Correct as of 4th November, updates to follow.
The imminent second lockdown has raised many questions for nannies, especially as much of the legislation in the previous lockdown left them in a confusing grey area. Thankfully the government appears to have taken this into consideration in the most recent updates which now not only include nannies but also have guidance specifically aimed at them. Even so, we do have outstanding questions which neither Ofsted nor the DfE have been able to give clear answers to as of yet. As we await clarification on some topics, we have put together a guide which collates the information have been provided with so far from Ofsted, DfE, Pacey and the government website.
Can nannies work?
The government has made it clear that people in essential roles (including childcare) should go to work, stating on their website “Where it is necessary to work in other people’s homes – for example, for nannies […] you can do so”. As a nanny you should confirm with your employer that they are happy for you to continue and talk through any additional measures that need to be put in place to help prevent the spread of Covid. As a nanny you should maintain social distance where possible from the other adults at your place of work (if you live in you are part of the household so this would not apply).
It is still unclear as to the rules for nannies who work with more than one family. According to Ofsted the government is keen to keep professional childcare in place as much as possible. However as things stand it appears nanny shares would not be legal as they involve more than one household mixing inside. In a conversation with Ofsted today I discussed childcare bubbles and they were of the same opinion as us which is that until there is further clarification it is impossible to state whether nanny shares might be allowed as part of these. It appears split weeks (where a nanny works for separate families on different days) will be allowed although discouraged as mixing households should be kept to a minimum. Ofsted were clear though about what will happen with regard to working with more than one family – it will be the nanny’s decision who to continue care for and this will involve discussions with the families involved to identify who is most in need and what will work best for everyone involved, they were unclear how this would work with contracts and pay so we suggest contacting payroll companies for further advice if this applies to you).
Playdates and outings
During the lockdown nannies will need to care for children within their home, only leaving for limited purposes. This won’t be easy but you can use private gardens and outdoor spaces if these are available within the property. You can arrange to meet with one other person outside (preschool children are not included in the body count) but you should avoid mixing with others as much as possible and follow all guidance including social distancing.
Groups can continue provided they are following the relevant guidelines (Early Years setting guidelines in registered settings and COVID-19 Secure guidance in community settings such as church halls) and are exempt from the rule of 6. You would need to use your judgement as to whether or not a group is suitable to attend or not and you would need to be able to show you have done all you can to ensure the safety of the children in your care. We also advise limiting the number of groups you attend, if any.
If you do venture out ensure you have the parent’s permission to do so and carry out the usual risk assessments including measures to prevent the spread of Covid. Don’t forget when you arrive back home to wash hands thoroughly!
PPE & precautions
Where nannies are working closely with high risk people, it is essential to be especially careful and wear personal protective equipment. It goes without saying that you will need to be especially careful about washing your hands and keeping a distance as much as possible. This isn’t only the case when your charges are high risk but also applies to anyone who may be in that household/bubble that you may not be responsible for but reside in the house or be linked in a bubble with the family.
Face coverings such as masks are not necessary when caring for children in their home, even though social distancing is unlikely to be possible. This applies to all PPE as the government guidance is that it is not required. However if a child in your care did show symptoms of Covid you would need to use PPE, if available, while waiting for the parents to return. Obviously when you go out face coverings are mandatory in most places now and you would have to follow laws on wearing one whether you are at work and caring for children or not unless you are exempt. Children under the age of 11 years remain exempt so you would not need to ask them to wear a face covering but if you have older children with you, you would need to ensure they are wearing theirs too.
Paediatric First Aid
The DfE states that if your pediatric first aid certificate cannot be updated due to the pandemic, your current certificate can be extended to 25 November 2020 (this applies to certificates that expired on or after 16 March 2020). If you are a registered nanny you should try to book a course as you may be asked for evidence that you tried, it isn’t enough to say your certificate falls within the above dates.
Although we hope it doesn’t happen, you may be called upon to use your first aid training and if so you should be clear on the advice issued by the Health and Safety Executive. Treating any casualty properly is important and this is no different even in the current climate. When administering first aid you should be particularly careful to keep the area clean and use sanitized equipment. It goes without saying that you should wash your hands as often as possible too.
We’ve had a number of concerned nannies contact us with regards to Ofsted visits and many rumours are circulating as to why Ofsted suddenly appear to be ‘picking on’ nannies. We put this to Ofsted who explained the situation; on 11 September the Secretary of State for Education requested all inspections resume. Ofsted noticed that those on the voluntary register (mainly nannies) were not keeping their records up to date so (particularly with some larger settings on the compulsory register being closed still) focused on nannies to bring records up to date. They also aim to inspect 10% of nannies each year and had not been hitting this target so this focus allowed them to bring their numbers up and hit those targets. Ofsted also emphasized that nannies work on their own and in the current climate this leaves them quite vulnerable (particularly as they had not been included in legislation in the first lockdown). They therefore wanted to offer support and make sure that during the inspections the nannies were given an opportunity to ask questions and be given support.
If you are selected for inspection but are concerned, discuss this with the inspector as Ofsted are flexible (we’ve heard of inspections taking place in café’s when the nanny has felt uncomfortable about having additional people at work or in their own home). Inspectors will risk assess with you and ensure the visit is carried out safely. You may even be able to defer your inspection.
If you have a confirmed case of Covid at work you should report it to Ofsted as early as possible.
One very positive piece of news that Ofsted mentioned is that they recognise nannies are under more financial strain than usual as a result of the pandemic and many have also spent a great deal of time on furlough. As a result they are looking at their fees and how they can react to the needs of nannies. It is not confirmed that any changes will be made but they are definitely looking into it.
The government recognizes the real need for professional childcare, especially from NHS staff and key workers, so they are doing their best to write into legislation to allow for childcare to stay in place which is good news for nannies. There are some updates we will need to make to this article as it becomes available but in the meantime we are happy that nannies are being included heavily, the guidance appears a lot clearer than during the previous lockdown and we will still be able to work through the second lockdown.
Ultimately it is important, as professionals to be setting an example and therefore even if the law allows you to do something we would encourage you to act in a way that is in keeping with the spirit of the government measures. We understand it is extremely hard work being a nanny in normal circumstances and the pandemic has only added to this workload so it is important to look after your wellbeing and seek help if you feel things become too much to cope with.