Choosing to employ a Nanny is a monumental decision. At the most basic level you are inviting someone to become the sole employee of an enterprise we shall call ‘Bringing Up Baby’. If you’ve had any experience of managing staff in any capacity you will know that employer/employee relationships can be a minefield – they also have the capacity to be something treasured with oodles of mutual respect and admiration.
So how does one create something nearer the later than the former? My view is, remain mindful at all times of the unique quality of this relationship. Treat your employee as you would expect to be treated, note a careful bit of wordsmithery there. Not how you are treated but would expect to be treated! Every employee is entitled to receive a contract of employment, and to expect the proper management of their tax and national insurance. Avoidance of, or willful ignorance of one’s obligation as an employer tips the balance towards minefield instead of rose-patch.
It’s hard to resist the temptation to make an informal or semi-informal deal regarding the declaration of salary as an artificial way of ‘keeping the wage bill down’, but it’s a temptation that has to be resisted, and a suggestion that needs not just to be rejected if suggested by a would-be employee, but needs an explanation why it’s being rejected. To enter into it is to be party to a strange and lopsided relationship ultimately with one party holding all the cards.
The most potent example I can give of the far-reaching effects of non or partial non-disclosure of salary is to share a phone conversation I had with a Nanny a few years ago. She told me that many years earlier she had happily made a ‘private arrangement’ with a family. The declared salary was considerably lower than her actual take home pay – she saw it as a way of enabling the family to pay her more than they would otherwise been able to. She was fully party to the arrangement. All was well until she wished to apply for a mortgage. The Nanny needed proof of salary and she couldn’t prove it and her employers refused point-blank to write a letter confirming her annual gross or net pay. Ultimately she reported her employer to HM Revenue and Customs and changed her job as the relationship had now soured. I chose this example to illustrate that a decision can have far reaching effects not fully realized at the outset.
There is also one of those moral conundrums to consider. The employer hands that which is most precious to them to a stranger, hoping that they can gauge something about that stranger which leads them to believe they are honest and trustworthy. The employee hopes they too have made a sound choice in accepting the employment. At the same time in this trust-centric relationship for some there is an extra layer, the tax evader (employer or employee) is involved in a lie, I find it hard to get my head around that one.
Co-Proprietor of Riverside Nannies, Riverside Training Company and Riverside Childcare.
Since 1989 the team at Riverside have helped families find professional childcare solutions, as well as delivering accredited training including Paediatric First Aid and Safeguarding
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