Covid-19 and the Effect on Nannies
Posted on 31st March 2020
On 23rd March, the Prime Minister placed the UK on lockdown in an attempt to slow the spread of the Coronavirus. We are only permitted to leave the house for 4 reasons, one of which is to work, if you absolutely cannot work from home.
There is clear guidance in place for Schools, Nurseries and Childminders to close, and this message was delivered by Ofsted as their governing body. As usual, Nannies are ‘forgotten’.
So many questions from Nannies; are they expected to attend work as normal? Should they be attending work as normal? If they don’t feel comfortable with continuing to work, will they be paid? Does their insurance still cover them if they choose to work?
It is clear Nannies cannot work from home - but attending work as a Nanny also contradicts two other points that everyone has been asked to follow (not mixing households and staying 2 meters from other people). This past week has been hugely confusing for Nannies and Nanny Employers alike.
ANA – The Association of Nanny Agencies (of which Rosebud Nanny Agency is a committee member) has worked tirelessly to get answers to the questions.
The bottom line (after much clarification from lawyers, Ofsted, government officials and the Department of Education) is that nannies CAN continue to work following the current guidelines, although it’s down to the nanny and his/her employer to decide if its ‘essential’. Some families have already stood down their Nanny as they feel able to juggle work and caring for their own children through lockdown, however some simply cannot work from home without childcare in place.
The next announcement – the government have introduced a ‘Job Retention Scheme’ whereby an employee can agree with their employer to be placed on ‘furlough’ leave throughout the Covid-19 crisis. The government have advised that up to 80% (capped at £2’500 per month) of the employee’s pay would be refunded by the government.
This was a big move to try and stop the sheer number of people losing their jobs whilst they are unable to work. Excellent news, and a big relief to many – but again, what about nannies? As before, nobody has given the Nanny industry a second thought.
A Nanny employer is technically classed as a small business and uses PAYE to pay their nanny – which is one of the requirements for eligibility – however, nannies are still classed as ‘domestic staff’ (an outdated term) and this required some clarity.
Again, ANA set to work trying to get a firm yes or no answer. Payroll companies across the country couldn’t be sure. HMRC refused to commit in writing. Ofsted washed their hands of it. After days of confusion, ANA finally got our answer!
Today (31st March) Rosebud Nanny Agency received notification from Member of Parliament Bim Afolami, MP for Harpenden and Hitchin, stating that the Treasury has advised that Nanny Employers, who employ though the PAYE scheme (as long as the nanny was on the payroll before 28 February 2020) will be eligible for the Government Job Retention Scheme should they decide to furlough their Nanny. Such excellent news for nannies and their employers!
Points of clarity regarding Furlough:
The discussion is to be between the Employer and the Employee and both parties need to agree. It is not for the Employee to simply decide they are no longer going in to work and in return demand to be paid. If Nannies behave in this way they could face disciplinary action.
The family can only furlough your role if they do not require a replacement childcarer. Upon coming to an agreement, it must be put in writing with particulars of the furlough set out as a written document, signed by both parties.
The refund payable to the employer will be 80% (capped at £2,500) of the Nanny’s monthly salary.
The employer can (but doesn’t have to) top up the additional 20% so the employee receives their full wage, however the additional 20% will not be refunded.
To qualify, the nanny must have commenced work before 28th February 2020, and be on the payroll by that date. The employee must be paid through a PAYE scheme.
Furlough is processed in 3 weeks blocks, can be backdated to 1st March and at present will run for three months (although the government have said they will extend further if required).
The scheme covers employees who were made redundant since 28th Feb 2020, if they are rehired by their employer.
If you have more than one job, you can be furloughed from one or both positions.
In practical terms, the employer will be required to continue paying their Nanny in the usual way and it is expected the portal where the employer can apply for the refund will be live by the end of April 2020. We need to appreciate, the job retention scheme has been recently introduced due to COVID-19 and they are still working on building the platform.
They are hopeful the scheme will be running by end of April 2020 and the employer can claim back the money, but you must continue to pay your nanny in the meantime.
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