Childcare businesses are a valuable and essential service, so starting one can be a gratifying experience. As they involve one of the most vulnerable members of society, childcare businesses are held to a particularly high standard. 

If you’re interested in opening your own childcare business, you will need to consider all your legal obligations first. In this article, we’ll cover these legals as well as any other important considerations when starting your own business in Australia

How To Start Up A Childcare Business

Firstly, the correct qualifications are essential in starting a childcare business. The minimum qualification to run a childcare business is a Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care. You should also be equipped to administer CPR and first aid. These qualifications are not only required for you as the business owner, but also any staff you may wish to hire. 

Next, decide on a business structure and start the registration process for your business. Prior to doing this, it’s important to have determined the key factors regarding your business, such as  assessing what kind of childcare you will be starting. 

For example, think about whether or not you will provide after school care, occasional care or an entire day service. Creating a business plan can help you clarify these matters. 

You will also need to attain Provider Approval, which will determine whether you can be deemed fit to run your childcare business. Once you have gotten your provider approval, you can then apply for Service Approval

Finally, you will need to look into getting an appropriate space and having the right equipment for the children. The National Law Regulations provides details on the standard expected of childcare service providers. This includes the kinds of activities, care and provisions the children will be expected to have and partake in. 

Additionally, think about how you are going to market your new business and get the word out there about your services. 

Register A Childcare Business In Australia

When you first start up your own business, one of the most important steps is making things official – this is where you Register A Business In Australia

After you have made your plans and received the relevant approvals, you can register it online. The application process will ask for some details about your business, have you apply for any relevant taxes and require the payment of a fee. Once you have submitted your application, you’ll be notified of an outcome. 

What Documents Do I Need To Run A Childcare Centre?

Every business needs the correct legal documents to be able run a legitimately functioning venture. Childcare is no different – before you get to running the business, it’s necessary to take care of the legal aspects first. 

When starting a childcare business, consider looking into getting the following legal documents: 

Of course, each individual business is different and therefore, not all businesses will have the same legal requirements. It’s best to talk to a legal professional to get a more specific idea on the correct documents you will need to have sorted in order to start your childcare business. 

Do I Need A Childcare Agreement?

Yes, it’s important to have a Child Care Agreement in place between you and all your clients. A Child Care Agreement sets out what can and cannot be expected of your business so that all parties are on the same page. 

Furthermore, if a dispute ever arises concerning your services, the agreement can always be referred to. In other words, it ensures that your arrangement is detailed in writing to secure the details. 

What Is Included In A Childcare Agreement?

A Child Care Agreement can be catered to your needs, however, most childcare agreements includes information regarding: 

  • The services being offered
  • The duties and obligations of both parties
  • Payment methods
  • Liabilities and waivers 

Arguably, a Child Care Agreement is one of the most important documents you will need to run a childcare business as it not only sets the tone for the relationship with your clients, but it also works to protect your business in various ways. 

Is A Working With Children Or Police Check Required In A Childcare Business?

A working with children check and police check will be required by you and all your staff. These checks will determine whether or not someone is suitable to be around children. For a childcare business, it’s a legal requirement to have these checks completed prior to allowing anyone to work with children.  

What Are My Employer Obligations?

As an employer, it is your duty to make sure your staff are being treated fairly and in accordance with national standards. This includes: 

  • Making sure all employees are paid fairly
  • Creating a safe environment 
  • Ensuring that employee have the correct leave, entitlements and days off
  • Actively taking into consideration employee concerns
  • Promoting equity and fairness in the workplace

It’s an employers duty to actively create a positive working environment for their employees. 

Work Health And Safety

A good work environment should avoid harming employees both physically and physiologically. 

Workplace Health and Safety protects this right of employees and is one of the most important obligations an employer has towards their employees. As an employer, you have a duty of care towards your employees to ensure you have taken all reasonable steps to provide a working environment that does not bring physical or mental harm to them. 

Safe Work Australia provides guidance on upholding the best workplace health and safety practices, so it’s important to become familiar with them. 

There are many ways to implement work health and safety, such as: 

  • Making sure the work space is free of hazards 
  • Routinely training employees on safe practices
  • Allowing employees a chance to raise any concerns regarding the work environment 
  • Strictly prohibiting and taking immediate action against bullying or harassment 
  • Supplying the correct equipment needed 

Starting A Childcare Business From Home

Starting a childcare business from your own home is always an option – it’s convenient and can be much easier to operate. However, you will need to look at your local planning and zoning laws in order to determine whether or not you are allowed to operate a childcare centre from your place of residence. 

If you’re good to go on that end, then you will need to take into consideration how you can assign a space for childcare and consider other matters such as: 

  • Keeping the children away from the rest of the house (potential hazards in areas such as the kitchen) 
  • How many children can your home space accommodate 
  • Operating hours and potential noise complaints
  • Parking for parents when they are picking up and dropping their children off 
  • Updating any current insurance coverages  

My Employees Work From Home – What Legal Issues Should I Consider?

If you’re running your business from home or you have franchised your childcare business to a franchisee who also operates from their own home, then it’s important to take into consideration any issues arising from work from home arrangements. 

You’ll need to think about:

  • Whether the space is appropriate for this kind of business
  • What changes will need to be made to the are to make it suitable for childcare
  • Striking a work life balance when operating from home
  • Maintaining professional conduct with the absence of a traditional workplace environment
  • Continuous training and open communication with employees

Key Takeaways

Naturally, there are a lot of aspects to consider before you start to run a childcare business. It’s always good to seek the help of a legal professional to help you sort through it all.  

To summarise what we’ve discussed:

  • First and foremost, you will need to be qualified and have the correct approvals
  • Decide where and what kind of childcare you will be running
  • Register your business and have the correct legal documents, such as a Child Care Agreement
  • If you’re hiring employees, have a plan to fulfil your obligations towards them
  • Take into account the additional considerations of running a childcare business from home, such as maintaining a professional standard 

If you would like a consultation on starting a childcare business, you can reach us at 1800 730 617 or for a free, no-obligations chat.

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