Nannies are professional carers who often have formal training in working with children. When looking for a nanny, you should consider experience, qualifications and ‘fit’ with your family. If employing a nanny, you will probably need to formalise the nanny’s employment conditions.
Finding a nanny
If you decide that hiring a nanny is a child care option that suits your family, it’s important to choose the right person. You could start by asking other parents, your friends or your child 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.
Formal employment agencies for nannies can be found in the Yellow Pages and on the internet. Also, a fellow parent might be able to recommend a nanny. Agencies conduct police checks and make sure the people on their books are of good character via reference checks.
In some states or territories, nannies employed by agencies are required to have a Working with Children Check card.
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:
- the number of children you would want a nanny to care for in total
- the number of children one nanny can transport in a car (if you wish the nanny to transport 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 closely located the families need to be
- what days you will require the nanny.
Some parents find that employing a nanny is a more flexible arrangement than formal child care. Children can be cared for in their own home. It can also be economical if you have more than one child.
Choosing a nanny
When choosing a nanny, you might want to consider the following issues.
Availability and other practical issues: try to be clear about what the nanny’s living arrangements and weekly schedule will be. 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’s licence to take your child to activities outside the home (classes, preschool or play group)? If so, whose car will the nanny use?
Experience: how long has the nanny worked in child care? 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.
Rapport with children: how does the nanny interact with your child? Many agencies provide a nanny on a trial basis first. This allows you to assess how the nanny gets on with your children before you make long-term employment arrangements.
Qualifications: all nannies should have a current first aid certificate. You might also want a nanny to have qualifications in child care or teaching.
Payment: 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.
References: 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 job description. It should list everything you want the nanny to do, as well as the conditions of employment. These might include:
- normal hours of work
- requirements for the nanny to do any additional domestic work
- a timetable to guide the nanny’s time with the children, incorporating naps, walks, play, reading, television (if allowed) and so on.
A clear statement of expectations can help resolve any future disputes.
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
- conditions of employment, such as holidays and sick leave. Be particularly clear about working hours and time-off arrangements if the nanny is going to be living with you. Remember that you will need a back-up care plan if your nanny gets sick
- 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. 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 Workplace Info line on 1300 363 264 for assistance in looking up the relevant award for your state.
Income tax: to find out about paying income tax for your nanny, visit the Australian Taxation Office.
Childcare rebate: nannies can become ‘Registered Care Providers’ (RCPs) or ‘approved carers’ if they meet certain criteria. This means that parents can claim the child care rebate. In order to become a RCP, a person must complete an application, which can be obtained by calling the Family Assistance Office on 13 6150.
Superannuation: you will 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 ATO Superannuation.
Insurance: 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 be required to organise domestic workers compensation insurance for your nanny. Contact WorkCover in your state for further information.
Background checks: if you are 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. To find out more about police checks or Working with Children checks, follow the state-based links below.