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Road to recovery - the Nannytax Annual Wages Survey

In a year that was predicted to be tough on the nanny industry we are presented with a distinctly hopeful picture in the latest nanny pay survey. London and Home Counties salaries have recovered from last year’s decline, and while the rest of the country has yet to follow suit, historical patterns indicate that they, too, are likely to pick up.

The survey also shows a noticeable shift towards greater professionalism – more nannies than ever are now Ofsted registered, and the number of nannies taking out public liability insurance is growing steadily. We have also seen an explosion in nannyshares and part-time jobs as the requirements of nannies’ employers continue to change.

Salaries for daily (live-out) nannies in central London have made a full recovery and are now back to the record figures of 2007, with an increase of the 3.7 per cent they fell by last year. Live-in nannies in central London have seen a smaller increase of 2.2 per cent on last year’s figures, but these too are almost in line with earnings of 2007. On the other hand, in outer London and the Home Counties, it is the live-in nannies who have seen their salaries boosted by an average of 3.7 per cent, while their daily counterparts have seen increases of 2 per cent.

As predicted last year, the picture is rather different the further away we move from the capital. Daily nannies have been most affected. In Other Towns and Cities salaries are down by 2.3 per cent, while in the Countryside salaries have fallen by 3.8 per cent. Live-in nannies in Other Towns and Cities have seen a more modest decrease just shy of one per cent, whereas those in the Countryside have seen a small increase of 1.2 per cent. But all is not doom and gloom for these nannies. We know that trends are usually noticed in London first, and the rest of the country follows later.

2009 was a tough year, with many nanny employers having to look for ways to reduce their outgoings. More mothers have had to return to work earlier than planned after having a baby. In line with this, the demand for part-time nannies and nannyshares has soared. A staggering 40 per cent of nanny agencies participating in the survey report an increase in nannysharing, and over 15 per cent of nannies are now in a share. Add to this the 61 per cent of nannies who are currently in part-time employment (up by more than one fifth on last year), and this number could be even higher. Flexibility remains the name of the game as more nannies consider two and sometimes three separate positions to make up their working week.

Nannyshares present a win-win solution for those who are willing to give them a try. When done well, a nannyshare makes a great deal of sense for all involved. Parents save some money without compromising on care, the children can continue to enjoy care from one dedicated individual, and nannies benefit from a varied working week. Historically, few agencies wanted to get involved with nannyshares, but they now recognise the benefits. Alison Brownlee of Network 0-5 in Cheshire says, ‘Nannysharing is a very valuable option for many parents, and one we work hard to promote.’ At Nannytax we have continued to see growing demand for this type of arrangement and we now even have nannies on our books who work for three families.

Ofsted register

The voluntary aspect of the Ofsted Childcare Register has been a controversial issue since it was first made available to nannies three years ago. On the whole, agencies are in agreement that it should be made compulsory and that the information available should be made clearer. There is no denying that it has grown in popularity during 2009 and almost half of all nannies are now registered, a 17 per cent increase on last year. In addition, over 66 per cent of parent employers are aware of the register, up from 54 per cent last year.

Most agencies believe this trend will continue and more parents will choose to employ a registered nanny in 2010, as it allows them to make a substantial saving through the use of childcare vouchers. By being Ofsted registered, nannies can prove their professionalism, and also set themselves apart from the competition. As Louise Taylor of Kensington Nannies in London says, ‘We encourage nannies to get Ofsted registration, as it means they are up to date with both CRB and First Aid, and this is another selling point when putting them forward to potential employers.’

The fact that the Ofsted register remains voluntary for nannies is a cause for both anger and frustration among nanny agencies. It appears the Labour Government remains fearful to be seen to be assisting middle income families and to acknowledge nannies as a viable childcare option. As long as these attitudes prevail – although middle class voters are being courted in the run-up to a general election – nannies and their employers will continue to occupy a grey area within childcare.

One of the most hotly debated topics in the 2009 survey is the Independent Safeguarding Authority, set up to prevent unsuitable persons from working with children or vulnerable adults. At first glance it appears that all individuals who come into contact with children and vulnerable adults must register with the ISA. On closer inspection, however, it becomes clear that whether a nanny needs to be registered or not depends on how she is employed. If she is employed through a nanny agency, it will be the agency’s duty to ensure that she is registered, whereas if she is employed directly by the parents she is not obliged to register at all.

When we asked the agencies for their thoughts on this issue, the overwhelming majority agree with Nannytax and believe it is a mistake by the ISA to distinguish between nannies who are employed directly by the parents and those who are employed through an agency. The welfare of the children the nanny cares for should surely be the priority, rather than the channels through which she has been employed. Or, as Rachel Ogg of Kiwi Oz Nannies says, ‘I fully agree with compulsory vetting for the entire nanny industry. However, the decision to exclude some nannies could cause confusion and potentially bring the effectiveness of the scheme into question.’

The professionals

Contentious issues apart, a picture of growing professionalism is emerging. As nannying is one of the last professions where net-wage agreements have remained the norm well into the 21st century, 60 per cent of agencies now advise their clients to agree a gross wage with their nanny. It seems as though Nannytax’s constant pushing of this issue has finally paid dividends.

This trend of professionalism continues in other areas as well. For example, 44 per cent of nannies now choose to take out public liability insurance, up from 31 per cent last year. Employer’s Liability Insurance is a legal requirement for all employers. Yet, according to an independent poll at Nannytax, over 64 per cent of nanny employers are uncertain whether or not they have this insurance, despite the fact that they could be fined up to £2,500 for every day they are without this important cover.

The question on everyone’s mind is, of course, what will 2010 look like? The nanny industry does not possess a crystal ball, but the vast majority of agencies are optimistic about the prospects for the coming year, and predict growth in several areas, with more part-time employment and more requests for nannyshares as a greater number of mothers return to work after maternity leave earlier than ever before. Many parents are under ever greater stress as they are expected to take on more in their place of work, and this results in the need for flexibility from the nanny in terms of longer hours and added responsibilities. It is here that a good nanny can really shine.

 

 WAGES SURVEY TABLE 2009

------- LIVE IN NANNIES -------
  Central London 

Outer London

  Weekly net  % change
 Annual gross
 Weekly net
 % change
 Annual gross
2009  355  2.21  23,949  315  3.73  20,934
2008  347  -2.13  23,525  304  2.77  20,277
2007  355  8.2  24,545 296  4.6  19,988
2006  328  4.5  22,582 283  2  19,079
2005  314  7.5  21,573  278  4  18,776
 2004  292  -5  19,956  267  4  18,007
             

 

 Other towns  Countryside
   Weekly net
 % change
 Annual gross
 Weekly net
 % change
 Annual gross
2009 280 -0.87 18,305 283 1.16 18,527
2008  282  4.84  18,618 280  4.74  18,466
2007  269  4  17,908  268  3.6  17,797
2006  258  3  17,142  258  1.5  17,142
2005  250  5  16,612  254  7  16,910
 2004  238  2  15,760  237  1.8  15,689
------- DAILY NANNIES -------

 

Central London
Outer London
  Weekly net
 % change
Annual gross
Weekly net
% change
Annual gross
2009 466 3.74 32,316 380 2 25,842
2008 449  -3.61  31,203 374 1.64 25,559
 2007  466  14  33,179  368  6.7  25,548
 2006  408  2  28,786  344  3.5  23,825
 2005  399  4  28,171  332  2  22,971
 2004  382  -0.5  26,937  325  2  22,514
             

 

 Other towns
 Countryside
  Weekly net
% change
Annual gross
 Weekly net % change
Annual gross
2009 332 -2.37 22,220 321 -3.82 21,390
2008 340  4.75  22,988  334  3.91  22,544
2007  325  8.6  22,263  321  8.6  21,937
2006  299  2  20,322  296  1.5  20,095
 2005  293  3  19,948  292  4.5  19,863
 2004  284  3  19,335  279  2.5  18,939