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Nanny becoming unreliable, what to do?

68 replies

Fressia123 · 09/10/2020 09:39

We have a part time nanny that helps me between 15-20hrs (she puts as many hours as she wants to). The problem is that she's starting to let me know on the day what hours she's coming. I usually have a meeting on Fridays and today (just like last week) had to postpone it. We're viewing a nursery next week as we want the baby to be with other babies but we're planning on delaying it until January.

I have a fear that she'll just stop coming altogether at some point or just coming random /odd hours. Would you get another one until January? Or just send the baby to nursery sooner than planned?

OP posts:
Florencemattell · 09/10/2020 11:39

If she is self employed the nanny dictates when she is available, this is the criteria for being self employed. If you dictate the hours then legally you must employ the person. In general nannies should be employed. HMRC takes a dim view of families avoiding paying NI etc and illegally engaging a nanny this way. The nanny was not being irresponsible, if the service she is offering doesn’t work then you find another service provider. As she is not employed or afforded the benefits of employment she doesn’t have any obligation to the family.

RationalOne · 09/10/2020 11:43

My first thoughts are tax/national insurance/general 3rd party insurance @Fressia123

You might be breaking employment law with your loose 'self employed' - does she work for other families as a nanny - if not and you are her only one then she is YOUR employee and you should be paying employer NI and other benefits possibly. A mere dropping off child at school sometimes isn't another employer.

Go heck out the help pages at HMRC!

Fressia123 · 09/10/2020 11:44

It's true, we both have talked of this being a "learning experience" for her (and me to some extent) I had nanny when growing up but she was a live in one, so very different. Like a PP I thought the flexibility could work if used properly but obviously it hasn't. She's coming at 12 (if she reads the message!)

OP posts:
Genevieva · 09/10/2020 11:48

I think you could say that you need a week's notice of any changes to hours unless it is an absolute emergency. Then, once you have chosen the nursery, hand in your notice and move the baby there.

CleverCatty · 09/10/2020 11:48


We had a similar-ish sort of arrangement a few years ago; like you, we thought it was a great set up for someone. And it was a disaster, for similar reasons to the ones you outlined. And the conclusion I came to was this: anyone professional/serious about childcare as a career wouldn’t want or be available for that sort of arrangement in the first place; they’d want a “proper” job. So that means in practice you’re 99% likely to end up with some flaky youngster who is....well, flaky. It’s a shame, because it could be a marvellous arrangement for someone, but I just don’t think it ever works in practice.

NataliaOsipova it depends totally on the youngster and what they do.

I have a friend who's also a hairdresser, in her early 20s.

She used to babysit and childmind on a regular basis in her teens and whilst she went to hairdressing college too and got to know a few families, she then told me she cherrypicked which families she wanted to continue working for but was used more as a school drop-off/pick up and childminded sometimes during the day or evenings but worked this round her work as a hairdresser in a salon. She wanted to do this, liked the children and parents but not enough to be a full time nanny.

I also have a relative (SIL's cousin) who is an actress and used to nanny for a family as well as sometimes childmind - this was great but wasn't what she really wanted to do, as acting work can be very unreliable and she wanted to buy a flat she's now got a job as a tutor with a private college teaching acting and has lots of work through that but she always knew that whilst she enjoyed nannying to a certain degree this was mostly a means to an end.
stressystressy · 09/10/2020 11:49

While you say she’s self employed, I can almost guarantee this is a cash in hand arrangement. If she’s flaky enough to essentially just drop by when she fancies, she’s not going to be running her own books.

I’m a professional nanny (a trained early years teacher and behaviour specialist) and this wouldn’t work for me or any of my friends. I rely on my job to pay my mortgage as do all of my nanny friends in the same boat.

I don’t think you can rely on her for professionalism so it’s down to you to take the lead with regards to communication here. By taking the lead and specifying exactly when you need her and expecting her to turn up when required then you essentially become her employer, and should sort her out with a contract and payroll. By not doing so you’re running the risk of getting into hot water with HMRC.

Fressia123 · 09/10/2020 11:52

She does most hours with me, but she spends at least 8 hours with another family and and does Wednesday and Thursday with another one. I think I cover 34-40% of her working hours. This week much less.

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Clymene · 09/10/2020 11:57

If she's self employed then it's up to her what hours she works. If you want to dictate them, then you need a nanny that you employ. You can't have it both ways.

WombatChocolate · 09/10/2020 11:59

If you set up such a flexible arrangement, this is the kind of result you get.

Flexibility might work sometimes for both of you but it can also have downsides for both too.

You need to be clearer about what you need and be willing to pay for it. You need to specify in advance. There might be room for some different arrangement in different weeks but you need a clear sense of how far in advance this is all set out, minimum hours worked and minimum hours paid.

Ensure it’s all written down and there’s a clear contract.

If you do t do these things, you won’t have reliable childcare but it’s not really about being unreliable but expectations and contractual obligations being unclear.

Fressia123 · 09/10/2020 12:11

She eventually made it here... She had too much coursework to do.

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oakleaffy · 09/10/2020 12:17


She's self employed and very young. This is her first role as a "nanny" before she was just more of a babysitter, but she's on her last year of her studies. Generally she's great but she's just so unreliable.

This is no good at all.

She is probably not seeing it as a ''Job'', more as pocket money.

Get someone more professional?
TheNewLook · 09/10/2020 12:38

I had an informal arrangement like this a few years ago with a student and it drove me mad eventually. She prioritised her studies and social life over working for me and some weeks was just not available at all because “it’s someone’s birthday from my course” or “my assignment is due in at the end of the week” etc. When she was with us she was lovely and fun and trustworthy, but just so unreliable. I thought I wanted a flexible arrangement at first (to suit myself) but I realised the only person it was suiting was the nanny. It came to a natural end when she graduated.

Either you are a sahm looking for a bit of help on an ad hoc basis or you are working and need absolute reliability in times.

We're viewing a nursery next week as we want the baby to be with other babies

That’s not a reason to send your baby to a nursery. There are many reasons but babies really do not care about or benefit from being with other babies.

Fressia123 · 09/10/2020 12:48

Thanks @TheNewLook that's sound da lot like what I have. I don't have that many meetings (apart from this one) so having flexible hours (as in when they happen) as long as they happen.

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Maryann1975 · 09/10/2020 12:50

I’m going to agree with pretty much everyone else on here.
You need to give notice to your ‘nanny’. If you can afford a nanny over a nursery, I would, but get a new one in. It would be so much better for your child. Babies don’t need To see other babies, they need a consistent, caring relationship With their care giver.
I would get a proper, employed nanny next time. Not a student trying to earn a bit of a top up. Fixed hours, fixed days, with properly defined roles and responsibilities (eg providing stimulating activities for your child, preparing baby’s food, doing baby’s laundry. These are all standard nanny jobs).
I was a nanny years ago and I can’t imagine ever taking the piss as much as this person has done to you!

Sleepingdogs12 · 09/10/2020 14:38

I am confused ,is she a nanny or a student earning some money while studying. Either way if it isn't working for you either be more specific about hours or move to the nursery. Have you been using her for cheap child care as she is young and a student and that's why you want to keep her until January?

BIWI · 09/10/2020 15:02

Are you paying her cash in hand @Fressia123?

Fressia123 · 09/10/2020 17:03

She invoices me and then I pay her. Although like I've mentioned I'd rather pay for the set hours in advance. I interviewed two both were great but the second one wanted 30 hours which I said I would struggle with and in general don't need that many. I've thought that if things go downhill with the current one, I'd call the other one and suck the extra hours up.

My current nanny advertised herself as a nanny/babysitter on (so did the other lady).

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Florencemattell · 11/10/2020 17:07

If you want to pay set hours in advance you need to employ the nanny. Contact a payroll company to set it up. You will need to pay tax, NI both employer and employee element, holiday pay, statutory sick pay and pension. Remember to agree a Gross and not a net amount. Most nannies in my area are on £12 to £14 per hour.
The babysitter you are using is not providing the service you want. So that’s easy you just say your service doesn’t work for me anymore.

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