The rule of six is the latest law to make headlines, but what does it really mean for nannies and nanny employers?
As you probably already know, any social gathering larger than six people - including children - is now illegal until further notice. Please note that all our interpretations are applicable to England only, with Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales having a slightly different approach.
The law is targeting social situations and does not apply to school or work settings. This means that even if you have a large household, a nanny or housekeeper can legally continue to work at their employer’s home as it counts as their workplace.
However, they will need to be careful when socialising with other nannies and the children they are looking after. Large play dates are now banned, with the largest possible party consisting of two nannies looking after two children each or three nannies looking after one child each.
This applies to both homes and playgrounds.
It's also important to note that this rule applies to children from the same school, even if they’re in the same classroom. While they can socialise in groups larger than six in school, they are subject to the rule of six elsewhere.
The same applies for play dates led by parents.
If you have concerns about whether or not your child is socialising enough in these tough times, check out our blog post on ways to develop your child’s social skills in lockdown, with top tips recommended by a child psychologist.
But what if someone falls ill…?
No matter how careful you and your nanny may be, you may still display symptoms, test positive, or be subject to self-isolation due to a contact with another person who tested positive.
In which case, you may be wondering what happens regarding a nanny’s duty to work and a parent’s duty to pay them. Let’s unpack different scenarios, one by one.
What happens a member of the employer’s household displays symptoms, tests positive, or needs to self-isolate?
If a parent is displaying symptoms/ has tested positive, the household needs to self-isolate. Live-out nannies should not be coming to work under any circumstances, but they should be getting paid normally. The nanny and employer may strike up an agreement to take holidays during that time, or to work different hours later on once the employer has recovered, but only if they explicitly agree.
If one of the parents needs to self-isolate (e.g. because they were in touch with someone who tested positive) other members of your household don’t necessarily have to (if they were not exposed and don't have symptoms). So, in theory, your nanny could continue to work, as long as they don’t get in touch with the self-isolating parent.
What happens if the nanny experiences symptoms, tests positive, or needs to self-isolate?
If they are a live-in nanny, they can continue to work in the household on the condition that they are still fit to work (for example, they are asymptomatic), but will not be able to leave the house, assuming that as a parent you are comfortable with this arrangement. If they are a live-out nanny, they will need to stay at home.
If your nanny is unable to work, they are entitled to statutory sick pay of £95.85, or if they have enough holiday allowance, can take holidays and should then be paid in full.
What if both the parent and the nanny need to self-isolate?
With the number of asymptomatic cases out there, and the shortage of tests, it can be very difficult to pinpoint whether it was the nanny or a member of the family who was exposed first. In most cases this can be impossible to figure out and may, consequently, lead to disputes around the level of pay.
While there is no concrete answer as to how to resolve this situation, it’s important for both parties to be fair and understanding, and come to a mutually fair and acceptable agreement between them.
Is the government still helping out financially?
Unless the nanny has been on the furlough scheme since July, employers will not be able to claim payment for their nanny under the scheme. They can, however, claim up to two weeks of sick leave pay from the government.
If you have been asked to self-isolate from the 28th September, you may be eligible to claim a lump sum of £500 under the Test and Trace Support Scheme, which will be fully implemented by the 12th October. Under this scheme, the government will offer financial support for those that will lose income as a result of not being able to work due to needing to self-isolate.
You will be eligible to claim if your situation matches all four of the following criteria:
- You have been asked to self-isolate by the track and trace system
- You are employed or self-employed
- You cannot work from home and risk losing income as a result
- You are claiming one of the following: universal credit; working tax credits; income-related employment and support allowance; income-based job seeker allowance; income support; pension credit; housing benefit
We know it can be tricky to navigate certain situations, and we’re here to help you. If you have any questions that haven't been answered by any of the above, feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll be in touch.
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