Nannies and redundancy
The essential nature of nannying means that many jobs come to a natural end as children become older. This may result in a redundancy situation. How this is dealt with is often a cause of concern for nannies and their employers alike. There is a common misconception that special redundancy arrangements apply to nannies and other domestic staff but this is not the case.
What is redundancy?
A redundancy is a type of dismissal. It occurs when an individual’s job disappears due to one of a number of possible factors, including when the employer no longer has a need for a certain type of work to be performed. For a nanny, this may occur because their employer no longer needs childcare. Another common scenario that may result in redundancy for a nanny is when the employer’s childcare needs change so substantially that the original job is unrecognisable.
Redundancy notice periods and consultation
UK law protects individuals from being made redundant without appropriate notice and consultation. Consultation means that the employer must explain why the redundancy is necessary and discuss whether there are any alternatives. If the redundancy is unavoidable, the affected person must be given a notice period. The periods are prescribed by law and provide for a minimum of:
• one week’s notice for an employee who has been employed for between one month and two years;
• one week’s notice for each year of employment between two years and twelve years;
• twelve weeks’ notice for an employee who has been employed for twelve years or more.
It is also possible that the contract contains a notice period. This must not be less than the statutory minimum.
The employment contract may make provision for contractual redundancy pay. If there is no such provision, UK law prescribes for redundancy pay in certain situations. This is called statutory redundancy pay. Employees with a minimum of two years’ continuous service with the same employer are entitled to:
• 0.5 weeks’ pay for each full year of service completed while they were under 22 years old;
• 1 week’s pay for each full year of service completed while they were aged 22 or older but under 41;
• 1.5 week’s pay for each full year of service completed while they were aged 41 or over.
Employees can claim statutory redundancy pay for a maximum of 20 years’ service. Weekly pay is capped at a nationally-prescribed level. In 2017-2018, the level is £489. Employees who are eligible for statutory redundancy pay cannot receive a lower contractual amount as an alternative.
Common redundancy problems affecting nannies
Many nanny jobs have a natural end point, which is often when the youngest child of a family starts nursery, pre-school or infant school. Sometimes parents try to incorporate new elements into the nanny’s job, such as housekeeping tasks, but many nannies are unhappy with this. However, unless the nanny’s employment contract states that he or she must undertake such tasks if required, this is likely to be a redundancy situation because the original job has changed to such an extent that it no longer exists.
Where there is an ongoing childcare requirement
If the employer still requires childcare, albeit in a different form, they must offer the position to their existing nanny. However, he or she is entitled to decline it, without affecting his or her redundancy rights, if the new role is not comparable in terms of pay, hours, working conditions and requisite skills and experience.
Some contracts contain a mobility clause, which obliges the employee to move with the job. A nanny whose contract contains such a clause is not redundant if his or her employers move in within the constraints of the mobility clause. However, without appropriate contractual provision, it is a potential redundancy situation if a live-in nanny is required to become a live-out nanny, or vice versa.
Replacing a redundant nanny
Replacing a redundant nanny with an individual on the same terms and conditions of employment as the first is likely to amount to unfair dismissal of the first individual. This can result in a tribunal ordering the employer to pay compensation to the unfairly dismissed person.
Maternity, paternity, adoption or shared parental leave
Although nannies on maternity, paternity, adoption or shared parental leave cannot be made redundant because of the fact they are on leave (or are intending to take leave), they can be made redundant for other reasons. Some nannies may suspect that their employer makes them redundant because it seems easier to continue using the alternative childcare that was put in place to cover the period of leave. This can be difficult for a nanny to prove but it helps if the replacement is performing the same duties on the same terms and conditions.