A guide to nanny-shares for working parents

Nanny-shares provide childcare in your home, often with flexible hours, and might not cost much more than nursery fees for some families. We look at the pros and cons.

Illustration showing nanny with children

 

For many families, daily routines may have changed for good as we emerge from two years of Covid lockdowns. Many parents now work from home for at least part of the week, while others have changed their jobs or working hours. As a result, families with pre-school children might now want or need a different type of childcare to what they had before. 

One option for families to explore is a nanny-share, where two families share a nanny. Kirsty Wild at Nannytax, the largest nanny-payroll company in the UK, says they have seen an increase in parents wanting to find out about this over the last few months. 

“Our website page for nanny-shares, in terms of traffic, that’s gone up…and the team have received more enquiries around what happens with a nanny-share,” says Wild. She adds that, following the pandemic, they have also seen increased demand for part-time nannies as more parents now work in hybrid or flexible roles. 

Nannies were the only childcare providers allowed to work throughout the pandemic, which led some families to use this type of childcare for the first time. Below we look at what a nanny-share is, the pros and cons, and how to make it work.

What is a nanny-share?

Illustrations showing nanny with three children

A nanny is someone who is employed by a family to care for their children, in the family’s home. Nannies do not need to register with Ofsted or have formal childcare qualifications, aside from first aid qualifications, although parents usually favour nannies who have had some training.

In a typical nanny-share, two families employ one nanny (more than two families can share one nanny, but this is rare). The nanny might look after both families’ children together, in one of the homes, or they might alternate between the families on different days of the week. 

By contrast, a childminder is a self-employed person who cares for children in a setting that they choose (usually the childminder’s home). Childminders must be registered with Ofsted and have some specific qualifications. You can read more about the differences between nannies and childminders here

What are the advantages of a nanny-share?

A nanny-share has many selling points. Children might prefer the calmer environment of their own home, versus a busy nursery, but they still get to socialise with at least one other child. Parents also have a more direct say in issues such as the food and activities offered.

In terms of juggling careers and childcare, parents with long commutes don’t have to worry about rushing to the nursery before it closes, while some parents who work from home might enjoy getting to see their children at lunchtime (although others might find that hectic!). Nannies also tend to be more flexible with their working hours.

And…is it cheaper?

As the cost of living crisis unfolds, the UK’s high childcare costs have been in the spotlight and many parents are extremely stretched. A nanny-share can help lower the cost of having a nanny. However, the data that is available does not suggest that a nanny-share is necessarily cheaper than a nursery or childminder.

In Britain, a nanny’s average gross hourly pay ranges from £9.33 in north-east England to £14.12 in London, according to Nannytax’s annual salary index. In a nanny-share each family must pay at least the national minimum wage, which is £6.83-£9.50 per hour, depending on the nanny’s age.

A nanny usually costs more than a nursery place for one child – but if a family employs a nanny to look after two or more children, or if two families share a nanny, the costs may start to even out, especially in and around London. A full-time nursery place for a child under two ranges from £4.70 per hour in north-east England to £7.40 in London, if you break down the weekly fee data from childcare charity Coram.

It is hard to make general cost comparisons between nannies and nurseries or childminders, as every local area and family is different. In addition, nurseries mostly charge per day or per half-day, rather than per hour, and all children aged 3-4 are eligible for some state subsidies on nursery or childminder fees.

What are the drawbacks?

Illustration showing paperwork

For parents, employing a nanny involves much more “setting-up” admin than using a nursery. Both families in a nanny-share must register as employers with HMRC and set up a PAYE scheme, so that taxes are deducted from the nanny’s gross salary each month. Families can ask a nanny to “split” their tax code, so that the nanny’s tax-free allowance is divided proportionally between both employers.

Parents must also draw up a job contract – which should cover issues such as holidays, overtime, sick pay and maternity pay – as well as taking out employers’ liability insurance. Both sets of parents must agree on these issues together, but then they should each have their own contract with the nanny, says Wild at Nannytax. 

“It’s much easier and much better for everybody involved if everything is separated,” she says. “Because, if [one family] leaves that nanny-share arrangement, you need to make sure that you’ve still got everything in place so you don’t lose your nanny.” 

Nannytax and other nanny-payroll companies can handle much of this paperwork, while nanny agencies can help with finding the right nanny, in return for one-off or annual fees. “Becoming an employer isn’t as scary as it sounds. You’ve got organisations like us that can take that admin and stress away,” says Wild.

Finding a family to share with

Nanny experts and agencies also recommend that parents take time to find the right family to pair with. All families have different beliefs around food, screen-time, discipline, and so on. Families in a nanny-share may also need to coordinate holiday dates and help each other out when the nanny has a sick day.

“In a nanny-share, the most important thing is to iron out all those things…before you go into the arrangement, so you don’t start it and then there’s an issue down the line,” says Wild. “It’s really important to have those conversations at the beginning.”



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