A nanny is a professional childcarer who works in your home, caring for your child or children.

There are many advantages to employing a nanny, including:

  • your child or children can form a close, one-to-one relationship with their carer in your own home and has their own toys, books, food and so on, close at hand
  • you have a high degree of control over your child’s routine, diet, activities and play environment
  • nannies can offer more flexible hours than some other forms of childcare, including evening babysitting, looking after your child when you’re away, or even going with you on holiday
  • you and your child don’t have to travel to the childcare setting
  • your child is cared for in their own community and can easily take part in local clubs and activities
  • they can care for poorly children at home, and can offer extra support for disabled children with tailored care, specific to the child’s needs.

Unlike childminders, nannies do not need to be registered and inspected, although many choose to join the voluntary part of the Ofsted Childcare Register (in England) or the Childcare at Home Approval Scheme in Wales.

Unless they are registered on the voluntary part of the Childcare Register there is no legal requirement for nannies to have specific childcare training or to have had a disclosure from the Disclosure and Barring Service. However, nannies who join PACEY commit to working to PACEY's Code of Ethics and also have background checks and take out public liability insurance.

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Finding a nanny

The best place to start is by asking people you know. Tell colleagues, friends and family that you are looking for a nanny. They may be able to recommend one. But stay focussed – at the end of the day it’s your decision, and what’s right for your friend or neighbour may not be right for you.

There are several ways to find a nanny:

  • word-of-mouth - ask parents you know where they found their nanny
  • advertising in a local paper, specialist working families magazines or websites
  • contacting local colleges that offer childcare courses – ideal if you would like to employ someone newly trained
  • using a nanny agency.

Agencies usually charge a fee to find you a list of suitable nannies. A good agency will carry out their own checks before adding a nanny to their lists. There are hundreds of nanny agencies in the UK and you can find lists of agencies on the internet or in specialist working families magazines such as The Lady and Junior magazine. You'll also find contact numbers in the Yellow Pages. These agencies recommend PACEY membership to their nannies

Many agencies offer families an "after care" service, helping make sure the arrangement is successful. The nanny may be interviewed, have their employment history and references verified, and have an enhanced DBS disclosure. The agency will also let you know your legal obligations when employing a nanny.

Start early

Some parents are lucky enough to find the right nanny almost straight away, but it could take several months. Allow time to advertise, draw up a shortlist, interview and select. You will also want to give your child plenty of time to settle in with their new carer, so it’s wise to start looking early.

Payroll and employment

Unlike registered childminders who are usually self-employed, and nursery workers who are employed by their nursery, nannies are employed by you directly to care for your children. This means that you will become their employer and be responsible for their tax and national insurance contributions, as well as their holiday, sickness, pension and any maternity pay. You will also need to have the correct types of insurance, including employer’s liability insurance. Contact your insurance company for more information.

When deciding how much to pay your nanny, you need to bear in mind:

  • their experience and training
  • how many children they will be caring for
  • the hours you want them to work
  • the area in which you live
  • whether they will live in your home
  • if they will receive “benefits in kind” such as the use of a car.

There are regulations covering the payments of benefits in kind, and employers should be aware of any special tax provision they need to make and responsibilities under minimum wage rules. There is advice for employers at

The contract

Having a properly written and signed nanny contract is vital and forms part of your responsibility as an employer. You and your nanny should spend time reading the contract together carefully before signing. Note a date on which to review the contract – usually every six to 12 months.

PACEY produces a template nanny contract designed by solicitors which you can complete with your nanny at the beginning of the arrangement.