Employing and managing early years staff

Girl and nursery worker rolling dough

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.

The Alliance publications and will give early years providers a thorough understanding of their obligations as an employer.

What are the Early Years Foundation Stage requirements regarding 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.

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.


 provides details on recognised qualifications to help providers identify whether an applicant is suitably qualified.


Childcare providers must comply with the staff-child ratios set out in the . 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.  

Alliance members can access guidance on calculating ratios in mixed-age rooms via the .

DBS checks

An enhanced criminal records disclosure (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 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 - and anyone living or working in a childminder's household - must apply for DBS checks via the . 

If a staff member or successful applicant is registered with the , 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 °ϲʹ 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). For more information on disqualification from childcare roles, see the .

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.

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