Why hiring a nanny?
Caring for young children is a full time job. Most parents have no opportunity to do both, work and raise their children and additionally manage the household at the same time. In this case, hiring a nanny is a good option to get support in all aspects of childcare.
A nanny is an experienced and qualified child carer who learned to care for and educate children. Besides childcare, a nanny’s duties include maintaining cleanness of the children’s toys and rooms, their laundry and preparing their meals.
Compared to daytime child care options, your kids will be cared for at your home and in their comfort zone.
What are a nanny’s tasks?
A nanny will work from your home and will naturally be part and share your everyday life. It is therefore important that the family and nanny should have a good relationship.
A nanny’s priority task is to take responsibility for the children’s safety and their development. The specific tasks depend on age and number of the children. The care of newborns, like feeding, changing nappies and preparing bottles, are nanny tasks with babies.
In case of school children, the nanny should also educate them and assist them with their homework. This includes teaching them basic skills like letters or calculating.
Tidying up the children’s rooms and making their laundry should be done by the nanny as well.
Apart from childcare at home, other tasks are bringing and picking up the children from school and afternoon activities. Planning outdoor activities like visiting playgrounds and going to parks as well as organising children’s play dates are also things that the nanny should organise independently. Besides all kind of tasks around the children, a nanny might help with the housework if that’s agreed.
When both sides are trying their best in working together as a team and trust each other, the nanny eventually might become part of the family, which will be beneficial for both sides.
How to choose a nanny?
Taking care of somebody’s children requires a responsible and reliable personality. This means, that parents need to find someone, who they can fully trust and rely on.
When a decision is made and you are looking for a nanny, take your time to find the right one.
Experienced nanny employers say that if you are looking for someone on your own without an agency, two months are a reasonable time frame.
When you start your search, you should firstly be aware of who you are really looking for: Someone who is taking care of your baby/children only? Someone who is also doing housework? What are you willing to pay?
Then, have a close look at your candidates and identify the best matching ones. Have a look at their references, and contact them. This might prevent nasty surprises.
Invite all of your favourite candidates for an interview and spent as much time with them as possible. Trial work is a good way to find out how the candidate is working with your kids and if you agree with her way of treating them. Don’t hesitate to ask the candidates about their experience, former employment including references and their qualifications. A trial period is recommended to find out if everything works like you have hoped (Are you happy with this nanny? Are your children happy with the nanny? Is the nanny happy with you?), before you hire her permanently.
Shall I hire a live-in or live-out nanny?
Live-in nannies are living in the houses of their employers. They provide great flexibility and reliable childcare, which is often required by families who have a modern lifestyle. Live-in nannies are able to start work very early and finish late in case it is needed.
Working with a live-in nanny is very personal and she becomes a part of your everyday life in your intimate environment. Nevertheless, the nanny’s personal space must be respected and taken account for while she is living under your roof. If you are seriously considering to hire a live-in nanny, you should make sure that there will be enough room for her in your home. Also, you should take into account, that your own privacy might be influenced by a “stranger” living in your home. Compared to Au Pairs, who mostly arrive new from their home countries and do not know many people, the live in nanny may have her network of friends already and rules about who she can invite over must be set in advance to prevent discussions.
Live-out nannies offer the same qualifications as live-in nannies and live-out nannies are the more common nanny type. If you don’t need the high flexibility that is provided by a live-in nanny, and want to keep more personal privacy, a live-out nanny is the better option. Still, you should bear in mind that live-out nannies expect to earn more than live-in nannies, as they have additional costs for their home. In case of live-in nannies, these costs are absorbed by providing room and often also foot for them.
How must a nanny be employed?
When you hire a nanny, you will be considered as her employer. This means that you will be responsible for meeting the employee’s rights and pay the right taxes. The nanny should have an employment contract, must not be paid under the National Minimum Wage and may not work more than maximum hours allowed per week. As an employer, you must check if the person you hire can legally work in the UK and has employer’s liability insurance. As an employer, you are also responsible for paying the employee’s Income Tax and National Insurance contributions.
How to find a nanny in the UK?
You can find a nanny on your own, for example by advertising on online notice boards like Gumtree, or you can find one with a nanny agency. In the UK there are a many nanny agencies, that are taking over some of the hassle of finding a nanny: They should do all the background checks on the nanny’s references and her qualifications. They also help to set up the contract and often offer to take care of all the payments.
All these admin things are very time consuming, when you do them on your own. Therefore, an agency might save you a lot of time. Of course, you have to pay for this in the form of agency fees. And also you should check on the agency’s reliability itself.
Hiring a nanny on your own or with an agency is therefore a trade-off between the amount of time and money you are willing to spend.