A DfE spokesperson said, 'Agency childminders will be self-employed or have employee status.
'We expect that some agencies will be employers, meaning that childminders will be able to benefit from holiday, pensions and sick leave. However, other agencies will help with administration but allow childminders to still be self-employed so that they can work more freely if they want.
'All agencies will be required to offer training and support to childminders, whether they are employed or self-employed.'
The plan to introduce childminder agencies was part of the 'More Great Childcare' paper released by Education and Childcare Minister Elizabeth Truss. She argues that the creation of agencies will encourage more people to become childminders and provide a framework of training, support and quality improvement.
Agency arrangements are to be piloted in 2013 and be operating in 2014, subject to parliamentary approval. It will not be compulsory for childminders to be part of an agency.
According to Twickenham childminder Simona McKenzie, who has set up the Independent Childminders' Focus Group (ICFG), many childminders are unclear about the new proposals to introduce the agencies and what it will mean to remain independent.