Nannies and parents at risk in coronavirus childcare crisis

Tricia Pritchard, managing director of BAPN
Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Nannies fearful for their jobs and parents desperate for childcare must not be put at risk in the coronavirus crisis, warns Tricia Pritchard, managing director of BAPN

BAPN (British Association of Professional Nannies) is becoming increasing concerned for both nannies and parents seeking urgent childcare now that schools and nurseries are closed for all but the children of ‘Key Workers’ or children with additional needs / children at risk. 

We’ve been inundated with calls from members and non-members seeking advice:

  • Nannies are being asked by employers to remain in work even when they (the nanny) are clearly showing symptoms of COVID-19 and should be at home self-isolating. Similarly, employers who are home self-isolating are demanding their nanny remains in work (the employer’s home) to care for their children thus putting their nanny and the whole family’s health at further risk.
  • Some unscrupulous nanny agencies are advertising nanny jobs with immediate start – 'all checks waived – no experience necessary'.  We’ve even seen an advert where the vacancy openly stated that the nanny will be 'working for a family where one of the parents is currently self-isolating due to exposure to a colleague who has tested positive for the Coronavirus'.
  • And, we’ve received several calls from nannies who have been told quite clearly by their employer that should the country be placed in lockdown they (the nanny) must still show up for work.
  • We’re aware of social media ads from students now at home looking for nanny roles offering their services for as little as £5.00 per hour
  • There are 100s of ads now popping up on Facebook in particular, placed by people who were already unemployed or now laid off from all kinds of jobs (non-childcare related), offering themselves to 'nanny' to 'help with the kids' while schools and nurseries are closed.  'Care' that will take place in the home of these newly self-appointed nannies. You can scroll down as many as you have time to and will find no mention of Insurance, DBS checks, Safeguarding, Experience, References, Risk Assessments etc.

Nannies frightened of losing their jobs are being exploited by desperate employers and nanny agencies with no care for the well-being of the nannies on their books.

Parents desperate for childcare so that they can keep their own jobs or businesses afloat, are being enabled to take short cuts by nanny agencies just interested in the placement fee. In defence of employers who do not usually employ nannies (their children are normally in nursery or school), they can be forgiven for assuming that if they use a nanny agency, checks have already taken place and all nannies introduced to them are eligible to work in the UK, have the necessary insurance, DBS, first aid and so on.

We’ve heard from many teachers and hospital frontline staff who are still in work who are desperately looking for childcare to look after their own children. When speaking to them you discover that they were not aware that anyone can call themselves a nanny, that they’re not registered or regulated. Teachers and health professionals work within a heavily regulated and scrutinised profession and wrongly assume that the whole of the childcare industry does too. Not so.

This feels like a disaster waiting to happen and the people most at risk are children. We would urge all nannies to keep themselves updated by regularly logging in to the government website 

Nannies who belong to BAPN are being kept up-to-date via our weekly bulletins and our closed Facebook group BAPN’s Place.

Parents looking for a nanny, even emergency short notice, should only use nanny agencies who belong to either ANA (the Association of Nanny Agencies) or REC (the Recruitment and Employment Confederation) both of whom require their nanny agencies to work within a strict code of conduct or, agencies who have signed up to the Safer Online Recruitment – a Self-Regulatory Framework.   Should they prefer to use an online service, we would recommend Nannyjob as they are signatories to the  Safer Online Recruitment – a Self-Regulatory Framework

BAPN is highlighting this development in support all nannies, to make sure they are not exploited and to inform parents of the dangers of using social media to find safe childcare.

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