Uncovering the Confusion of Nanny Shares

ID-10033734 (Nanny2)Over the past few weeks I have had several calls regarding nanny shares, ranging from enquiries about what they should entail, how practical and viable they are, how to organise them, and sadly what to do with those that have run into difficulties (difficulties that -in many instances- could have been overcome with just a little forethought and planning).

Nanny shares are simply childcare arrangements organised so that one or more families share the costs of a single nanny who will look after children from different families at different (although also sometimes similar) times during the day or week. Because the nanny becomes a shared resource, it is crucial that nanny shares are arranged with great care so that both the parents and the nanny are aware of the demands and pressures that these can inadvertently place upon both employer and employee …and to ensure that adequate protection is afforded to both should plans unexpectedly go awry.

In brief, if you have only one child or if your children are attending pre-school or full time school, then a nanny share can really help with costs. It is important to remember that during school holidays the nanny may be required to care for all the children in her nanny share arrangement and so it will be necessary to ensure that the quality of care is not impacted and that  travel arrangements are adequately catered for.

Top Ten Tips for Nanny Shares

  1. Understand expectations. If a nanny is looking after children for more than 3 families at any one time, the nanny must become a registered child-minder. However, having helped nannies and families for 19 years, it is not advisable that a sole nanny is left in charge in these circumstances: it would mean catering not only for differing needs and personalities but also the varying expectations of parents.
  2. Clarify expectations. Ensure that the duties expected by each family are achievable for both families e.g. there are no clashes in obligations for nursery duties and activity days. It is imperative this is discussed and agreed before commencement of the nanny share.
  3. Arrange play-dates. Before making any commitment to a nanny share, arrange play-dates at each home to see how well the children get on with each other and –just importantly- to make sure that the parents are comfortable with the arrangements Nannies should be reimbursed for this time.
  4. Establish routines. Older children need quiet time after a busy day at school so it is important that they have the time to relax if very young children come into a nanny share.
  5. Clarify logistics. Be clear about the days and hours involved e.g. are all the nursery and school runs feasible?
  6. Know your workplace. Agree the location(s) of the nanny share; will it be at one or multiple houses, over which period, with which frequency? Make sure both houses are able to accommodate the children of the ages being looked after e.g. if caring for babies it will be necessary to undertake a risk assessment for stairs, doors, medicines, household cleaning products and garden areas to name just a few.
  7. Sign contracts. The nanny will need to have a contract outlining both families payroll responsibilities and expectations regarding the nanny’s duties. This should include but not be limited to: time scales for trial period and or probation, pay structure and arrangements, hours (including any periods of “sole charge”), grievance and dismissal procedures etc. There should be a probationary period set in the contract for the nanny or the parents to be able to leave if the arrangement is not working. Nanny Link Ltd advises that a three-month probation period should be considered to allow a reasonable time for settling in.
  8. Arrange payroll. It is advised that families entering into a nanny share arrangement use a payroll company to ensure that wages, tax and national insurance are paid correctly paid by each family. All families involved in the nanny share are separately responsible as employers to ensure that this is correct. HMRC can –and will- issue hefty fines for non-payment. To avoid complications with (income) tax and national insurance contributions, pay must be arranged on a gross salary and not a net salary. If the nanny share arrangements mean that the nanny is not needed by all families on every day, the pay on sole charge days will need to be agreed so that the nanny is still remunerated appropriately for their time. Generally speaking, nanny shares attract rates of pay around 25-30% additional pay above normal rates.
  9. Agree leave in advance. The nanny should be allowed leave arranged for a mutually convenient time for all involved in the nanny share arrangement.
  10. Seek professional advice if you are unsure about the suitability of a nanny share or simply wish to find out more information before making a decision.

Why choose a nanny share?

  • For parents needing part-time, term-time, or shorter hours care, nanny shares can be ideal.
  • The cost of a nanny is shared providing a saving that makes childcare more affordable for families.
  • Children have more playmates and may often spend time with other children who live in their local area; this social interaction can be advantageous when starting school.
  • The flexibility of a nanny share for pre-school children often provides opportunity to have continuing and familiar care after children go to school, meaning that children keep their nanny for longer

NANNY LINK LTD has assisted families for many years regarding nanny shares and can help parents unravel the complexities of nanny shares through its consultancy service. For advice on payroll and tax matters, Nanny Link Ltd recommends WAY2PAYE, who specialise in domestic, childcare and nanny payroll matters.

Margaret Cowell