What is an Au Pair? 

 

An au pair a young female (and increasingly we also have male candidates to offer our host families), aged 18+ who helps a host family with childcare and light domestic duties, whilst living as a guest in their home. The au pair programme was originally designed with the intent for people to come together and exchange cultures, thus an au pair usually lives with a family in a foreign country whilst learning their language and exploring their culture. 

Whilst living with a family, an au pair participates not only in childcare but also in other related activities, ranging from light housework to babysitting, or even helps older children develop particular skills (such as learning a new language or sport). 

Being an au pair for a family, and in turn, a guest in their home, the au pair tends to participate in many of the family activities and is treated as part of the family. Thus, participating in an au pair programme can, therefore, be a very exciting and interesting experience for both the au pair and the family. 

In some countries, the terms "au pair" and "nanny" are used interchangeably. However, it is generally accepted that a nanny is more likely to have professional childcare qualifications and/or first aid training. This is often seen as being particularly important when there are very young children to be cared for. On this site we ask members if they have nanny qualifications, and this is then something that the family can ask about, if they make contact with a particular candidate. An au pair or nanny is normally a single girl or boy, aged 17-30, who helps a host family with childcare and sometimes housework, whilst living as a guest in their home. Au pair programs were originally designed with the intent for people to come together and exchange cultures, thus an au pair usually lives with a family in a foreign country whilst learning their language and exploring their culture. 

Whilst living with a family, an au pair participates not only in childcare but also in other related activities, ranging from light housework to babysitting, or even helps older children develop particular skills (such as learning a new language or sport). 

Being an au pair for a family, and in turn, a guest in their home, the au pair tends to participate in many of the family activities and is treated as part of the family. Thus, participating in an au pair programme can, therefore, be a very exciting and interesting experience for both the au pair and the family. 

In some countries, the terms "au pair" and "nanny" are used interchangeably. However, it is generally accepted that a nanny is more likely to have professional childcare qualifications and/or first aid training. This is often seen as being particularly important when there are very young children to be cared for. On this site we ask members if they have nanny qualifications, and this is then something that the family can ask about, if they make contact with a particular candidate. 

 

Guidelines for Au Pairs and Host Families participating in the BAPAA Au Pair Programme in Britain.   Other countries have similar programmes -  see "Go Abroad as an Au Pair".

Individual families or agencies may wish to improve on these benefits, but these should be offered as a minimum.

Nature of the Programme:  The au pair programme is a cultural exchange programme and not a contract or work.  Au pairs must be welcomed as a member of the family.

Age:  Traditionally, an au pair is aged 17 – 27, however an au pair without visa requirements (from EU) can also be older.

Hours on duty:  Au pairs can be on duty from 25 – 35 hours per week if they are from an EU country.  This is limited to 25 hours per week if the au pair is from Bulgaria or Romania.  These hours can be spread out over 5 days per week.  Longer hours are usually referred to as ‘au pair plus’.  Many au pair agencies also offer ‘Mother’s help’ positions; this is not part of the traditional cultural exchange programme, as it usually involves longer hours and schedules can conflict with language classes.

Pocket Money:  Pocket money must be minimum £75 per week for 25 hours, regardless of whether the minimum hours are worked. 
 

Babysitting:  Two evenings babysitting per week are included as part of the programme.  Additional pocket money should be paid for any additional evenings.

Leisure time:  The au pair’s schedule must provide sufficient time to attend language school, and the au pair shall receive two free days each week and should be offered one full weekend off per month.

UK Bank /  National Holidays: BAPAA advocates that au pairs are given UK Bank / National Holidays as free time.

Light Housework:  A list of suggested light housework duties is below these guidelines.

Room and board:  The au pair receives full room and board from the family throughout the stay.  The au pair must have her own private room with a window and not be required to share with children, and she should be given facilities to study.

Travelling Costs:  The au pair is required to pay their own travelling cost to and from the UK, unless the family chooses to fund this.

Insurance:  EU au pairs visiting the UK do not need additional health insurance as they are entitled to use the National Health Service.  The au pair may also wish to take out additional travel insurance to cover loss of belongings, repatriation in case of accident, death etc.

Language School and Costs:  Au pairs must be given enough time to attend language school.  There are many courses in the UK for EU members, which are more affordable due to government funding.  These are usually ESOL classes.  If an au pair chooses to go to a private school, they must bear their own cost, unless the family offers to fund this.

Written Offer:  Each agency shall ensure that the au pair receives a written offer from the family covering the duties and benefits.

The host family:  Each agency shall ensure that the family is suitable to host an au pair and understands the nature of the au pair programme, and that the au pair is there to help the family and is not in charge of the house.

List of housework duties accepted as light housework:

List of duties considered unsuitable for an au pair – Please remember, it is a cultural exchange programme, giving a young person the opportunity to learn about British culture and improve language skills through interaction with children.

*These duties can be included where there is less childcare and the children are out of the house for most of the day, if this is agreed in advance.

Au pairs should not be required to do housework such as ironing, when looking after children of primary school age or toddlers, due to safety reasons.
 

Au Pairs and Driving

1. We will check that your au pair has a current driving licence with no convictions, and find out how long she/he has been driving.

2. If your au pair is from an EU* or EEA* country then she / he can use her licence to drive in the UK.

3. Au pairs from most other countries outside the EU or EEA can drive for up to 12 months provided they have a full licence which remains valid. To carry on driving after 12 months they must have obtained a provisional British licence and passed a British driving test before the 12 months elapses. For more information visit: 

https://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Motoring/DriverLicensing/DrivingInGbOnAForeignLicence/DG_4022556

4. It is essential to ensure you are satisfied with your au pair's driving skills before allowing her/him to drive your children. The au pair will probably be used to driving on the opposite side of the road and may be used to quieter roads. BAPAA recommends that host families arrange a course of driving lessons for their au pair to make sure he or she is safe and understands our highway code. Ensure that the driving instructor reports back to you when he/she feels the au pair has reached the correct degree of confidence required.

5. Petrol used by the au pair in connection with work is paid for by the family but most au pairs will have to pay for petrol for their personal use. This needs to be discussed at the beginning of the au pair's stay.

Insurance

1. The family is responsible for insuring the au pair to drive the family car. Your au pair should only agree to drive if he/she is satisfied that they are insured. Please show your au pair evidence that he/she is included on your motor insurance policy before they drive in the UK for the first time.

2. Au pairs under 25 will be more expensive to insure than those aged between 25-27.

3. Au pairs from within the European Union are cheaper to insure with some insurance companies than those from other countries.

4. If your au pair has an accident in your car you will lose your no claims bonus so it may be worth insuring your no claims bonus.

5. Some families put their au pair on their company car policy to save the cost of insurance.

*Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Irish Republic, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom. (Iceland, Liechenstein and Norway are not members of the European Union (EU) but citizens of these countries have the same rights to enter, live in and work in the UK as EU citizens. Switzerland is not in the EEA but an international treaty means that Swiss nationals have similar rights.) 

 

 

 

 

 


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