What is a nanny?
A nanny is a professional carer who looks after children in the children’s own home.
If you’re interested in a nanny as a child care option, it’s important to find a nanny who’s right for your family. You could start by asking other parents or your friends whether they know someone suitable.
Background checks on nannies
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 (WWC) check is mandatory for certain occupations. A nanny must have a WWC check if required by law in your state or territory.
Employment contracts for nannies
An employment contract sets out rights and responsibilities for you and your nanny during your nanny’s employment with you. It helps you and your nanny avoid or resolve future misunderstandings.
The contract should cover pay and conditions – for example:
- salary and superannuation
- hours of work
- periods of notice for leave and employment termination
- feedback and performance reviews
- sick leave, carer’s leave and annual leave
- contract renegotiation conditions – for example, if you have another child
- reimbursement of expenses
- confidentiality requirements – for example, you might not want the nanny to post about your family on social media
- the behaviour you expect from your nanny – you could use Early Childhood Australia’s code of ethics as a guide.
It’s a good idea to include a list of duties as part of the employment contract. This list could form the nanny’s job description. It might cover:
- what you want the nanny to do, including any additional domestic work like preparing meals
- live-in or live-out arrangements, or the flexibility to have both
- weekly schedule including activities like children’s naps, walks and play
- transport arrangements – for example, whether the nanny is allowed to drive the children in their car or your family car.
There’s a lot of administration and paperwork involved in employing a nanny. It might be worth hiring a domestic payroll company to help you with some of the legal requirements, like payroll, superannuation, tax and leave benefits.
Income tax for nannies
You can find out about paying income tax for your nanny at Australian Taxation Office – Withholding from payments to household employees.
Insurance when you employ a nanny
There are several types of insurance you might need to think about:
- Public liability insurance to cover accidents – you might already have some cover if you have a home and contents insurance policy.
- Domestic workers compensation insurance – contact your state or territory’s workers’ compensation authority for further information.
- Car insurance – you’ll need to update your car insurance policy if your nanny will be driving your car.
Leave for nannies
All nannies who are employees are entitled to leave. Entitlements include the minimum 20 days of annual leave and 10 days of annual sick leave, with these amounts adjusted pro-rata if the nanny is part-time.
You’ll need to think about what you’ll do if your nanny gets sick or goes on annual leave. 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 plans.
Payment for nannies
Australian workplace laws determine whether you should employ a nanny as an employee or an independent contractor. This will affect how you pay your nanny.
For a nanny hired as an employee, pay rates are covered by the Miscellaneous Award.
For a nanny hired as an independent contractor, you’ll need to negotiate an appropriate pay rate.
As for most jobs, the rate of pay for a nanny depends on:
- what qualifications and experience the nanny has
- whether the nanny is your employee or an independent contractor
- whether the nanny works full-time, part-time or casually
- when the nanny works – evenings, weekends and public holidays can have higher fees
- whether you found the nanny through an employment agency that charges a fee.
You might be able to use the Australian Government’s In Home Care program to help with the cost of home-based child care by an educator who meets minimum qualification requirements. You must be working non-standard or variable hours, be geographically isolated or have complex or challenging family needs.
Superannuation for nannies
You might have to pay superannuation for your nanny. You can find more information at Australian Taxation Office – Work out if you have to pay super.
Like all employees, nannies work best and stay with their employers when they feel appreciated and respected. Once you’ve employed your nanny, it’s good to think about how you’ll support, encourage and communicate with the nanny as your working relationship develops. You might want to look at options like informal daily debriefs, regular reviews, occasional gifts, performance bonuses and so on.