A nanny and a little girl smiling, close to one another.

The Self-Employed Nanny Conundrum



On occasion, I feel the urge to stand on my soap box and shout about something that is happening in the childcare industry. 

Nannies, the silent voice in the childcare industry 

Childcarers, and nannies, tend not to have much of a voice in our industry, despite the great work they do. They often enter jobs not knowing their rights. 

At Tinies we feel strongly that nannies deserve to be treated the same as any other employee, which means having a proper contract and being paid correctly. All that is included in the permanent nanny childcare services which Tinies offer.  There are other professional agencies out there like Tinies who do the same.   


Tinies volunteer to be members of REC, the Recruitment and Employment Confederation, which sets high standards on how professional agencies should recruit and treat their clients and candidates. 


But what about the nannies who don’t use reputable agencies to find work? 

The dangers of online nanny recruitment 

There has been a huge increase in the number of online childcare recruitment websites over the last few years. The amount of childcarers (and parents) who have come to us with horror stories after using these websites is growing. 


There’s the story of the nanny who took a live-in job through a website and found out her accommodation was literally a storage cupboard (shades of Harry Potter under the stairs), which she was expected to stay in whenever she was not on duty. Or the parent who hired a nanny who falsified all her documents including her right to work in the UK. 


Some websites promote the idea of hiring a self-employed nanny. What these websites don’t tell you is that in 99.9% of cases, a nanny can’t be self-employed.  What they are really promoting is paying a nanny cash in hand. Which in the eyes of HMRC is tax evasion. 


Can a nanny ever be self-employed? 

HMRC has a Check Employment Status for Tax tool to support you in establishing the employment status of a worker. 


The consequences of paying cash in hand are quite severe. Since April 2013, HMRC have tightened up their systems, so that those employers paying ‘cash in hand’ are far more likely to be caught out and be charged hefty fines. 


But it’s not only the parents who need to be wary of this. Nannies need to understand that being self-employed means they lose most of their employment rights. 

Parents and nannies alike need to be wary 

The right to be paid holiday, sick pay and maternity pay are just some of those rights that are lost. Plus, employers can easily terminate the employment without the nanny having any protection or recourse to the courts. Some Nannies are being forced into self-employed status without understanding the implications. 


I’m the first person to sympathise with parents about the high costs of childcare, which is made worse by having to pay tax and NI on top of a nanny’s salary. For most of us, that means most of our wages goes on childcare.  But it doesn’t mean that paying cash in hand to a nanny is the answer either. 

Related Resources:

HMRC Check Employment Status for Tax 



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