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Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Finding a nanny - introduction

Nannies provide childcare in your own home and are a popular choice for many families. They can look after children of any age, and can work flexible hours. Find out how to go about finding and choosing a nanny.

Why do you need a nanny?

Before you start looking for a nanny, it’s a good idea to decide exactly what you need them to do. So you will need to work out:

  • what duties you wish the nanny to perform
  • what hours you will need the nanny to work
  • whether you want a live-in or daily nanny
  • whether your nanny may be able to care for any child of their own at your house while looking after your children
  • whether you have any special requirements - like them being a non-smoker - or needing to speak a different language
  • whether your nanny should like pets, be a driver, own a car, or have experience of children with special needs
  • payment details – how you would like to pay them, and how you will reimburse them for money they spend on the children
  • terms and conditions of employment

Finding a nanny

Finding the right person takes time, so try to begin your search at least 12 weeks before you need your nanny to start work. The safest way to find a good nanny is by contacting a nanny recruitment agency. There are a wide range of agencies, some dealing with particular needs including sharing a nanny with another family. 

Many agencies advertise in magazines and local newspapers. For a fee, an agency will match your requirements with those of suitable candidates who you can then interview.

Even though a good agency should have carefully vetted nannies on their books, you should still ask the agency to tell you precisely what checks they have undertaken.

The voluntary part of the General Childcare Register (vGCR)

The vGCR was introduced in April 2007 and you may prefer to use nannies who are on this register. Nannies registered on the vGCR will have:

  • training in the common skills for looking after children
  • had an enhanced Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) check
  • met other requirements like holding an appropriate first aid qualification

Nannies registered on the vGCR will also hold a Public Liability Insurance certificate.

Parents who use childcare registered with Ofsted are also eligible for the childcare element of working tax credit, or employer-supported childcare vouchers. Parents should check their eligibility for these before making their childcare arrangements.

Advertising for a nanny

If you decide not to go through an agency, there are other ways to find a nanny.

You can place an advert in:

  • a magazine
  • your local newspaper
  • notice boards where nannies might look for jobs - like primary schools, your local newsagents, or drop-in centres for mothers and children

Your advert needs to detail hours, duties, ages of children (for safety reasons -  not their names) and the area where you live (not your actual address). Include your phone number so applicants can get in touch.

When an applicant contacts you, ask them to send details of their age, experience, qualifications, employment history. It is also a good idea to ask for a covering letter, explaining why the nanny would like to apply for this particular post.

You may prefer to ask potential nannies to write to a box number (your local post office will tell you how to get one) rather than giving out your telephone number. This might reduce the number of applicants you receive, however.

Contact local colleges of further education that offer courses in childcare

If you are prepared to take on someone straight from college, training usually ends in June. Newly trained nannies will be relatively inexperienced and may not be especially suited to looking after very young babies.

Talk to other parents or join local parents organisations

Other parents or organisations like the National Childbirth Trust (NCT) may be able to offer suitable recommendations. For your local branch call the NCT enquiry line on 08704 448 707 – 9.00 am to 5.00 pm Monday to Thursday, 9.00 am to 4.00pm on Fridays.

You could also try the National Childminding Association for advice.

Child safety

Making sure your child is safe, well-cared for and happy is one of the most vital concerns for any parent. Employing a nanny is an important responsibility. There are no legal requirements on a person applying to work as a nanny.

It is up to you, as parent and employer, to make sure that you are employing a nanny who will look after your children well.

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