Information on employing a Nanny

Ofsted refer 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.

What is a Nanny?

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.

A Nanny must be at least 18 years of age and should have first aid and child protection training as well as some qualifications in childcare such as:

  • NNEB
  • CACHE Diploma
  • NVQ
  • BTEC

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. (Figures from 2017 Nannytax payroll data based on a 50 hour week) see for further information.

Night nannies

A night nanny has a special knowledge of caring for babies from new born up to 1 year. They may be employed for a few nights to several weeks and usually work 8 to 12 hours a night. They will be expected to take care of all of the baby’s needs throughout the night such as

  • changing the baby
  • settling the baby
  • supporting the baby to get into a good sleep pattern
  • feeding the baby (either by taking the baby to the mother to breastfeed or bottle feeding using expressed milk or formula).

Shared nannies 

Shared nannies is where two or more families share a nanny between them. This can work well but the employment and tax situations can be complex and it's worth investing time in getting appropriate advice.

Other childcare based in your own home

Au pairs

An Au Pair travels to the UK to live with a host family, to experience a new culture and to learn a foreign language. In exchange for board, lodging and the opportunity to attend a local language school, the Au Pair will provide childcare and domestic help. An Au Pair gets ‘pocket money’ and is not classed as an employee and so is not entitled to the employee benefits or normal tax and national insurance contributions.


A babysitter can look after your children whilst you go out for an evening or for short periods of time. Often these are family friends but you can find them 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 on our childcare page.

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

Mother's Help

Mother's Help is an individual with childcare experience but no formal qualifications. They are used as an 'extra pair of hands' to support you looking after your children and are generally more prepared to undertake light household duties. The cost of a mother's help depends on the duties and hours they work.

Family and friends

If a member of your family or a friend looks after your children in your own home, they you will not need to register with Ofsted as long as;

  • they do it as an occasional favour rather than for payment
  • your children are all aged eight or over
  • the care happens in your own home.

Financial support with childcare costs

A parent using 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
  • Tax Free Childcare

For more on these schemes please visit the Childcare Choices website. 

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.

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 the nanny in the comfort of their own home, with their own toys, books, food and bedroom close by
  • Siblings of different ages can be cared for 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, for more 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. 

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 move on
  • You will have the responsibility of employing someone.  This will include
    • and arranging contracts
    • sorting out payslips
    • tax and national insurance contributions
    • work place pensions
  • If your nanny is not on the voluntary register you may lose out on financial support with childcare costs

Finding a nanny

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

Interview and crosschecking

Whether you have found a nanny yourself, or through an agency, it is recommended that you conduct an interview with them. This is a two-way process, so that you can get to know the person better, and so that they can learn more about what is required of them. Having a structure of the interview ensures that all the points are covered. It is important to see how the nanny interacts with your children. It may not be advisable to have them present for the whole interview as it could be distracting. Introducing various candidates to the children may be both unsettling and confusing.

Tell the nanny about the position and discuss what the role entails. Suggestions about things that should be covered are:

  • hours of work
  • start date
  • routines
  • duties and responsibilities
  • salary (including tax, national insurance and work place pension)
  • holidays

It is advisable to run through a list of questions relating to the nanny’s abilities as a carer. Some examples of questions that you might like to ask would include:

  • how much experience they have with children and
  • why they have chosen childcare as their career
  • the kind of activities they would plan for your children
  • why they left their last job and ensure they can provide a good reason for any lengthy gaps in their employment history

During the interview, ask the nanny if she has any questions.

References and DBS checks

Once you have found the right nanny, it is recommended that you obtain references before confirming their employment. If you are using an agency, never assume that they have checked references in advance - although it is commonplace for them to do so. Ask for the contact details of those families and discuss with the ex-family their experience of the nanny. Even if they have not worked for a family previously, a character reference from someone who knows them is useful.

When checking your nanny’s references, always ask to see their DBS check.

Any person working as a Nanny must have a valid Enhanced DBS Check. A DBS certificate shows that there are no restrictions against working with children. It is very important to check that the potential nanny has up to date DBS check in place and read any comments on the disclosure carefully. If the nanny has been recruited by an agency, check with the agency as they should have carried out an Enhanced DBS check.

After offering the job position, draw up a contract, discuss start date and organise an induction.

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.

Are you a nanny or thinking of becoming a nanny?

Local Authority support for Nannies

If you are considering registering with Ofsted, the Local Authority, through the Early Years and Childcare service, can provide training in the common core skills (pdf)

The Early Years and Childcare service is made up of several advisors with different areas of expertise.  They help to prepare prospective providers meet the registration requirements of Ofsted, including guidance on the Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage.

They are committed to promoting good practice within childcare supporting practitioners to develop and reflect upon their practice. If you have any enquires about practice of safeguarding, you can email:

Note as a nanny, you can look after children from 2 different families at the home of one of the families. However, if more than 2 families use the care at the same time, it is classed as childminding and you will need to register as a childminder.

Before you register with Ofsted

You will need

When you start looking after children you’ll need to have public liability insurance.

How to apply

  1. Register for an account on Ofsted Online
  2. Log in and go to the Online Applications section.
  3. Apply using the CR1 form.

You will receive a unique reference number, or URN, by post.

We will carry out checks on you based on the information you give us.

You may be able to put your application on hold in some circumstances.

Ofsted aim to register nannies within 12 weeks of sending you the URN, but it can take longer in some situations.

If your application is approved you will get a registration certificate. Ofsted will publish your URN and any inspection reports online