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Au Pair not working out - how best to deal with it?

(16 Posts)
MGMidget Fri 18-Oct-13 16:34:04

Our au pair has been with us for 7 weeks. She has not been able to get to grips with the basics of the job which were discussed with her before she joined. I've had various 'performance management' discussions, done lists for her etc but its not working well and I've realised enough is enough. We know we're not asking too much because we've had au pairs before who had no trouble doing these basic things and lots more besides. And its standard type of au pair stuff I'm asking for for a school aged child, the usual au pair hours and she's only got one child to look after. She's basically useless and also difficult to live with!

So I want to get rid. However, she's in the middle of an English course that ends in December. I am planning to give her more than the contractual notice to give her a chance to find another family. However, assuming she doesn't manage it would you a) offer to pay her flight home and/or b) refund her language course in full or in part? or c) neither of these? We have no contractual obligation to pay her flight home or pay for the language course - the question is whether morally we ought to pay some or part of it or nothing if we're terminating her contract with notice because she's not up to the job and doesn't seem to improve when told specifically what is wrong.

Thanks.

AndHarry Fri 18-Oct-13 16:38:25

Ex au pair here.

I thought the host family was supposed to pay for the language course anyway?

I'd give her the option: either you pay for a flight home or for the rest of the course but she needs to leave your employment and house by X date.

OutragedFromLeeds Fri 18-Oct-13 17:00:47

I think you only need to pay for her flight home if you don't give her any notice. If she has sufficient time to either find another job or save for a flight then you don't need to pay.

Language classes are a bit trickier. They're often paid for by the family anyway. Is there any way your new au pair could have the old au pair's remaining lessons? You could reimburse the departing au pair and then provide them for the new au pair.

NomDeClavier Fri 18-Oct-13 17:26:57

The language college should be fairly used to APs dropping out and if you are willing to negotiate with them and explain it's not her being flaky, she's being fired, they may reimburse.

I would pay the flight home assuming it's not to Australia!

middleeasternpromise Fri 18-Oct-13 17:29:11

Ive never paid for language courses - I think that was in days gone by when the fees were more reasonable, these often run to 1000's now and none of the aupair sites suggest a family is expected to pay for them.

That said if your au pair has already paid up front and needs to remain until Dec you would do well to see if you can at least assist her with enough notice to find another family in the area if poss or a job!

MGMidget Sat 19-Oct-13 00:14:52

All au pair guidelines I've seen including Au Pair World where we recruited her from say Au Pair is expected to pay for her language course. Historically we've contributed for au pairs we're happy with. I discovered this one had lied to us in her application a few days after she arrived so I didn't offer to pay anything towards her course when she signed up around that time. So no it's not expected but I'm open to considering helping out if she can't complete it owing to being sacked - but only if I ought to. She shows signs of being defiant, disrespectful etc so I'm not feeling very warm towards her. I would like to behave reasonably though - whatever that seems to be in the circumstances.

I think it's a good idea to see if the language school will be sympathetic although I doubt they will be able to give the lessons to the new au pair. A new AP is unlikely to slot in at exactly the same level and will have missed half the course anyway.

Usedtomind Sun 20-Oct-13 20:38:02

I would tell her its not working and offer to buy a ticket home or 1 week notice.
If she is disrespectful and defiant I wouldn't want her hanging around my house looking after my kids, after been told she needs to go she might become even worse...
I wouldn't worry about her language course...she will need to sort it out. She is creating the problem by lying to you and now by not performing her tasks. Why did she lie?

minderjinx Mon 21-Oct-13 09:11:33

If she is useless, defiant and disrespectful it would be irresponsible to help her find another job where she might upset another family or even put a child at risk of harm. I'd send her home immediately and pay her fare.

verap Mon 21-Oct-13 10:52:10

I wouldnt pay anything - just give her 1-2 weeks' notice.

Just be prepared that she may leave earlier than that.... is she's pissed off.

Strix Mon 21-Oct-13 15:30:28

I would give her contractual notice (or pay in lieu). You are her employer. That is the done thing. I could understand you wanting to go beyond the call of duty if she was doing her a fantastic job. But, in fact, she is so appalling you are firing her. So, why do you feel obliged to do these things? Put your good will and kind intentions into the next one, who will hopefully deserve the things you offer.

Now, if your contractual notice is only a week and it's not feasible for her to organise another job and move in tat time, then maybe give her more notice... say a month. Pay her for it, but absolutely expect her to work it as well.

The language course and the flight home are definitely not your responsibility.

Heebiejeebie Mon 21-Oct-13 17:06:12

I would offer flight or equivalent in cash towards course.

Metrobaby Mon 21-Oct-13 21:51:03

I've just recently given my AP notice. I only offered to pay for her flight home. She didn't choose to do a language course - but if she had - it would not have made a difference. Agree with Strix - it is better to put your good will and kind intentions towards the next AP - who will hopefully turn out better.

Do bear in mind, when you give your AP notice, they might decide not to work at all or significantly tail off. During my AP's notice period, she didn't even bother to collect my dc from school and even told my 12 yo to cook dinner for herself and younger siblings!

There is no easy way of giving notice. Your AP will be upset - more so if she cannot find another family, and does not want to return home.

On a more positive note, our household atmosphere is so much better now that she is gone, and the whole family are much happier. I think you will breathe a sigh of relief when your AP is gone. Best of luck with your new AP.

LUKYMUM Tue 22-Oct-13 00:08:43

Metrobaby your au pair sounds absolutely awful. I'm so sorry you had to go through that.
Op after reading other posts, I agree. Don't be too nice.

MGMidget Tue 22-Oct-13 13:27:06

Contractual notice period is two weeks. I was thinking of giving a bit (but not much) more. DH was thinking that we should wait until November then give a month's notice so she finishes after her English exam at the beginning of December. It would solve the issue of the English course and we can manage with other childcare until the beginning of January. However, I'm doubtful I can put up with it for that long!

Thanks for the suggestions - it will help me sort out a plan before I break the news!

HomerPigeon Tue 22-Oct-13 17:27:45

Nothing to add really but I have just concluded a very similar experience to yours, OP, where I wanted to let the AP finish her English course but couldn't see how I could cope with her till Dec. In the end her bonkers behaviour forced my hand and I had to eject her this morning in unpleasant circumstances. Even with only a few hours' hindsight I can say: do not try to accommodate the AP, do what's right for you.

MGMidget Wed 13-Nov-13 12:01:49

I just returned to this thread to update with the end to the tale. I've since seen your thread Homer! Glad your new AP seems better!

I did the deed and gave AP 2 weeks written notice as per contract.. In the end I decided against giving more notice.

We had two pretty rubbish weeks in which she kept changing her mind about when she was leaving so we had to keep cancelling our plans to be there. In the end she turned up a few nights ago and announced she was going immediately and went to pack. She wouldn't tell me where she was going but I know (through other contacts) she's found another family without a reference from me so they probably don't know she ever worked for me!

So, if you are a North London italian family who just hired an Italian AP I wish you luck!

My lesson learned is that you can't be too careful or too suspicious. We uncovered a lot of lies told by the AP and her previous reference has since looked highly suspect. I'm not sure there is a sure way to get a good one apart from luck but we have managed to Skype call the previous family of a prospective new AP and being able to see someone's body language and gauge the person giving the reference seems reassuring. We are also considering a friend of one of our previous APs. So, hopefully we have some good candidates to choose from. Thanks, everyone for your words of wisdom!

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