Everything You Need to Know About Hiring an Au Pair

Inviting a stranger to live in your home and spend time with your children can be a daunting prospect, to say the least. 

However, if you find an au pair that you get on well with and who bonds with your children, you might just find that you have made a friend for life.

With the number of European au pairs applying for positions in the UK dropping 75% as a result of Brexit, among other factors, it is important that host families are aware of the eligibility requirements for non-EU citizens. It is equally important to know what standards of care you are expected to provide.  

You can find many options for available au pairs for the UK with Care.com.   

Working in your home:

Being part of a cultural exchange programme, au pairs are expected to live in your home and be treated as part of the family. Although they are not employees, there are standards that a host family is expected to meet when taking on an au pair. 

Pay:

Au pairs in the UK usually receive £70 to £85 pocket money a week. 

The British Au Pair Agencies Association (BAPAA) recommends that at least £20 per month is given by the family to help their au pair cover the cost of language school, if they are attending one.  

Hours and duties:

Your au pair can be expected to work up to 30 hours per week. This includes some light house work, childcare and occasional babysitting. While an au pair is there to help out, it is important to remember that they are not qualified child carers, and should not be treated as such. 

Time off:

According to BAPAA, the au pair must have two days off per week. They must also have time to attend their language school. One full weekend off per month is expected. It is also recommended that they receive four weeks of paid holiday for a twelve-month period. 

Accommodation: 

Host families must provide the au pair with a private bedroom and adequate space for studying. The au pair must not share a bedroom with the children. They are to be offered their main meals with the family, at no extra cost.  

Requirements for au pairs from EEA (European Economic Area) countries: 

Citizens of EU countries as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Swiss nationals, are eligible to work as au pairs in the UK, regardless of age, money requirements, length of stay, and other factors that affect non-EEA citizens.  

Requirements for au pairs from non-EEA countries:  

Au pairs are eligible for the Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme) visas if they are between 18 and 30 and come from: Australia, Canada, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, Hong Kong, the Republic of Korea or Taiwan. Citizens of Hong Kong and the Republic of Korea will need a certificate of sponsorship to apply for a visa.  

Applicants must have £1,890 in savings, as well as pay £244 for the visa application, plus a healthcare surcharge.  

Non-EEA au pairs must want to live and work in the UK for up to two years.  

Finding the right au pair: 

Before you choose an au pair and invite them to live in your house, it is a good idea to set up a Skype call to get to know them. Ask questions that will highlight their experience with children and their attitude towards working. 

This is also a good time to detail what you expect of them and to find out what they expect from you. Discuss what hours they will work and the jobs they will be doing. Have this clear from the outset, to avoid any confusion or misunderstandings in the future.  

Bonding with your au pair:  

It is important to remember that au pairs are typically young women (male au pairs are becoming more frequent) in their late teens or early twenties. This is an influential time in a young person’s life and it is possible that it is their first time spending an extended period away from home. With this in mind, it is extremely important that you treat the au pair like they are part of the family and be as welcoming as possible.  

Include your au pair in family activities. Ask them how their day is going and see what you can do to make them feel at home.  

If their birthday falls during their stay, acknowledge it by giving them a cake or having a special dinner. If you know other families with au pairs, arrange a meet-up so they can make some friends.  

It is worth making every effort as a positive experience will become a cherished memory for you, your children and the au pair for years to come.  

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