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Check your nanny

2013 May 24

Even if you use an agency it’s your ultimate responsibility as the employer to check your nanny’s identity and references. You have certain obligations, such as checking their right to work in the UK, and should carry out other checks to make sure they’re a suitable person to be left in charge of your children and your home.

The right to work

It’s important to see your nanny’s passport, national identity card or other proof of nationality. British citizens and citizens of most other EU countries have unlimited rights to work so you can employ them without needing to see any other documents.

Bulgarian and Romanian nationals may be limited in the work they can do, for example they may have come to the UK as an au pair so they can only work 5 hours per day. The UKBA provides guidance on the documentation they may have and procedures you may need to follow.

Nationals of Australia, Canada, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea and Taiwan wanting to work as nannies can come over for a limited period on a tier 5 visa, known as the youth mobility scheme. While their visa is valid they can take any type of work and have full employment rights.

For nationals of other countries we advise seeking specialist advice as they may have the right to work, depending on their visa.

Qualifications and certificates

A nanny should be able to show you the original certificates for any qualifications gained. Check the dates on these against the nanny’s CV. If you aren’t sure what the qualification is then note down the exact details on the certificate and call the awarding body to verify the content of the course. CACHE certificates should also show the candidate’s PIN number, a unique reference which will allow CACHE to confirm what courses were studies and what qualifications were awarded.

You should also ask to see proof of insurance – both public liability to cover them while working as a nanny and car insurance with business cover if they’re using their own car for work.

If a nanny is OFSTED registered you should ask to see the certificate of registration, proof that they’ve covered the common core skills (either a Childcare qualification or a short course), their First Aid certificate and their public liability insurance to ensure they still meet the requirements of their registration.


At interview a nanny will probably show you written references from previous employers. They should also offer you contact details so you can follow up on these. It’s important to check these references carefully, because a written reference is designed to be a general indicator of the nanny’s performance and you will probably have more specific questions. A nanny might not want to give you the details for their current employer until a firm offer had been made. This is quite normal and not necessarily something to worry about!

When speaking to a referee confirm:

Their name and details

The ages of their children

The dates the nanny was employed

You might want to ask about:

Time off sick

Punctuality and reliability

How the nanny communicated with the parents

What sort of activities the nanny did with the children

Any disciplinary issues

The nanny’s cooking abilities

Whether the employer has any advice that will help the relationship run smoothly

Whether the employer would, under the same circumstances, re-employ the nanny

It’s important to speak to references with an open mind. A truly good reference should be open, enthusiastic and positive about the nanny’s record. Any hesitation or evasiveness is cause for concern. It might be helpful to remind the referee that any reference should be fair and accurate, so if they have something negative to say they won’t be penalised as long as they are honest about what happened.

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