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Au Pair - time off?

(47 Posts)
MrsJones100 Sun 17-Feb-13 18:18:01

I am completely new to Au Pairing, I would like to offer £70 per week as I feel the package on offer could be quite desirable. What do you think? I work four 12 hr days then get three days off, then work four 12 hr nights then get seven days off. Most of those days off I would give the Au Pair off, paid, only expecting the house to be kept tidy and some washing up unless she went away.
DC's are 10 and 12 so quite self sufficient. Would I still need to give more
holiday time?

Runoutofideas Sun 17-Feb-13 18:31:47

As far as I understand it au pairs are supposed to work roughly a 20 hour week, and be able to study in the daytimes. Do your children get themselves to and from school or would she be doing all the drop offs and pick ups when you are doing your 4 days? Assuming you work say 7-7 or 8-8 that would mean roughly 1.5 hours in the morning and then 3.5 hours after school so that's your 20 hours a week.

I'm not sure how you stand with doing the nights as effectively she'd be sole charge for 48 hours in a week, but asleep for most of them. Many au pairs may want to be free to socialise in the evening rather than having to be home for 4 nights in a row, however the payback for that is the following week to him/herself.... I think it is an unusual arrangement for an au pair but as long as you had someone sensible and mature it could work, and as long as you are very clear about the hours required and the responsibility of covering the nights from the start. I don't think additional holiday would be required, as long as "off" really meant "off".

MrsJones100 Sun 17-Feb-13 18:54:38

Most of the time DH would be home over night so they would not be her responsibility after about 7pm. She would have to be up at 6.15 for school runs, not have the children again until 4pm for 10yr old and 6.30pm for 12yr old. It probably does work out to more than 20 hrs per week but I am sure the time off more than makes up for that. Figures not my strong point! Time off would mean no child care and free to go away, however still clearing up after herself as she would in a flat share. Thank you for your thoughts.

fraktion Sun 17-Feb-13 19:33:43

Yes you'd still need to pay holiday as it falls within their working pattern if you plan to write it in the contract they they have them off.

If you decide you want every day before/after school then you could use up the holiday allowance that you can dictate to give them those days off. If you use them all that way a) they don't get to choose any holiday which my isn't very motivating and b) you're a bit stick when you end up going away and still have to pay them.

What's the deal in school holidays?

MrsJones100 Sun 17-Feb-13 20:06:25

I am unclear as to why I would still need to pay holiday when in effect they are being paid for nearly half a month off. As for other time off it would have to be if and when we go away as otherwise I would be left with no childcare.
I would still pay AP when we go away.
I would ask for more help during school hols but they would be going to camps and relatives as well. I thought I was being very reasonable and offering quite a cushy number giving all that time off.

nannynick Sun 17-Feb-13 20:30:54

I'm confused about the hours:

>She would have to be up at 6.15 for school runs, not have the children again until 4pm for 10yr old and 6.30pm for 12yr old.

So 6.15am to what, 9.15am? Then 4pm (is that collect time, so maybe 3.45pm leave the house) to 7pm when your DH gets back.

So 6-6.5 hours per day perhaps.

>I work four 12 hr days then get three days off, then work four 12 hr nights then get seven days off. Most of those days off I would give the Au Pair off.

So au-pair would only work the days you work but those days will vary. How will you explain this to the au-pair - some kind of calendar perhaps?

If I get this right it would be like:
work 4 days, then 3 days off, then four days (or is it 5 as you would be sleeping after night shift), then 7 days off, then 4 days, then 3 days off, then four days (or 5), then 7 days off. And on and on and on.

Up at 6.15am... not sure how many au-pairs would like that. I have no experience of au-pairs but as a nanny I get up earlier than that some days and it is a bit of a struggle.

Does DH work shifts like you? Maybe it would be better to fix the hours that the au-pair is on duty, such 6.15am-9.15 and 4-7pm Mon-Fri... is that possible?

The 25 hour limit applies to au-pairs from Romania and Bulgaria. So probably avoid those countries, instead look elsewhere in the EEA. That way you can agree the hours with the au-pair and not worry about working hours restrictions due to visa/permit.

>I am unclear as to why I would still need to pay holiday when in effect they are being paid for nearly half a month off.

You say you will pay £70 every week, so if you are doing that 52 weeks a year then you are paying holiday and you would be giving them their statutory holiday entitlement, exceeding it. However would the au-pair be able to choose any of their holiday? They may want to go home to visit family and thus take a week off or longer.

Callthemidlife Sun 17-Feb-13 20:33:08

You need to readjust your views on this, as your expectations don't match the legal position.

You are paying them for a working time of, say, 25 hours. For each 25 hours worked they are entitled to appx 3 hours paid leave.

Anyone who works in a job, any number of hours, is legally entitled to paid vacation. This applies even if someone is contracted to work 1 hour per week. The amount of paid vacation accrued is equal to just over 12% for each hour worked. You may not approve of this, but that is the law.

Having an AP is often a really good arrangement - they get to live quasi-independently and have plenty of time off, parents get cheap child care in exchange. What you are offering is not a particularly 'cushy' number but fairly standard for an au pair. If you are anticipating some nights of sole care and extra work in the holidays then you are actually asking for more than the standard for an au pair. Not that it's unreasonable to look for someone with these variations (just that its not then a cushy role).

If you want to make it easier then I suggest you do a rota for the au pair to match your own, which includes an element of the accrued holiday. For example I gave our au pairs extended weekends (5days) once a month, where they worked considerably less than their normal hours, and the pay stayed the same - this effectively used up around 40% of their paid vacation - leaving them with 3 weeks per annum where they could take a whole week off, fully paid.

MrsJones100 Sun 17-Feb-13 21:06:32

Surely getting alternating 3 and 7 days off paid, far exceeds what the law dictates. In this time they are free to travel back home or whatever they like. Does it also count for nothing the fact my DC's are 10 and 12 hugely different to caring for toddlers. It is not exactly work when they get home from school. Just telling them to do homework (possibly a little help sometimes) shower, bed. The only physical work is making some supper. Whats not cushy!

nannynick Sun 17-Feb-13 21:17:45

Aupairs would not usually be caring for toddlers. They tend to care for school aged children.

Yes I would expect that the days off would exceed statutory holiday entitlement. However what if they wanted to take a couple of weeks off - would they be able to do that? As you currently describe it, you would be dictating all their holiday time, which some may well accept, whilst others will not. Legally to my knowledge you are able to dictate when all holiday is taken, however that does not mean you will find someone who is prepared to accept such a term in their contract.

Any time they have to be present at the house (or travelling to/from places such as school) are working hours.

MrsJones100 Sun 17-Feb-13 21:29:44

The vast majority of families looking for AP on AP world website are families with toddlers or under 7's. This I call work. I imagine many AP's do a great deal more in their 25 hours for £70. Feeding, dressing, bathing, putting to bed, tantrums, entertaining. None of this is necessary for us. Surely having all those blocks of seven days off in a year is more choice than most people get. A full two weeks would need to be taken when I have holiday tagged onto the seven days off.

nannynick Sun 17-Feb-13 21:29:56

The holiday situation I feel is a bit complicated, as you say you are giving 7 days off but those 7 days are not normal working days, they are days they would not be working anyway. On the rota system they are never contracted to work those 7 days... same applies to the 3 days they get off on the rota.
Does that make sense?

So maybe what you are wanting is for them to work more hours, then have some of those hours each week as being holiday that you dictate when it is taken.

MrsJones100 Sun 17-Feb-13 21:33:47

I am really at a loss to understand this. Most AP's work 5 days with two off. I am asking for 4 days then they get seven off I see this as very generous.

Callthemidlife Sun 17-Feb-13 22:21:51

The number of days is totally irrelevant if they are doing 25 hours each week on average.

My nanny spent some time working with kids your age and found it far far more difficult than dealing with younger kids - they ignored her, wouldn't do their homework, expected her to tidy up after them all the time and so on. She didn't stay long with them.

It sounds as if the job might be quite appealing because of longer breaks (assuming they can take the full 7 days off and maybe travel or whatever), but it does not detract from the legal requirement for them to have paid holiday. Which is fine if you are saying that, say, every other week they have x days extra off as paid holiday and only work maybe 10 hours even though they are paid for 25. It just doesn't work if they still do 25 hours on both shift rotas.

What you need to do is pull together a full rota for a term (and holidays), and work out what the average total number of hours required across the whole lot. Multiply this by 12% and see if this number can 'slot' into the rota to fill up the extra 'paid' days off (they are legally entitled to at least two full days off each week, including an entitlement to have specific time off to allow them to fulfil religious obligations). These can then be classed as paid holidays. Eg if they have a straight seven days off but are paid then you an allocate the holiday hours against 5 of those 7 days. Obviously there will be times where you have to vary from the schedule but it would work ok with a bit of give and take.

It sounds like using a sledgehammer to crack a nut but you will find this approach much easier in the long run and I guarantee you will need such a rota if you do shift work - I have had 6 very pleasant and very fair au pairs but I have still had to sit down with each and every one of them to 'prove' their hours and remaining holiday entitlement - it is a slog to ensure everything is fair to everyone, but you do need to keep tabs on this to make everyone's life easier.

Bear in mind most au pairs will expect long Christmas and Easter vacations (doesn't mean they'll get them) because they will usually have zero experience of just four weeks per annum.

Callthemidlife Sun 17-Feb-13 22:30:35

Per your last point, the number of days is irrelevant. Say you work 36 hours a week in your own job. If you did three shifts of 12 hours per shift you would still expect the same holiday entitlement (in terms of number of hours paid but not worked) as someone who worked six shifts of 6 hours. If you are expecting the au pair to do 25 hours per week then they earn the same holiday entitlement if they do those hours over 2 days or 4 or 5.

MrsJones100 Sun 17-Feb-13 22:51:01

I appreciate all the advice. So maybe I should just say one of the three days and five of the seven are holidays. So that would be loads of holiday. Does everyone have such formal arrangements? I was led to believe an AP wasn't an employee so such strict law didn't apply. I still feel they are getting way more time off, call it days off or holiday than is usual so I am sure they will be happy. It will be complicated and certainly those four days will be over some weekends but all in all they will have more time off. Surely it is the children themselves that get into trouble if the homework is not done, and why did she expect not to do some tidying up after them, unless it was totally excessive.

MrsJones100 Sun 17-Feb-13 23:00:11

Per your last point....
I understand it doesn't matter if the 25 hours are worked over 4, 5 or 6 days they still get the same time off, which should be 2 days. I am giving 3 or 7.
Am I looking at this too simplistically.

Callthemidlife Mon 18-Feb-13 09:16:32

It only counts as paid time off if the hours worked PLUS the hours called 'paid holiday' in total add up to 25 hours and no more (on average) otherwise it doesn't work. That's the key to the calcs.

UK govt takes stance that APs not proper employees but this has been challenged (successfully) in the European courts of justice, so lawyers advise you treat them as if the are proper employees. You will never know the true nature of your APs until they leave, and always best to err on the side of being scrupulously fair to them rather than doing things on the fly. We have full contracts, write down all hours against rota and pay overtime weekly when due, rather than assume it will even up in the wash. But then I am an HR professional and know how ugly it can get when someone thinks they've been ripped off.

As for the kids my nanny once worked with, they were horrors to her (their favourite refrain was to tell her she was just staff and couldn't tell them what to do) Oldest child had eating issues which didn't help (stealing food, gorging, blaming others). But of course all kids are different. I'd rather chew my arm off than look after babies personally, so horses for courses, and am sure a lot of the pressure of childcare is down to the nature of the kids and how they've been brought up. Think this counts for far more than their specific ages.

SoldeInvierno Mon 18-Feb-13 09:21:50

if he/she is earning £70, she's not going to have much money for travelling. In such case, she'll just be hanging around in the house, most likely getting bored, as her other AP friends are likely to be doing standard AP jobs. I don't think the holiday entitlement would be a problem for most aupairs, but the hours would be. However, all you can do is advertise the job and see what comes.

fraktion Mon 18-Feb-13 10:14:32

Another thing to remember with loads of time off is that they often take English courses so will need to be around to go to their class even on the days you deem as holiday.

Depending on how often you go away, and whether you need them to work Bank Hols, and whether you need them to stay for 12 months you may find the holiday isn't as much as you think it is.

Say they start Sept and you're planning for them to stay until end of July, you already knock off 2.3 days leaving 25.7

They have a week over Christmas from 22nd - 29th Dec, 5 working days, so 20.7 then NY Day 19.7

You decide to go away skiing or sun-chasing Feb half term so 5 working days leaves 14.7

Good Friday and Easter Monday 12.7 left

Mayday and Whitsun gives 10.7

That leaves 2 weeks and .7 days that you may well take at the end of July or roll on to be paid in August or might be covered by DC going to relatives, or indeed you can use on the weeks where you will be at home but if they are off you can't expect them to do housework beyond joining in as a member if the family would clearing the table/stacking the dishwasher etc.

In school holidays, btw, you'll need to pay a bit more over the £70 for 25 hours agreement as their workload will probably nearly double, but that depends to a certain extent on your shifts. That might be tricky in terms of tax due to the changes coming in. You'll need to report all income over the lower threshold when it's paid, so if you pay over (currently) £107pw it will need to be declared. I think once you've declared someone you then have to keep submitting the figures.

I think where the confusion lies is that if you expect the au pair to match your work pattern then the 7 days off, if they always have them, isn't paid 'holiday' just part of the work pattern. If you say they are nominally on duty, as nannynick suggested, in the mornings and evenings M-F theoretically for 52 weeks a year then you can use the days that are off in your work pattern as holiday. But you then do need to pay overtime to fill up any extra hours in the school holidays.

forevergreek Mon 18-Feb-13 10:43:55

You need to give additional time off. Time off is time off work, not Freetime

So if I work 5 days with 2 days off those 2 days aren't my holiday time they are just my days off. Holiday if when I still get paid for those 5 working days and still get them off.

If I work 7 days on 7 days off, those 7 days off stents holiday. It would be holiday if I was paid for 14days off.

Generally an au pair should be getting 4 weeks and all bank hols off. 2 weeks they can choose when , 2 weeks you choose

MrAnchovy Mon 18-Feb-13 10:47:38

As your employer is also obliged to give you 5.6 weeks of paid leave why not just match their holiday terms to yours? It may work out best if they take their holiday at the end of the time they work for you.

MrAnchovy Mon 18-Feb-13 10:57:20

Yes you are looking at it too simplistically. Most au pairs do indeed have a working pattern that gives them 2 days off in 7; they also have an annual leave entitlement of at least 5.6 weeks. These are separate matters, and there are statutory minima that apply to each (the working pattern entitlement is complicated but is roughly 2 days off in 14).

You have a working pattern that is more generous with 10 days off in 18, but that does not reduce the statutory annual leave requirement, just the same as being more generous with sick pay doesn't reduce the requirement to grant maternity leave.

MrsJones100 Mon 18-Feb-13 18:19:47

I really appreciate all the very professional advice. I really still am at a loss with it as to why an AP working far less but getting paid still has to have extra leave. Does a person in a very part time job get the same holiday per year as someone in a full time job?! Time off/free time call it what you like, they can do what they want with it. Unless DH can help, Bank hols and Christmas are normal working times for me. I am hoping that for some AP's the extra time off during the normal week will make up for this. I feel sure that many AP's would be happy to be flexible for me in return for all the extra time.

nannynick Mon 18-Feb-13 19:06:04

Yes, part time workers get the same holiday as a full time worker, prorata. So if they did 3 days a week, they would get 3*5.6 where as a full time worker would get 5*5.6=28 days.

I feel you may struggle to explain the rota system to some au pairs. are your dh's working days/hours fixed? Could the au pairs hours not fit with his schedule, rather than yours, as presumable if dh is home, he can supervise his/your children.

FlorenceMattell Mon 18-Feb-13 20:04:44

Hi Mrs Jones
Having had au pairs my self I think you may struggle with them getting up at 6.15 for your children. Make sure you emphasis this at the pre appointment stage. I am still confused as to the maximum hours in a seven day period. Can you detail week one number of hours worked, and week two number of hour to work?
Having also done shift work myself and used an au pair I think it could work, when you are on nights you would be there in the evening I would think, maybe just getting up. So those days the au pair would just be doing the morning school run and collecting children from school.
The best au pair I had was a boy/man he brilliant, might be worth considering if your children boys.
To be honest I think I would try to keep au pair to Mon to Fri five hours each day, and try to get husband to fill gaps, could you use an after school club for younger child? Could they not come home on their own, all mine have done that from senior school age.
I would try au pair you will soon find out if not working , they will leave lol.

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