Regulations on “employing” au pairs
“Employing” an au pair is not like employing a live in nanny or sending your children to the childminder or a nursery. It is a cultural exchange involving a stranger coming to live in your house who might not be speaking perfect English. By welcoming an au pair to your family, you accept to abide by certain rules and regulatations.
Au pairs are not technically employed, hence why the situation can be rather unsure. An au pair may not claim to the same rights than any employed person could do. On the same note, as an “employer” of an au pair, you will not have to respect the same reglementations than you would if you were employing a daily nanny.
Au pairs are young people under 25 when from outside the EU or without age limit for EU nationals. The main reason they come to UK is to learn English to further their further career choices back in their home countries. As part of the au pair programme, they help look after the children of their host family as well as undertake other duties related to the children and their wellbeing such as light housework or babysitting. Although they may have some childcare experience an au pair is neither a nanny nor a housekeeper, they should be treated like a member of the family: the same way you would want your own child to be treated when abroad in a strange family.
Because au pairs are usually not trained in childcare, they must not have sole charge of children under the age of two years old (24 months) for long periods such as full days while you go to work. . However, they can be a good option for providing wrap around care before and after school. This is quite convenient as it can be quite difficult to find a nanny willing to work so few hours.
They will usually work between 25 to 30 hours per week spread out over five days and can do up to 2 evenings babysitting per week included in their weekly allowance.
If you use an au pair you must ensure they:
- Are treated as part of the family rather than an employee
- Have provided with full board including:
- their own private room with a window. An au pair can NEVER be live out.
- all meals and snacks are included, 7 days a week
- access to a bathroom, shared with the children/family or private
- Have any two free days off each week and should be offered one full weekend off per month
- Are paid a minimum of £70 per week pocket money for 25 hours or £85 for 30 hours, regardless of whether the hours are worked. However, we recommend slightly higher pocket money if you want to attract candidates willing to stay for the longer term.
An au pair can stay with a family from a couple of months over the summer holidays, up to a couple of years when treated fairly.
This post was written by Sarah Cozens