Starting out with a new child minder


After a lengthy search, you find the perfect child minder. But before the two of you can start out on a smooth-sailing and long-lasting working relationship, you have to iron out a few details. Nomathemba Hama, owner of Johannesburg-based nanny placing and training agency Domestic Guardians, suggests an induction as a starting point. “Take her around the house and show her where everything is and how it works,” she says.

Success is in the details

She also advises important information be discussed in detail during the induction to avoid misunderstandings that might potentially kill the relationship before it starts.  After a few failed working relationships with child minders Tintswalo Shikwambane did exactly that. “Stating my expectations from the outset and working towards having open communication channels helped build our relationship,” says this mother of two boys who’s had her current child minder for more than four years.

Sign on the dotted line

During the induction, you should also discuss the contract. According to guidelines stipulated by the department of labour, the contract should include all duties and responsibilities of the minder. Also included should be working hours, wage amount and frequency of payment. These must be clearly stipulated, discussed and agreed on by both parties before proceeding further. Should anything be unclear or not agreed on, this would be the ideal time to sort it out, says Hama. The contract should be signed and each party should keep a copy, with reviews done annually or when work requirements change. Hama also suggests you keep a copy of the child minder’s ID or work permit.

“Sit and discuss rules, routines and schedules but allow the minder to make her own roster with your approval,” Hama advises. Shikwambane agrees, “We agreed [my minder] works on her own roster; that way she owns the rules and leaves room for flexibility but within boundaries. At the end of the day, you want everyone to be happy.”

How much is fair?

As stated by the department of labour child minders and nannies working less than 27 hours a week are to be given a minimum wage of between R1 200 and R1 800. Payment for working longer than 27 hours a week goes up to R5 000, depending on qualifications and experience. It’s recommended a payslip be given every month. In it full names, address, period of payment, wage rate, overtime worked and number of hours worked should be included. A record of these documents should also be kept for at least 12 months.

Be reasonable

Hama suggests parents be mindful of their child minder’s responsibilities. “Quality of work might be compromised when a child minder is expected to look after a three-month-old baby and clean a double-storey house. For those responsibilities, one needs a child minder to look after the baby and a housekeeper to clean the house. A housekeeper is great for looking after a schoolgoing child and cleaning the house while they are at school.”

Asked what her secret to her happy working relationship with her minder is Shikwambane says, “Trying to be accommodating as she is part of the family but not forgetting that it is still a professional relationship.”

What to include in a contract:

  • Full names and addresses of the employer and employee;
  • The duties of the child minder;
  • Address of employment;
  • Employment start date;
  • Working hours and overtime;
  • Rate and method of payment including that of overtime or any other payments agreed on;
  • Frequency of payment;
  • Leave and notice of leave; and
  • Period of notice required on termination of employment.

Do’s for a healthy relationship with your minder:

  • Have a signed contract in place;
  • Communicate your expectations;
  • Have rules but leave room for flexibility within boundaries;
  • Agree on a payment system, amount and frequency of payment;
  • Provide payslips;
  • Keep records of payslips; and
  • Give a minimum of a month’s notice when terminating employment and a week’s notice for a child minder who’s been with you for less than six weeks.

Don’t do this:

  • Deduct more than 10 per cent from the child minder’s wages for a loan, food or accommodation;
  • Deduct breakages or damages from a child minder’s wages; or
  • Giving unnecessary work outside the job description or agreed terms.

-Koketso Mashika

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24