The rise of the nanny under the New Child Care Package

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  Published on Wednesday, 08 August 2018

The rise of the nanny under the New Child Care Package

Library Home  >  Nanny, Au Pairs & In Home Care
  Published on Wednesday, 08 August 2018
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It has been over a month since the Government's new Child Care Subsidy came into effect, and for some families, this overhaul of the child care payment system has caused them to re-think their child care arrangements entirely.

Under the single Child Care Subsidy, higher income families receive less financial assistance than those on low and middle incomes, and families with a combined income of $351,248 or more are entitled to no subsidy at all. Gone too, is the Child Care Rebate, which was not means-tested and used to cover 50 per cent of families' child care expenses (up to $7,613 per child, per year).

The upshot of all this is that nannies and au pairs may now make more financial sense than other child care options, particularly for high income families with two or more children.

Let's look at what nannies offer and the obligations that come with this choice of child care.

What is a nanny?

In short, a nanny is someone employed by a family to undertake all tasks related to the care of children. Nannies are usually (but not always) professionally qualified. Whether they live-in, live-out or are shared between families, nannies provide home-based child care that is consistent, individualised and flexible.

Keep in mind too, that although nannies are often women, male nannies (or 'mannies') are also an option if you're looking for a different dynamic.

How much does a nanny cost?

For single child families, nannies may be more expensive than other child care options, however, they are more cost-effective when it comes to families with more children.

In dollar terms, nannies are paid an hourly rate, which varies depending on their qualifications, experience, and living arrangements and whether you use an agency to source your nanny. As a guide, though, you might expect to pay:

  • Up to $30 an hour for a live-in nanny
  • Up to $35 an hour for a live-out nanny

Nannies generally work between 40 and 60 hours a week and, as mentioned above, you may need to factor in any nanny agency fee as well.

What's the best way to find a nanny?

Although you can source a nanny through word of mouth or by advertising in a local paper or website, agencies are a straight-forward and dependable way to find the right nanny for your family.

A good agency will put you in touch with screened, well-matched nannies, guide you through the interview and recruitment process, help you write an employment contract, and generally make things easy.

To help you choose an agency, read our article here, and to find agency-screened nannies in your area, click here.

Is a nanny interview important?

Whether you find them independently or through an agency, it's vital that you interview your prospective nanny before taking them on board, and also that you conduct reference and background checks.

This is the time to learn about them on a professional and a personal level, and our Interviewing a Nanny or Au Pair Checklist sets out everything you need to ask, including all-important questions around experience and safety.

What are your obligations when hiring a nanny?

When you hire a nanny, you're engaging them as either an employee or an independent contractor, depending on the relationship you have. So have a look at the Fair Work Ombudsman site to establish what arrangement will work best.

The next thing is to draw up a contract of employment between yourself and the nanny, setting out:

  • Salary and benefits
  • Hours of work
  • Main duties and clear responsibilities (including an out-of-pocket expenses policy)
  • Sickness and annual leave entitlements
  • Required notice period (generally two to four weeks)
  • Performance reviews

If your nanny is an 'employee' you will need to register with the ATO to allow for income tax deductions, and there is also superannuation, domestic work cover insurance and car insurance to consider. For more about these matters, click here.

And, last up, it's also worth drafting a simple confidentiality agreement to ensure that household matters are kept private.

Once you've found your ideal nanny, how can you keep them?

A clear and fair contract of employment will help limit misunderstandings and disagreements, and another way to ensure that everyone is happy, is by encouraging communication.

To this end, a Nanny/Parent Diary is an excellent way for your nanny to record the day’s events and provide feedback. It's also worth organising a weekly review where you can both informally give and receive feedback, whether it's positive, constructive or a blend of the two.

Longer-term benefits are also a good way to reward a great nanny, and you could 'sweeten' the job with the offer of things like:

  • Occasional late starts or early finishes
  • Cash bonuses
  • Use of a car
  • Health cover
  • Thank you gifts, such as movie tickets

Are nannies and au pairs just for high-income families?

Although the New Child Care Package has changed the fortunes of high-income families and increased the appeal of nannies and au pairs, this kind of care definitely isn't just for the rich.

As reported in Perth Now, there is high demand for nannies and au pairs across the board, and Sue Pember, director of Aussie Au Pairs says, 'We have a lot of nurses, and a lot of business owners [using au pairs].'

Meanwhile, Wendy Coe from the Perth Nanny Network says most of their families are, 'Double professionals and the hours just do not work with day care … But it's also shift-workers … If you're a nurse and your husband is a tradesman, [day care] just doesn't work.'

On that note, a nanny (or a manny) may be just the care you're looking for.

This child care article was last reviewed or updated on Thursday, 09 July 2020

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