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Au Pair problems. WWYD

(35 Posts)
springlenner Thu 16-May-13 22:56:24

Our current AP has been with us 3 months and most of the time she is good ... Except when it comes to school pick drop offs and babysitting.

Basically, she loves to clean - I had specified some cleaning from the outset but stressed this was not her primary role. She does all of our washing, ironing, empties the dishwasher, cleans floors, bathrooms etc. I have to stress SHE wants to do this. I often tell her she's doing too much but she really likes to do it. I pay her extra for this £180 per week as the house is so clean there's no need to get a cleaner.

We both work full time. DH leaves the house at 7, I am supposed to be at work at 8.30. DS1 is in school from 8.40-3.20 and DS2 in nursery from 9 -12 five days a week.

However, here's the problem. I dont think she likes childcare!! Firstly, she doesn't want to bring the kids to school, its a five minute cycle / ten minute walk. She refused to do it a few weeks ago and since I've been quiet at work I've brought them but she had to take them this morning as I needed to turn up on time! I try to get home by 5 - usually earlier. Today i was back at 4. This evening we had been invited over for a cup of tea to an elderly neighbours house at 8pm. She has had one weeks notice that we would be out for an hour.The kids were in bed but not asleep. As I was leaving at 8.10 she announced I needed to be back by 9 as she needed "some free time and some peace and quiet"
I know she is working up to refuse to babysit tomorrow night. My brother is here just for one night from abroad, and I gave her more than 6 weeks notice that we'd be out tomorrow night. She already asked on Monday what time I was going out and told me I needed to be back by 10pm.
She is always grumpy like this about babysitting and I'm not sure how to approach this.

She's not a cleaner, she's an au pair, she's paid well and I think I treat her well. But the whole point of having an AP live in our home is so we can have some help when we need it i.e. school drop offs and occasional babysitting.

I am absolutely useless at confronting people and she's very direct in her manner - I know I need to sit her down and talk to her but I don't have the skills. Please put words in my mouth.

My DH was going to talk to her in the morning but she's just texted ( from upstairs ) to say she's too tired to get up and would I mind taking them to school !!

Help please! Sorry, that was long after all!

MrAnchovy Thu 23-May-13 13:01:00

"Usually in live-in jobs, you still have to pay at least minimum wage, but can offset the cost of accommodation up to £34 a week. So, for example, if you have a live-in nanny or live-in barmaid in a pub working 40 hours a week, and pay her minimum wage of £6.10 an hour (£244) you can take £34 off for accommodation and only pay £210 a week."

This is a bit of a red herring. The accommodation offset does indeed apply to live-in barmaids etc. but it is generally accepted that the exemption from NMW applies to live-in nannys as well as au pairs although the legislation is not well drafted and has not been thoroughly tested in the courts. Note however that if separate self contained accomodation with its own external door is provided for the nanny they are not treated as live-in for this purpose.

Cloverer Thu 23-May-13 10:11:02

I think the £120 a week was for 20 hours at minimum wage, so £80ish pocket money + £40 worth of bed and board = £120.

Usually in live-in jobs, you still have to pay at least minimum wage, but can offset the cost of accommodation up to £34 a week. So, for example, if you have a live-in nanny or live-in barmaid in a pub working 40 hours a week, and pay her minimum wage of £6.10 an hour (£244) you can take £34 off for accommodation and only pay £210 a week.

However, if your au pair lives as "part of the family" - eats meals with you, joins in family activities, day trips etc - then you are exempt from minimum wage anyway.

Mendi Thu 23-May-13 06:22:06

I thought I was probably being thick, Outraged, but he hasn't returned to explain. I'm going to take him at the advice on this thread and start advertising I think. Will soon find out if any interest.

OutragedFromLeeds Wed 22-May-13 23:10:21

Mendi he wasn't saying that on your thread. I'll let him explain further what he was saying, but it wasn't that you should pay £120 a week for 20 hours.

Mendi Wed 22-May-13 22:13:27

MrA, MrA, I don't understand! On my thread earlier this evening you said that £120 a week for 20 hours was an appropriate rate for an AP in Surrey and yet here on this thread you say £70-£80 for Home Counties. Which is it?!

Cathyrina Wed 22-May-13 20:26:45

I don't think the money is the problem, why wouldn't you want to pay a very good Au-Pair a bit more than usual when you can afford to do so? It's just the thing 'You pay more than usual for something that isn't the way you wanted it to be' that doesn't work, maybe someone else would be absolutely brilliant and does it the way you want it to be done and then why not reward her with a few pounds more

blueshoes Wed 22-May-13 19:33:51

This is a no brainer. Get rid and find yourself a cheaper better aupair that does housework and childcare cheerfully.

Says me with the mickey mouse job and but am a tiger at home.

themaltesecat Wed 22-May-13 19:12:16

If you're such a hotshot, why not pay a fair wage for a nanny?

MrAnchovy Wed 22-May-13 14:35:35

You are creating a problem by paying more than the job is worth.

For 25 hours a week to and from school £70-£80 is the right amount (assuming home counties). If you want cleaning on top, add what you would pay a cleaner. £30 a week?

middleeasternpromise Sun 19-May-13 08:30:35

Managing au pairs is quite possibly one of the most difficult jobs I have ever done (and I manage people all the live long day at work). Because they live with you and study yr every move, staying on top of the boundaries and roles is nigh on impossible.

I've had several au pairs, when it works its fantastic but alas thats not as frequently as you would hope. Im just winding up my latest contract and am switching back to external childcare as I need a break and I need my home back. Never under estimate the challenge of managing the AP !!!

springlenner Fri 17-May-13 16:59:15

He he... I'm not the Chancellor of the Exchequer or anything!... but I'm equivalent to Exec Director at work. As I said, my job is unique so any specifics might out me.
My overcompensating at home... guilt I guess confused, mind you, my parents were/are the same..
Need to keep the hard line. Thanks again.

Iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii Fri 17-May-13 15:12:47

Sounds like it went well. Hopefully she will take on board what you say. As a parent of generally lovely, hardworking DC's it is amazing how silly they can be at times.

...and, yeah, I would probably give her a lift as long as it wasn't too much of a problem for me. smile

BreatheandFlyAway Fri 17-May-13 15:11:07

Spring I now am extremely curious about your job wink

I agree with poster who pointed out that if she doesn't want to spend time with kids, then she's not the right au pair for them, however sweet etc she may be - also the fact that you mention teenage sulks from her - in my view she's an adult in charge of kids and there's no room for teenage anything. I'm not gutsy myself but from afar I am grin

Bakingnovice Fri 17-May-13 15:07:50

I think you've been very generous to her. It is her job ffs.

Btw really curious about what job you do now!

LittleFeileFooFoo Fri 17-May-13 15:06:25

OP you sound like me! I also have a "big gun" job, but I'm a totally softie at home! Why is that?

Anyway, bravo for having the talk, and I think you should spring for a taxi to take her to the airport, as I can't possibly imagine the cringworthyness of driving someone I'd just fired!

Good luck, and I hope it all works out for the best!

springlenner Fri 17-May-13 14:58:14

Thanks all. I knew MN would come to my rescue and let me see this for what it is...
neolara I've just sat down with her for 45 minutes ( planned) just as you said and went through in detail, with lists and a printout of the "job description", emails I sent her explaining her job before she arrived and a list of what she's doing well and not. What I need her to do and what I don't need her to do etc. Explained in detail that I am the one who puts the roof over all our heads, my car, my kids.( God, if you knew the high powered job I have you would all piss yourselves that I am such a walkover at home!) Realistically she's here to help me and not DH so didn't bring him into it.
Attempted to be completely dispassionate about it.
It seems to have gone well. I laid out a plan for 1 week in fine detail. A month is too long and she is going home for the weekend next weekend anyhow so if she wants to go, then she can leave next week.
And she's babysitting tonight. I'm going out at 6.30 and told her I didn't know when I'd be back..... ( but being a lightweight will probably be tucked up at 11.30 anyhow.... but I can dream)
Fingers crossed she'll realize what a good thing she has going here and tow the line. But thanks to you all again. I'm going to have a "meeting" with her again in a week and if I'm not happy she's out.
Am I allowed drive her to the airport???

Wow. She is extremely well paid as a cleaner - board and lodging plus £180??? pw. And doesn't seem to do any AP duties?

We have a happy AP on half that money who does a fantastic job as an AP (not great at the cleaning, but that's why we have a cleaner).

You could do a lot better OP. Lots of good advice above. And I would lay down the law about the babysitting tomorrow night.

Cathyrina Fri 17-May-13 10:16:45

I was an Au-Pair myself not too long ago and what this girl is doing is just not right at all. I'm sure you have spoken about what her tasks will be before you employed her and it's her job to do whatever is in her contract! Of course she can ask for little things to be changed if she really can't handle it but this has to be reasonable and she can't just refuse the morning run! When I was an Au-Pair I did a lot of cleaning too, which I was never asked for to do, but I just knew when mum and dad came home from work they would appreciate it so much because they could spend the time with their LO instead of cleaning the house. Also, I had the time to do it as I was home all day and it didn't affect childcare at all, in fact I used it to teach LO help me clean and she loved it and now always wants to help and cleans her toys etc.

I would do what was said above - sit down with her, be honest and go over her contract again (or set one up if you don't have one yet!) and let her know that she is not doing the job the way you need the job to be done. Set a period of time to give her a chance to change things, if she doesn't then give notice and replace her. The children are the most important part in this and an Au-Pair is there to help you out and look after them, not to refuse to do things and change the job into something she prefers to do what is totally different compared to the originals set up. She either wants to be an Au-Pair and has to do the job properly, or she doesn't and in that case this is not the right job for her.

Maybe if you like her you could offer her a cleaning role instead and employ a new Au-Pair to look after the kids?

Cloverer Fri 17-May-13 09:48:11

She could get a much better paid live-in housekeeper job somewhere and do no childcare - she'd be better off being a live-in housekeeper/companion for an elderly lady or something.

But yes, the current situation is bizarre. Your paying her a lot of money for her to tell you what she is going to do!

grabaspoon Fri 17-May-13 09:07:24

I am a live in nanny. i start work at 715 this morning I didn't feel like getting up BUT I wouldn't dare test my boss to say I was too tired and could she do my job! The response back would have probably involved resignation, p45, disciplinary action! Re babysitting occasionally I babysit but would not specify an end time mainly because once dc is in bed I can go to bed. I might mention I have other plans and try to work around them if there wasba clash but primarily my boss respects me and I respect my boss. Sounds like your aupair doesn't. If this was a workplace what would you do? Because to us it is!

You're letting her take the piss...stop it or its really not going to end well

Get rid...she works for YOU not the other way around...it's her Job to take them to school not ask if you'll do it...I'm a nanny and if I had the audacity to text my boss that I was to tired to take the kids to school and she'll have to do it, like a bloody princess, she'd (quite rightly)laugh in my face and tell me to get on with my job or go!

You're letting her take the piss...stop it or its really not

Isatdownandwept Fri 17-May-13 04:41:12

You need to find a replacement before the school holidays. End of.

Kids at home and an OCD cleaner who dislikes childcare is a recipe for disaster. You will both end up in meltdown.

springlenner Fri 17-May-13 00:50:56

Outraged, she likes the kids but you're right. I'm a sap.
I think she sees herself as a housekeeper not an au pair. ( I may have mentioned she takes great pride in housework). I am embarrassed to even mention the other things I've done for her to make her happy.
Now that I've written it all down it is obviously an untenable situation. I've got to set her straight.
Thanks MN - seeing the wood for the trees now. I think.

OutragedFromLeeds Fri 17-May-13 00:16:19

Good post neo.

I also find the setup a bit odd. You seem to be trying really hard to be accommodating to an au pair who a) doesn't do her job and, even worse, b) doesn't want to be with your children.

I'm not sure that 'having a word' will work, because at best she will force herself to do what you ask and be with the children, but do you want that? I don't want someone looking after my children who clearly doesn't like them!

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