Choosing a nanny to look after your children is an extremely important process. Not only will this person be responsible for the welfare of your child, they will also spend a lot of time in your house, and may even drive your car. This means that you need to find the right person who is a perfect fit for your family, so allow plenty of time – possibly several months – for the the process.
What are the benefits of hiring a nanny?
There are many benefits to hiring a nanny, and it’s a childcare option that can suit very well. For example:
- You will have a trained professional looking after your child
- You will have cover even if your child is ill
- You can fix hours to suit you so there are no late fees as you might have with a nursery
- You might be able to include some hours of evening baby-sitting as part of the agreement
- Many nannies cover household tasks relating to the children that will save you precious time, such as cooking their meals and doing their laundry
- They may well know other local nannies and children’s groups so can make sure your child is socialising well with their peers
What other considerations are there when hiring a nanny?
It’s important to remember though, that when you hire a nanny you are taking on an employee. This means that you need to set up a proper PAYE payroll scheme and provide a pension for them. Further information can be found on the gov.uk site.
Hourly rates vary depending on experience. It is commonplace for a nanny to ask for a net hourly rate, but you should try to negotiate a gross annual salary. This way you are not responsible for any unpaid tax.
You are also obliged to pay holiday and sick pay. You will also need employer’s liability insurance. You may choose to have an agency administrate this for you, or run it yourself. Whatever you decide to do it, there will be a cost and time involved, and you will also have a duty of care to your nanny as your employee.
If you decide to allow the nanny to use your car then you will need to get him or her insured on it. If they use their car then you will need to pay them an agreed amount for petrol and wear and tear.
In terms of holiday, it’s common for the nanny to choose half the days and for the employer to choose the other half. But this is something that you should agree at the outset and make a part of the contract.
Speaking of the contract, this is something you should definitely have. You can find templates on the internet, or go through an agency. However you decide to do it, make sure that all permutations such as hourly rate, number of holiday days, notice period and tasks to be undertaken are all there in black and white so that you avoid any confusion down the line. Clarity is key to a happy relationship!
One last consideration is that if the nanny decides to move on for whatever reason, you will be left with just the notice period to arrange further childcare, and the children may be upset at losing the nanny from their lives.
How to go about hiring a nanny
If you’ve decided that a nanny is definitely the way to go, and you definitely have the budget to cover the going rates for your neighbourhood, then the first thing to consider is exactly what type of person you are looking for. For example:
- Do you want a live-in or live-out nanny?
- Do you want a full-time or part-time nanny?
- Are you happy to do a nanny share with another family to split the costs and provide built-in playmates?
- Are you agreeable to having the nanny bring their own child along?
- Are there any other particular requirements that you may have that should be mentioned at the outset of the interview process, for example does your child have any special needs?
- Do you want a trial period or probation?
Once you are clear about the type of person that you’re looking for, the next step is to advertise. You can either do this privately: through word of mouth, local nannying Facebook groups or websites such as childcare.co.uk, or you can go through an agency. If you choose the latter route you will have some peace of mind in terms of vetted candidates, but there will also be an additional cost for the agency’s commission. We have some great local agencies listed in our directory.
What to look for in a nanny
Once you have some applications to hand, there are certain things that you can look for on their CV or points you can establish through preliminary conversations, perhaps over phone or skype. It’s worth noting that nannies don’t have to be OFSTED registered as childminders do, but some may be.
- Do they have the relevant DBS security checks in place?
- Do they have valid and up-to-date childcare qualifications?
- Do they have a valid and up-to-date first aid qualification?
- Have they previously worked with children of similar ages / needs to yours?
- How long do have they spent with previous employers?
- If you’re employing someone part-time then do they have another employer and if so how will priorities be split?
- What sort of references can they provide?
- Can they provide proof of eligibility to work in the UK?
The interview process
When you’ve found a few candidates that seem to fit the bill, the next step is to meet them. Try to find around 3-5 likely candidates so that you can make a proper comparison. It’s a good idea to have time at this interview where your child is occupied so that you can have a proper grown-up conversation with them. Then later, if there’s time, you can see how they interact with your child.
It’s always a good idea to invite them back for a second interview where the child is more important, possibly even arrange for them to do a trial day when you’re home so that you can be sure that the relationship works.
The interview(s) are crucial for you to make the decision as to whether this is the right person or not for your family. Try to gently obtain as much information as you can from them about previous jobs (but take note if they say too much as this could be you they talk about next time!) and also fundamentals such as smoking or allergies. Feel free to have a list of questions written down and to make it ‘feel’ like an interview – it’s not often that you will be looking for someone to have sole charge of your most precious possession after all!
If you’re working from home, then find out how the nanny feels about this, as this can often be an area of contention. It’s important to understand how he or she feels about the working setup as if they aren’t happy they will just leave and you’ll have to start the whole process from the beginning again.
Getting things started
Once you’ve made your choice and had your offer of employment accepted, then make sure you put all the admin in place as soon as possible so that the nanny is paid on time and has the peace of mind that they are working for a reliable employer.
As time goes by, you may find that your professional relationship becomes blurred into a friendship, but make sure that you always keep things on a responsible footing and don’t take advantage of a nanny’s goodwill, for example by asking her to do tasks around the house that aren’t related to the children (unless this has been agreed). Conversely, if there are little niggles that start appearing, it’s best to address them early and in a timely manner. As we said already, clarity is the key to what will hopefully be a long and happy arrangement between your family and the nanny!