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Employing Domestic Workers UK

Check to see if you would get considered as an employer of your nanny, childcare worker, or au pair. This section explains the rules for employing someone to work in your home.

DOMESTIC HELPERS: It would not be uncommon to hire another person to lend a helping hand at your home.

People often get extra help with house chores from housekeepers, nannies, and gardeners.

But, you need to find out whether they would in fact then become your employee.

Employing Someone on a Casual Basis

The United Kingdom has specific rules on employing someone to work at your home. In most cases, you become the employer of a person if you hire them and they are not classed as self-employed or paid by an agency.

It means you would then have some responsibilities for your home helper. This can include their pay rate, NIC, and income tax returns. The person helping you at home could then have entitlement to employees rights under UK law.

Carers and Personal Assistants

Making direct payments to a carer or a personal assistant means you can get classed as an employer. It applies even if the money comes from the NHS or your local council as ‘direct payments‘ to pay for their service.

Contact your local council for information on organisations that help with employer responsibilities. They can give advice about recruiting and paying for carers and personal assistants.

Note: Special rules apply when employing an au pair as a home helper. This is because au pairs are not usually considered as workers or as employees.

Rights of Employees

According to employees’ rights, if you employ someone on a casual basis that person must:

Providing the employee meets the eligibility requirements they are also likely to have entitlement to:

Tax Laws for Employing People at Home

If you get classed as the employer of a domestic helper you must:

In most cases, as the employer you would also become responsible for:

  • Deducting and paying the employee’s Income Tax and National Insurance contributions.
  • Paying statutory benefits (e.g. maternity pay and sick pay).
  • Paying for mileage if the employee uses their own car for work.
  • Providing the employee with their own car (including tax and insurance).

Note: Even if you do get classed as an employer you cannot ask your employee to become self-employed.

Employing an Au Pair

As a rule, au pairs often live at the same home of the family they work for. Thus, they do not usually get classed as a worker or an employee for employment status purposes. But, au pairs do not have the usual entitlement to paid holidays or the National Minimum Wage.

Au pairs get treated as a member of the family they live. That means they receive ‘pocket money’ instead of remuneration. A typical rate of pay for an au pair is around £85 per week in the United Kingdom.

Note: Depending on how much pocket money they get, the au pair may have to pay Income Tax and National Insurance.

An au pair is not generally classed as a worker or an employee if they:

  • Are a foreign national living with a family in the United Kingdom.
  • Are an EU citizen or have entered the United Kingdom on a Youth Mobility visa or student visa.
  • Are visiting Britain on a cultural exchange program.
  • Have got a signed letter of invitation from the host family that includes details of their stay. For example, accommodation, living conditions, approximate working hours, free time, pocket money.
  • Learn about British culture from the host family and share their own culture with them.
  • Have their own private room in the house which gets provided for them free of charge.
  • Eat their main meals with the host family (without charge).
  • Help with light housework and childcare for around 30 hours a week. This usually includes several evenings of babysitting duty.
  • Get a reasonable amount pocket money (e.g. £50-100 per week).
  • Can attend English language classes at a local college in their spare time.
  • Are allowed time to study and can practice their English with the host family.
  • Sometimes go on holiday with the host family and help to take care of the children.
  • Can travel home to see their family during the year.

An Example: Sofia came to the United Kingdom from Spain to learn English. She lives at the same home as her host family and takes part in most of the family events (e.g. day trips and holidays). Sofia eats her meals with the family and does light housework. She also performs childcare duties for 4 or 5 hours a day. Sofia also babysits a few times a week.

Sofia has two free days each week and she studies English language at a local college two afternoons a week. She spent 3 weeks in Spain last year visiting her own family. Sofia also went on holiday with her host family.

The laws do not class Sofia as a worker or an employee in the United Kingdom. She gets £70 per week in pocket money and she does not pay National Insurance or tax.

More information for au pairs and host families is available on the ‘British Au Pair Agencies Association’ website.

Rules for Employing Domestic Workers at Home in the United Kingdom