Employing and Managing Early Years Staff

The skills and well-being of the staff in an early years provision are important factors in creating high standards of education and care for children. All early years providers must comply with employment law. This includes fulfilling responsibilities to staff by respecting their legal rights, and to the government by operating tax and other systems.

What are the Early Years Foundation Stage requirements for the employment and management of early years staff?

As set out in the safeguarding and welfare requirements of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), childcare providers have a duty of care to ensure any adults caring for the children are suitable to do so, and that staffing arrangements ensure the children are well supervised, kept safe and have their needs met.

Providers must have effective systems in place to ensure that anyone likely to have contact with children in their setting is suitable. A safe recruitment process must be followed when recruiting adults to work for the provision, ensuring that background checks are carried out on all new employees, and that they have the appropriate references, qualifications, knowledge and experience for their role.

 All staff must receive induction training, regular appraisals and supervisions.

Staff Ratios

The Early Years Foundation Stage statutory framework (EYFS) 3.28 sets out the requirements for staff to child ratios in settings delivering the EYFS and the qualification levels that practitioners must hold. These requirements dictate the minimum number of adults needed to supervise children based on the number of children and their age. They also specify the minimum qualification levels required within the ratios.  

What qualifications are required?

All early years providers working with children from birth to 5 years old must follow the regulations on EYFS staff to child ratios. This is the number of qualified staff, at different qualification levels, an early years setting needs to have in order to meet the needs of all children and ensure their safety. These regulations are set out in the statutory framework for the early years foundation stage (EYFS). Providers must make sure staff have the appropriate qualifications to count in the ratios, including the need to have at least 1 staff member trained in paediatric first aid. 

The Early Years Qualifications List provides details on recognised qualifications to help providers identify whether an applicant is suitably qualified.

In group settings, the manager must hold at least a full and relevant level 3 qualification and at least half of all other staff must hold at least a full and relevant level 2 qualification. The manager should have at least two years’ experience of working in an early years setting, or have at least two years’ other suitable experience. The provider must ensure there is a named deputy who, in their judgement, is capable and qualified to take charge in the manager’s absence.

In order to ascertain whether or not qualifications are relevant, and to ensure you are meeting your statutory requirements, please use the Early Years Qualification checker provided by the Department for Education (DfE). We advise you use the checker for all existing staff, and whenever you receive applications from prospective practitioners

DBS checks 

An enhanced disclosure and baring check (DBS check) with children's barred list check must be obtained for all adults who undertake 'regulated activity' with children, which includes most individuals in childcare roles.

The DBS provide a searchable list of the umbrella bodies who process DBS checks for childcare workers. You can search by sector (education), by location (local is best in case staff need to visit the office in person) and by specialist services (e.g. online support). Voluntary workers receive the check for free, but must pay the handling fee.

Trustees, owners and directors of a setting who make up the registered person with Ofsted - and anyone living or working in a childminder's household - must apply for DBS checks via the Ofsted application portal. 

If a staff member or successful applicant is registered with the DBS Update Service, employers can ask for permission to view their original DBS check and carry out an instant free online check of any new information relating to their record. Employees pay £13 a year to register. Volunteers can register for free.

All staff and those who make up the Ofsted registered person must also complete a declaration that they are not disqualified from working with children and that no one in their household is disqualified (known as disqualification by association). 

How do I set pay scales for my staff?

It is advisable for employers to set pay scales so that there is consistency and fairness in how you reward your staff. When setting pay scales, employers need to consider that the pay they offer:

  • complies with employment and anti-discrimination legislation (e.g. the National Minimum and Living Wage, Equal Pay, Statutory Holiday Entitlement)
  • is competitive and will motivate staff and applicants
  • will be financially viable for the provision in the long-term.

Keeping details of local childcare related jobs will help you to consider the local market rates for different roles.

Useful Links

Employing People - A-Z of Government advice to employing people

Employers advice on pensions - Department for Work and Pensions guidance 

Set up and manage a workplace pension scheme - Government advice for employers on providing a workplace pension scheme

ACAS (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) - provides free and impartial information and advice to employers and employees on all aspects of workplace relations and employment law. 

Last update: Tuesday 5th of May 2020 03:04:12 PM