As a nanny agency your first point of contact with a nanny may be either your registration form or a registering interview. The questions asked can highly influence a nanny’s decision whether they really want to be on your books.

There are certain questions which we are seeing and hearing about again and again here at Nalo which are illegal.

The Equality Act 2010 makes it unlawful to discriminate against someone because of one or more protected characteristics. The protected characteristics are: age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation. So let’s take a look at how some of these protected characteristics are being ignored.

We understand you may say “but my clients always ask” - let your client know that they too are breaking the law. You will both be held liable.

Racial Discrimination

The Equality Act 2010 makes it unlawful for an employer to discriminate against race. Race includes: colour, nationality and ethnic or national origins.

Examples:

  • Where were you born?
  • What is your native tongue?
  • How long have you lived here?
  • Are you a UK citizen?
  • Is English your first language?
  • What is your nationality?

What you can ask:

  • Are you eligible to work in the UK?
  • What languages do you fluently write or speak?

Religious Discrimination

Asking what religion nannies practice or how they practise it can be a sign of religious discrimination.

Examples:

  • What is your religion?
  • Do you celebrate Christmas?

What you can ask:

  • The job may require you to partake in different religious celebrations, are you able to meet this need?
  • Can you think of any personal reasons you may not be suitable for this role?

Age Discrimination

You should avoid asking for the applicant’s age or date of birth on application forms. Although it is not discriminatory to ask a nanny’s age, if they do not get the job they may claim that the fact the employer did ask is evidence of discrimination.

Apart from in very limited circumstances of what the law calls an ‘occupational requirement’ or where the decision can be objectively justified, an employer must not suggest to the agency that it only wants applicants of a particular age. And apart from in these very limited circumstances, an agency must not follow such an instruction or, for example, decide itself to only put forward young applicants. Neither should it pass on the applicant’s age to the employer. Both the agency and the employer can be liable for discriminatory acts.

Examples:

  • How old are you?
  • Date of birth?
  • What year did you leave school?

What you can ask:

  • How many years experience do you have in childcare?
  • Are you over 18 years of age?
  • What recent skills and experiences have you acquired in the last two years?

Sexual Discrimination

Interviewers should not make any reference to a nanny’s marital status, children they may have now or in the future or their sexual preference.

Examples:

  • Are you married?
  • Do you plan to get married?
  • How many children do you have?
  • How old are your children?
  • Are you planning to have children?
  • Will the job hours clash with your family commitments?
  • What is your sexual orientation?

What you can ask:

  • Are you interested in ‘Nanny with own child’ positions?
  • Do you have any current commitments which may affect your ability to do the job?
  • Have you ever worked under another name?
  • Are you able to work overtime on occasion?
  • What is your experience with 'X' age group?

Disability Discrimination

When you are applying for a job, employers may legally ask for details of a nanny’s health or whether they have a disability but The Equality Act 2010 places some limits on questions an employer can rightfully ask.

An employer is obliged to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to accommodate a disabled person. If a candidate is unable to do the job despite adjustments being made, then the employer is allowed to reject the application.

There may also in some circumstances be a time you need to check a candidate has a specific disability where having such is a genuine requirement of the job. Such 'occupational requirements' are governed by their own rules under the Equality Act, and cannot just be down to an employer's preferences.

Examples:

  • How did you acquire your disability?
  • Don’t you think it will be difficult to do this job with your disability?
  • How many sick days did you take in your last position?

What you can ask:

  • Are there any adjustments we might need to make to accommodate your disability?
  • How might you be able to carry out xxxxxx function of the job?
  • Are you able to carry out the specific duties of this position?

Non-Relevant Questions

Questions such as physical appearance, lifestyle choices, and candidates family should not be asked as they are not relevant to the nanny position. You should also not be asking for a photograph of the nanny.

Examples:

  • What is your height?
  • How much do you weigh?
  • What dress size are you?
  • What colour are your eyes and hair?
  • Do you smoke?
  • What are your parents’ jobs?
  • Do you have any siblings? What are their ages?
  • Do you own your home?

What you can ask:

  • Would you be willing to abide to a dress code?
  • Do you currently use illegal drugs?
  • You would not be able to smoke whilst in care of children, would this be an issue?
  • Are you able to carry children?
  • Are you a non-smoker? (Only applicable if it is an occupational requirement and reason must be given).

You may wish to have a seperate form to monitor diversity, where you could ask for age, nationality, disabilities and so on. However this information should be kept confidential and seperate from the application form and would not contain the nanny’s name.

Take a look the Equality and Diversity Monitoring Form by Acas.

We hope this information will help you to reassess your registration forms and improve your practice.
It is important to us to help promote the best nanny agencies with our Nalo Halo award. Take a look to see if you meet our criteria.

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