A guide to nanny holiday: What the law says… and what people actually do

No matter which form of childcare you choose, you’ll need to plan for holiday periods. Childminders, nurseries, nannies… they all have a few weeks a year where they shut their doors and go and have a nice long break somewhere where tiny people don’t follow them into the loo.

Nanny holiday is more flexible than most other childcare options, but there are a few legal minimums and customary practices to be aware of. In this blog, we outline both the legal stuff and the ‘done thing’ in London. Don’t worry if it seems complicated -- if you’re using the Koru Kids service we will help you along the way so you don’t need to remember all the gory details.

(A caveat for this blog: the legal bits do change from time to time. Check here for the latest.)

Let’s start with the basics.

Nannies have a legal minimum annual leave entitlement

  • The current legal minimum paid annual leave for a nanny is 5.6 weeks. For a full time nanny, that works out as 28 days including bank holidays, or 20 days excluding bank holidays
  • If your nanny works more than 5 days/week, their legal minimum entitlement is still capped at 28 days
  • Of course, you can always agree more than this if you like. If you do choose to give more, you can set rules for the extra, for example that the nanny has to be employed for a certain amount of time before they’re eligible for it.
  • Like everyone else, nannies continue to accrue annual leave during maternity leave and sick leave

For part-timers, the entitlement is ‘pro-rated’, i.e. scaled down in proportion to their hours

  • A part time nanny’s annual leave entitlement is also based on 5.6 weeks, but their ‘week’ doesn’t translate into the same number of days. Instead, it gets scaled down (or ‘pro-rated’, as the contract might say)
  • So for example, if a nanny works 3 days per week, their holiday entitlement is 5.6 weeks x 3 days, which is 16.8 days of annual leave
  • What’s a ‘day’ worth? Whatever their normal working day is. For example, for an after school nanny working 3pm-6pm, the ‘day’ might be 3 hours long

Term-time only nannies are also entitled to holiday pay

  • Nannies are entitled to holiday pay even if they are only employed for term time in their contract -- and even if it’s a fixed term employment
  • To figure out the amount owing, you use the same principle as above. Two examples:
  • If Nanny A is a 5 day/week worker for the whole year, Nanny A accrues 5.6 weeks. So if Nanny A works 5 days/week for term time -- let’s say that’s 75% of the year -- Nanny A accrues 75% of 5.6, which is 4.2 weeks.
  • If Nanny B works term time like Nanny A, but only works 2 days in a working week, then Nanny B accrues 2/5ths of 4.2 weeks, which is 1.68 weeks. You then translate those ‘weeks’ back into days, which means Nanny B accrues 3.36 days of leave.
  • As above, a ‘day’ is however long their normal working day is. For example, if Nanny B’s normal working day is only 3 hours long, then they’ve accrued 3 hours x 3.36 of annual leave, or 10.08 hours.
  • Once you’ve figured out the hours owing, you can then use the nanny’s hourly rate to figure out the pounds.

Calculating holiday if your nanny works irregular hours is a bit more complicated

  • If your nanny doesn’t work the same hours each week, it is a bit more complicated to figure out the holiday pay owed
  • In essence, you do it based on historical actual hours worked, by taking an average of the previous 12 weeks of work
  • There are some wrinkles if a nanny has only just begun work, or hasn’t worked in every week for the last 12 weeks. If you need this detail, check out this government advice

To pay annual leave, you can either bundle it with wages, or pay for non-working days

There is no ‘official government’ way of actually paying holiday pay. However there are two established and common methods. Either is fine. You can:

(a) bundle the payment with the normal pay. In this case you must make sure that the payslip is clear about what is annual leave and what is normal pay. In this case, the nanny won’t be paid during the days/weeks they’re not working

(b) don’t bundle, and just keep paying the nanny for the extra paid annual leave days. This means the nanny will be paid during the days/weeks they’re on paid leave.

Legally, the employer has the right to choose holiday days (but read the next section!)

  • So long as the nanny gets the total amount of holiday they are entitled to by law, it’s the employer’s right to choose when the nanny takes their holidays
  • As part of this, there is no automatic right for nannies (or any workers) to have bank holidays as a day off. If an employer wants to require the nanny to work on those days, they are entitled to do so
  • However, it is conventional in nanny world to share the choice of holiday days, and for nannies to get bank holidays off.  Keep reading…

What people actually do

  • What’s usually in nanny contracts is this: 20 days annual leave plus 8 public holidays. That 4 weeks of annual leave is then split into two weeks chosen by each party -- two weeks by the nanny and two by the parents.  This is such a common practice that many nannies won’t accept a job that didn’t have this 2 week/ 2 week split
  • It’s also usual for the contract to specify a 6-week notice period for holidays, although in practice people usually give a lot more notice than this. Since the nanny will probably want to go away with other people who have their own schedules too, they generally value as much notice as possible -- 6 months is great if possibl e.

 

What do you do if…

… The family takes extra holiday during the year – does the nanny still get paid?

  • Yes, the nanny should get paid unless the contract explicitly says otherwise. In this regard nannies are like any other form of childcare—you don’t get a discount from nursery or a childminder if you take your child out for a day or two unexpectedly
  • While you’re off on holiday, it’s reasonable to ask your nanny to do child-related special projects like spring cleaning the children’s room, batch cooking for the freezer, or sorting out clothes and toys.
  • Occasionally you hear of a family who asks a nanny to look after other kids (e.g. a sister’s children) while their employer is away. You can always ask but - just to let you know - most nannies would consider this a BIG favour. It’d be wise to ask very nicely about anything of this nature, and throw in a sweetener such as other time off, or a gift or bonus.

...The nanny wants to take more holiday than is in the contract?

  • If the nanny wants to take more holiday than is in the contract -- and assuming you agree with it - this would usually be unpaid.
  • A common alternative is for this time to be ‘banked’—meaning that the nanny makes up the lost time by doing extra hours babysitting or working additional days. This is a bit more complicated as it involves keeping good records and agreeing the extra hours, but could work well if you need to build up flexibility ahead of a period of long hours at work

...You’re hiring a new nanny and they already have more than two weeks’ holiday planned?

  • Legally, you aren’t obliged to give any of the planned leave as holiday - your employee is requesting, and you can decline that request. But practically, you need to forge a good relationship with your nanny. Assuming the planned leave doesn’t suit your family, you have three options:

(a) Don’t hire that nanny

(b) Give all that time as paid

(c) Give half that time as paid and half as unpaid

  • Just so you know, nannies are divided on whether (c) is fair.

Overwhelmed by all this detail? Don’t worry. Like everything else, you can just take it step by step. If you’re using the Koru Kids service, we’ll help you make sure the contract is right and can advise on questions that arise.