An Au Pair is a young person, usually 18-20 years old, sometimes older, who lives with a family in another country for 6 months to 1 year. The Au Pair Programme has existed for a few decades and is a Cultural Exchange scheme based around childcare. This means that the Au Pair will live with the family as part of the family and is not ’employed’.
The family benefits because the Au Pair is live-in and flexible. She/he will help with the children and with light household chores for about 25 hours (30 max) per week which can include babysitting.
The Au Pair benefits from the exciting experience of living in a foreign country, learning the language and the culture of that country and is also provided with pocket money of usually £80 – £120 per week. Additionally, most Au Pairs love spending time with children!
An Au Pair must be treated and welcomed as one of the family – this is also the way that you will benefit most from your Au Pair. Although usually female there are also an increasing number of great male Au Pairs.
The Au Pair should be supporting you with childcare, more than helping with any housework. The housework element of their tasks is usually no more than 20%.
The Au Pair must be given enough time to attend a language course (normally a couple of hours a 1-3 mornings per week in term time).
Au Pairs are not permitted to have sole care of a baby aged less than 2 years old (also no babysitting of under 2’s). Furthermore au pairs are not to be in continuous sole care of pre-school children, as they simply do not have training or experience to do this safely. If you require this then you should engage a Nanny. A basic outline of duties, hours and conditions should be agreed to before the Au Pair arrives. This should be set out in the initial Letter of Invitation – this is the means by which you offer your Au Pair the position, and is drafted for you by me, Monica.
Any subsequent changes to the agreed duties, hours and conditions must be agreed to by both parties.
An Au Pair should be given a 4 week’s paid holiday per year (1.66 days per month) plus all UK bank holidays. You can offer your Au Pair further holidays paid or unpaid. The Au Pair should be given sufficient time to be able to return home on visits.
An Au Pair should be paid a minimum weekly pocket money of £80 and more for 30 hrs.
Although an Au Pair is enthusiastic & energetic, has usually at least helped in their own homes and has some experience with children, it is important to remember is that an Au Pair is neither a nanny nor a cleaner and they are young and still inexperienced. Make sure your own expectations are not too high. Having too high an expectation is the most common reason for a placement not working out. It is important to understand the limitations of ‘au pairs’ and understand that they do not come ‘pre-programmed’ for the position, you are almost starting with a ‘blank slate’; someone who is willing and enthusiastic but needs time to be shown how you want them to help. If you need experienced help, or people with training we have many
other categories of candidates which would suit you better, please refer to our services menu. Get in touch to find out more about our Monica’s Nannies, Mother’s Helps and Nanny Housekeepers.