ELI for 99
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Dr H C - Beckenham

Rest breaks

Many nannies work very long hours and they usually have their hands full from morning till night. Not only are they experts at meeting and fulfiling the different needs and requirements of children of varying ages, they must also efficiently coordinate the often hectic social lives of their young charges. In addition to this most nannies are also expected to do some household chores and many go much further than that and effectively manage the entire household.

Nannies are exempt from the measures regarding working hours as laid out in the European Working Time Directive and are legally allowed to work much longer hours if they choose to; however they are entitled to a 20 minute rest-break for every 6 hours worked. And they certainly deserve it. But when and how can a nanny fit in a break without compromising the welfare and safety of the children in her care?

If the children are at school or still have afternoon naps there may be time for the nanny to sit down with a cup of tea and take a breather, but few nannies actually do this. Instead most nannies take such an opportunity to prepare a meal, do the washing or tidy the nursery. Perhaps she would even feel guilty if she sat down?

But as we all know it's important to care for ourselves in order to be able to care for others. It's not just about legislative rights, bear in mind also productivity and health and safety issues, all which can be compromised if the nanny (or any other worker) is trying to work at full capacity for 12 or more hours every day. It's also important that the children understand that even super nanny has to rest sometimes - and it doesn't mean she's poorly. In fact perhaps the best time for the nanny to take her well-earned 20 minutes is quiet time together with the children; it would probably do them a world of good as well.

If you have any comments on this topic, we'd like to hear from you. Send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call us on 0203 137 4402.