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Nannies, Home Childcarers and Au Pairs

About Nannies

A Nanny or Home Childcarer is employed by you to provide childcare, usually in your own home, for children from birth up to the age of 18 years. An advantage of using a Nanny is that they can provide flexible childcare in the familiar surroundings of your own home and can accommodate the differing childcare needs of siblings. It also may be more cost effective to use a Nanny if you have more than one child. Nannies can be daily Nannies that come to the family home each day, or they can live in with the family they are working for and are provided with a private bedroom and food in addition to their salary. They may also work for more than one family under a Nanny share arrangement (but no more than two families).

Do Nannies have Ofsted registration?

There are no legal requirements for Nannies to be registered. It is up to you as a parent and employer to ensure you employ someone you are satisfied with and who will look after your children well. However, there is the facility for Nannies to register as ‘Home Childcarers’ through the voluntary part of the Ofsted Childcare Register.Using a Nanny registered in this way will enable you to claim the childcare element of the Working Tax Credit, if you are eligible. It will also enable you to use employer supported childcare vouchers that require you to use registered childcare.

Using a Nanny on the voluntary register will ensure that certain standards have been met concerning areas such as the welfare and safeguarding of children, how childcare is organised, health and safety, complaints procedures and information to parents.Nannies on the voluntary register must have an enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service check and are inspected to ensure they meet the standards. There is an annual registration fee for the voluntary part of the Childcare Register

Are Nannies qualified?

No special training or experience is required for someone to set themselves up as a Nanny, however many Nannies have some childcare related qualifications e.g. NVQ Early Years Childcare and Education, NVQ Children’s Care, Learning and Development, NNEB, BTEC Diploma, City and Guilds, Diploma for the Children and Young Peoples Workforce. Childcare training will include child development, play, safeguarding and safety issues. Although qualifications are important, an untrained person with experience can offer valuable practical skills and knowledge. Nannies registered as home childcarers are required to have a minimum of a level 2 childcare qualification or to have completed training in the common core skills. They must also have a relevant first aid qualification. Further information on the common core skills training can be found on the OFSTED website.

Finding a Nanny

Finding the right person can take time; try to begin your search at least twelve weeks before you need your Nanny to start work. You can find a Nanny in several ways:

  • Contact a Nanny Recruitment Agency. Agencies advertise in the back of magazines such as Nursery World or The Lady. You will find a range of agencies on the internet, as well as some websites which list nanny agencies. You will normally be expected to pay an agency fee. Agencies usually carry out some checks on Nannies – however you should clarify with them exactly what checks have been undertaken (Please note there is currently no regulatory body for Nanny Agencies).

  • You can also search for Home Childcarers and Nannies on the Sheffield Directory or you can browse the internet for reputable agencies or individual advertisements.

  • You could place an advertisement in local newspapers or parents’ newsletters, e.g. local National Childbirth Trust Newsletter. Or you could advertise in national magazines like Nursery World.

  • Put advertisements on local noticeboards, in schools, community halls etc.

  • Advertise in colleges which offer childcare courses (courses usually end in June). You need to consider that someone you employ straight from college may not have much experience.

What should my advertisement say?

You need to think about what is important to you. An example could be:

  • Childcare qualifications
  • Non-smoker
  • First aider
  • Experience of children with special needs
  • Driving license

This needs to be included in your job description for the advert, along with, hours, duties, whether you want the Nanny to live in or not, number of and age of children. For safety reasons do not include your full address or your children’s names in the advert. You may wish to ask potential Nannies to write to a box number, rather than putting your home phone number on the advert. Your local post office will tell you how to get one.

Job description and application form

You should provide a job description setting down the duties, terms and conditions for the job, as with the advert. You may want to consider providing a simple application form, asking for details of qualifications and experience. Alternatively you can ask them to write with these details or send a CV. The GOV.UK website can provide information on any employment regulations or responsibilities.

Choosing a Nanny

Draw up a shortlist from the returned applications and arrange to interview the Nannies. You may find it helpful to ask a friend, your partner or a relative to help you with the interviewing. The interview is a two way process – to help you choose the right person and to provide the prospective Nanny with the opportunity to find out whether the position is right for them by asking you questions.

  • Draw up a list of questions and ask the same questions of each candidate.

  • Introduce your child(ren) to each Nanny and take note of how they relate.

  • Always take up a minimum of two references which can be contacted independently, rather than just copies of references provided by the candidate, even if the Nanny is with an Agency.

One referee should be their past or present employer, or if they are a newly qualified Nanny who has just finished college, the person who supervised them on their placement. Check their duties and reason for leaving their last employment, sickness record, reliability and qualifications. Explore fully any gaps in their employment history and ensure you see proof of their identity, e.g. passport, driving license, birth certificate. Insist on seeing originals and that one of these items carries a photograph. Similarly, ask to see originals of their qualification certificates. You can also ask to see any Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks.

Interview Questions

Below are some ideas of questions you may want to ask – it is not a definitive guide. Further suggestions can be found on the GOV.UK website.

  • What training has the Nanny had and when? First Aid etc, ask to see certificates.
  • What experience have they had?
  • What sort of activities would they use to engage the children?
  • What is their attitude to discipline?
  • How would they deal with difficult behaviour?
  • What do they know about child safety and safeguarding?
  • How would they cope with an emergency?
  • Are they in good health?
  • Do they smoke?
  • Do they have a car?
  • Would they be prepared to do other duties, housework? etc.
  • Will they work unsocial hours/do babysitting?
  • You will also need to discuss: hours and duties, salary, details of tax and
  • National Insurance arrangements, holiday entitlements, probationary period and contract.

Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks

These checks are carried out by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS). At present there is no nationally agreed system for parents to gain direct access to the criminal record information of someone applying for a post as a Nanny. This is why it is essential to check references and employment history and follow up unexplained gaps or discrepancies in the information they provide to you.

Registered home childcarers will have a DBS check. If an agency has supplied the Nanny the Agency can have them DBS checked. If you are using a Nanny Agency, check whether or not they use the DBS to assess the suitability of Nannies and if they review these regularly. Alternatively the Nanny can apply for a check through an Umbrella Body, an organisation that will process disclosure checks on behalf of individuals, although there will be an additional charge for this. You can search for a local umbrella body on the DBS website.

Employer responsibilities

Successful Nanny work is based on a clear understanding of what is expected on both sides. Initial and ongoing communication is very important. Treat your Nanny as you would wish to be treated. A number of statutory rights apply to employees as soon as they start work. Leaflets on employment legislation are available from the ACAS website and from job centres.

Contract of employment

It is essential that you have a written contract of employment between yourself and your Nanny. This should cover: start date, salary, main duties, period of employment, hours, any probationary period after which the appointment will be confirmed, notice periods required, arrangements for sick leave and pay, maternity leave and pay, and holidays. Changes to the contract should be agreed by both parties; it may be useful to review the contract from time to time. Contracts can only be ended by either party after a notice period.

Wages, Tax and National Insurance

Nanny wages will vary according to where you live, the job and the nanny’s experience and it will be up to you to negotiate an agreed rate. Nannies are covered by the National Minimum Wage. The rate varies for different groups of workers (see ‘Related Links’ section at the end of this factsheet for the gov.uk website which details current minimum wage rates). It is very unusual for a Nanny to be self-employed so it is likely that you will become their employer.

As an employer, you are responsible for paying tax, National Insurance (NI), sick pay, and maternity pay where appropriate. When you negotiate a salary with your nanny it is important to be clear about whether you are talking about a net wage or a gross wage. A Nanny’s gross pay is their take home pay plus tax and NI contributions. The tax and NI are deducted by you and paid to the HM Revenue and Customs, along with an employer’s NI contribution. You will need to supply the nanny with payslips detailing tax and NI deductions. The HM Revenue and Customs can advise on this.

Insurance

You will need to ensure you have Employer’s Liability Insurance to cover you for any injury caused to your Nanny whilst in your employment. You can often get this through your home insurers. It is worth noting that if you do not let your insurers know that you are employing a Nanny you may invalidate your household insurance. Your nanny should have Professional or Public Liability insurance which covers them, for example if action was brought against them for causing injury (contacts for companies who offer insurance policies for nannies are listed in ‘ External Links’ on the right hand side of the webpage.

Working together

Discuss any difficulties with your Nanny as soon as they arise – often lack of communication can lead to misunderstandings which can easily be avoided. Keep the Nanny informed of any changes in your or your child’s routine. Plan time at least once a week when you can talk to your Nanny about how things are going and have the opportunity for you both to raise any issues.

Children with special needs or disabilities

Family Information Services including information for families of Children and Young People 0-19 with disabilities can be found online on the Sheffield Directory – Local Offer website.

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