Building a good relationship with your child’s nanny

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You’re going back to work and you’ve looked at all your child care options and decided that hiring a nanny to look after your child in your own home is the best option for you. But what now?

Read more: How to choose the right nanny
The ABCs of finding a good nanny

A nanny is the term used to describe a professional working in child care who has completed various courses in child care, first aid, developmental stimulation and nutrition and who works specifically looking after children.

Hiring the right person

There are numerous ways you can go about this. Perhaps you have a housekeeper or cleaner you’d like to send on some courses to qualify as a nanny. Perhaps you have friends with good nannies who can recommend their friends. You could also hire through an agency or you could post an ad on the recruitment section of an advertising site like Gumtree.

No matter how you find your candidates for interviewing, ensure that you do a criminal check and a reference check. Some agencies will do this for you, but you must ask them to do so. You wouldn’t hire someone into your business without doing background checks and it is no different with hiring someone to work in your home.

When interviewing, look for someone who you like and who shows a genuine interest in children. There are courses available to teach the skills required, but a natural affinity for children and being gentle and kind isn’t something you learn on a course.

Ensure that you make it clear up front whether the job is child care only or includes housekeeping, what the hours are and what the pay is. This allows the person to bow out of the process early on if the job won’t suit them.

Expectations

When someone does start in the job, clarifying your expectations is important, this way they know what you want from them. It helps to have a basic job description, which can be as simple as drawing up a list of the main areas of work and then the tasks that make up that work.

Spend time explaining how you want things done and why you want things done in a particular way. If you’re not too fussy about how and why, then make that clear too. It is difficult for someone to meet your requirements if they don’t have certainty about exactly what those are.

Many disagreements and upsets can be avoided by some clarity at the start of the relationship. It is also a document to refer back to when there are problems as it can be used as a bit of a refresher course during discussions and helps keep discussions task focused.

Practicalities

A nanny falls under the broad category of employee called a domestic worker (someone who works for families in a home).

This means that in addition to complying with the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, you also need to comply with the sectoral determination for domestic workers. This covers things like minimum wage rates, when increases must occur and family responsibility leave for which there are special conditions for domestic workers. The BCEA covers the minimum standards, the sectoral determination adds some extra responsibilities for an employer, but are also free to provide better conditions than what is required.

It is compulsory to register your nanny for UIF. Anyone who works more than 24 hours per month must be registered. This means that if she goes on maternity leave she will be able to claim benefits and that if she dies in your employ, that her family will be able to claim benefits. There are penalties if you don’t do this.

Relationship

Remember that someone who looks after your children spends a lot of time with them. It is worth putting in the effort to build a good relationship with this person and never take them for granted.

Treat your child’s nanny fairly as you would any other employee, don’t expect them to work overtime doing baby-sitting without fair overtime pay or staying late without pay at fair rates or if the person lives in don’t expect them to be at your beck and call in their off times.

Open and honest communication and clarification of expectations goes a long way towards a happy working relationship.

How have you ensured a good relationship with your child’s nanny?

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