Nannies occupy a unique space in the childcare landscape. Working, as they do, in children’s own homes, they are often considered to be a member not only of the household, but even the child’s family. For this reason, the government’s long standing position has been that regulation would be inappropriate. Over the years, successive governments have been challenged on this policy, as more and more of the childcare sector becomes regulated, nannies’ unusual status increasingly stands out.
Nannies’ lack of compulsory regulation stands in sharp contrast to other childcare workers who since the turn of the century have been expected to meet progressively more rigorous requirements. Moreover, although the introduction of regulation has always been controversial, the consensus is that the childcare sector has benefitted from it. Now campaigners argue that with the Covid-19 crisis, parents need certainty that the nannies they employ are able to keep their children safe. While the vast majority of nannies are conscientious professionals, lack of regulation means that responsibility for carrying out safety and qualification checks rests solely with the families who employ them.
However, earlier this month, in response to the Regulation Matters campaign raising these issues, the Children and Families Minister, Vicky Ford MP, has reiterated the position that regulation would be too much of an intrusion into family life, as parents have the right to choose the sort of childcare they want for their child. How popular regulation would be with nannies themselves may be an open question. As it stands, Nannies can generally choose to be registered with one of the UK’s regulatory bodies such as Ofsted, this is voluntary and as of 8th October, the option was only taken up by 10,831 nannies, compared with a total of approximately 50,000 according to the 2018-19 Labour Force Survey.
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