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Advice for employing nanny for first time

26 replies

FlyingSaucer · 21/04/2007 15:47

I am about to employ a full time nanny, live in or live out, in SW London. I'm using an agency to line up candidates too look after a six month old. This will be my first time. I've read most of the threads here, and gathered lots of advice, but would be ever so grateful for any specific advice. Its all entirely new to me...

I understand the tax position. What is the going rate for live in/live out? Are there advantages and disadvantages to live in/ live out?

OP posts:
paros · 21/04/2007 15:58

Make sure you check references .

nannynick · 21/04/2007 16:56

Live-in has the advantage that it is hard to the person to be late for work - as they don't have any commute.
Big disadvantage is that you have someone else living in your home ALL THE TIME, eating your food, relaxing in your garden at the weekend, coming home late from parties etc.

Live-out has the advantage that the nanny goes home at the end of each day, so you get your home to yourselves outside of the nannies working hours. Has the disadvantage that they may get delayed in traffic getting to your home.

Watch how the nanny interacts with your baby during the interview. See how the nanny interacts with you... do you get on well with them? Do you feel that you could ask them any child related question? If you are bottle feeding your baby, then see if you can time the interview such that the nanny is there at a point when baby is likely to want a feed... see if the nanny will give that feed, and see how your baby reacts to having someone else feed them. After all, once you are at work, then nanny will need to feed your baby.

Going rate, I would hope the agency has advised you about. Generally I would say somewhere between £8 and £10 per hour gross for live-out, though you may find that newly qualified, less experienced nannies may look at a starting salary of £6 - £8 per hour gross. Live-in nannies would generally be paid less, as they are getting board and lodgings as part of their salary.

Can I ask what your reasons for having a nanny are... as you only seem to have one child, and nannies are not all that cost effective when only caring for one child (a nursery or childminder will work out cheaper). I expect there are specific reasons why you have decided to have a nanny care for your child. Knowing your reasons could result in some specific questions to ask applicants, such as you may need someone to work a 12 hour or more day... you may need someone to start at an unsocial hour of the day, you may want someone who will take your child to specific activities. Whatever your reasons are, make sure you ask applicants about it in some way, such as - "this job would start at 6.30am, are you good at getting up early? How many times in the past year have you been late for work?"

FlyingSaucer · 21/04/2007 18:56

nannynick - Thanks for your very helpful reply. My reasons for having a nanny are that I'll be returning to work full time when DS is six months old, and will need someone to look after him from 7.30 to 6.30ish. I thought six months was too young for a nursery, or that the hours would be too long for a nursery, so I thought a nanny would be best, although I would welcome others' views. The agency has suggested £450 net a week, but this seems to be an arbitrary figure that doesn't vary according to experience, qualifications or length of duties etc.

OP posts:
NannyL · 21/04/2007 19:15

nannynick do you REALLY think even starting out nannies work for £6 / hour gross in london?

I wouldnt have thought so.... but then im not in london!

i also would have thought you could easily get a nanny for a lot less than £450 net per week.... oh how i would LOVE to get £450 npw!.... and im expereianced / quailified AND have a degree!

I have the opinion that agencies inflate prices slightly so they get more commission!

nannyj · 21/04/2007 19:20

I think for £450 a week you should be able to get a nanny with a good amount of experience. Definately make sure your nanny has an up to date first aid certificate. And ask lots of questions about the nanny's ideas on diet and activities for your baby. Also i always outline how i would spend my day and ask lots of questions on how you would like me (as a nanny)to spend my day. It's important for you to feel that your nanny is a confident person who could handle different situations and is happy being at home with a baby on his/her own as it can be isolating.

In your situation i would definately opt if you can for a nanny with proven experience and staying power in their jobs because you are leaving your small baby and i'm sure you are anxious to an extent, i know i would be.
If you opt for a live out ask referees about time keeping and sick days. And definately trust your gut instincts when it comes to interviewing. I do that and have not been wrong about a job i've accepted yet (fingers crossed) . Good luck.

jura · 21/04/2007 21:47

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

GeeGee2 · 22/04/2007 00:04

£450 net seems high. We paid about £360 net in outer London for a live out Nanny, qualified with ten years experience. If you are looking for full time care - these jobs are in short supply at the moment. A lot of nannies are having to settle for two part time jobs or nanny shares as so many people go back part time these days.

Don't underestimate the impact of having someone live in. Even with a live out nanny who we really got on with, it was such a relief to have our home to ourselves again. (And leave it untidy if we wanted to.)

Re nanny vs childminder etc - if you're planning on more children in the future, nanny's work out more cost effective. Also as your child gets older it is easier to incorporate all those after school activities and music groups etc.

re questions - depending on how long you want to keep the nanny, ask about how long they'd envisage staying in one job. Many nannies only like the babies and want to move on when the children get older. It was important to me that the nanny grew with my family (babies, toddlers and school age) as so many friends got through a nanny a year which was disruptive for the children. Ask if they still see previous charges. If a nanny has moved around a lot, ask a lot of questions.

Work out what is important to you and your personal style - e.g. healthy food, lots of outdoor activities etc and try to find a nanny who meets this. Some nannies have very different views on what is healthy eating.

Ask them what they would do if their personal views on something (e.g. how or when to potty train or table manners) differed from their employer's views. Some nannies are very rigid in their views and don't like to change their approach.

Follow up on references with telephone calls. People will often say things in person which they wouldn't put in a reference. Ask 'what was the worst thing about the nanny' as well as 'what was the best'. Ask about timekeeping, sickness records.

Make sure contract includes details of overtime pay, what happens if you are late home, any overnight pay and any arrangements for working away from your home.

Ask about attitudes to tidyness. Whilst a small matter - it is a pain to come home after a busy day and then have to spend part of your valuable time clearing up after the nanny.

Check how flexible they are - what sort of things could they be asked to do which they considered an imposition? One nanny felt that being asked to load the dishwasher with children's tea things was 'housework' which 'the cleaner should do.' One nanny wouldn't pop out for a loaf of bread if we had run out. One nanny didn't feel that cooking and freezing pureed baby food during a babies nap times was an appropriate activity.

See how they interract with the children. However this doesn't always give the right impression. As many nannies feel self conscious until they know you better.

nannynick · 22/04/2007 00:45

With the relaxed borders we now have, there are far more people, especially in London, looking for work as a nanny - certainly they may not have much experience and may have no relevant qualifications but they are often willing to work long hours for quite low pay... so yes, it may be possible to find someone who would do it for £6-£8 per hour gross.

As a nanny (without children) working 25 miles south west of London, I only get £7 per hour gross... cost of living in Surrey/Berkshire border is still high, but the market currently seems to have more nannies than jobs, thus employers can offer lower wages and get applicants.

nannyj · 22/04/2007 09:34

Re salaries i think it depends on who you want as a nanny. It's always possible to get someone cheaper but you may not get nanny who wants to stay in your job long term. As a live in nanny who works in West London i earn £350 nett a week but i consider myself flexible and very happy to carry out my bosses wishes. I do errands, all nursery duties i don't do heavy cleaning because we have a cleaner but have certainly mucked in when she has been on holiday. All the experienced, English mother tongue nannies i know working as a live out are earning above £500 nett a week. The one nanny who doesn't earns £430 a week and her english is quite poor but she is a good nanny.

I feel a nannies job is to be an extention of the parents role if you like and to make my employers life easier through a busy working week. This way they can come home and enjoy quality time with their children and know things with the children and household are taken care of in a stress free manor.

I really think in the last 3 years nanny salaries have risen quite a lot. 4 years ago i was looking for live out work in North London and the average wage was £350 a week live out but now it's quite usual for them to start at £450. I will say though that this applies to where i live in Kensington. It really depends on where you live in London i think.

nannynick · 22/04/2007 16:16

I really should consider commuting to Kensington... £500 net is so much than I get, and I'm not that far away distance wise. Pity it would take probably an hour and a half to drive there, given M25/M4 traffic.

£500 net per week is around £686 gross, or put another way £35,672 gross per year. Employers NI is almost £4,000, so employer gets little change from £40,000 - which of course the employer has to find from their take-home pay.
The employer therefore needs to earn £58,240 just to pay the nanny! I guess parents with nannies in Kensington don't work as teachers!

FlyingSaucer... how much were you thinking of paying a nanny? If you will pay me £35,000+ then hey I'll commute to SW London

FlyingSaucer · 22/04/2007 18:36

Thanks very much for all your replies. Its really helpful. Does anyone think a nursery would be a better solution, or am I better off with a nanny?

OP posts:
FlyingSaucer · 22/04/2007 18:39

nannynick - those are the calculations I have just been doing. It's not cheap, is it . I live near to Kensington, which might explain the uniformity in prices that I have been given. Can I ask one more question? Is a nanny job looking after one child seen as more desirable than one looking after two or three?

OP posts:
nannynick · 22/04/2007 18:48

Personally I prefer working with more children, but some nannies may well feel that one child is easier than several.

goodnanny · 22/04/2007 19:20

From a nanny's point of view - one child is definitely easier than 2 or 3+ children! im sure you will have a lot of people interested in your job!

nannyj · 22/04/2007 19:34

I have been with my present family for nearly 3 years and have 3 children to care for. I'm thinking of looking for a new job next year and to be honest 1 or 2 children would be great. I'm close to burn out with this job as the workload is so big. I'm sure your job would be very desirable, nannies are suckers for babies . If you can afford it i would go for a nanny over a nursery for a baby. Plus you can get your nanny to do your shopping and errands so you're not rushing about at the weekend. You also won't need to take time off work if your baby is sick and the nursery won't take him/her.

GeeGee2 · 22/04/2007 21:47

A job looking after 1 child (especially a baby) is definately more sought after.

Often the more children there are, the more the job becomes like a taxi service, with different school runs and after school activities.

Even at holiday times, it takes an excellent nanny to entertain children with widely differing age ranges.

I will be looking for a nanny for 3 children (with a fourth on the way), some time in the future. It will be a brave nanny who takes on my brood! One agency has basically told me that I would have to hire two nannies, or at the very least a nanny and a mother's help.

nannynick · 22/04/2007 21:54

GeeGee, I'm a nanny caring for 3 children (age 2,3 and 8), with 4th on way (due in next 2 weeks). No second nanny required! Was the agency having a laugh? Surely agencies don't think that a family with 4 children need two nannies... do they?

Eleusis · 22/04/2007 22:27

Oh please... £450 net?!?! Not in my world. My suggestions are:

  1. Ditch the agency
  2. Absolutelycheck references... thoroughly.
  3. Pay in Gross
  4. Erm... no where near £400 per week. Possbily in Kensington. Not in the real world. Jura's figure is realistic.
pickledpear · 22/04/2007 22:57

my brother has a nursery place for their only child since she was 6 mths i have to say i didnt agree with it but she is very advanced as she is always around other children where at home she would be on her own she is very sociable and can just as easily play nicely on her own. she is very bright anyway. IMO there are alot of fors and againsts both nannies and nursery but if you get the right nanny who has a big circle of nanny friends or a social one who would go to groups etc then socially your child will bloom

paros · 22/04/2007 23:01

I was a nanny to a family of 4 kids plus my own . 7yrs 5yrs 3yrs 1 yr (my DS) and new born . two nannies inded are they having a laugh .

sinclair · 23/04/2007 08:46

FlyingS, given your hours I would opt for a nanny. I think the £100 a day net figure is about right for your area (I am in downmarket W12 and it is the going rate for the top nannies here) for live our but of course you may find a nanny you love who for some reason works for less - someone with less experience perhaps, of live in saves money too if you have space.

As others have said do check references - talk to previous employers - lots of threads on here with what to ask.

WannaBeAYummyMummy · 23/04/2007 10:02

Hi Flying Saucer.

I hired a nanny for my 6 month old when I returned to work in January this year and yes it is an expensive option when you only have one child but for me it has proved to be absolutely worth it 100 times over already.

For one, mornings and evenings are SO easy as our nanny just takes over as soon as she walks in the door. No rushing around getting bags ready (mornings are stressful enough as it is - god knows what I will do when I have school age children!), no worrying about getting him washed and dressed. And when I get home he has had a lovely dinner and is very relaxed and ready for half an hour of playtime before the bedtime routine - again, no manic rushing around.

Also, my son is a little bit on the sensitive side and I know, for him, he really thrives on the one-to-one consistent attention he gets rather than being part of a group at nursery. He gets plenty of socialisation as they go to at least one activity a day but it is in the context of having a familiar face there for him all the time which I know helps him loads. So the nanny v nursery dilemma can be very much about the childs personality even at this age.

Also, like all babies over the winter, my son has also been continuously ill for almost 3 months solid - nothing major, just ear infections/temperatures/colds etc but enough to really take it out of him. I know it would have broken my heart to have to take him to nursery (and that's if they would have taken him) whereas leaving him at home in pyjamas knowing he was going to be cuddled lots made it so much easier for me!

As a guide I pay our nanny £80 per day (7:30-6:00) net and we live in South-East London.

Let me know if you need any more info from a fellow nanny employer newbie! xx

GeeGee2 · 23/04/2007 20:33

NannyNick / Paros,

re needing two nannies - I do think the agency was looking for double commission!

I'm relieved to know that there are good nannies out there who can handle 4 kids and prepare fresh home cooked food.

ScottishThistle · 23/04/2007 20:33

I know several Nannies working in that area & the live-in salary varies from £300-£375pwn.

Live-out £350-£450pwn for a qualified, experienced english speaking Nanny...Of course there are always exceptions.

Advantages of live-in Nanny:

Almost never too ill to work (I've had 1 day sick in 3yrs!)
There's a lot more give & take.
2 nights babysitting in contract.
Tend to stay in a position longer.
Likely to do overnight care cheaper.

Advantages of live-out Nanny:

She/He doesn't live in your house!

ScottishThistle · 23/04/2007 20:38

GeeGee, When I was 17yrs old doing my NNEB course I babysat 4 children ages 6mths-20mths-4y-6y four nights per week from 4:30-10pm.

I know some qualified experienced Nannies who couldn't cope with that workload!

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