At the moment, nannies are an unregulated source of childcare in this country and, because they are unregulated, no one can say with any certainty how many there are but its likely to be in the tens of thousands.
RM believes that non-regulation poses a real safeguarding threat, and we are concerned about the safety of children left in unregulated childcare with no minimum standards, no registration requirements, and little accountability.
A nanny providing a poor standard of childcare might be dismissed by a family and gain a job with another, without their new employer being aware of their previous employment record or that there could be a potential safety risk to children. This area of risk is even greater with the rapid growth of social media recruitment platforms.
RM is also concerned about nannies being exploited. Many nannies work excessively long hours, often for less than the National Minimum Wage and when we compare them with childminders, who, as a result of the standards imposed upon them by registration and regulation, nannies fair even less favourably.
The professionalism of registered childminders has increased enormously over the past couple of decades. Nannies, however, have lagged behind and are often unaware of the need for CPD, public liability insurance or paediatric first aid. Many have no formal childcare qualifications and, as a result, are subject to poor working terms and conditions.
As successive governments have introduced legislation and support to improve the quality of childcare, each have failed to include ALL childcare in their efforts and bring nannies into the regulated childcare fold.
There are a couple of common misplaced beliefs too: that nannies are only employed by wealthy people - the rich and famous, and that nanny employment is a private arrangement of no concern to government but, both of these beliefs are erroneous. Many families attempting to combine a career and family life, employ nannies in order to obtain the flexible childcare they need. Nanny share situations are also common, with families sharing the cost of a nanny.
Because nannies work, generally, for private employers in private households, there is a reluctance from government to “interfere” on the grounds that it is a “private arrangement” which is inconsistent with other government policies e.g. a home owner may only use a engineer on the Gas Safe Register to service their gas fire. By law, all gas engineers must be on the Gas Safe Register to work safely and legally on gas appliances. Interference or a good health and safety measure?
There is a voluntary childcare register which nannies may join, and some do: www.gov.uk/guidance/childminders-and-childcare-providers-register-with-ofsted-requirements. However, RM holds the view that this is misleading. We are concerned that parents believe that nannies on the voluntary register are subject to the same regulation and inspection as a registered childminder, and that they are fully checked and inspected by Ofsted when this is not the case. Only a small percentage of nannies on the voluntary register will be inspected and the inspection process last on average just 30 minutes.
To conclude, RM and its supporters have long held the view that registration and regulation would protect both nannies and children. We’ve met with Prime Ministers, Secretaries of State, MPs, Civil Servants, and representatives from local government over the years. We’ve taken part in numerous TV documentaries both home and abroad, all to highlight the risks of having such a large, unregistered, unregulated Homechildcare sector.
Many ordinary families looking for flexible, affordable and reliable childcare are turning to nannies and, whilst reputable nannies and ethically run nanny agencies, along with those organisations supporting the Regulation Matters Campaign, are working hard to ensure they are supplied with suitably qualified and vetted staff, the government ignores reviewing standards across the whole of the childcare and early years sector at its peril.