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In the South East, with many of us having second homes, overseas properties, flats for our offspring, or just large estates or gardens that need tending, we may unwittingly have ended up with an army of extra staff on our home payroll – the equivalent of a small business! And as a new employer, we may have possibly opened ourselves up to some obligations, especially if we have hired someone who is not self-employed or we haven’t gone through an agency. But while one can feel that the hardest part of hiring someone to help us in our home is getting the right personality match and someone you can trust (particularly true for nannies, who at times will have sole care of your child or children), luckily the checks you have to do now as part of employing someone can actually help you with your decision.
The first thing to check is the applicant’s references. The best references will come from your friends and colleagues, but where this is not possible it is helpful to speak personally to the applicant’s referees. Sometimes, you can’t get a reference straight away, but in these situations, you can still make an offer of employment – just make it conditional upon the receipt of satisfactory references.
As well as references, nannies in particular will require a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check. These were previously known as Criminal Records Bureau or CRB checks and are used to reveal information about the applicant’s criminal record. You only need to run a DBS check for the successful job applicant but it is acceptable to withdraw your offer if the results of the DBS check show that the applicant is unsuitable for the role.
Many “mumanagers” prefer to use an agency to help them find nannies, housekeepers, carers, au pairs or other helpers to save time and effort. Again it is good to use a recommended agency that you can rely on and that has a good reputation. The agency will conduct background and reference checks for you, though you will want to verify any references yourself before making a firm offer of employment.
If you are an employer, you will also need to have your own employers’ liability insurance. This is separate to any public liability insurance or professional indemnity insurance maintained by a nanny. It is very important to have this insurance in place before you start employing someone, as you can be fined £2,500 for every day that you are not properly insured. You could try speaking to your household insurers or an independent broker to get this cover put in place.
Apart from the risk of being fined, insurance is important as you can be held personally liable for any accidents or illness suffered by your employee in the course of their employment with you. You should provide a safe workplace for your employee, but accidents can happen, and if they do then your employee could bring a claim against you. Employer’s liability insurance offers you important protection as it would cover the damages and associated costs of a successful claim being made against you. Without the insurance, you run the risk of paying any damages and legal costs out of your own pocket.
The realities of employing someone in your home can be complicated and if you get it wrong you can find yourself in breach of legal obligations and at risk of financial penalties. However with a bit of organisation, a good checklist and filing system, some planning and the right advice you can have a stress-free transition to becoming an employer.
As a new employer you are subject to a range of legal considerations, some of which are set out below. You must ensure that you:
Do not require your employee to work more than the maximum number of hours and days allowed, and provide regular rest breaks
If they meet the eligibility requirements, employees are also entitled to statutory rights which you will be responsible for such as:
This article was first published in Surrey Life on 22 March 2016