Employing, managing and supporting your 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 your responsibilities to your staff (by respecting employees’ legal rights) and to the government (by operating tax and other systems).

The Alliance publications Recruiting Early Years Staff and People Management in the Early Years will give you a thorough understanding of your obligations as an employer. Recruiting Early Years Staff explains the procedures for hiring staff from advertising to appointment, and People Management in the Early Years give guidance on best practice managing staff and navigating the complexities of employment law. 

What are the Early Years Foundation Stage requirements regarding staff?

Childcare providers have a duty of care as set out by the Safeguarding and Welfare Requirements of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) to ensure that any adults caring for the children are suitable to do so, and that staffing arrangements ensure the children are well supervised, so that they are kept safe and their needs are 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 appropriate references and the relevant qualifications, knowledge and experience for their role.


The Qualifications List for Those Delivering the Early Years Foundation Stage provides details on recognised qualifications to help providers identify whether an applicant is suitably qualified.


The EYFS requirements also set staff-child ratios dictating the minimum number of practitioners you can have working with the children at all times. Childcare providers must comply with these ratios when organising their staffing. The level of qualification staff members have achieved is also a factor when working out your staff-child ratios. For full details, consult the Statutory Framework for the EYFS.

DBS checks

An enhanced criminal records disclosure (DBS check) with children barred list check must be obtained for all adults who work with children, or are in the same part of the premises while children are present. 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 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, 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). For more information, see the members’ area below.

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.

Did you know?

Alliance members have access to free CPD-approved online training with leading provider EduCare. This includes Safer Recruitment, which covers pre-recruitment planning, shortlisting, checks and references, and post-recruitment observation and supervision. 

Members' Area