Employment Rights

The majority of nannies in the UK are employees and have all the statutory employment rights that anyone working in any other job has. These include the right to:

  • time off for emergencies
  • auto-enrollment in a pension scheme (from their employer's staging date)
  • payslips showing income tax, national insurance and other deductions
  • protection from unlawful deductions from pay
  • protection from discrimination on grounds of age, marital status, pregnancy or having a child, race, gender, sexuality, disability, religion and part-time working
  • protection from unfair dismissal
  • a minimum notice period
  • request flexible working



Domestic employees (i.e. people working in the homes of other people) are exempt from parts of the European Working Time Directive which limits the number of hours worked per week to 48. This means employers can advertise roles with longer hours, but you are free to decide not to apply for the role because you do not wish to work such long hours. If your employer gives you notice of their intention to extend your hours this would be a renegotiation of your contract. You are, however, still entitled to paid breaks. Agreeing that you are not subject to this specific directive does not affect your other employment rights. Your employer cannot oblige you to waive any employment rights that are given to you in law.



Occasionally nannies may qualify to be self-employed because they provide ad hoc or temporary childcare services. It is possible to be employed in one, or several, jobs and self-employed for other work. The number of families you work for does not determine your employment status, nor do the number of hours you work per week. This is worked out by the relationship that you have with each family.

If you are self-employed you are responsible for keeping a record of your income, paying National Insurance Contributions and filling in a tax return each year. You should also set up a private pension. You are not entitled to paid holidays and you do not benefit from employment rights such as sick pay, maternity/paternity/adoption pay and leave, protection from discrimination, minimum notice (other than that specified in your terms of business) or redundancy pay.

To check whether you are employed or not the most reliable tool is the Government's Employment Status Indicator (ESI). If you disagree with the decision you should take a note of your reference and contact HMRC for an individual status decision. Each job that the ESI indicates employed status for that you feel comes under your self-employment requires a decision to protect you and your client.

For reference nannies are generally employed on the following grounds:

  • they’re required to work regularly unless they’re on leave, eg holiday, sick leave or maternity leave
  • they’re required to do a minimum number of hours and expect to be paid for time worked
  • they can’t send someone else to do their work
  • their employer deducts tax and National Insurance contributions from their wages
  • they get paid holiday
  • they’re entitled to contractual or statutory sick pay, and maternity or paternity pay
  • disciplinary and grievance procedures apply to them
  • they work at the family's home or at an address specified by the family
  • their contract sets out redundancy procedures
  • the family provides the materials, tools and equipment for their work
  • their contract, statement of terms and conditions or offer letter (which can be described as an ‘employment contract’) uses terms like ‘employer’ and ‘employee’

(Adapted from gov.uk)

These are the criteria for self-employment

  • they’re in business for themselves, are responsible for the success or failure of their business and can make a loss or a profit
  • they can decide what work they do and when, where or how to do it
  • they can hire someone else to do the work
  • they’re responsible for fixing any unsatisfactory work in their own time
  • their employer agrees a fixed price for their work - it doesn’t depend on how long the job takes to finish
  • they use their own money to buy business assets, cover running costs, and provide tools and equipment for their work
  • they can work for more than one client

As nannies typically cannot decide what work they want to do, not when, nor where, nor how, cannot send someone else to do their work and are paid an hourly rate with all equipment provided and costs covered they are usually employed, not self-employed. Temporary nannies and ad hoc nannies, on the other hand, do decide what work they want to do, when they wish to work and where they wish to work and have more than one client over the course of the year (although it may be that this clause refers to having more than one client simultaneously i.e. the possibility of looking after children from more than one family as and when you decide.)