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Au Pair just announced she's leaving early

(32 Posts)
BerkshireMum Sat 22-Jun-13 21:50:56

Our Spanish au pair started in mid-April and promised to stay until at least the end of September and probably until Christmas. She announced on Thursday evening that she's decide to stay in Spain when she goes for a planned visit in August.

Really angry about it - as I work in London full time but we live in a village an hour outside London so I really need someone on the ground who knows where the key places are and can drive the children where they need to be. We'll now get back from a two week holiday on a Friday when we both have to be back at work on the Monday and there'll be no au pair. Can't get a new one and then abandon her for two weeks straight away and neither of us have enough leave to take an extra week.

Do you think I should try and get a replacement ASAP and then send the current girl home?

Murtette Wed 26-Jun-13 22:22:48

Are there any Uni students local to you who are home for the summer and could cover the summer holidays so that you have a new ap starting in the autumn?

Scarletlips Wed 26-Jun-13 19:56:05

Hi BerkshireMum,
I feel your pain. Could you organise a new au pair before your present ap leaves. The present ap could then train the new ap and show her around the area?
Also you sound totally reasonable when it comes to being fair to your au pair and thought some comments above were a bit harsh ;)

BerkshireMum Tue 25-Jun-13 11:43:17

Thank you all. Mostly very helpful and appreciated. The hunt is on. Lots who want to start in September but not so many older ones (22+ for insurance reasons) looking for July or August. My wonderful mum has offered to cover the last week of the school holidays so I have a bit more flexibility now.

PostBellumBugsy Mon 24-Jun-13 10:23:48

BerkshireMum, I understand how annoyed you feel. I had aupairs for 6 years and on the whole it worked really well for me. However, I had one who left me massively in the lurch & it was very frustrating. She went back home for a holiday & sent me a text to say she wasn't coming back. Argh!

As you know only too well, aupairs need a lot of input in the early days to get them feeling settled, comfortable driving, show them where to go etc - so, get back on AuPair World or to your agency and get recruiting asap. If you find one that can come at a time that works well for you, then you just let the current one know that given she is leaving it makes more sense for you to get the next one in and therefore you will be paying for her to go home on X date.

Good luck.

singlevillagemum Mon 24-Jun-13 10:10:05

Just to sympathise Berkshiremum,

I've now realised that the longer school holidays are a sore point. AP2 left us with a weeks notice last summer depite only being 2 months in to a 9 month contract after a job in Spain came up.

AP3 also cut their 9 month contract short [with sufficient notice at least] to leave over the Easter holidays as the girlfriend wanted to go back to Spain.

I think it is part of the hazard with the Spanish economy at the moment that the AP jobs can be looked at as a stop-gap until something they want comes up.

I also don't think it is anything to do with your terms and conditions, so I wouldn't worry about some of the other things posted, it sounds like a lovely job.

AP4 is French, as was AP1 and seems to treat it as their 'job' and their length of contract as a binding thing [but I still have a back up plan in case they disappear over the summer holidays so I don't get caught like last year].

Fingers crossed for you that it all works itself out.

Mimishimi Mon 24-Jun-13 05:06:47

Did your au pair have to pay for her own ticket to Spain when you decided not to take her on your trip with you? Since au pairs only earn around £100 a week or so (not leaving much to pay for enrolment into increasingly expensive language colleges), perhaps she could not afford a return ticket back to England or felt that if she did come back, she'd only be working to pay that portion of the ticket off. If you covered the costs of her tickets, would she consider staying longer?

blueshoes Sun 23-Jun-13 22:23:00

I have had aupairs leave at pretty inconvenient times. It is a pain but you get through it. I cannot even bother to get mad these days. I just get hiring. And I can usually get an aupair to start within 2 weeks of my starting a search.

It is a well oiled operation and as an aupair host family, a good skill to have so you don't allow anyone to hold you to ransom.

7 aupairs in 5 years is good going. You mentioned a lazy one which I presume did not last long. So that means most of your aupairs have lasted close to a year. Any family who hires aupairs knows that is good length of stay. The children don't skip a beat because before and after school they are looked after in the same way in their own home. I agree I prefer this arrangement to before/after school clubs and cms or nannies (who would be overqualified for this job).

Once you find the replacement - which should not be long now - you can breathe a sigh of relief. I think 3 weeks should be more than sufficient for the replacement to bed in and be left alone. You might have to send your current aupair home early but I don't think by much.

EvaM Sun 23-Jun-13 21:47:39

Really feel for you BerkshireMum,

maybe this will make you feel better: in one of my previous ap roles, the neighbour's ap arranged a secret get away and text her mb that she was on her way home 2 hours before lo had to be picked up from nursery.

You've had over a month notice and there is always a way. Maybe you could ask another ap (with permission from their family), if they will have your kids beforeyou've found a replacement. They'll be grateful for the extra money (I know I was grin ). Or grandparents? friends?

Hope all works out (it will)

ZZZenagain Sun 23-Jun-13 15:45:04

It sounds to me as if the girl is homesick. She obviously hasn't settled so probably best for her and you if she goes home early. Start looking for a replacement and when you have someone, you can discuss with the current OP when she'll leave. As you have said her friend has gone back to Spain, she is not enrolled at college and spends little time with your family, preferring to eat alone etc. I think it wasn't the right job for her and she'll probably be ok to leave earlier if you find someone to start before you go away on holiday.

You could tell her that you will have to look for a replacement now and that the new au pair will need to start before August but if you think that will lead to her leaving right now, I suppose it isn't a possibility. Does she have a flight booked for August?

Nannyowl Sun 23-Jun-13 15:37:44

Berkshire mum could you get someone to cover the couple of weeks when you come back from holiday. Relative come and stay or advertise for a student, universities go back a little later than beginning of September.
Agree with other posters Reet was rude. au pairs tend to stay for a year at most so seven is normal for five years. And children are attached primarily to their parents so can cope with change of au pair well. They gain in my opinion by getting to know other cultures and learn something new from each one.

WouldBeHarrietVane Sun 23-Jun-13 14:48:42

Sounds to me like you are a good ap employer, op, or the previous 6 wouldn't have stayed. We have ap 3 about to start and one of the agencies I spoke to told me that families who try to overwork aps generally get their come uppance now as aps either go home or just go on the Internet and apply for another job - quite right too! The agency told me they get lots of aps applying to switch after a few months and some of our aps' friends said this too.

We are about to have ap 3 starting and DS is 2. We tried very hard to get a local nanny but no one wanted to work our very pt hours and childminders I liked didn't have vacancies. Nurseries wanted to charge 3 full sessions minimum. With an ap DS gets family member type care in his home and our previous two aps have become family friends - one is coming to stay in the summer. Both teachers in their home eu country and both mid 20s when they came. Ap scheme has worked brilliantly for us.

About your dilemma, I wouldn't send her home early as Aug is a really good time to recruit - you will be able to find someone easily. I would try to encourage her to enjoy her last few weeks.

Tanith Sun 23-Jun-13 13:45:46

I think we could have done without the equally judgemental statement about "local childminders" from Andagain, too hmm

HoneyandRum Sun 23-Jun-13 10:40:22

ReetPetit you did jump in to criticize with very little information regarding working hours for the Au Pair. It doesn't sound like any kind of case of exploitation. I think the OP is frustrated and ranting a bit to blow off the exasperation of knowing that as a working mum she suddenly has a new project in her in-box "find new Au-pair sooner than expected". OP hopefully you will move on after letting off steam here and realise she is NBU. Did you use an agency? Ask for some profiles of other Au-pairs and begin the process.

BerkshireMum Sun 23-Jun-13 10:17:41

ReetPetit That's rather judgemental and short sighted. It's not a money thing either - and we pay above the recommended rate. Seven au pairs over nearly 5 years isn't excessive. My children love it. Unlike their friends who are at after school and holiday clubs, mine are still able to do a full range of activities, clubs and classes and have friends home for tea etc.

My children are now in years 5 and 7. I am home in time to collect from activities - football training, guides, cubs etc. The reason for having au pairs was to allow consistency and for them to carry on with all this. They have breakfast at home, walk to school with their friends, play in the park after school, invite friends home for tea on a whim, do homework in their own home and are able to chill in their own space. Our au pair is also able to relax at home, as I would, when she is with them once they've had tea etc. I'm not fined if my train is delayed 10 minutes and most of the time everyone is happy.

I did employ a nanny when they were younger but it's just not an attractive nanny job anymore.

ReetPetit Sun 23-Jun-13 10:16:36

There are other options andagain - it doesnt have to be 'judgemental.local childminder' as you put it... How about just local childminder? Or as i suggested, nanny/before/after school care.

I have no issue with parents using childcare andagain - have done it myself and will be doing so again - what i object to is people having unrealistic expectations of childcare providers, expecting duties above and beyond what is usual for that particular role, paying peanuts for it and then moaning when it all goes tits up hmm

andagain Sun 23-Jun-13 10:10:22

OP, do you think there is any chance in persuading your current au pair in staying until your originally agreed date? Perhaps have another chat and explain how tricky it will be for you to find someone to replace her in such a short time and given that you will be away for two weeks in the middle of it.

If not, then really your only option is to start looking for someone as soon as possible and get them to start couple of weeks before you leave on your holiday so you can show them the ropes.

ReetPeetit, you really need to try and reign in the judgmental attitude you have towards parents who use childcare, particularly as I think you are a childminder yourself. You have done it in so many posts. The OP came in here asking for suggestions to get her out of the tricky situation she is in, not asking for people to judge her about her chosen childcare arrangements. Unsurprising she chooses to use "young foreign girls" as you put it, if the alternative is judgmental local childminders who judge you every step of the way even though they earn their living from you.

ReetPetit Sun 23-Jun-13 07:56:47

Why don't you just stop employing young, foreign girls who are obviously not wanting to stay long and are unreliable. 7 is a ridiculous number - seems very unfair on your kids!!

Have now idea how old your kids are but surely reliability and consistincy are key - especially as it appears you are both working - expecting au pair to have sole charge and drive kids around..

Can't you employ a nanny? Use a childminder? Before/after school and holiday clubs?

You can't be that desperate to save money that youd put yourself and kids through this regularly surely...

BerkshireMum Sun 23-Jun-13 00:17:29

It was fixed term to late September (we didn't define late September but I'd be fine with anything from Friday 13th so I didn't see that as an issue) then one month notice on either side thereafter.

Maybe really angry is an over statement - and I've still been very nice to her today - she's been on a day out with us (her first) at our expense (which I don't begrudge) - it's just that I've been so, so clear from right before she joined about the importance of covering that period because it's a tricky time to get a replacement. She's always known that and even last week she said something unprompted that demonstrated again that she had the same understanding as me.

Also, and not sure how relevant this is, but she isn't really young. She's 23 and has lived away from home before.

Anyway, I have to have cover from two days after we get back from holiday and there's no way a new au pair can arrive, learn to drive and generally get up to speed in that time. I don't have space to have two au pairs for two weeks before we go away (otherwise I would!) to make handover easy so I don't see an option other than settling in a new girl before we go.

Thanks for the comments - they do help me keep perspective!

Fairenuff Sat 22-Jun-13 22:27:54

How much notice did you agree to give on either side to terminate the employment contract? It would seem that she has given you a months notice which is fairly standard.

ChippingInWiredOnCoffee Sat 22-Jun-13 22:24:15

I don't really understand why you are angry - a little bit annoyed I understand, but angry?

She's young, she's homesick/bored/loney/whatever. She has given you loads of notice. All you need to do is look for your next Au Pair, which you would have had to have done anyway.

She has given you a lot of notice - it would be pretty crap of you to shaft her by making her go early, unless she would prefer to.

Viviennemary Sat 22-Jun-13 22:15:17

I can see why you are annoyed that she isn't staying till at least the end of September as she promised. But on the other hand she has given you quite a bit of notice. Over a month. It is a difficult situation but I don't think it would be quite fair to send the present girl home early.

But on the other hand you need the new person to start before you go on holiday. It sounds as if she is quite lonely and unhappy and of course that isn't your fault in any way when you have tried to include her. Maybe you can sort something out that would suit you both if you sat her down and discussed things. But I expect you already have.

RikeBider Sat 22-Jun-13 22:12:08

People are allowed to resign you know!

Yes, it would be ideal if she'd stayed til December, but I guess she has given you loads more notice than is in her contract?

BerkshireMum Sat 22-Jun-13 22:11:04

Thanks MissStrawberry. I'm on the hunt. I still feel a bit bad knowing I may send her home early but can't say anything until I know I case she walks out. I do try really hard to be fair to our au pairs. They do have to work hard, but i am clear from the outset and I also make a real effort to make sure they have a good experience. Most of our former au pairs are still in touch and several have been back for visits.

Current situation is unsatisfactory all round really.

LondonBus Sat 22-Jun-13 22:09:35

My point about the holiday would have been that the OP was going off on a nice, holiday, and not taken the au-pair....but it sounds like this au-pair wouldn't have cared anyway.

LondonBus Sat 22-Jun-13 22:08:37

In that case, you need to start looking now.

But calm down with the "really angry" stuff. grin

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