Nannies are professional carers who often have formal training in working with children. When you’re looking for a nanny, you should consider experience, qualifications and ‘fit’ with your family. If employing a nanny, you’ll probably need to formalise the nanny’s employment conditions.
How to find a nanny
If you decide that hiring a nanny is a child care option that suits your family, it’s important to find a nanny who’s right for your family. You could start by asking other parents, your friends or your child and family health nurse if they know someone suitable.
Nannies often advertise on noticeboards at child care centres, local schools, community centres, universities, libraries or local shops. You could also try looking in your local newspaper or online.
You can find formal employment agencies for nannies by looking in the Yellow Pages and on the internet. Also, another parent might be able to recommend a nanny agency. Agencies conduct police checks and make sure the people on their books are of good character via reference checks.
Some parents find that employing a nanny is a more flexible arrangement than formal child care. They also like the idea of children being cared for in their own homes. And it might save money if families have more than one child.
This is when two families share the one nanny. It’s a child care option that’s growing in popularity. If you’re interested, ask families who use nannies for recommendations, contact an agency or search for nanny-sharing organisations online.
You might already know a family interested in sharing with you. Otherwise, some agencies will help link families.
Before contacting an agency, consider:
- how many children (yours and the other family’s) you want a nanny to care for
- the number of children one nanny can take in a car (if you want the nanny to drive your children)
- whether you prefer the other children to be around the same age as your children
- where the care would take place – at your house, the other family’s house or a combination of the two
- how far you’re willing to travel if some, or all, of the care will be at the other family’s house
- which days you’ll need the nanny.
Choosing a nanny
When you’re choosing a nanny, you might want to think about the following issues.
Availability and other practical issues
Being clear about the nanny’s living arrangements and weekly schedule will help you find a nanny.
For example, do you want the nanny to live in or live out? If live in, are you able to give the nanny a room to himself or herself? Will the nanny need to use public transport? Will your nanny need a driver licence to take your child to activities outside the home (classes, preschool or playgroup)? If so, whose car will the nanny use?
It’s worth sorting out practical issues like how you’ll manage back-up care if your nanny gets sick. If you’ve employed a nanny from an agency, the agency can usually provide another nanny. If you’ve employed a nanny privately, you’ll need to make your own plan.
Experience and references
To find a nanny who’s the right fit for your family, you could ask about experience. For example, how long has the nanny worked in child care as a carer? In what kinds of situations? Has the nanny worked with other children the same age as yours? If you have a large family, you might want to know how many children the nanny has worked with at the one time.
It’s also important to ask for references, and make sure you check them carefully.
Rapport with children
You’ll want to find a nanny who gets along with your child or children. You might like to ask the nanny how he or she builds positive relationships with children and how he or she encourages learning and development through play and other activities.
Many agencies provide a nanny on a trial basis first. This allows you to see how the nanny gets on with your children before you make long-term employment arrangements.
All nannies should have a current first aid certificate. You might also want a nanny to have qualifications in child care or teaching.
The rate of pay for a nanny varies, depending on the person’s qualifications and experience. Generally, nannies are paid a higher rate than babysitters. These rates start from around $20 an hour. Other parents can give you an idea of the going rate for nannies, or you can call an agency for a quote.
You need to trust your nanny. Ensure that your nanny supplies references. Make sure you check them thoroughly.
Employing a nanny
Generally, nannies work longer and more regular hours than babysitters – around 20-40 hours a week.
It might help you and your nanny if you write a simple job description. It should list everything you want the nanny to do, as well as the conditions of employment. You can also include any additional domestic work you’d like the nanny to do – for example, preparing meals. And you might like to give a timetable of activities, like naps, walks and play, to guide the nanny’s time with the children.
A clear statement of the work you expect the nanny to do can help you avoid or resolve future misunderstandings.
As with any employment situation, a nanny who is working with you on a regular basis will need an employment contract. The employment contract needs to be clear about:
- live-in or live-out arrangements
- salary and superannuation
- employment conditions like normal hours of work, overtime, holidays, sick and other kinds of leave, and time off if the nanny is going to be living with you
- weekly schedule
- transport arrangements – for example, whether the nanny is expected to use public transport or is allowed to use your family car
- reimbursement of expenses
- the behaviour you expect from your nanny. Clarify what behaviour is and is not OK by including a Code of Conduct. You could use Early Childhood Australia’s code of ethics as a guide.
A contract and performance review, as well as a confidentiality agreement, might also be worth considering.
Nannies must be paid at or above the minimum wage set out in any relevant state award. Call the Australian Government Fair Work Ombudsman on 131 394 for information about employee entitlements including awards.
Other employment considerations
You can find out about paying income tax for your nanny at Australian Taxation Office – PAYG withholding and household employees.
Child Care Benefit
Nannies can become registered carers or ‘approved carers’ if they meet certain rules. This means that you can claim Child Care Benefit. To find out more about becoming a registered carer, visit Australian Government Department of Human Services – Registered carers.
You’ll have to pay superannuation if your nanny is working more than 30 hours a week, either looking after children, cooking or cleaning. You can find out more at Australian Taxation Office – Super.
Think about taking out public liability insurance to cover accidents. You might already have some cover if you have a home and contents insurance policy. Under workers compensation legislation, you might also need domestic workers compensation insurance for your nanny. Contact WorkCover in your state for further information.
If you’re organising employment of a nanny yourself, some states will allow you to request a police check from a local police station for a fee. A Working with Children Check is mandatory for certain occupations and must be held by a nanny if required by law in your state or territory.