Nanny share has been around for a while now. But have the recent changes in workplace dynamics hindered or helped its growth as a viable childcare option?
On balance, it does feel as though it has progressed as a viable child care solution. But it’s not as straightforward a solution as one might think. And there are certainly some lookouts to consider if, as a family, if you feel this is your favoured route to childcare.
What is Nanny Share?
Simply put, this is when two families get together and secure a nanny to look after their children at the same time in one or both of the family homes. Think of it as a childcare bubble. More often than not, the families live close by, and the children are at a similar developmental stage.
What’s the potential saving?
The two employing families share the cost of the nanny. Nannies often – and quite rightly – charge a premium for nanny share roles. Dependent on the nanny’s experience level and dynamics of the position on offer, expect a 15% to 20% (or more) premium on typical hourly rates.
So, there is a significant cost saving v a nanny working for a single-family. And likely cost-saving when compared to two (or more) children attending a local nursery. But be warned – for this to be a success, it needs a careful approach.
NB: Each family within the nanny share must register as a domestic employer with HMRC and meet their PAYE responsibilities i.e., income tax, national insurance and pensions etc.
While Nanny Shares can offer an overall saving as you are splitting the cost between two (or more) families, each participating family should pay at least the national minimum wage.
What’s the PAYE / Tax position of Nanny Share positions?
It’s no different from any other form of nanny employment. If the role generates more than £120* of weekly gross pay to the nanny, it needs declaring to HMRC for deductions. The fact the salary is shared between two families if no consequence. (* HMRC declaration threshold as of August 2020)
NannyPAYE – our payroll experts – can help you with all of this by running your payroll for you for a monthly fee.
Giving a nanny share the best chance of success
I don’t want to go over all the potential pitfalls – instead focus on a positive approach – but, all too often, nanny shares start with the best intentions and then quickly become unpicked. Remember, you’re asking a nanny not only to take on at least two children but also two different family dynamics. And that’s not easy!
Just think of the last time you went on holiday with another family. Sometimes, it’s the smallest things that create problems. And now you’re passing all of that onto a professional nanny to manage.
Planning, communication and openness have to define your way into a nanny share and also your ongoing management of this incredibly important working relationship.
So, with that in mind, here are some of the critical pointers and approaches that will help you create an enduring and positive nanny share solution.
Finding the right family to share a nanny with
Ideally, you’ll be embarking on a share with a family you already know. If there’s a joint family history to draw from, it’s bound to help you create the right opportunity for a nanny. And also help you both communicate what is and isn’t working – more on that in mo!
If it’s a nanny share with a family, you don’t know that well, perhaps consider gamifying the process a bit. There are lots of tools that help parents identify their style of parenting. That’s not to say that families have to have the same parenting approach, but it helps to know the differences.
Here is one of many tools that could prove to be a great conversation starter:
Both complete the exercise together and talk about the similarities and differences. It will help you understand the dynamics behind sharing a nanny. And also help you better understand what kind of nanny you are both after.
Before making approaches
Assume nothing, talk through everything.
Work out who is the principal contact in each family. Not to exclude other family members, but there must be clear and consistent lines of communication between the families. If you can’t work this out during the planning, it’s a good indicator it’s not going to work when the arrangement has started.
Then consider going one stage further. Is there one person who is the primary contact for the nanny? Again, that’s not to say nanny doesn’t communicate with the other family principal, but when it comes to locations, timings and last-minute changes there is one family contact that takes the lead.
They may also be the lead person when it comes to managing the search. Someone taking the lead will make the whole search experience a lot more streamlined, but it does require one person to step up and take the lead.
Top tip: Apps like WhatsApp are your friend here. But be considerate in use. Nanny doesn’t need to see a debate and then get given direction so perhaps have two channels: One that’s between principals, to finalise decisions. And then one that includes the nanny to provide agreed feedback. If the nanny knows you’re working to make things work, they’ll likely be a lot more understanding when changes to plans happen.
Building the nanny share plan
There are a whole host of things here that both family principles have to define and agree:
- Experience level: If a nanny is looking after at least two children you want to be confident they can deal with everything the average day throws at them!
- Accreditations and qualifications: Building on the above
- Pay: What are the upper and lower limits, remembering the experience level you desire. And that nanny shares can command a 20%+ premium
- Work schedule: This can become quite complex as one or other family might want an extra day. So the clearer you are from the onset the more likely you’ll find the right solution for both families
- Primary care location: Does one home lend itself to childcare more than the other? Or will it be a mix of the two? If so, how does the nanny manage that? Typically, the more consistent you can be, the better all-round.
Top tip: General rule of thumb is that the more spacious home will work best for the nanny and the children under their care.
To help build the plan, we recommend that the two family principles get together and use the Army of Nannies search request form to guide the conversation. Follow the steps, and you should cover everything in a logical order. If there’s a lead principal who is managing the search, they can then press ‘go’ when it’s all agreed.
And then there are more specific things:
- How are extra expenses covered: There are loads of modern bank card solutions which will allow both families to top up credits for agreed extras
- Are there any transportation considerations and costs?
- And does the nanny have the right equipment to look after two children? E.g. double strollers for babies etc.
There could be an endless list here but only by talking it through and imagining nanny’s day will you get to the right shortlist for your specific situation!
Top tip: One way of approaching this is to create a list of ‘must-haves’ and ‘nice to haves’. And then, by family-to-family negotiation, agreeing what the primary and secondary criteria are – the perfect opportunity for a bonding take-away!
Agreeing on the interview and selection process
We have a great blog that guides families on how to ‘Welcome a New Nanny‘. By all means, use and adapt this to build a plan that’s specific to your joint needs.
Things to think about are:
- Who leads the interview process: It’s an excellent idea to have one parent nominated as the lead
- When does a nanny meet both sets of parents?
- When and where does a nanny meet the children?
- How do you communicate with each other, e.g. WhatsApp, etc.?
None of this is that hard to work out, but jointly build a plan you are happy with and then try and stick to it.
Contracting a nanny share
There are two contracts to think about here.
- An informal contract between the parents! Don’t be shy in writing down exactly what you’ve both agreed. It’s an important reference point to have if things change. It doesn’t have to be a legally drafted document, but it’s good to get it down and agreed from the off. And remember to consider the small stuff – like who pays for food and expenses. Do you create a joint bank account – like Monzo – and supply nanny with a card etc.?
Also agree a notice period to any changes. If one family changes plans that could leave the other (or the nanny) in a difficult position. Therefore, jointly agree a reasonable notice period to be fair to each other and the nanny.
- A contract with the nanny. We strongly recommend using one of the many nanny contracting services. We recommend NannyPaye. We’d also recommend you also use them for their PAYE services. We’ve all got enough headaches when it comes to childcare, so when it comes to contracts and pay, get the experts in!
How to contract and pay your nanny
We recommend speaking to our payroll experts, NannyPaye.
They bring to bear a wealth of experience with nanny share relationships. With a simple call, you’ll get the expert advice to need.
We’ve already touched on this regarding WhatsApp groups, but do make sure you have open feedback loops. It’s not the idea 1-2-1 situation, so to compensate, make sure there are agreed and open opportunities for two-way feedback.
Only by families and nannies being able to feedback on their charges openly and their relationship with the families will a nanny share thrive.
Top tip: Have a family(s) daybook that encourages open dialogue from developmental milestones to what hasn’t worked in the planning of the day. Allow everyone to make constructive and positive comments on what is and isn’t working.
Reviewing the relationship
Sometimes, the reasons why a nanny share was a good idea can change. And more often than not, it’s the parent’s world that changes. Therefore, it’s a good idea to set regular review dates between the families and the nanny.
Respect in every direction
Just as you’ll respect the sharing family, respect the nanny you’re sharing. If things change – as they do – if nanny knows what’s coming, they are much more likely to be accommodating and work with you through any transitions. After all, we’re all grown-ups, and things do change especially so with nanny shares as there are more variables. And that’s why nannies charge a bit of premium when it comes to such arrangements.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, just some of the things you may need to consider.
Nanny shares can work, but they take that little bit of extra effort to make it so:
+ Put time into the set-up and planning.
+ And also, into the nurturing of the working relationship with the nanny.
= And the benefit of getting it right can make the extra effort worthwhile on all fronts.