Employing assistants as a childminder
If you've got increased demand or simply want to expand your offering, employing a childminding assistant can help you offer more places.
Employing an assistant
- As a childminder in England, you can care for up to six extra children (subject to the staff:child ratio requirements of the EYFS and any local planning requirements). In Wales the same adult child ratios apply for any additional children however the space available for children on the premises may also affect the numbers for which provision can be registered.
- In England if your assistant holds a paediatric first aid certificate, they can have sole charge of the children for up to two hours – this can be very useful during school and nursery collection times. In Wales the position on assistants having sole charge of children is being considered as part of the wider National Minimum Standards review.
- Sharing activity planning and children’s development tracking.
- Social and professional benefits of working in partnership with another adult.
Where do I start?
Decide what sort of assistant you're looking for. Working as a childminding assistant can appeal to nannies or nursery staff looking for a change of direction. Or it might be a family member who's interested in working with you. For assistants who may not have much experience, PACEY Childminder Assistant membership includes free training.
Childcare apprentices are also an option. An apprentice will be undertaking a formal qualification in the sector, so will get support and training from their college. They may, however, need more initial practical supervision and instruction. Get in touch with your local college to explore this option. There is specific guidance for childminders in Wales on working with a student.
Read Pam's story of taking on an apprentice in her childcare setting.
Create a basic job description, detailing the working hours, environment, pay, and level of experience required. You should also put down any desirables, such as having a car, a first aid certificate or specific language skills. You can download a sample childminding assistant job description here to help you get started.
You may already have someone in mind through word of mouth, but if you need to advertise your assistant vacancy, consider using online advertising and noticeboards in children's centres, or even your local newspaper. Websites such as Early Years Careers can be useful online spaces, but local mums and childminder Facebook groups can also be good for posting your vacancy.
Make a shortlist and interview potential candidates. Always seek references from previous employers, or from people who can give an objective view of the potential assistant, so you can gauge their attitude to work and get a sense of their motivation.
The assistant will need to undergo a DBS check and you need to complete the New assistant Ofsted form. Ofsted will carry out suitability checks and issue a suitability letter. Childminders must not leave an assistant alone with children until this letter has been received.
In very exceptional circumstances, you may be able to start an assistant before a DBS check has been completed, but in almost every case, the assistant will need to have the DBS first. There's more information about the process in Ofsted's guidance.
A DBS check will be required before the assistant can start and CIW have been notified of the change. This would also need ot be reflected in the Statement of Purpoe for the setting. There is further information on this in our factsheet on working with an assistant in Wales.
Although becoming an employer can feel daunting, HMRC has an online guide which takes you through the steps. You can register as an employer online - the process takes roughly four weeks.
As an employer, you will be liable for tax and national insurance contributions for each assistant. You will need to factor these costs into your business plan, along with holiday pay, sick pay and pensions contributions. Don't forget that you will need to pay your assistant at the National Minimum Wage or National Living Wage. For an assistant over the age of 25 in 2019, this is £8.72 per hour. You will also need to ensure that you have Employer's Liability Insurance cover in place. There's more information about what this is in MyPACEY.
There are various things you must do when you become an employer. There's information in MyPACEY about employing a childminding assistant and the Gov.UK website contains the information you need to know.
PACEY sells sample childminding assistant contracts, and employer's liability insurance is included if you have your PLI insurance through PACEY - simply call us to activate it.
Top 5 tips for employing staff
- Be very clear about what the job entails. Having a really clear understanding of the role helps you manage the staff, and helps your assistant understand exactly what is expected of them. PACEY's sample childminding assistant job description is a great starting point.
- Hold regular supervision sessions, so you both have a chance to review performance and discuss any sensitive issues, particularly concerning a child’s development or child protection concerns. Need some help? Take PACEY's Effective induction, supervision and appraisal course to brush up your managerial skills.
- Offer opportunities for assistants to go on courses and training. Remember that PACEY Childminding Assistant membership offers access to free training.
- Involve your assistant in planning and children’s development tracking. All your staff can have access to Kinderly (England only), PACEY's recommended online development tracker.
- Be honest and upfront if there’s something you’re not happy with, and encourage your assistant to speak up, too.
Taking the next steps
If you're working with assistants and looking to expand futher, consider registering with Ofsted to provide childcare on domestic premises.