Traditionally the UK childcare market has been flooded with French, Italian and other Western European girls. Now many parents are finding that Australasians are far more easy going, there are no language barriers and they have a great reputation for fitting in without a fuss. The result has been falling business for many agencies dealing in European girls, most agencies will now fall over themselves to get a good supply of qualified Australian and New Zealand girls. One agency owner commented 'If I could just have Aussie and Kiwi nannies on my books I would. They're sensible and reliable - everybody loves them!'
Lured by the UK's proximity to the continent a lot of girls come to earn enough money to spend the summer travelling round Europe. It is relatively easy for them to get work permits and we are seeing more and more of them.
Some parents remain anxious about employing Australian and New Zealand girls because they feel that it is uncertain whether they will stick around but it is reasonable to expect a six-month or a year long commitment.
To work as a nanny, girls need a recognised certificate in childcare or to have worked as a nanny for 1-2 years. Employers will want to see references. Many need a nanny who drives and fortunately an Australian driving license is valid for one year in the UK.
The main qualification for Australian nannies is the TAFE (Technical and Further Education) certificate. It takes two years to study for and is the equivalent of a BTEC. New Zealanders gain a New Zealand National Nanny Certificate - again a two-year course.
Girls who have not worked as a nanny before can work as a Mother's Help. This involves looking after the children while the mother is at home and perhaps for short periods alone, plus helping with housework. Babysitting experience is an advantage and again references will be required.
Work permits & Visas
This is the first things that Australian and New Zealand girls should take care of before they even begin looking for a job. Most girls tend to apply for a two-year working holiday visa, known a aTier 5 youth mobility visa, which allows them to work for two years. To apply for this visa you have to be aged between 17-27. If a girl is older she can still apply for a work permit but she would be extremely lucky to get one. Alternatively, if a girl has British grandparents she can claim 'grand patriality' and is entitled to work here for four years. It is much easier for Australian and New Zealanders to come and work in Britain than it is the other way round.
There are several nanny agencies who specialise in placing Australian and New Zealand nannies and will even help with organising work permits and visas.
Cost of Living
British house prices and rents have shot up - in London rents are considered to be astronomical compared to the rest of the country (you can't get much for less than £100/ A$250 per week). Living in means girls can save a small fortune on rent, however many opt to share accommodation and it is not unusual to find up to six girls living in a three bedroom flat.
Australian and New Zealand nannies are liable for tax. It is their employer's duty to pay tax and national insurance contributions every month and sort out the paper work in exactly the same way as they would if they were employing a British nanny. (Taxation)
Most girls will naturally want to sign up with an agency before they leave so they can be guaranteed work on arrival.
Charlotte May of Nannies Incorporated in London says: Agencies should establish that visas are in order and check references before the girls arrive in the UK. The agency can then line up job interviews almost immediately.
Girls often arrive jet-lagged and a little disorientated. Allowing them a week or two to adjust and settle in will be much better than crashing into a job in a busy household within a couple of days. A good agency will advise on where to stay and some even arrange accommodation during the interview period.
Working for a British family
One of the biggest complaints from Australian nannies is the hours as British working mothers tend to have a longer working day. In the UK nannies can easily work a 12-hour day. 7:30 am to 7pm is not unusual and there are usually two evenings babysitting. These hours tend to be far longer than in Australia or New Zealand where many nannies are used to 'knocking off' at 5pm. However most agencies would recommend that both sides agree a contract or a 'terms of employment' statement that they sign before the contract begins so everyone knows exactly where they stand when it comes to hours and conditions.
There are plenty of likeminded Australasian girls who quickly build up networks and agencies often put them in touch with each other.
A good nanny agency will have a policy of 'aftercare' - that is looking after girls and their interests well after they have settled, or not as the case may be, into a job. Some agencies have an eight-week guarantee period and are there to sort out problems for you if things are difficult.
If there is a family illness or unforeseen circumstances agencies and employers will usually be understanding. Some agencies will even arrange flights back home.
Girls should beware of any agency that try to pressure them into taking a job that is not right for them. They should always make sure they are 100 per cent sure of the job before they accept it. Agencies that deal with Australian and New Zealand girls are:
Useful phone numbers
Australian High Commission - 0207 379 4334
New Zealand High Commission - 0207 930 8422
South Africa House - 0207 930 4488
Directory enquiries - 192
International directory enquiries - 153
Emergencies - 999
Combi vans - 020 7840 0498