offered in your community contact...
Saskatchewan Safety Council
445 Hoffer Dr
Regina SK S4N 6E2
Your Local Red Cross office
Saskatoon: (306) 668-0720
Prince Albert: (306) 765-2600
Regina: (306) 721-1600
Canadian Red Cross Society
Toll Free: 1-877-356-3226
St. John Ambulance
Toll Free: 1-888-273-0003