Free legal advice when hiring a nanny
I know some people question what my job is at Tinies. Even Ben Black, my co Director and long-time friend, often phones me up just to find out where I am and what I'm doing. At one stage I wasn't seen at Head Office for months, but nobody seemed to notice.
What they don't realise is that from Monday to Friday I'm offering a unique service. Tinies not only recruits childcare for parents, but is the only nanny agency that also provides completely free legal advice on employment issues.
And it's me handing out that legal advice to parents on a daily basis. Does that make me unique I wonder? I like to think so - how many lawyers do you know that don't charge for their time?
No problem too trivial?
Over the years I've dealt with every type of problem. Confidentiality prevents me from revealing too much, but I will share with you one small anecdote...
A parent many years ago called me up for advice on how to discipline her nanny. She was terribly upset and wasn't sure if she could even keep the nanny on. The whole matter sounded very serious, and I was as concerned as her, until she told me exactly what the issue was. The nanny plucked her eyebrows.
I wrongly thought that perhaps the nanny was doing this whilst driving, or doing it over the children's tea. But no, she was simply coming to work having plucked her eyebrows.
I never did get to the bottom of why this was a problem, but I hope the parent went away feeling I was sympathetic and helpful and didn't hear the slight giggle in my voice.
My nanny's pregnant! Get me out of here...
On a serious note, however, the one issue that comes up time and time again is pregnancy. 8 out of 10 of my calls are from Tinies' parents who have just found out that their nanny is pregnant. This is always an emotive subject and is made more difficult by the personal relationship between a nanny and a family.
From the nanny's point of view, I get that this is a very exciting time and absolutely agree that pregnant nannies should be treated no differently from any other employee in the UK.
From the parent's point of view, I also see that this could be a complete shock, which often turns to panic and concern over disruption to your childcare and worry over the costs.
Handy tips for parents with a pregnant nanny
As a simple guide, I thought I would quickly summarise for you some useful pieces of advice that I've handed out to parents and nannies over the years.
1. Communicate: This applies to the nanny probably more than the parent. Although by law you don't have to divulge your pregnancy until the 15th week before your baby is due, I would strongly recommend you tell them before that. After your 12 week scan is a good time.
2. Know your rights and obligations: As an employer of a pregnant nanny, you do have to follow a few legal procedures and recognise the employee's rights. The government has produced a very good booklet for employers (and one for employees too).
3. Plan ahead: Talk about when the nanny wants to go on maternity leave, and how long for. Make arrangements for temporary childcare whilst she is on maternity leave. And have informal discussions about whether the nanny wants to come back to work after her maternity leave, and how she will plan to do that with her own baby.
4. Get payroll involved: If you have been paying your nanny through a payroll company, then get advice from them about SMP (which you will have to pay) and if you can reclaim back 100% of that SMP from the government (which you often can).
Do you have any legal questions?
That's it for me on the serious side for a bit - next blog I will be back to my trivial self. But in the meantime, if you are registered with Tinies* and have a legal question, you know where to come for some serious advice.
Just don't ask me about plucked eyebrows.
Amanda Coxen, Working Mum and Tinies Director
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* If you're not a 'Tinies parent' yet, it's very easy to Register with Tinies today.