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Information on employing a Nanny (home-based childcare)

Chosing childcare

Ofsted refers to nannies as home-based child carers. Nannies provide childcare in your own home and are a popular choice for many families. They can look after children of any age and should provide care and activities for your children. They are often able to work flexibly and provide care at more unsociable hours than some other types of childcare.

Unlike many other forms of childcare for young children, care that takes place in a child’s own home is not required to be registered with Ofsted. However, there is a register available for nannies to register with Ofsted voluntarily. It may be worthwhile encouraging your nanny to register on the Voluntary Register - see the financial support section below.

What is a Nanny?

A Nanny must be at least 18 years of age and may have some qualifications in childcare (often an NNEB, CACHE Diploma, NVQ or BTEC) as well as training in first aid and child protection. A nanny will preferably have 2 years practical or theoretical experience and therefore should be able to cope with sole charge of the children in their care.

Some nannies will live-in, while others will commute to your home to work. The average gross salary in London for a live in nanny is £438 and a live out nanny £617 per week. These figures are calculated from 2017 Nannytax payroll data and based on a 50 hour week see for further information.

Other types of childcare support based in your own home

Au pairs

A single person aged between 17 and 27 years of age whose main purpose of being in the UK is to learn the language whilst living with a family. They are generally able to help with the housework and childcare, although may not necessarily have any qualifications.

Au pairs are required to stay for a minimum of 6 months, but no longer than 2 years. They are usually given full board (i.e. their own bedroom, food etc.) and are provided with pocket money in the region of £70 to 85 per week. They are not allowed to care for children under the age of 3 years.


A babysitter can look after a child or children while the parent(s) go out for an evening or for short periods of time. Often these are family friends but they can also be found through agencies. Babysitters are usually paid by the hour or the evening, and this is for you to negotiate. Ofsted registered childminders can offer babysitting services, a list of these in Hounslow can be found here

By law a parent is legally responsible for ensuring the safety of the children and it is recommended that a babysitter is at least 16 years of age.

Mother's Help

Mother's Help is the common term for an individual with childcare experience but no formal qualifications. They are more commonly used as an 'extra pair of hands' to support parent(s) looking after their children, as opposed to a child carer themselves, and are generally more prepared to undertake light household duties. The cost of a mother's helper varies considerably and depends on the duties and hours they work.

Financial support with childcare costs

Nannies are unable to offer any of the free childcare for 2, 3 and 4 year olds, such as 30 hours free childcare for working parents. However a parent using a childcarer such as a nanny who is voluntarily registered with Ofsted, is able to obtain financial support (if eligible) through the childcare element of Working Tax credit, employer-supported childcare voucher schemes or Tax Free Childcare. For more on these schemes please visit the Childcare Choices website.

If you employ a nanny and you’re eligible for Tax-Free Childcare, you can use your childcare account to pay their Income Tax and National Insurance contributions.

For further details on the Voluntary Register and for an application form, call Ofsted on 08456 404040 or visit

The pros and cons of using home-based childcare

The benefits of using home-based childcare

  • Your child can form a close one-to-one bond with a regular carer in the comfort of their own home, with their own toys, books, food and bedroom close by
  • Siblings of different ages can be looked after together
  • You can have a high degree of control over your child's routine, diet, activities and play environment
  • Able to offer care more flexibly and for a greater range of days and times than other forms of childcare
  • You and your child don't have to travel to the childcare setting
  • Children can be looked after even when unwell, whereas other settings may be reluctant to accept them, especially if the illness is contagious

Factors which might make home-based childcare less suitable

  • Your child may be happier and better stimulated when around lots of other children
  • Continuity of care is important - au pairs can only stay in the UK for 2 years, and a nanny will eventually move on
  • You may not want the added responsibility of employing someone and arranging contracts, sorting out payslips, tax and national insurance contributions, pensions etc.
  • If your nanny is not on the voluntary register you may lose out on the childcare element of Working Tax credit, childcare vouchers or Tax Free childcare that help pay towards childcare costs (see the financial support with childcare costs tab)

Finding a home-based childcarer and nanny agencies

The Family Information Service do not provide details on individual home-based child carers who have been registered with Ofsted on the voluntary register (vOCR).

As there is no legal requirement for a home-based child carer to be registered with Ofsted, though some do choose to register on the vOCR, a different procedure must be used to find a suitable person. Some families will be able to find someone for themselves, through a friend of the family or by word of mouth. You are also welcome to advertise for yourself, through local newspapers, notice boards, and informal websites. If you are considering this type of childcare you will need to be aware of a number of issues, many of which can be minimised by using a nanny agency.

When looking for a Nanny Agency try The Association of Nanny Agencies, a not-for-profit trade association for Nanny Agencies who demonstrate the highest standards of care and professional excellence within the nanny industry. They have 20 London based Nanny Agencies offering services such as Nanny, Nanny/Housekeeper, Parents Helper, Maternity Nurses, Babysitting and Nursery Nurses.

Why use an agency?

Although using an agency to find you a suitable home-based child carer can be more expensive than searching for yourself, there are benefits. Agencies will almost always vet individuals before putting families in touch with a potential child carer. This includes verifying qualifications, obtaining and checking references, conducting police checks through the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS), and arranging visa applications in the case of au pairs.

They are also able to assist in the drawing up of contracts, and to advise you on a number of important factors, including pay. This is because in many cases using a home-based child carer means that you are effectively becoming an employer, and there are certain legal requirements that accompany this, for example, you will be responsible for paying the National Insurance and tax on top of the child carers' wages. you can find out more about what you need to be aware of when employing someone to work in your own home

Interviewing and crosschecking

Whether you have found a potential candidate for yourself, or through an agency, it is highly recommended that you conduct some kind of interview with them. This is a two-way process, so that you can get to know the person better, and also so that they can learn more about what is required of them.

Suggestions about things you might like to ask would include how much experience with children they have and why they have chosen this as their career. You could also ask them about the kind of activities they would do with your child each day, and what it is about working with children that they enjoy. Importantly you should ask why they left their last job, and ensure they can provide a good reason for any lengthy gaps in their employment history.

It is highly recommended that you obtain references before offering them employment. If they have worked for other families in the past, ask for their contact details and discuss with the ex-family their experience of the carer. Even if they have not worked for a family previously, a character reference from someone who knows them is useful. If you are using an agency, never assume that they have checked references in advance - although it is commonplace for them to do so, you are likely to gain additional knowledge of what the carer is like by speaking to other families who have used them in the past.

Details of employment

Once you have decided to offer a child carer work with your family, you will then need to discuss a number of things with them.

  • The salary, including details of tax, national insurance arrangements and a workplace pension
  • Payment type, i.e. whether this is going to be weekly or monthly, by cash, cheque, or directly into a bank account
  • The hours of work, and the duties involved. You should be very clear what is expected: Are they going to cook for the children? Are they expected to tidy up after them? Does housework form part of their duties?
  • Entitlement to holiday and are they happy to take these at convenient times for you, for example during school holidays or when you have annual leave
  • The length of the probationary period

Once all of this has been agreed,you will need to get this drawn up into a statement of employment (contract) outlining specific duties and responsibilities for you as an employer and for the child carer. An agency should be able to help you with this, if you have used one. As the law states that you need to supply a statement of employment for your nanny you may wish to seek professional legal advice.

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