Why You Should Nanny Through An Agency.
While operating as a ‘solo’ nanny may seem an attractive idea at first – ‘being your own boss’ and all that – in practice it can be challenging. Here are seven reasons why it is worth considering working through an agency rather than going it alone.
It’s a paradox, given a nanny is almost always working with other people, but being a nanny can be a lonely existence. Yes, you have your Client parents who you can discuss many child-related concerns with, but at the end of the day they are your employers and so there will always be some things you are reticent to raise. On the other hand, should you have issues with those parents, you can hardly raise those with the kids! Working through an agency gives you people to discuss your concerns with, whether it is the agency staff or other nannies. A reputable agency will also have established procedures in place for dealing with even the most awkward or confronting situations that could arise. With an agency, you’re not on your own.
If you’re serious about nannying as a career you’ll be serious about learning all you can from the experience of those who’ve gone before you. Working through an agency provides you with access to a whole range of experience, and often the potential to receive mentoring over time from someone who’s ‘been there before’. This is an invaluable resource you won’t get working on your own.
‘A problem shared is a problem halved’ goes the old saying. Working with a reputable agency provides you with a network of other nannies on whom you can call to discuss just about any challenge. This network will also be an ongoing resource for comparing ideas and sharing experiences.
The only circumstances in which you can legally work as a ‘solo’ nanny are if you are directly and ‘properly’ employed by the people you are working for. It is illegal under Australian law to work for cash-in-hand: you cannot legally earn money that is not being declared to the tax department (ATO). On the other hand you cannot work as a contractor (using your own ABN) unless you are operating a legitimate business, which includes not having all your income from one client. In either case you are likely to be exposed to the risks of not having workers compensation cover, professional liability and superannuation guarantee payments. An agency looks after all this legality and bureaucracy for you – you are free to just get on with being the best nanny you can be.
To be a great nanny you need to be trained – and regularly retrained – in areas like first aid and managing behaviours. While a solo nanny can probably source much of this training herself, chances are it will be expensive and may not be directly relevant to nannying and child care. Agencies, on the other hand, can target industry-specific training programs and provide that training at a low cost, if not no cost.
Like every other field of human endeavour, the field of child care is constantly changing. Every day there are innovations and revelations in everything from first aid to education to health and wellbeing. Good agencies are well placed to stay on top of these developments and to share them with their nannies via regular professional development workshops. This is much harder to do on your own, where you are necessarily much more isolated from what’s going on in the wider world of the industry.
Of course it is possible for the nanny who goes it alone to have the respect of her clients and those she is caring for. But sadly in our experience this respect is by no means guaranteed. For instance, it doesn’t take much for a client’s perception of you to shift from ‘professional nanny’ to ‘housekeeper’. As an agency, we won’t tolerate disrespectful behaviour from anyone: client or otherwise. Work through a good agency and – provided you earn it – you can be assured of respect from the agency staff, from your colleagues and from your clients.