It was not that long ago that the concept of babysitting (das Babysitten/Babysitting; Kinderhüten is the old-fashioned term) was little-known in the German-speaking world. When it did happen, it was usually Oma, a neighbor, or one of the older children watching over the kids for a while.
A big change came in the 1990s, with the arrival of online and local Kinderbetreuung (child-care) agencies in Germany, when the idea of hiring a non-family member to mind the kids became more common. Today it is possible to earn fairly good money in Germany as a paid sitter. Below I’ll be writing about German babysitting both from the perspective of expats hiring a babysitter, and getting a job as a sitter. But first we need to clarify the term “babysitting.”
Although Kinderbetreuung (child care) includes work as an au pair, a nanny, Tagesmutter, or other longer-term child supervision, we are talking about short-term, occasional babysitting, usually in the children’s home. As used here, “babysitting” means watching a child or children for a few hours while the parents are away from home temporarily for some reason. Unlike an au pair or a nanny, the duties of a babysitter usually do not include cooking or cleaning. Although some sitters may agree to do such chores (with a corresponding increase in their fee), it is not the norm.
Below we’ll begin with (1) finding a babysitter for your family, and then move on to (2) getting a job as a babysitter.
1. How to Find a Babysitter(in)
Yes, you can find a babysitter next door in your own neighborhood, on Craigslist Germany, or in your local newspaper Kleinanzeigen. But your chances of finding a good, experienced babysitter are better if you use an online agency such as Babysitter.de or Kinderfee.de. (See more agencies listed below with links.)
Almost any larger city in Germany and Austria has babysitter listings by such agencies. One of these online agencies lists babysitters in the following German cities: Augsburg, Berlin, Bochum, Bonn, Bremen, Dortmund, Dresden, Düsseldorf, Duisburg, Essen, Hamburg, Hannover, Karlsruhe, Köln (Cologne), Leipzig, Mannheim, Mülheim, München (Munich), Nürnberg, Potsdam, Stuttgart, and Wiesbaden.
Frankfurt’s BTV Agency
Frankfurt am Main has its own non-profit agency: Die Babysitter- und Tagespflegevermittlung e.V. (BTV). Established in 1990, the BTV serves both families and babysitters/nannies, and charges a modest flat fee for its clearing house services. Their offices are located near the Konstablerwache at Zeil 29-31. The parties agree on and pay their own fees for services. See the BTV website for more (in German).
Most of the online agencies allow you to search by location, and they may offer services in cities not listed above. Hourly rates charged by a babysitter range from about €8-15, depending on various factors, including the sitter’s experience and the number of children being watched. Babysitters in Munich may charge more than those in Potsdam. Some younger, non-agency sitters may charge less (€5-10 per hour), but you should know whom you’re hiring.
It is important for both the parents and the babysitter to clarify the duties of a babysitter, and to understand that the fee charged depends on several factors: the age and number of children, whether they are already in bed or not when the sitter arrives, whether the sitter has to also entertain the children, whether transportation is required, and so on. Afternoon sitting may involve picking up the children from school, taking them home and watching them until the parents come home. For anything beyond short-term babysitting, it may be a good idea to have a contract (Vertrag) that spells out the duties and payment, but no contract is required.
With an agency, first you’re put in touch with a potential babysitter. You meet and get to know each other. If the “chemistry” is good, you set up a date and time for babysitting. After that, you can book that sitter online or via your mobile phone. The agency handles the billing and payment. An agency offers another advantage for clients: If their regular sitter isn’t available, the agency can provide a substitute.
2. How to Work as a Babysitter(in)
While it is possible to freelance as a babysitter in Germany, to do that legally (and pay the appropriate taxes) you may need a local small-business license. Some expats have done this successfully, but an easier option is to sign up with one of the several “Betreuer” agencies in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Going through an agency also gives you legitimacy and a certain level of support. Generally your pay will range from about €10-15 per hour, depending on your experience and the babysitting conditions. Another advantage (for both clients and sitters) is that the agency takes care of insurance, billing and payment.
It’s really not a good idea to work schwarz (“off-the-books” or “under-the-table”). If you don’t work with an agency, make sure you’re following the law. Babysitting in Germany and Austria generally falls under the legal category of geringfügige Beschäftigung (part-time work, marginal employment), also known in Germany as a “Minijob” or a “450-Euro-Job,” reflecting the monthly maximum income allowed (or €5,400 per year). The employer is responsible for paying insurance, but the employee (babysitter in this case) receives no health insurance or other benefits. Austria, Germany and Switzerland have similar conditions for “geringfügige Beschäftigung,” but differ in minor respects, including the maximum income allowed (only €405 per month in Austria, for example). Certain deductions are made from the employee’s wages, which are taxable but exempt from social security.
Should your work income (Arbeitsentgelt) exceed the monthly maximum of €450, then you instantly become subject to insurance and social security payments that are not required under the Minijob rules, beginning from the time your income went over the limit (but not for the period before that). It is therefore wise to carefully monitor your income so it does not exceed the €450 per month limit. This is another argument for using an agency, which will handle all these matters for you. In any case, German self-employment law can be complex, and you need to consult an expert before setting out to work on your own. Your German residence permit must also allow you to work in Germany.
Other than babysitting, depending on your age and other factors, you also may be interested in these job options offered by some of the online agencies:
- Leihoma (“lend Oma”): A sort of rent-a-granny for families that don’t have their own.
- Tagesmutter (nanny, “day mother”): Full-day care, usually in a family’s home, sometimes in the residence of the Tagesmutter, usually for children under three years of age.
- au pair: As an English-speaker, you may be just right for working as an au pair for a German family that wants the kids to be bilingual. For more, see Jane’s blog: Au Pair in Germany – the Hosting How to Guide.
DRK (German Red Cross)
Many local Deutsches Rotes Kreuz (DRK) organizations offer babysitting courses and act as a middleman for local babysitters and parents. See the DRK: Babysitterausbildung und -vermittlung for more (in German).
Some Online Babysitter Agencies (Germany, Austria, Switzerland)
NOTE: Listing here does not imply any endorsement. Agencies are listed alphabetically with links only as a courtesy to our readers. We have no affiliation at all with any of them. All the websites are in German unless noted otherwise.
- www.babysitter.de – Babysitter, Tagesmutter, Nanny, Leihoma
- www.babysitter.at (Wien, Salzburg, Graz, Linz, Innsbruck, Klagenfurt)
- www.betreut.de – The German division of www.care.com (in English); they also offer senior and long-term care. See the Austrian and German-Swiss links below.
- www.betreut.at (Austria)
- www.betreut.ch (Zurich, Switzerland)
- www.kinderfee.de – Babysitting and other services: A network of over 25,000 experienced child-care people (“ein Netzwerk von über 25.000 qualifizierten und erfahrenen Kinderbetreuern”).
Do you have babysitting experience? Have you used a German, Austrian or Swiss babysitting agency, either as a client or babysitter? Please leave a comment here.
Nothing in this post is intended as legal or financial advice. Always get expert advice before accepting a job or hiring someone to work for you.