A British nanny, along with her local MP, is launching a campaign for increasing regulation in the nanny industry amid worries that the lack of legislation in the sector could be putting children at risk. One of the main issues highlighted in the campaign is that there is no legal definition of the word nanny. Anyone is allowed to call themselves a nanny, irrespective of their training, qualifications or experience. Parents assume that someone who advertises their services as a nanny is a trained and qualified professional, but this is often not the case.
Regulation of Childcare
Other childcare options, such as nurseries or childminders are strictly regulated. These settings have to register with OFSTED or their sister bodies in other parts of the UK, ensure that all of their staff have an enhanced DBS check before starting work, and hold the correct training qualifications. However, nannies are a different matter. Self-employed nannies who care for children in the children’s own home, do not have to register with any official body, are not inspected or monitored for the care they are providing, and have no legal requirement for a DBS check. This raises alarm bells for many parents, with some suggesting that in extreme situations, someone with a lengthy criminal record could end up with unsupervised access to very small children.
DBS Checks for Self-Employed Nannies
There is a loophole in the legislation when it comes to self-employed people working as nannies in a family home. Self-employed people can apply for a basic DBS check only. This check will reveal someone’s current criminal record only, unlike an enhanced disclosure which will look more deeply into someone’s past. Some very serious crimes will never drop off a criminal record, so a basic DBS check should be sufficient for reassure parents that their new nanny is not a hardened criminal. One way around this is when the nanny works through an agency. The agency operates as the employer, and in these situations can obtain an enhanced disclosure check for the people working for them. There is no legal requirement for someone working as a nanny to register with an agency though, and many prefer to go it alone.
Choosing a Nanny
Having someone come into your home to look after your children has traditionally been a luxury, but with soaring nursery costs, it’s a choice more and more families are making, especially when they have two or more small children at home. The best advice for parents is to go through a reputable agency to be sure that all the relevant checks have been completed on the potential nannies. If parents prefer to do the recruitment themselves, then checking a basic DBS certificate is essential. Other pre-employment checks such as speaking to families the person has worked for in the past or checking any claimed qualifications with colleges is also essential. Many parents also stipulate an initial trial period, at the end of which both parties can decide whether the arrangement is working, and whether to continue.