Should babysitters be paid minimum wage?

How much to pay babysitters
I have always looked after children even before having my own.  For my school work placements I worked in schools and was asked by a few of the parents to babysit their children in the evenings from the age of around 14.
After school I went onto college to study for my DNN (Diploma in Nursery Nursing) and during this time funded my going out, car, petrol and books etc. by babysitting for local families and the families from my college placements.
It was also during my second year in college I got a job as a mothers help. I would leave college around 5pm to go to their home and help the mum with the evening routine.  On the days I finished early I would cook dinner, the other times I would wash up, bath the children and help put them to bed. Then on occasional evenings I would babysit while the parents went out.
After college I worked in a Day Nursery for a year, babysitting a few of the children in the evenings if needed.
Then I became a Nanny working full time for a few families over the course of 14 years, most jobs lasting around 5 years at a time.  I would of course babysit if needed in the evenings.
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There has been a debate on the parenting site Mumsnet which was highlighted on ITV’s Good Morning Britain asking if babysitters are getting a bad deal?, the debate was sparked by a babysitter asking for a payrise from £6 per hour to £7.20 which is in line with the minimum wage, the mum who’s children she babysat felt this rise was too steep for ‘just sitting and watching TV’.  Seeing this debate unfold got me thinking about my own experiences and to ask friends on theirs.
When I was still at school aged 14 I would charge £5 per hour, while at college it raised to between £6-7.50 per hour, then once qualified it raised again to £8.50-10 an hour and once I’d left the Day Nursery and was working as a Nanny it increased again to £10 an hour (£12 on some occasions as this was my hourly wage).  I also increased my fees after midnight as it would mean driving home very late at night.
After having Emmy I set up a Nanny/Babysitting Agency with my old boss.  The babysitters on our books would charge between £6.50 per hour to £11 an hour depending on their age and experience, all of which were CRB checked and over 18 at the bare minimum.
I’ve never paid a babysitter for my own children because up until recently we didn’t go out and now grandparents help us out or my best friend and I then have her children in return.
As I’ve not paid for this myself I asked friends what they paid or would pay in their area and here’s what they had to say about babysitters :
  • Family Fever:  Not that we ever go out, but friends do, and they tend to pay between £10-20 for the evening, depending on how late they are out. I would definitely pay more for a qualified professional. I would want a babysitter to be 18+. I personally think you need to be an adult to look after someone else’s children. If there was an emergency situation, would a younger teenager know what to do?
  • A Cornish Mum:  We pay my boyfriend’s nephew to babysit, he’s been babysitting for us since he was 15 and since he’s family it is usually just £10 for the night and a takeaway. With my eldest having Type 1 Diabetes, I don’t trust many people with him, but the nephew has been trained by us and is an absolute gem. We’re in Cornwall and age doesn’t come in to it really, I would only ever trust family with my boys, but that’s purely down to health issues. I babysat from age 13 upwards for other children.
  • Tiaras and Welly Boots;  I pay teenagers £5 an hour, I started off as a babysitter at age 14 & am happy to pay girls the same age as I was. I pay older peeps £7 to £8 an hour, like nursery staff, but a Nanny charges £10 an hour to babysit in this area of Oxfordshire.
  • Hectic Diabectic:  The thought of leaving my daughter with a random person terrifies me, lol. I have a few select family members to babysit, My sister is just 18 so I’ll give her £15 and my WiFi & Netflix passwords. But it’s not often I ask, so she’s happy with that. As far as I’m aware there are no evening childminders in my local area.
  • Budding Smiles:  I’ve paid a friend’s teenager (15) £5p/h a couple of times. I wouldn’t have anyone I didn’t know but I trust the girl who’s looked after Toby. A friend and her two kids (7&9) also babysat once, the kids loved looking after Toby! I’m just outside of Peterborough
  • Hello Baby Blog:  We only use the girls at the children’s nursery to babysit, as we know them and the kids are comfortable with them putting them to bed etc if needs be. They charge between £8-£10 an hour. We live in Cheshire.
  • Blog by Baby:  I personally wouldn’t use someone who wasn’t qualified in some capacity and I would expect to pay £5 an hour like my childminder charges…maybe even more for later nights
  • Chelsea Mamma:  This is a tough one – I use and abuse my teens for this but Abbey does babysit for my friends at a much reduced rate than agencies cost. She is 22 and charges around £5 per hour but often gets more as they give her petrol money too or pay a taxi home.
    I trust my 15 year old to babysit too

It would seem that most of us would prefer to have a friend or family member babysit our children wherever possible, however as we know this isn’t always the case as not everyone lives close to their family or maybe estranged from them.  The next favourite option is older children if you have teenagers yourself, they may of course not like it but a little extra pocket money is always welcomed and a plus side is they know the children and the routines.

Teenagers are also a popular option and as was the case when I was a teenage babysitter £5 per hour still seems the norm or a set figure for the evening.  As a teenager babysitter I would only take on local jobs as there was still the case of getting home again, if it was a little further away I would expect a lift home (I’d never call my Dad to come to get me), it seems this is still the case although many have said they pay for cabs for their babysitters who don’t drive.

Also in-keeping with my previous rates, qualified professionals seem to charge up to £10 per house.

I think that qualified professionals or even those over 18 years of age should definitely be charging at least the minimum wage rate to babysit, it maybe a case of only sitting watching TV however this is not always the case and you are paying for the reassurance of someone knowing what to do in an emergency should the case arise.

A babysitter should be able to keep calm in an emergency and know exactly what to do, administer medication is needed, settle and soothe the children if they are upset or wake, cook for and feed the children if needed (if coming before bedtime), read them their bedtime stories, be in-charge of the house while you are away, wash up if they use any cups/plates etc. and be responsible at all times.

So while you may only pay for a sitter to look after the children and to sit watching TV while you are out, they have the responsibilities you do while they are out and it is this service you pay for as well.

I would much rather pay someone who is qualified, has a CRB check and has first aid training to care for my children so I have the reassurance that they would cope in an emergency and know what to do, and for this service I would expect to pay AT LEAST minimum wage.

Do you use a babysitter? What do you pay them and do you think minimum wage to too high?


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15 thoughts on “Should babysitters be paid minimum wage?

  1. Hmm. When in west London we used the workers from the kids nursery and paid them £10 per hour (plus we’d let them order Deliveroo) and if after 10pm I would pay for their cab. Now we’ve moved out of London we should probably pay a little less but we are struggling to get the girls at the nursery to babysit at all.

    However, the girls who looked after them felt like part of the family and would buy the kids presents, take them on days out without asking to be paid etc. We’d also take a nursery worker to Centerparcs and pay them £200 plus a spa treatment for five days, for which they would be expected to do about two hours per day and then babysit two evenings out of four. The rest of the time was theirs (although they would normally hang out with us anyway!)

  2. I have just done a spell of nannying and it is such long hours and demanding job! I have been asked to babysit on occasions but I do not think the minimum rate suffices, you are there on night shift and you should be compensates appropriately, in my opinion.xx

  3. We don't use a babysitter at all – we don't go out! [Feel bad for me, haha!] But if I did, I'd want a professional with first aid qualifications and a CRB check at least. My children are priceless, and I'd be terrified leaving them with another child.

  4. We go out a lot and have paid babysitters for years. Where I live in the South of France the going rate is above the minimum wage and is often even more than I used to get as a qualified and experienced teacher (admittedly I was badly paid!) We have spent a fortune on babysitters (who were all teenage friends, having no family in the area). Now my oldest is a babysitting teen himself and our budget has finally gone down but he earns good money, around 50€ an evening!

  5. It's really interesting reading what everyone would pay, I must admit I prefer relying on family, I have never used a babysitter outside of family, I would consider my best friends who have their own kids, but if I did have to have a babysitter I think its worth paying for the added security that they are CRB checked and more responsible x

  6. I've never had to pay a babysitter, I think I'd opt for family personlly, but I definitely think they deserve a proper wage. They're looking after your most precious things after all x

  7. A great post and a good debate. My eldest has been babysitting my own kids for an hour here and there since age 12. All of mine are now happy to babysit others who want a sitter at Coombe Mill, though I give them a radio to our house in case they need me. I leave the guests to agree their pay with my kids so it varies a lot but usually between £5 – £10 an hour.

  8. I never babysat, but I remember my parents paying my babysitter about £5 an hour and that was over 30 years ago. I would quite happily pay over minimum rate, not that we ever have anyone babysit!

  9. Great post lovely. I used to love babysitting when I was younger, my pay used to depend on how drunk the parents of the children were when they got back. New Year's Eve I always made what was a small fortune to me back then.

    Stevie x

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