Nanny employers must be aware of auto-enrolment pension changes

Any family which employs a nanny or other private household worker will now need to contribute to their pensions, as the latest phase of the automatic enrolment rules come into effect.

The pensions shake-up – the first stage of which was introduced by the government back in 2012 – was always intended to bring even the country’s smallest employers into the contributions fold, but so-called ‘micro-employers’ will now have no choice but to get their paperwork in order as soon as possible.

As of the start of October 2017, anyone who employs a nanny, cleaner or other domestic staff member (including carers) must contribute the equivalent of a minimum of 1% of their monthly salary towards their employees’ pension pot, provided the worker is 22 years old or over, earns at least £10,000 per year and is not already enrolled in another workplace scheme.

Rupert Jones, writing in the Guardian, notes that – despite the long-established timetable for the rule changes – it is possible that some families may still be taken by surprise because “of course, many of the smallest employers don’t think of themselves as such – they are individuals who just happen to have someone who works for them”.

Further contribution rises on the horizon

Fortunately, help is at hand in the form of the Pensions Regulator, which has an informative help section designed to teach people who are employing workers for the first time all they need to know about their contributions arrangements.

Something else which is important to bear in mind is that employers’ monthly contributions will not remain static indefinitely, even if their employees pay does not change from year to year. Contribution rates are pencilled in for the start of the next two financial years (April 2018 and 2019), which will typically raise employer contributions to 2% and 3% of the employee’s salary respectively.

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Mattel scraps controversial ‘virtual nanny’ device

The US-based toy manufacturer Mattel has decided to scrap its controversial ‘virtual nanny’ system, Aristotle, following privacy concerns being raised by a number of campaign groups.

As we reported in January, Mattel announced plans at the start of the year for what it thought could have been a highly lucrative product – an artificial intelligence-powered device which had multiple functions designed to, in the company’s words, “aid parents…to make it easier for them to protect, develop, and nurture the most important asset in their home – their children”.

The various functions of the Aristotle device were supposedly to have included the ability to sing lullabies and tell bedtime stories, as well as being able to gauge when a particular product (such as nappies) was running low and automatically reordering them.

Perhaps most controversial of all, however, was the small camera which came with the device and was supposed to have acted as a visual baby monitor. Campaigners were quick to express their worries that the camera – as it was part of a connected device – could potentially have been breached by hackers.

“Aristotle isn’t a nanny, it’s an intruder”

In July, Mattel appointed a new chief technology officer – Sven Gerjets – who decided to review the feasibility and reputational risk of releasing Aristotle, eventually coming to the conclusion that doing so would not have been worth the potential consequences.

Gerjets’ choice will no doubt have been influenced by the extremely negative press Aristotle has received from some quarters ever since it was unveiled in January: Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, an influential US group, released a statement arguing that “Aristotle isn’t a nanny, it’s an intruder. Children’s bedrooms should be free of corporate snooping”, as reported by the BBC.

Mattel’s decision will no doubt be welcomed by the many experienced and highly qualified nannies and other domestic household staff – and their employers – who will be all too aware that there can be no real substitute for the care and compassion of a real guardian.

Image Credit: Jenna Norman