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From time to time the question arises as to whether it would be an issue if staff are involved in babysitting for the children who attend the nursery. In the past I have seen notices in Nurseries advertising the staff who can babysit your child, though these signs of endorsement seem to be a thing of the past.

Determining Your Approach

From a HR perspective I think there are several things to consider before you decide on your approach to babysitting, these may include:

  1. How does staff babysitting the children possibly impact on the staff member’s ability to be objective and safeguard that child. Babysitting is often seen as a safeguarding issue. No one wants to see ‘lines blurred’.
  2. If the only reason the parent knows of the babysitter is you; would they believe you are responsible for the transaction? If the staff member lets them down will you be asked to get involved?
  3. What about this question of liability? Can an employer really wash their hands of any liability when as we’ve said before, you introduced the staff member to the parent, they work with the child during the day, you’ve said they are trained and qualified. Would your disclaimer be effective or ineffective, do you know?
  4. What happens if the unthinkable happens? You will have a staff member who can’t function, a parent who will be looking for someone to blame, a child no longer at your setting, and the press will go to town that he/she was babysitting for the child at the time.
  5. What about income? Staff who babysit should be registered self employed, pay tax on their second income and have their own professional liability and public liability insurance.
  6. What would your insurer say about the arrangement?
  7. What about confidentiality, could it be breached more easily with this arrangement? We’ve seen parents ‘tap the babysitter up for information’ about another family because the conversation was in their living room and they felt they could.
  8. What if the parents made an allegation that your staff member had abused their child? What would that mean?
  9. Can you add something to your contract with the parents that covers babysitting, would you enforce the clause if you needed to?
  10. What if the staff member saw something and they reported it to the relevant authorities, what would that mean?
  11. What about when the parent’s sexually harass the staff. We have had a number of situations over the years where parents have made ‘advances’. What happens when this in the Dad’s car when’s he’s driving the babysitter home. You would never forgive yourselves. We don’t DBS the parents!
  12. What about the ages of the children, your staff member may be experienced with older children and look after a baby.
  13. What if they use the paediatric first aid training you paid for and got it wrong, would you be liable?
Conclusion

We advise you take advise from your LA, safeguarding professionals and your peers and decide upon your own approach. Sadly I don’t think it is as easy as saying it happens outside of work, so it’s none of our business. It can easily become your business.

Here’s a link to the article in Nursery World about Plymouth Safeguarding Board, Serious Case Review following Vanessa George 

If we can be of any assistance with your babysitting policy or anything else, please do let us know 01527 526061.