Nannies and au pairs

How nannies and au pairs operate, the legalities, and other things to consider.

Age group - 0-16 years of age

Nannies and au pairs are employed by families to care for children in the family home. They often live in the home, but it is not essential.

Registration and inspection


Nannies do not have to be Ofsted registered by law, but can apply to register with Ofsted on a voluntary basis. If they do this they must already have a relevant childcare qualification, paediatric First Aid training and undergo a Disclosure and Barring Service criminal records check.

Au pairs

Au pairs are young people aged 18-30, who travel to the UK on an au pair scheme. They usually come to learn English and live with a host family, helping with light housework or babysitting in return for accommodation, food and some pocket money. As they are not usually trained childcarers they must not have sole charge of children under the age of two for long periods. Because of this they are generally not considered as being suitable to look after pre school-age children while you are at work, but they can be a good option for providing after school childcare.

Typical opening hours

They will usually work between 25-30 hours per week, spread out over five days, though some may work on an ad-hoc basis if required.

Help with the cost of using a nanny or au pair

Free Entitlement places are not available through nannies or au pairs. Working parents may get help with the costs of using an Ofsted registered nanny only.

Finding a nanny or au pair

Nannies are often found through word of mouth or via private agencies, which may charge fees for arranging a place. View a list of agencies on the Family Information Service website.

It is advisable to find an au pair through an agency. View more information on the British Au Pair Agencies Association website.

Last updated:
7 September 2023
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