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Is 16 year old too young to work as an Au Pair?

(33 Posts)
EvaLongoria Mon 07-Dec-09 00:31:29

I have been looking for an Au Pair for a while now. I am single mom with a 2 year old studying a degree.

On the 2 days that I have college my DD goes to a childminder and 2 nights a week stays at her dad's.

I would need Au Pair to drop her off and collect at childminders. I would then need her help on the days I am not at college whilst I am trying to put some studytime in.

I have details for a Nanny job she did the last few months and finishing this week so will be calling the family.

Do you think its too young. Oh and she is french so not local.

colditz Mon 07-Dec-09 00:37:03

Hell yes.

I babysat for someone when I was 16 and my God, if that poor woman had known the stupid things I did she'd have fired me immediately.

I used to give the kid biscuits instead of meals and let her watch videos all day, I used to take her to the park and then simply go looking for her when I had finished talking to my mates, I used to take her in my boyfriend's car, I was often late because I simply didn't comprehend that the mother needed to be at work - I was a child. I had a lot of experience with children, and even with looking after children as I had younger siblings, but my judgement was awful. I wouldn't leave a child under 7 with anyone under 20. I was an idiot at 16, but I came across as mature, responsible and articulate.

frakkinaroundthechristmastree Mon 07-Dec-09 00:37:38

Depends completely on the person.

I probably wouldn't have been okay with total sole charge of an awake 2 year old at 16. It's still very young. And I probably wouldn't have been okay going abroad long term to a country where I didn't have friends or relatives to live with a random stranger, even though I'm sure you're very nice.

Odd question - what do her parents think of this?

nannynick Mon 07-Dec-09 00:52:39

What makes them an au-pair? Are they from abroad coming to this country to learn English?

Practicalities - do you live very close to the childminders? At 16 the person won't be able to drive, so would need some way of getting to/from the childminders.

16 is very young to be living in a different town, city, county, or country. Agree with frakkin... what do her parents think about her going to your [a strangers] home at such a young age?

What studying will the 16 year old be doing? If they want to do childcare, then doing part-time care whilst on a childcare course is fine ... but if they are just dropping out of education at the soonest opportunity, I would wonder how suitable they are. Would they not get rather bored helping you around the home, with a toddler?

nannynick Mon 07-Dec-09 00:58:03

Missed the bit where you said she was french. Assuming you are in England, then that makes it worse... as she would be living and working in a different country to her own, away from her friends and family.

As she is from an EEA country, she would be a Live-In Nanny (unqualified). The au-pair visa category was removed over a year ago now. As a live-in employee it is National Minimum Wage exempt, so you could pay her pocket money type wages (though if £95+ a week then National Insurance and later income tax starts to kick in and you would need to operate Simplified PAYE).

EvaLongoria Mon 07-Dec-09 01:17:34

I must admit, I found her on a paid au pair website, looked at her profile and everything but her age.

Only for the mere fact that initially I wanted anyone from 19 to 30 years old until I found a 37 year old who responded to me and she is just the type of person who I would love to look after my DD.

She is meeting another family who she agreed with before I decided to have her and I thought it is fair her seeing the other family, waiting on Wednesday to come back to me

This would my reason be why I didnt check her age on the website but chatted to her and on her profile it states she is 17 (still way too young for me) but on the questionnaire thing I emailed her she completed 16 years.

I think I kind of knew the answer but loved her energy in her emails and profile.

Will continue my search

colditz Mon 07-Dec-09 01:18:04

She's not old enough to vote

Not old enough to drive

She will require adjusted working conditions due to her age (this is the law, she will need more frequent breaks)

She's not old enough to drink

Not old enough to sign for your shopping delivery if you buy alcohol

She's not old enough to have given birth to a child the same age as yours.

She's BARELY old enough to have sex

If she claims any form of sexual assault, you will be investigated by Social Services, because she is not legally an adult, she is legally a child.

She is very unlikely to have finished her emotional development

You will have to do a health and safety assessment because she is under 18

If you want to go out and use her for babysitting, because you are her employer you may not employ her between the hours of midnight and 4 am because she is under 18

If anything happens to the child whilst in the care of the 16 year old you will be held legally responsible, and not only will your ability to care for your child be investigated, so will your ability to care for the 16 year old.

Please, please don't employ a child.

EvaLongoria Mon 07-Dec-09 01:21:48

Nannynick what do you mean. Members of EEA countries are allowed to work as an Au Pair but those from Non-EEA countries are not allowed to work as an Au Pair.

Please correct me if I am wrong

EvaLongoria Mon 07-Dec-09 01:23:37

Hi colditz

Yes I wont employ her, I think the reason I put it on here is for the mere fact that I thought I was coming to the end of my very long search and then stumbled upon the age. I kind of knew the answer before even putting it on here....

Treeesa Mon 07-Dec-09 01:36:16

16 is not old enough to qualify under the au pair placement rules - whether its the rules that used to exist, still exist in the UK or that exist in every other country that runs some form of au pair program

Most countries insist on 18 as the minimum age - UK are one of just a few that had 17 as its lower age point.

Saying all that, since she is French then au pair rules do not apply and assume she is free to travel and live with you. Some countries prevent children under 18 years old travelling overseas without parental consent - but if she is already here as a 'nanny' (!!) then presumably they are happy with it. If you do go ahead I'd want to speak with her parents though...

16 would certainly be too young for me to contemplate..

SofiaAmes Mon 07-Dec-09 06:14:54

If she is 16 why isn't she in school? As far as I know, the UK is the only western country that allows children to finish education at 16 on a normal basis.

nannynick Mon 07-Dec-09 10:15:57

The au-pair visa category was removed a little while ago, 2008 I think. Therefore someone from an EEA country is allowed free movement to work in another EEA country.
Under the old au-pair scheme there were rules about things like working hours, going to college. This no longer applies. Therefore someone caring for your child at your home, is a nanny - Ofsted use the term Home Childcarer. They can work whatever hours you like and don't have to go to language college. They don't have Visa restrictions, don't have to go home after a set period.

catepilarr Mon 07-Dec-09 10:54:51

people from EEA countries did not fall under the aupair scheme!
i dont know how it worked before 2000 when i first came to the uk but in 2000 EEA nationals were able to come and work /including work as an aupair/ in the UK with no restrictions or paperwork whereas we /'easterneuropians'/ needed a work permit or an aupair visa until we joined the EU in 2004.
i even remember that we were officially only allowed to work 25 hours a week as oridnary aupairs according the the home office regulations whereas the EEA aupairs were allowed to be an aupair+ and work longer hours.
what i am trying to say is that UK rules for aupairs from EEA countries have not changed for at least nine years /and i guess for much longer/, or rather thay havent been any rules in the UK for at least nine years.

nannynick Mon 07-Dec-09 11:20:32

But there were rules covering some people from some countries and those rules were removed in November 2008.

Think it affected people from:
Andorra, Bosnia-Herzegovina. Bulgaria, Croatia, Faroe Islands, Greenland, Macedonia, Monaco. Romania, San Marino, Turkey.
People from: Nationals of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Macedonia, Romania and Turkey also needed a visa before they travel to the UK under the scheme.

There were rules regarding age, hours etc.
Found this old info:
Au pairs are aged between 18-27 and their chief purpose for being in the country is to learn the language and assimilate the culture.
An au pair lives with you and should be treated as part of the family. Au pairs earn board and lodging and a small amount of money each week in return for childcare and light housework.
R.E.C (Recruitment and Employment Confederation) stipulates that au pairs should never have sole charge of children under the age of three.
An au pair should have their own bedroom and be allowed proper time to study English.

Found a link to the old INF16 (this no longer applies... it was removed in November 2008 - but it DID apply up till then, for those from the countries it lists).

My point is that "au-pair" no longer exists, as it was the terminology used for the scheme (INF 16). Now that people from more countries can come to work in the UK without needing a visa, without needing to be limited to working to 25 hours a week, without needing to attend language college - I feel there is very little difference between an "an-pair" and a "live-in nanny".

frakkinaroundthechristmastree Mon 07-Dec-09 11:25:11

What nick is trying to say, I think, as we have this quite often, is that the job status doesn't exist any more as the visa category has been removed so there are no restrictions on working hours.

There was previously an international au pair agreement, not legally binding, which laid out what an au pair did in countries which allowed the status of au pair. Can't link as on phone! Eea nationals have been allowed unlimited working since the uk joined up. The difference was that there was still such a job as an au pair in law and that person lived with a family, helped out, got pocket money and learnt English. That job no longer exists which people are only realizing with the abolition of the au pair visa.

Anyway all that to say the although certain countries have been legally allowed to work more hours this idea of an au pair persisted until last year when suddenly it stopped existing. With me?

frakkinaroundthechristmastree Mon 07-Dec-09 11:26:22


nannynick Mon 07-Dec-09 11:30:55

Yes that's sort of it. One of the key differences is that under the Au-Pair agreement, I don't think the au-pair was considered to be an Employee. Now they are!
Now that they are an Employee, they have more rights... though due to being live-in they are still exempted from National Minimum Wage.

We have a lot of job titles in use for people who care for children in a domestic home. It gets so confusing... I'm not surprised that Ofsted had to come up with yet another name - Home Childcarer - to try to cover all the job titles currently in use.

lucygreen Mon 07-Dec-09 11:47:45

if you are realy wanting her she could come and stay with you as a house guest and language student and maybe attend a local school or college and then you could train her up to look after your daughter in the future. it would be like fostering another child to start with but worth it in the long run if it gave someone keen a start in life.

I wouldn't. There is a big risk IMO that this person will need a LOT of managing and end up quite like another child.

Totallyfloaty35 Mon 07-Dec-09 15:14:36

I had a 15yr old helping me out.I thought she was much older,she was 5ft11 and she was helping run a youth club and an after school group.She was also the eldest of 8,so very used to being in charge.However she lived nearby and was not having to come to a foreign country.She babysat and was a holiday time mothers help.She was one of the most mature and level headed helpers i ever had.
Age doesnt tend to equal emotional maturity imo.
But for lots of the above reasons i wouldnt employ a 16yr old Aupair...but i have had a couple of 17yr olds,one great and one dreadful.

dikkertjedap Mon 07-Dec-09 17:08:22

I run an au pair agency and we would certainly not contemplate placing a 16 year old, especially not with a family with a two year old.

Also, you will be responsible for the au pair, especially given that she is clearly a minor, so rather than making your life easier this might actually make it more complicated.

I don't know where you are based but I am sure that there are plenty of au pairs around who would like the position you are offering and are a little older and more mature.

Also, on-line agencies might seem cheap but ultimately you are leaving your child in someone's care who might not have been properly vetted.

thebody Mon 07-Dec-09 18:15:04

totally and utterly yes she is much too young.. sorry but you would be out of your mind to trust a kid of that age..

Hando Wed 09-Dec-09 12:06:43

She may be more than capable of looking after your dd wonderfully. Or, she may be nothing more than a child herself and require "mothering" and be totally unsauitable.

Please remember lots of 16 yr old have thier own babies and make wonderful parents. Who said a 16 yr old couldn't have their own 2 year old? Many do nowadays!

Hando Wed 09-Dec-09 12:11:09

Also, Colditz - I appreciate you weren't able to look after a child at 16. But you go on to then say that you wouldn't leave an under 7 with anyone under 20. I think that's a pretty bold statement. Many nursery staff are under 20, LOTS of parents are under 20 - I was under 20 when I had and cared for my own dd.

Sure, some under 20's are idiots and irresponsible, not all though, I wouldn't even say most are.

frakkinaroundthechristmastree Wed 09-Dec-09 12:40:51

Hando it's very different when it's your own child and it's different in a nursery where the majority of staff will be trained or in training and supervised. There is no way this French girl at 16 can be qualified in childcare and caring for someone else's children is different to having your own. Incidentally you can leave school in France at the age of 16 but it is rare to do so, as it means leaving after the first year of lycee.

If colditz wouldn't leave a child in the sole charge of someone under the age of 20 then fair enough, but that is probably a minority view. Plenty of nannies are qualified and looking for their first sole charge job at 18 but the difference is they have 2 years of training behind them.

16 is still too young to have extended sole charge of someone else's child IMO.

Treeesa Wed 09-Dec-09 23:43:03

Going back to what you said EvaLongoria then you were right almost.

People from EEA countries can live/work as au pairs here in the UK, but people from outside the EEA apart from Canadians, Aussies, Kiwis and Japanese people can't.

The job status for "au pair" still exists and there are rules for specific nationalities within the EEA. Those rules still have age limits and restrictions on hours worked. It is still considered as a status a cultural exchange and is not an employment position.

If someone is from France then they are free to take up the same type of au pair position.

So it is only the au pair visa that has been removed, and not the au pair status.

The person you mentioned at 16 though is too young to be considered an au pair. If you take her on as a family then you would be really acting irresponsibly according to someone I have spoken to about it.

dikkertjedap Fri 11-Dec-09 12:21:45

Treeesa - Canadians, Australians, New Zealanders and Japanese can come to the UK as au pair under Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme see Annex A

frakkinaroundthechristmastree Fri 11-Dec-09 13:26:19

The status of au pair only exists if you're Romanian or Bulgarian though, with the restrictions on working hours etc. And I'm still not clear whether the language course requirement is still attahed or whether it just has to be an enlgish speaking family.

Everyone else is a home based childcarer to nab OFSTED's terminology. You can call them an au pair if you want but the old ideas of it being a cultural and language exchange and not having to have a contract etc are now out of date so a French person can't legally be termed an au pair, only Romanians and Bulgarians.

catepilarr Mon 14-Dec-09 15:42:55

i am with you treeesa on the fact that it's only the aupair visa that has been abolished, not aupair jobs as such. the french have been able to take up an ap position for years without needing an ap visa and still are.

Treeesa Tue 15-Dec-09 20:36:28

To dikkertjedap - yes I know about Canadians, Australians etc - I had written "APART FROM Canadians, Aussies, Kiwis and Japanese people can't."

Absolutely caterpilarr - more traditional countries like France, Germany and Scandinavian countries have been enjoying the au pair program for many years. Nothing at all has changed that means people from these countries can no longer participate and take up au pair positions.

I have had lengthy conversations about this recently with my agency and au pair status is still recognised by European and government organisations such as the Immigration & border agency, HMRC and others.

catepilarr Wed 16-Dec-09 09:49:24

i have just read that susan griffith's guidebook to nannies and aupair or whatever the name is says that uk has not ratified the europian treaty on aupairs (1969) because it says an aupair should have an contract and uk government was worried about the need to control the whole thing if it fell under the employment law.
cant link as the documents i read were in czech but perhaps someone has access to this book?

northlondonmumma Sat 19-Dec-09 21:00:25

I was an au pair at 16 in france - mainly to learn language and cos i love kids and it seemed a great short term opportunity.

I could not cook (i actually learned to cook an omlette and cook spaghetti when i was there!). i also didnt know much about kids. that said i was kind and caring and would not have left kids to themselves at the park (although i had no ideas how to discipline them!!). the family didnt work at taht time so i was really there to play with the kids and so they could pop out for the odd hour /eve here or there.

i agree with everyone's comments 16 is too young esp if you need to leave this person in sole charge of your kids on a regular basis .......but might be ok for occasional babysitting in an older sister kind of way

Pollyanna Sat 19-Dec-09 21:08:07

I wouldn't = all my au pairs under 20 have been pretty disastrous - just like having another child in the house imo.

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