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Does anybody work with an assistant?

(24 Posts)
dobby2001 Sat 12-Feb-11 17:22:53

If so would LOVE to hear from you!I have spent the last week trying to work out the pros and cons of taking on an assistant for 5possible six children due to requests to take siblings of exisiting children in 2012. Have been given lots of dire warnings as to how complicated it can be but no real practical advice as to steps required or positives!

I work with some lovely families at the moment and dont want to let any of them down grin

LesbianMummy1 Sat 12-Feb-11 18:20:40

Yes have done for past year or so and still do although have changed recently which one.

babybaabaa Sat 12-Feb-11 20:30:00

I do. In fact I work with two which is great and allows me more time for overseeing, managing and making things easier for them to observe and engage with the children without the endless interruptions that occur when you are minding alone.
What else would you like to know?

dobby2001 Sat 12-Feb-11 21:14:45

Ooh thank goodness smile ok main questions are
1. how are your assistants employed? do you emply them i which case how do you manage tax/ni/other entitlements or are they self employed in which case do you have contract to determine who does what/expectations?

2.Where did you find your assistants and what makes a good one?

3. How did you decide that you needed one?

4. How much do OFSTED dictate the number and ages of children you can have with an assistant? Would two under ones be allowe in a group of 5 or even 6 children?

Thank you in advance smile

babybaabaa Sat 12-Feb-11 21:50:39

They are employed. I spoke to an expert on this at the tax office after being passed around and the unequivocal answer was that they had to employed. The only way possible they could be classed as self employed was if they also freelanced as assistants for other childminders in the area. But as I was the one fixing hours and they were expected to work for me for those hours (if they didn't turn up because of work elsewhere I would be over my allowed adult:child ratio) they had to be employed. I have heard it said that as long as they are 'free to look for work elsewhere' they can be self employed. That is incorrect or everyone would be self employed as there's nothing stopping any employed person 'looking for work elsewhere'.

I have found my assistants from gumtree and have also used live-in assistants (gap year european students). The advantage with live-in assistants is that they are less likely to go sick, are exempt from the minimum wage (altough I do always pay the minimum wage), and are also exempy from needing an off duty meal break (this can be a problem if you still need to keep to ratios and they have to be counted out for their breaks)

A good assistant is someone who has experience with under fives, is kind with initiative and a young smiley face (the children all love a kind, lovely young face - much nicer to gaze at that mine!)

Qualifications I have learnt to my cost do not matter half so much as an intelligent eagerness to learn and intuitive way with little ones.

If the interview is hard work or all one sided don't take them on. Only take on someone wo you can genuinely feel a rapport with.

It's quite possible to give them some online training to do once you've got them on board.

I decided I needed one because I was finding the days frustrating with three babies/toddlers especially when one was very clingy and I could never feel I was doing what I really wanted to do without endless interruptions. I wanted to have a busier house with more of a small nursery feel as I think the children learn more when in a larger group but still with a one to three ratio.

Ofsted will let you have up to six under fives when working with an assistant if you have the space and can show at inspection that you are a good minder (with adequate equipment and good paperwork/policies/procedures etc). I can have two under ones when working with my assistant.

It's a big step to take but has worked very well for me and the children benefit immensely.

Send me a message if you would like copies of assistant contract and induction procedure etc

LesbianMummy1 Sat 12-Feb-11 21:52:54

1)assistant is employed as she earns less than £102 a week she just had to fill in a form from hmrc so no tax and ni needed.

2)first assistant was friend second one is somebody I have met and been more thorough with. I have found a good assistant works to same principles as you. Can respect how you work and is able to work from their own initiative as opposed to somebody who thinks it is just a chance to hold babies.

3)Inundated with work. Think carefully as you need to earn enough from extra children to pay an assistant and make a little bit of extra income for yourself

4) EYFS states maximum children per registered adult is 6 under 8 of which 3 can be under 5 and normally only one under one. I can have two under one on my own or two with my assistant

dobby2001 Sat 12-Feb-11 22:47:36

Mmm thanks guys that has been really useful info. I have got alot to think about. Might give our early years teams a ring on monday. They are as useless as a chocolate teapot most of the time but you never know smile

Have had several variations in the past to have twins at 6 mths, and various combinations of siblings but obviously never more than 4 under 5s. The other thing i need to think about, and why i am considering an assistant, is that i had bigger age gaps before baby with 3 or 4 yos. My current parents are all having babies before firstborn has turned two so all still using pushchairs and napping shock.

My whole 3 bed terraced house is registered and i currently have 3 under 3s 3 out of the 4 days a week i work so have got good sysytems in place to keep on top of things. Its just a question of making that leap i suppose confused

LesbianMummy1 Sun 13-Feb-11 10:43:21

I definitely find life easier with an assistant as long as they pull their weight. I learnt the hard way that a lazy one is detrimental good luck hope all works well for you

dobby2001 Thu 09-Jun-11 13:48:47

Hi Guys, I am just bumping this again as I have more questions!!! Have come to conclusion having got more rather less confused that assistant would have to be self employed. I just wanted to ask about entitlements in terms of deductions/holiday/sickness etc . Assistant will only be required one day a week for max of 10 hours.

Have given myself a headache going around the HMRC websites! grin

fudgesmummy Thu 09-Jun-11 19:13:42

My husband is regestered as my assistant and when we work together we can have 6 in the early years of which 2 can be under 1. I don't pay him a wage as he workes full time in a supermarket but working together after school and on his day off means that I can have more children especialy ones whos parents work shifts as so earn more money

KatyMac Thu 09-Jun-11 19:18:35

If the assistant is SE (which I don't think they can be because of the rules ie can't send someone else to work in their place, can't choose when/where to work) they wouldn't be entitled to holiday pay

The HMRC calculator will work out deductions for you (you get a link when your register as an employer)

Sickpay is optional - I don't pay it (they would have to claim SSP)

A/L is (I think) 4.8 weeks a year (so 10 hrs a wk = 48 hrs A/L)

Good luck

needanewname Thu 09-Jun-11 19:20:40

Different to you as I was a nanny but I hated it, she undermined me at every opportunity and was out to get my job, I left in the end (not cos of her but she didn;t help matters)

dobby2001 Thu 09-Jun-11 23:42:20

d'oh sorry I meant would have to be EMPLOYED blush yep they can only be self employed if available for other work at which point you take the risk they might actually get some when you need them to work iyswim! They are also entitled if SE to state thir terms of pay etc which of course is no good if you only have a finite amount you can afford to pay. Have worked out that paying minimum wage i make a loss on the day i need them to work but this is balenced out by fact it means two children can remain in my care for two other days or otherwise they would have to find another minder, so I gain in that respect.
Katymac is there a cut off point when you have to pay SSP? am just thinking in terms of if i needed to have assistant work additional hours in the future?

Also what happens if assistant is working elsewhere, or gets work elsewhere? As H pointed out tonight, if that takes them over tax threshold does that then create a whole new set of problems??

Am not scarded to do this (well only a bit wink) but have mortal fear of getting it wrong and having HMRC or vexed employees sueing me for loads of money i dont have??!! (not overthinking this at all am i???)

mranchovy Fri 10-Jun-11 02:41:36

You are only entitled to SSP if you are paid more than £102 a week. The employee doesn't claim it, you have to pay it but if you only have one employee in most cases you can claim back all or nearly all of any SSP you have to pay. If she gets pregnant, you can actually claim MORE SMP back than you pay!

Your DH is absolutely right - if you take on someone who already has other employment, you have to operate PAYE and deduct tax no matter how much you pay them.

This is not such a big problem though - you can either operate PAYE yourself using the (barely adequate) tools HMRC provides, or outsource this for around £100 a year.

You will need to have Employers Liability Insurance: talk to your existing childminding insurer who should add this for a small fee if it is not already included. You also have to keep a copy of certain identification documents to show that you have checked that the employee is entitled to work in the UK.

Business Link provides a good guide.

KatyMac Fri 10-Jun-11 07:48:46

Oh - the only people I have claimed ssp for must have over the limit

Maternity pay still costs you money - the holiday they should have been entitled to still has to be paid

The tools are OK (I think)

& NCMA does Employers liability

Business link are great!

(& mranchovy is much better at this than me)

mranchovy Fri 10-Jun-11 14:25:14

>The tools are OK (I think)

That's not what you said last time you tried to install the update smile

You are absolutely right about paid holiday in ML, the lack of help from the government for small employers following the rulings on accruing holiday pay is shocking IMO.

dobby2001 Fri 10-Jun-11 15:25:52

This is all really helpful,thank you. My next task is to find out if my local council are one of those that want planning permission if you have 6 or more - not planning to have more than the 5 at the moment but I can see it might crop up in the future.

mranchovy Fri 10-Jun-11 17:13:56

If you are employing someone, then current planning guidance considers this as a change of use which requires planning consent regardless of the number of children.

KatyMac Fri 10-Jun-11 17:24:08

Is 5 cost effective?

Umm Mranchovy was that my computer skills or their tools?

I agree about holiday pay - it's awful!!

dobby2001 Fri 10-Jun-11 18:35:14

Whaat! I havnt seen that anywhere Mranchovy, can you point me in the direction of that gem? Our local planning factsheet about working from home simply states if home is still predominantly a home then no planning required. Surely accountants who work from home have assistants or or (frantically thinking of other WFH professions!)

I have not come across CMs who have applied for PP just because they have an assistant except where they have 6 or more and then that seems to vary around the country?

mranchovy Sat 11-Jun-11 03:26:51

SORRY blush that was badly phrased, let me try again:

If you are employing someone, then it is the policy of some planning authorities to consider whether there has been a change of use regardless of the number of children cared for. However, providing the childminding activities remain anciliary to the use of the premises as a dwelling there is no case in planning law for it to be judged a change of use.

It seems that your local authority has got it right, but for instance South Norfolk's policy states "If more than [six children], whatever their ages, will be looked after or if another adult will be working with you, then you may require permission." To avoid problems therefore, the best advice must be to tell your local authority's planning department what you propose to do and let them go through the process and confirm that you do not need planning consent. If they say you do, it is time to take it up with Ofsted/their child care coordinater/Planning Aid/your local councillor/MP etc.

Most accountants working from home either work alone, or with assistants that also work from their own homes. As soon as you provide a workstation for an employee in your home it is very difficult to defend against partial change of use.

Very complicated situation, more background on this thread.

dobby2001 Sat 11-Jun-11 08:23:33

Mmm ok I think i am reassured, a bit wink

Katymac, its cost effective when i look at the week as opposed to the one day i need the assistant as without employing them that one day, i would have to say goodbye to a really great set of parents and their two children who are with me three days a week. But i can see that once i have the assistant there is every possibility i might take on a sixth child to cover the small loss I make on the day. I do have one parent who has yet to have her second (not pg yet but is talking about when she is already smile) and if she follows the same pattern as my other parents - child stays during maternity leave and reuest for sibling to join, Iwould need the sixth place for her.

A local CM who has an assistant has been intouch and offered to share her experiences so i think I will go and pick her brains to see what she can tel me of local practices. Poor thing! grin

luckylou Sat 11-Jun-11 18:07:52

This is very confusing.

On Childminding Forum there are many posts from childminders who use self-employed assistants, and have been told by HMRC that this is permissable.

This thread is an example:

dobby2001 Sat 11-Jun-11 19:02:34

Luckylo if you look right at the end of that thread there are folks who have been told by the tax office you cannot have self employed assistants. Using business link and HMRC guidence online it would appear it is likely not but tbh i read that forum section frequently and it was onw of the reasons i was confused!!!

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