Peter’s Articles: How To Hire a Nanny

How To Hire a Nanny

We recently hired a Nanny so that Nikola could go back to work a couple half days a week. The following describes our experience and advice on how to hire a Nanny.

In Australia, most people use Child Care Centers rather a Nanny because it traditionally it has been cheaper and the government gives rebates for Child Care. However, Child Care is getting more expensive, and the rebates are not always easy to get, and a Nanny has several advantages:

  • Children can be cared for even if they are sick.
  • A Nanny may provide extra services like cleaning or washing.
  • A Nanny often gives more flexibility.
  • Cost is not proportional to the number of children.

For us, the first one was the primary motivation. Generally, if a child is sick they cannot attend Child Care, but then what would Nikola do about work (as a Sonographer, her work would have already booked people in to see her, all of whom would have to be cancelled if she had to stay home to look after a contagious child).

Having decided to hire a Nanny, we first tried looking at the various Nanny agencies. We were very disappointed with the results - many wanted up front payments without any guarantee of success, and the one we eventually tried sent two Nanny's both of who took the job and then quit a few days later, before even starting work (so it wasn’t our kids!). They finally managed a Nanny who was leaving the country in six weeks, but at least that managed to tide us over until we could find a replacement as Nikola had committed to going back to work after the first Nanny accepted the job.

So we decided to do it ourselves. We placed an ad in The West Australia newspaper which cost around $30 (all prices in AU dollars, AU$1 is roughly US$0.75 currently). The ad stated that we wanted a Nanny for two specific days a week, to look after our two children, aged 1 and 3 and gave our mobile phone number. From the ad we received well over a dozen responses.

For each person who called, we first ask some basic question which eliminated about a third of the respondents:

Several people were from too far away and so our location removed them, several people did not have a driver’s license (which we required for various reasons), and (surprising to me) several people would not take the job upon learning I worked from home.

If we were busy at the time of the call, we would then call back later and ask further follow up questions, otherwise we would continue with the questioning at the time:

For us, none of these were show-stoppers, but they did give us a range of things to base our estimation of the person on, as well as just time to take about various issues with them to get a better handle on the person (as much as can be done over the phone anyway).

Having narrowed the field, we then called back the ones we thought were best to organise an interview. Unfortunately, due to the itinerant nature of Nannying, several of them had changed their minds or got another job, or even just did not show up for the scheduled interview. In the end, we interviewed about three or four.

The interview gave us a chance to better know the person, as well as their physical abilities (keeping up with two very active children requires a fairly active person), and to go over the above questions in more detail. The interview also gave us a chance to talk about more delicate issues, such as:

As far as pay goes, we had previously learned that the going rate for a Nanny is $12-$18 per hour, and so simply offered the middle of the range price as a starting point which seemed acceptable to all the people we ended up talking to. There is also the issue of holiday and/or sick pay if any, as well as specifications on how to handle the inevitable holiday time the Nanny will want (Since Nikola was effectively casual, we could deal with any holiday time as long as we had a couple weeks warning). We also needed to work our both the frequency and method of payment (for example, fortnightly via a bank transfer).

Insurance was another area we needed to look in to. The Nanny could be added on to our car insurance without any costs, but they needed to know that she had a clean driving record, and had not committed any serious offenses such as fraud or arson. We also added Workers Compensation Insurance for Domestic Employees to our home Contents Insurance for a nominal amount ($17/year).

It is possible that if the Nanny is accredited and has an ABN (Australian Business Number) that we might be able to obtain some sort of government rebate for hiring the Nanny. As yet I have not found any evidence to support this, although if we did we would pass on some or all of the benefit to the Nanny anyway.

It is too early to tell whether we made the right decisions and made wise choices, and it certainly has been a more challenging exercise to hire a Nanny than we ever would have expected, but the potential benefits over Child Care Centers (especially in terms of flexibility, consitency/reliability, extra services such as washing and cleaning) make the concept of hiring a Nanny far more attractive.