For a variety of reasons including the flexibility it affords to busy working parents you have decided to have your child or children cared for in their own home. You immediately think of an au pair or nanny. Then to confuse matters you learn there are two types of nannies, a live in nanny or a live out nanny.
You must now decide which best suits your families circumstances so you need to understand the differences including cost between an au pair, live in nanny or live out nanny.
In brief: An au pair is a young person generally aged between 18-30 unmarried with no children who moves to a foreign country to look after a host families children part time and who also performs some light housework. Babysitting on agreed evenings is also quite common. In exchange for this an au pair receives a private bedroom, meals and an agreed monetary allowance. In the UK au pairs generally work a 30 hour week and receive £75-£85 per week. In Ireland the hours range from 35-45 per week and an allowance in or around €100. Au pairs generally attend language classes in the evenings.
A live in nanny usually but not always has some childcare qualifications or at least childcare experience and will live with the family on a full time basis, consequently you will need to provide a separate bedroom for privacy. Nannies only tend to do whatever housework is associated with the children. Primarily they are a citizen of your country and work longer hours than an au pair consequently it is a more expensive option.
Live out nannies have their own accommodation consequently choose to live out an present themselves for work at your home at an agreed time. They then perform the same duties as a live in nanny.
Weighing up the pros and cons of a live in nanny or an au pair as the main providers of your childcare is something you and your family should give a lot of thought to.
If you want a few reasons why a live in nanny can be the better solution – read below:
- Most nannies applying for your childcare position will either be locals or from your or a neighbouring county, therefore, it is easy to arrange face to face meetings and also to determine how they interact with your children.
- A nanny will speak your language thus eliminating the language difficulties associated with an au pair and as I mentioned earlier you also have the opportunity to have one or indeed a number of face to face interviews.
- Most au pair interviews are done by Skype or phone as the au pair lives in a foreign country consequently will not travel until they have secured a job with a host family. This can be a risk as it all depends on your judgement call based on Skype or phone calls. Much of this can be eliminated by going through an au pair agency but this can be costly.
- Nannies tend to have a childcare qualification and references and other background checks are readily available.
- With an au pair there can sometimes be a language barrier as au pairs are form foreign countries.
- You can build into a live in nanny contract such as cooking for adults in addition to the children but it will cost you more. It is however an option.
Once you have made the decision to opt for a live in nanny over an au pair, day care or housekeeper you can go it alone or use a local nanny service. Once a short list has been drawn up and you are at the interview stage what exactly should you ask? The interview is the most important phase as not only will this person be looking after the welfare of your child or children but she will also be living under your roof, so it is of utmost importance that you can work and live together under the same roof.
When you and your partner have held an initial interview or have a good feeling about a nanny it can help to arrange a further interview at which your children attend. You can then gauge how both the prospective nanny and your children react to each other.Your first impressions are very important so don’t ignore your instincts or your children’s.
Before the interview you should have your mind made up about the basics and what exactly you require from the nanny – along the lines of:
- The questions you want to ask – don’t just think on the spot – after all you are entrusting your children’s care and safety to this person.
- Working hours plus babysitting requirements. Will she be paid for any surplus hours or babysitting duties? If so how much – iron all out in advance.
- Nannies duties – go through a daily schedule of requirements.
- Salary and holiday entitlements- will she be paid while off?
- Eating arrangements and cooking duties.
- House rules – do you impose a curfew? Visitors allowed?
- Any additional add ons or benefits – mobile phone, some private use of the car.
- Will she drive the children to school or games. If so has she a driving licence and ensure she is added to your insurance.
- Tell me about yourself
- Tell me about your childhood, any siblings?
- Why did you choose childcare as a career?
- In your opinion what qualities make a good nanny?
- How long have you worked as a nanny and have you had any other work experience?
- Why do you prefer to be a live in nanny?
- Previous work experiences – go through all this – try get a feel for the previous children’s ages.
- If there are any gaps in the CV try to ascertain why.
- If not find out her current notice period with employer.
- When considering a job offer – what qualities in the family are important to her?
- Why did she leave her last job?
- Any training undertaken – first aid etc
- What activities are you interested in or perhaps plan on doing in spare time? Try and ascertain will she be in the house during their free time.
- What would you do on a wet or extremely cold day when you couldn’t go to the park?
- How does she approach bad behaviours in children?
- What are your views to children watching TV or on ipads or games?
- Do you enjoy cooking? Any examples of types of dishes you would/could cook?
- Do you have valid driving licence?
- What activities do you do or perhaps plan on doing in spare time? Will they be around the house all the time?
- Let them know when they will find out the outcome of the interview.
- Let them also ask you questions – an interview like this should be a two way process.
It is important that you follow up on all references and check the legitimacy of qualifications – try speaking to the references directly – don’t let the agency or nanny service do it for you if you can.
You have made a decision and the new live in Nanny has been given a start date, the children are excited and you are painting and planning her new living quarters. Then you think should you or should you not draw up some sort of agreement or contract for her? Will this be a deal breaker if you suddenly insist on this? In the long run no – a contract or agreement is beneficial to both parties. It will outline the duties and responsibilities of each party and may prevent any misunderstandings and miscommunication from happening. This will also establish a professional approach from the outset.
In the US for instance, Nanny Contracts may not be required by law, but are enforceable in a court of law so it is important that the agreement does not infringe any legal rights of the live in nanny especially when it comes to labor protections and tax laws.
OK so the interview is out of the way – One box ticked.
Contract drawn up – Another box ticked.
So what should you expect from your new live- in nanny?
Live-in nannies usually work between 10-12 hours per day, five days a week two nights babysitting are usually included or expected also. Babysitting requirements should be clarified at interview stage. Any additional babysitting will incur extra costs.
A live-in nanny will look after all nursery duties related to the children including, bathing, dressing and preparing nutritious meals. She will also wash, iron and sort all the children’s clothes and prepare school uniforms and lunches. The nanny will ensure that all play areas are kept clean and tidy at the end of each day. In summary have total control and care of the family home concerning the children when the parents are busy at work and indeed until the children go to bed if this is what has been agreed.
The live-in nanny should ensure that the children are kept active and social by organising play dates for the children after school or at weekends and keep up to date with what parties they have to attend. Take the children to the park or other after school extra-curricular activities.
Remember that your live in nannies main responsibilities are to care for YOUR children and not to do any heavy housework jobs, family cooking or chores in general around the house – if you require this from your nanny this will have to be discussed in advance and reflected in her salary.
On a rather boring but very important topic – tax and your live- in nanny:
In the UK all employers are required to operate a PAYE (Pay As You Earn) Scheme for their employees – deduct the tax and National insurance each employee owes to the state and hand it over to Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) on the employees behalf.
Nanny employers are no different and MUST deduct all relevant taxes whenever she is paid.
In the USA – Besides the weekly salary that families pay their live-in nannies, they also must pay the required employment taxes. Coined the “nanny taxes,” a live-in nanny employer’s tax responsibility includes paying the employer part of the Medicare and Social Security, federal unemployment insurance and state unemployment and worker’s compensation, or disability, where required. These out-of-pocket expenses add up to about 10% of the nanny’s gross annual salary. Fortunately for employers who pay legally, there are tax breaks and credits that can offset this cost.
According to www.care.com Here’s an example: Assume you pay your nanny a salary of $600 per week ($15 per hour, 40 hours per week), you’ll need to withhold the following from her weekly pay:
- Federal Income Tax: $75.77
- Social Security: $25.20
- Medicare: $8.70
- State Income Tax (3.7%): $22.30 (note: we used New York State.)
- Total withholdings: $131.97
The employee i.e. YOU will make the following contributions:
- Federal Unemployment: $4.80
- Social Security: $37.20
- Medicare: $8.70
- State Unemployment: $24.60 (note: we used New York State.
- Total Additional Payments: $75.30
This means your weekly bill comes to $675.30 per week, and your nanny will take home $468.30. Over the course of the year, you can expect to pay out $33,991.30 — $2,791.30 more than if you paid a flat $600 per week under the table.
As you can see from the above having a live in nanny is like having a full time employee in your house so you have to pay all taxes relating to this. On top of this if you have used a nanny service you will have their fees also. However all these extra fees or costs can be cancelled out as you now have your very own live in housekeeper where day care will not be needed as you have someone to permanently mind your children on a 1 to 1 basis, a huge saving, plus you will have a babysitter for at least 2 nights a week ( all included in the live in nanny salary and agreement you have drawn up) so no more paying up to $10 or £10 per hour for someone to babysit your children. No more clock watching when on a night out as its all included in the agreed weekly wage.