Online childcare websites are on the rise, but they rely on parents doing their own checks. Leading childcare agency Tinies is concerned some parents may not be doing thorough checks so from this month they are offering to provide screening for them.
Staff in all their branches have been trained and their website provides more information on the different services they are offering.
Jayne Middleton, franchise manager of Tinies Childcare, says: “People do not always understand or appreciate the amount of screening that is done of candidates by an agency and this is especially true for childcare. It’s not just about CRB checks, but also about things like checking references and accounting for gaps in their cvs. Agencies ensure they have done all the checks they need to in terms of ensuring the candidate is suitable to look after children.”
She adds that online childcare sites are like dating sites, matching parents and childcare workers. This makes them cheaper, but it also puts the onus on parents to do the safety checks.
Middleton says: “We are concerned that with online recruitment on the rise in part due to the current economic circumstances parents may not have the facility to do the proper checks or be able to articulate in their online advert exactly what they are looking for. They don’t have the experience of recruitment agencies in shortlisting candidates, getting a CRB check done on them, chasing their references effectively or understanding the law with regard to employing childcare workers such as nannies.”
Parents who hire nannies are effectively employers and have to pay tax and National Insurance contributions as well as taking on all the other responsibilities of an employer, such as maternity rights.
“There is potentially a lot of ignorance about what employing a nanny means,” says Middleton. Tinies Childcare is offering to provide a full screening service or parents can purchase particular services such as legal help with issues such as drawing up a contract of employment.
“We are not competing with online services,” says Middleton, “but we feel strongly that an element of professional screening needs to be available so that parents can hire childcare workers safely.”
Tinies’ screening offer includes a guarantee that parents will get their money back if anything goes wrong following screening. Prices range according to the service offered, for instance, help with drawing up an employment contract is £160 while checking two references is £37.
“You hear horror stories about dating sites,” adds Middleton, “and although nothing like that has happened with childcare recruitment sites, they are still relatively young. We hope that nothing happens and we stress that there is nothing wrong with such sites as long as parents have a full understanding of what they are getting into. Often people do not know what agencies do so they don’t know what they don’t know.”
Tinies has also launched an emergency childcare service which provides an emergency nanny to parents’ door within two hours. They refer to it as “Mary Poppins on speed dial”. All nannies are over 21, qualified, CRB checked, have a first aid certificate, are fully referenced and have been interviewed.
For more information on the nanny screening service, click here.