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Is this reasonable for an au pair job? And when should I start recruiting?

(84 Posts)
SamSmalaidh Tue 02-Oct-12 17:53:55

I have never employed an au pair before but have read recent threads about expectations with interest!

At minimum I need someone to:
collect 3 year old DS from nursery around midday
take him home and feed him lunch (sandwiches, beans on toast etc)
play with him, maybe take him swimming, library etc until I get home around 4.30pm

Ideally I would also like someone to:
clear up breakfast things/tidy up the kitchen daily
keep on top of DS's laundry
run the hoover round up and downstairs at least once a week
occasionally hang out washing/put washing in or out of dryer
babysit once a week
maybe do a few hours on a Saturday morning every month or two so we can lie-in

Does this sound reasonable for an au pair?

I need someone to start doing childcare probably from end of August/beginning of September 2013, so was thinking they would arrive mid August to give them time to settle in. We will be away all of July 2013. With that in mind when should I start recruiting, and should I invite candidates for a trial weekend?

ProudNeathGirl Tue 02-Oct-12 17:57:31

Sound ok, except that she will need time in the week to go to English lessons - have you allowed for that?

It's difficult to have girls on a trial basis if they aren't already in the country, but if you use an agency there is a 6 week trial for both sides.

Having APs can be a great experience. We had APs for 10 years. Good luck!

SamSmalaidh Tue 02-Oct-12 18:04:48

I've had a look at language schools near us and they all seem to do very expensive intensive courses - so 20 hours a week for 2 weeks - 3 months. There is one school that does an evening course, 1.5 hours 2x a week, and I think we would consider paying for that - maybe as part of an agreement that they stay with us for a year?

VerityClinch Tue 02-Oct-12 18:08:03

IME that's too much to expect from an au pair.

Sole charge childcare 4.5 hours x 5 days, domestic duties (laundry, housework etc), babysitting.

I'd say you need a part time nanny/housekeeper.

ProudNeathGirl Tue 02-Oct-12 18:19:06

It's about 20 hours, which is what is recommended.

I don't think you can force her to stay for a year if she wants to leave, even if you have agreed to pay her school fees.

SamSmalaidh Tue 02-Oct-12 18:19:27

I was thinking that the chores could be done with ds there - eg. letting him watch TV for half an hour or so after lunch while she does the hoovering or puts a wash on. Working hours 11.30am-4.30am approx, so 25 hours a week plus one babysit.

ProudNeathGirl Tue 02-Oct-12 18:20:33

Ps. I would start recruiting about a month before you want someone to start. Most girls are able to come pretty quickly.

DowagersHump Tue 02-Oct-12 18:27:57

I agree with Verity

VerityClinch Tue 02-Oct-12 18:30:17

I'm not saying you won't find someone who will agree to that. I'm saying I think you will find you will struggle in the reality of things to find someone who will fulfill all those duties in line with your expectations.

SamSmalaidh Tue 02-Oct-12 18:31:06

I'm not sure 11.30am-4.30pm would be very attractive hours for a nanny hmm

What bits do you think it would be ok to ask an au pair to do, and what isn't?

VerityClinch Tue 02-Oct-12 18:39:42

I think you might well find a part time nanny. We had a couple who worked 3/3.30-7pm with one nights babysitting, one was studying to be a midwife and finished at college at 2.30pm and one had a lunchtime bar job and did some evenings there too after she left work with us.

Not the same hours as you, but 11.30-4.30 with one night babysitting is a proper part time job.

DowagersHump Tue 02-Oct-12 18:45:11

One of my friends had a nanny who worked pretty much those hours (but didn't do cleaning).

What about a nanny share?

I don't think that you're asking anything especially difficult, it's just that it's rather long hours. The British AP Assoc says:
The au pair’s schedule must provide sufficient time to attend language school, and the au pair shall receive two free days each week and should be offered one full weekend off per month.

That isn't what you're proposing.

SamSmalaidh Tue 02-Oct-12 18:46:00

Maybe I have misunderstood something, but is 25 hours a week plus a babysit not a typical au pair job? Everything I have read suggests those are normal hours.

DowagersHump Tue 02-Oct-12 18:48:28

You said that you want her to work weekends every month or so. And babysit once a week (assume that will largely be Friday/Sat night) so that's not 2 free days a week.

And really, I think that you need to pay for language classes during the day, not in the evenings. When is she going to meet people and socialise?

SamSmalaidh Tue 02-Oct-12 18:50:02

Sufficient time to attend language school - it would have to be an evening class, as I don't think the intensive 20-30 class a week courses would be practical (or affordable!).

Two free days a week = each weekend

One full weekend a month = I imagine most weekends would be entirely free

SamSmalaidh Tue 02-Oct-12 18:51:10

I can't afford £200 a week for daytime language classes, and haven't found anything other than intensive classes at private language schools here unfortunately.

StillSquiffy Tue 02-Oct-12 18:52:14

I think you are fine with everything except having AP clean/tidy/laundry etc whilst she has sole care of your 3 YO. IME they just don't have the nous to multi-task whilst keeping eye on your child at same time. Mums seem to haver the protective button hard-wired into an on position but APs (and sometimes DHs) just don't seem to.

So, I'd separate the cleaning bit and add it on at the end of the day, so that they have mornings free for language courses. Or have your child stay in nursery till 4.30 one day a week to allow for this.

If you keep it at 25 hrs, its an AP role, at 30-35 hours it's an 'AP plus' role. I think it's fine for an AP and you don;t need a nanny (I'd have thought differently if child were younger)

Language courses - the best ones are done by your local adult education colleges - check your local authority education websites. Private ones are usually way too expensive. Pointless to get them to sign a commitment in return for having course paid - realistically you wouldn't be able to do anything if they just upped and left, so no reassurance on your side, and increases the chances of a moonlit flight if she decides to leave before time is up.

DowagersHump Tue 02-Oct-12 18:52:15

But if you want her to give you lie ins once a month, are you going to give her a day off during the week?

No, thought not.

NormaStanleyFletcher Tue 02-Oct-12 19:01:29

1 au pairs are not just girls, they can be boys (to all of you saying 'she') wink
2 I think it sounds ok if you get a good au pair, but maybe get a cleaner in for an hour twice a week instead of asking her to clean. And forget the lie in grin

LadyHarrietdeSpook Tue 02-Oct-12 19:03:04

If you came on here asking how easy it would be to fine a nanny willing to do just those hours I'd say...goooood luck to you. Becuase they would be thin on the ground.

I don't think the role is too onerous for an AP (and in fact you may well find one who is delighted with such a role) but the hours are a bit tricky. For some reason we ahven't found that many evening language courses in our area (greater London) but you might be luckier in your area.

You do want whatever schedule they do to be able to accommodate this - it's an important part of their year AND the way they make friends. If all the ohter APs are doing the 9.30-11.00 language course slot (and going to the movies, the pub in the evening when she's supposed to be at her class) she will miss out and quite possibly be not so happy.

Can you rejig your DCs hours at all? How far away is the language school? If it's close to the nursery it might be okay.

Agree with other comments about having low expectations re multi-tasking with cleaning etc.

Pay her extra for the Saturday babysitting too.

SamSmalaidh Tue 02-Oct-12 19:06:37

No local authority ESOL classes here either - some available through Children's Centres but targeted at particular communities.

OK, so forget the Saturday morning (though we could offer to swap an afternoon in the week for a Saturday morning occasionally if we have a big event to attend?).

No more than 2 Saturday night babysits a month?

Forget the hoovering and get a cleaner instead.

Could I still ask her to do DS's laundry still, and keep his room tidy?

LadyHarrietdeSpook Tue 02-Oct-12 19:10:33

OK, so forget the Saturday morning (though we could offer to swap an afternoon in the week for a Saturday morning occasionally if we have a big event to attend?).

I'm sure most wouldn't mind this, but it would be a good gesture to offer her a sweetener in addition in any case. Couple of movie tickets? Round of drinks if she's going out? This is what I would personally do if it came up.

to your last query yes you can.

blueshoes Tue 02-Oct-12 19:13:24

Dowager, aupairing has seriously moved on from traditional notions. Aupairs are legally like live-in employees with equivalent rights.

If OP wants to ask her to work on a weekend every now and then, they can agree this without any issue whatsoever. So I don't understand why you are asking OP about giving the aupair off a day in the week in compensation. If it is agreed before the aupair joins, that is the deal.

NormaStanleyFletcher Tue 02-Oct-12 19:14:40

I am very lucky with my au pair. She taught English in Spain so doesn't need language classes.

Actually op, why don't you have a look at the British au pairs? There were a fair amount on great au pairs last time I was looking.

SamSmalaidh Tue 02-Oct-12 19:18:29

I hadn't considered British au pairs - I suppose I assumed they wouldn't be interested in staying in the UK. We have a connection to two languages (not native to us) though so I had thought it might be nice for DS to be able to learn one of them.

blueshoes Tue 02-Oct-12 19:20:18

Having said that, a weekend lie in is quite an imposition for an aupair because that means she might have to give up partying the night before. A sweetener as Harriet suggested would be nice.

blueshoes Tue 02-Oct-12 19:24:21

I have never really had a British aupair because they don't fit the profile of someone who would get the maximum experience out of an aupair role. Would worry about their attitude and whether their heart was in it.

But others who have used British aupairs might disagree. Of course, there is no language barrier, which is a plus.

Frakiosaurus Tue 02-Oct-12 19:24:36

Do be aware that by limiting your search to candidates with a particular language who are prepared to speak their language to him rather than English you may need to increase the lead time on recruitment, particularly if it is German you're after because I'm seeing 2013 profiles up already.

You may also need to give significant amounts of direction on suitable afternoon activities. And definitely drop the cleaning bar tidying his room. Laundry may depend on the au pair.

SamSmalaidh Tue 02-Oct-12 19:28:26

I'm interested particularly in German and Polish speakers. Given that I need to have someone ready for a mid-August arrival by the end of June, when should I start looking?

LadyHarrietdeSpook Tue 02-Oct-12 19:28:27

Frak what the heck are you talkin' about on the other thread? Pls tell me just as our nanny has resigned I will NOT have to deal with PAYE for an AP....

LadyHarrietdeSpook Tue 02-Oct-12 19:29:04

End of June will be tight for the Germans as the good ones may still be tied up with Arbiter examinations. Better off for mid July.

Frakiosaurus Tue 02-Oct-12 19:56:53

"Employers and pension providers will send this information to HMRC online for payments made to all their employees including those paid below the National Insurance Lower Earnings Limit (LEL)."


LadyHarrietdeSpook Tue 02-Oct-12 20:09:27

completely insane Frak.

catepilarr Tue 02-Oct-12 20:18:02

in my opinion the job as you outlined it is fine, lots aupairs would love to have a one three yearold to look after. dont expect an aupair do other work while s/he is watching a child apart from fixing his meal or sweeping/tidying after meal/ shoving laundry into the maschine. as other people said aupairs are not usually experienced enough to multitask and certainly doing cleaning and watching a child is not fair thing to ask.
you can say that you pay her for her language classes if she stays whatever time you agree on, as a kind of a bonus. otherwise you might end up with a course paid and an aupair gone.
and an occasional swap of a saturday morning for an afternoon sounds ok to me. just needs to be discussed upfront (before matching).

blueshoes Tue 02-Oct-12 20:28:04

Sam, why do you need someone to arrive mid-Aug to be available end June? I think 4 weeks is plenty of time, so start looking around mid-July, as Harriet says, is fine. I have hired aupairs in less than 2 weeks from start of looking to their arriving where it was a childcare emergency.

The risk of hiring too far in advance is that they might find other things to do in the meantime and then you would be left high and dry if they don't show. <Thinking of a certain French aupair ... hmm>

SamSmalaidh Tue 02-Oct-12 20:30:18

We are away all of July (from 30th June to 31st July) and it will difficult for me to do any recruiting during that month. So ideally I need someone lined up before we go away.

dikkertjedap Tue 02-Oct-12 22:19:04

As others have pointed out, I don't think you can expect the au pair to clean whilst looking after your three year old. I also don't think that it is reasonable to expect her to babysit on a Saturday evening, she is supposed to have the whole weekend off unless you give her two consecutive days off at another point during the week (which needs to be mutually agreed upfront). Saturday mornings are a no no as well.

Normally au pairs are expected to follow language courses during the day, not during the evening! Alternatively, you could look for an au pair who has already got very good command of English and is not interested in following a course.

LadyHarrietdeSpook Tue 02-Oct-12 22:24:34

I have never heard that 'rule' abt saturday babysitting. It is definitely NÓT standard never to ask them to do it in the evening. We pay extra and woukdnt do it more than twice a month but of course an AP Will babysit on a sat evening from time to time.

blueshoes Tue 02-Oct-12 22:58:59

Dik, I don't agree with your 'rules' on weekend babysitting. Everything is subject to agreement between the host family and the aupair. It is an employment relationship, as any other.

MrAnchovy Tue 02-Oct-12 23:23:34

Well it's not quite totally up to the employer and employee to agree, you have to comply with certain aspects of the Working Hours Regulations, in particular regarding daily and weekly rest breaks.

But I don't agree with the early posters on this thread, particularly this:

"Sole charge childcare [of a 3 year old attending nursery] 4.5 hours x 5 days, domestic duties (laundry, housework etc), babysitting." - this is EXACTLY the description of a typical au pair role.

MrAnchovy Tue 02-Oct-12 23:24:24

... and paying for language school is very rare.

chloeb2002 Wed 03-Oct-12 04:40:45

I am no expert but have had aps for 5 years now. We are based in australia so we are not governed by what appears to be tight UK management of aps. Ours with only one exception have stayed a year and had a great time. I figure I treat my ap like a younger .sister. I dint expect much in the way of house work just to be tidy and help out as a part of the family. My ap does at most 3 days a week and normally two. Every weekend off and time to travel around my leave and juggling my roster. I fear many people have ap as live in slaves? I guess I am soft.. but I do all the washing, I tidy bedrooms, I clean up and I cook. But my ap gives me peace of mind that my children are looked after at home, collected from school, Kindy.. and all for a sensible amount of money and offering someone a new experience.

OttillieRidiculous Wed 03-Oct-12 08:31:38

OP - the aupair is supposed to get something out of the experience other than bed and board. I think you need a childminder and cleaner.

Bonsoir Wed 03-Oct-12 08:40:09

Your minimum (4.5 hours per day, five days a week) is 22.5 hours of work, unsupervised. If you added one Saturday morning (five hours) per month and one babysit per week, that would be a reasonable amount of work.

RTchoke Wed 03-Oct-12 08:48:54

Mumsnet au pair threads are always full of people saying that the OP is expecting too much, shouldn't give sole charge etc. In RL au pairs often willingly work more than this OP is envisaging. Their pay should reflect this but it's v normal.

I would always go for Canadian or Australian au pairs so there is no language barrier and language courses are of course not a factor. They often come for the experience (although most want London) and weekends off to party and travel are a must but they are usually happy to work hard in the week.

SamSmalaidh Wed 03-Oct-12 09:37:54

dikkertjedap - there aren't really any suitable language courses available in the day.

Ottillie - what kind of thing should they be getting from the experience? I'm not clear on this confused I assumed they would want to live in a new country, go out in the evenings, learn a language, and not sure why working in the afternoons would prevent this...

MrAnchovy Wed 03-Oct-12 09:48:44

"We are based in australia so we are not governed by what appears to be tight UK management of aps"

This is a myth promulgated by the British Au Pair Agencies Association. There are in fact NO regulations applying specifically to au pairs in the UK (although Bulgarian and Romanian nationals and anyone entering under the Youth Mobility Scheme are subject to certain restrictions).

MrAnchovy Wed 03-Oct-12 09:53:30

On the subject of trial weekends, we (and a number of other MN AP veterans) swear by them. Cheap European air travel makes it a practical proposition, certainly less than an agency fee: we have saved ourselves from two disasters this way.

Your au pair will be looking after your child from 11.30 to 4.30 - so 5 hours.

Who takes your child to nursery? You?

What time does your au pair need to leave home to be at the nursery for 11.30 pick up?

So, I take it your au pair will have free time every morning until 11, when she needs to get herself ready to pick up your child. Then spend 5 hours with him sole charge until you get home from work.

You want her to tidy his room and do his laundry.

When does she eat dinner? With you, or will you expect her to cook her own food?

I honestly think this is too much for an au pair. Usually au pairs are young girls/boys, aged 17-19 with very little child care experience.

I would not leave my child so many hours with unqualified child care.

Usually au pairs are used as wrap around care, not THE child care.

Ie, my au pair would get up with me in the morning, help get the kids ready for school/nursery, and then take them there. Then she had the whole day off, until 3pm pick up time, when she brought them home and spent time with them until I finished work. Or she took them to the park, or to spend time with another nanny/ au pair friend and their charges.

I worked four days per week, and on that day, she took the kids to school/nursery, and I picked my youngest up from nursery, and did fun things with him, while she picked my oldest up at the regular time. Unless we did something together all of us.

The 4.5 hours were spread out as help in the morning, and after school, NOT 4.5 hours sole charge!

andagain Wed 03-Oct-12 10:42:19


I think 11.30-4.30 Mon- Fri hours are perfectly fine as is Saturday babysitting occasionally as long as you give them enough notice.
I personally think that as long as hours (excl babysitting) do not exceed 25 and your AP knows exactly which hours she is working, that is fine as that gives them a chance to plan their social life around the hours they work.

We have it in our contract that she babysits on a specific day every week, so that she can plan her social life around it. If we want our AP to do any additional babysitting (which is about one extra night every fortnight) we pay extra.

Paying for their language course is a perk. If you want to contribute to her course fee I would offer to reimburse her for however much you want to contribute, once she has stayed six months (or whatever you think is appropriate minimum stay).

We always recruit our au pairs well in advance. It is perfectly reasonable for you to start looking in May for Aug/Sep start as that will give you enough time for phone/skype interviews and if you wish a weekend trial with the final one or two. We always do this and I strongly recommend it. Worth every penny.

I hope this helps.

MrAnchovy Wed 03-Oct-12 10:52:45

"Usually au pairs are young girls/boys, aged 17-19 with very little child care experience."

Very many au pairs are graduates aged 21+, this is particularly true in the current European econimic climate: you choose the AP to suit the role. Picking up from school at 3.30 and sole charge till 7 when parents get home is very common, 12 to 4.30 is not much different and the earlier finish and lack of morning split shift is more attractive to many.

areyoutheregoditsmemargaret Wed 03-Oct-12 11:15:23

I would advertise on Gumtree or aupair world (personally don't like latter but many swear by it) stating exactly that this is what you're looking for and what you're prepared to pay.

When good people respond double check they are happy with this deal. If they are, then bingo! So long as you pay reasonably I'd have thought it was perfectly possible to find someone.

I think you're on the right lines looking for an au-pair. Not a nanny!

We have an aupair (our second) and she takes the kids to school, hoovers, tidies up, babysits twice a week (by arrangement) and does their laundry & ironing. It's about 25 hours a week.
In return we pay her pocket money, include her in all our family outings (if she wants to!) and treat her like a member of the family.
We are not paying for english lessons - the agency I used (an excellent one called suggested that paying for lessons is not an expectation of host families. Can I suggest that you DO use an agency - they do al the legwork, all the CRB checks are done etc, and it's far less stressful How would you know the person you see on Gumtree has had all these checks?

I am quite stunned at some of the rather snotty remarks left on this thread! hmm

Direct message me if you have any queries. Good luck! smile

Ps: I'd start recruiting at least 8 weeks before. If you use an agency talk to them a few times to give them a better idea of what it is you're looking for.

Frakiosaurus Wed 03-Oct-12 12:57:15

mummy please tell me you did at least verify the checks?!

A good agency will do them, a bad agency will say they do but don't or will do them half-heartedly. You can't know which is which just by looking so you should always verify the info. It's safer to recruit yourself and do the checks yourself than rely just on the word of an agency.

There are other benefits to agencies if you want additional support but supposed background checking and knowledge of employment law are on my list of disadvantages rather than positives.

blueshoes Wed 03-Oct-12 13:23:17

Totally agree, Frakio. You can never tell with an agency. My aupairs have previously told me the level of checks vary from agency to agency, some of which are shockingly little to none.

I personally use aupair world (which is good for German aupairs, in particular). The most important part of my due diligence, apart from paper references, is to get an English-speaking non-relative/non-family friend employer reference and to call the reference and ask their views about the aupair specifically. I don't hire without such a reference.

MrAnchovy Wed 03-Oct-12 13:46:59

In particular, a CRB check is useless for someone who has spent most or all of their life abroad. Most European countries operate a system of police checks though, you have to contact them directly: the embassy web site is a good place to start looking.

SamSmalaidh Wed 03-Oct-12 14:57:51

I'm quite suprised that some people feel an average 18-22 year old couldn't watch one 3 year old for 4.5 hours at a time - I would look for someone who has had some experience with children this age and have them first aid trained. I can understand not expecting an au pair to do a 10 hour day or look after a young baby but feel that most should be able to keep a child safe for 4-5 hours.

Quintessential - 11.30am would be the time they'd have to leave the house. I would assume she'd eat dinner with us, but wouldn't insist on it. DH would take DS to nursery - he also works from home so would be on hand if she had any problems.

OK, the alternative set up I could do with less childcare involved/fewer hours would be:
Collect DS from nursery at 3pm and look after him til 5pm Tuesday-Friday
Take over all the cleaning (3hrs for a cleaner, so 6 hrs for an au pair?) to be done before 3pm Tuesday-Friday
Babysit Friday night
Saturday morning 7am-12pm
Sunday and Monday off

Would that be more/less attractive for an au pair?

YUNoSaySomethingNice Wed 03-Oct-12 15:16:13

It depends how much you are going to pay her. I think a lot of AP are paid very little for the number of hours they are expected to work.

LadyHarrietdeSpook Wed 03-Oct-12 15:30:03

Your initial schedule was fine. I don't think you need to rejig.

On the revised one I don't think many APs would be very happy committing to the saturday am thing, with Sun and Mon off.

I would just go with what you originally suggested.

OttillieRidiculous Wed 03-Oct-12 16:39:04

You want to go out every Friday night and have a lie in every Saturday morning?

SamSmalaidh Wed 03-Oct-12 18:03:58

I'd like to have the option of going out one night, and probably some lie-ins. And if DH takes over some of the childcare (eg. on a monday) he'll probably need to catch up on work at the weekend so it would be good to have some Saturday cover.

Ottillie will you explain what you meant about the au pair needing to get something out of the experience?

SamSmalaidh Wed 03-Oct-12 18:09:45

In terms of pocket money I was thinking £75 a week for 25 hours, so with the value of the room and board (approx £100 a week) it works out to around £7 an hour.

blueshoes Wed 03-Oct-12 19:31:04

Agree with Harriet. Friday night is prime socialising night for aupairs, so making Friday babysitting and Sat morning duties a regular thing won't be attractive. I am sure occasionally upon pre-arrangement is fine.

Also I don't see any objection to an 18-22 year having sole charge of a 3 year old for 4.5 hours. Of course, you would keep an eye in the early days but if all goes well, that should be fine. All my aupairs would have been up to the task.

blueshoes Wed 03-Oct-12 19:31:29

The pocket money is also fine for the hours you state.

MrAnchovy Wed 03-Oct-12 19:39:59

Many people find the term "pocket money" patronising and that does not accurately reflect the fact that you are paying the AP (and providing board and lodging, bus pass, phone etc.) in return for the work she does for you and your family. This forms a contract of service and makes her an employee, and the money you give her is wages or salary (and is of course subject to income tax and national insurance if over the thresholds).

Pocket money is something given freely to a minor child: the child may be expected to do some chores in order to 'earn' the pocket money, but there is no intent to form a binding contract on either side.

YUNoSaySomethingNice Wed 03-Oct-12 19:58:45

Paying £7 an hour for cleaning is very cheap. Most people pay £9 or £10 and £100 a week for board is what you would charge if you are wanting to make a profit. It won't cost you anything like £100.
I think £75 for 25 hours work including cleaning and evening and early morning work to be very very cheap. I do understand this is not unusual though. I just find it a bit tight. If it were me I would pay more and hope to have a happy and hard working AP. Alternatively, I wouldn't ask her to do cleaning.

blueshoes Wed 03-Oct-12 21:22:51

YuNo, you must bear in mind that the rates you are quoting are for a professional cleaner or even a professional nanny.

Aupairs are not skilled and very often, their cleaning leaves a lot to be desired which the host family is generally happy to put up with if the aupair has good rapport with the children.

I am sure your aupair will be very pleased with more pocket money. However, I don't really think the amount you pay correlates with the quality of aupair that you get. You will find that many families with good aupairs will be naturally inclined to be more generous and flexible but are also somewhat wary at the start because you do end up with timewasters as aupair hiring is not a science and all too often a hit and miss affair.

dikkertjedap Wed 03-Oct-12 22:16:20

I don't think that it will work long-term to have your au pair working on Friday night and Saturday morning. I think that the risk is that you get a desperate girl agreeing to your terms and once she is here, she will get to know other au pairs (and thus other families) and may leave at short notice. You are stuck then.

Others may suggest that you come to an agreement and that is it. This is not true because she is not your employee in the strict sense of the law so you are not going to be able to enforce your agreement.

I have had many au pairs. We are still in touch with au pairs from years and years ago and we get many new au pairs on their recommendation. I have found that the best way is to make sure your au pair is happy and feels a valued member of the family, through:

- well defined tasks, including precise working hours
- not too much cleaning (she is not your cleaner after all)
- clear suggestions how to occupy the child(ren) and what to do or not to do
- making sure that she has a nice room
- making sure that she has access to internet/skype/phone
- making sure that she has plenty of time to socialise
- allowing her to have friends/sisters visiting and staying overnight during the weekend
- giving her the full weekend and Friday evening off
- not more than two evenings babysitting during the week
- giving time off for courses, including during the day which can be quite inconvenient for the host family
- including the au pair in family activities (eg days out, dinners out, film, theatre etc.)
- I would pay at a minimum £75 plus travel allowance and phone card per week, several au pairs we have paid £100 after three months because they were simply worth their weight in gold and brilliant with the children

I also would give yourself plenty of time to find an au pair. If you go through an agency I would say three months in advance.

blueshoes Wed 03-Oct-12 22:29:47

dik: "Others may suggest that you come to an agreement and that is it. This is not true because she is not your employee in the strict sense of the law so you are not going to be able to enforce your agreement."

Absolutely. Anyone who has used aupairs are all too aware that aupairs can pretty much leave any time they want and there isn't much the families can do about it. All you can do when hiring an aupair is give them as clear an idea about their responsibilities and hours and reach a mutual agreement. This means they are more likely to stay than if the family sprang a Fri babysitting arrangement on them, but it is still no guarantee they will stay if it does not work for them down the road.

So all this talk about exploitation goes right over my head. If anything, I find myself at the mercy of aupairs. Hence, I pay a lot of attention to the aupair's profile and find out what they want out of their stay and try to meet it to mutual satisfaction. It makes no sense for me to try and force unpalatable terms because hey, I would just be shooting myself in the foot.

DowagersHump Wed 03-Oct-12 22:49:44

That's true to an extent but my cousin was stuck in a remote village with little money, no public transport and a hideous family. She couldn't leave.

That was a long time ago, before the advent of mobiles etc. On that basis though, I would feel much more comfortable employing western APs because they don't have a massive financial incentive to stay. The person who posted on that other thread that said they always employed Romanians made me feel v uncomfortable.

blueshoes Wed 03-Oct-12 23:03:50

Dowager, once an aupair is in UK, her attractiveness to other host families in the UK goes up dramatically. Some aupairs, even after some fairly nominal aupair/childcare experience, including the Eastern European ones, start to ask for rates on Gumtree approaching nanny's.

All my aupairs, including the one from Romania, had their own laptops and mobiles. I offered them a free one in my ad but none of them needed it. They know about aupair facebook and pretty much can access a lot of information on their own. Certainly they must exchange information about the perks and treatment by their host families. I don't think aupairs are necessarily as vulnerable as you have in your mind.

MrAnchovy Wed 03-Oct-12 23:40:41

"This is not true because she is not your employee in the strict sense of the law"

Actually she is your employee in the strict sense of the law, but I agree with everything else you say - if she feels that she is getting a raw deal compared with other APs she knows/comes into contact with, she will leave, and rightly so.

LadyHarrietdeSpook Thu 04-Oct-12 10:35:27


On that basis though, I would feel much more comfortable employing western APs because they don't have a massive financial incentive to stay.

We've always done this. Our APs come from Germany, have been well educated and are from well off families. They certainly don't need the job or the money. People who speak good English and have had loads of opportunities already leave us speaking even better English, having had some great experiences.

I have actually struggled a bit with this, thinking that maybe it's right we offer the opportunity to someone who has had fewer opportunities growing up, that we make some sort of 'investment' in a young person in this way, including possibly paying for the language school.

So you see this is the other side of the coin to employing someone from a country which is less economically well off than the UK - not everyone is looking for a 'slave' who needs the money. If I had more time to spend with an AP, I would hope I would be incliend to do this.

LadyHarrietdeSpook Thu 04-Oct-12 10:36:59

It would be great to be able to take someone with quite basic English to advanced intermediate in a year.

LadyHarrietdeSpook Thu 04-Oct-12 10:52:40

It's certainly much easier for the HOST FAMILY to employ a well off au pair who already speaks English. It is in no way the moral high ground to stick to this population of young people looking to find an AP role.

DowagersHump Thu 04-Oct-12 11:16:11

Interesting point Harriet. That's exactly to me what having an AP is about though (the way you're thinking about it) - making it a really mutually beneficial relationship rather than an employer/employee one.

That to me is why APs are so much cheaper than other forms of childcare - that they're getting something out of it over and above childcare experience.

dikkertjedap Thu 04-Oct-12 11:37:33

I agree that it is really important that the au pair gets something out of it.

We have had lots of au pairs, many came from families where a university degree would not necessarily be considered. Several have enrolled in university after having stayed with us for a 1 to 2 year period. We are still in touch with all bar one. Many still come over at least once a year.

I think it is very rewarding to have a young person in your house to whom you can make a difference and who makes a difference to your life and especially the children's, as well.

We tend to take our au pairs with us on all our trips (unless they really don't want but that has never happened yet), including abroad, not really for any childcare purpose (because we prefer to look after our kids when we are on Holiday) but because it gives them opportunities which they otherwise may never have.

ProudNeathGirl Thu 04-Oct-12 13:12:38

For comparison - our au-pair (10 years ago) got the kids ready for school, with the help of DH, after I had left for work. She then walked them the 10 mins to school. The day was her own, to attend classes, meet friends, as she wished, but we expected her to keep both DDs bedrooms clean and tidy (and her own), and to hoover, iron, dust and generally tidy up round the house occasionally - she was allowed to do this when she wanted during the week, as long as it was done (we aren't big on housework in our house! smile)
She collected the DDs from school at 3.20pm and looked after them until I or DH got home. One day a week she took them to swimming lessons after school. Very occasionally, when we were both late home from work, she cooked a simple and light tea for DDs.

She baby sat one fixed evening a week, and occasionally a couple of times a week. We didn't pay extra for that, but if she already had plans on an evening we needed a baby sitter, we would allow her to invite her friends round.
For really good au pairs, who integrated with the family, and did extra stuff without being asked, we rewarded them by paying for bus fair home for a holiday a few times a year (most of them were Czech, Slovak or Polish).

The au pair system is great - we made a few life long friends of our au pairs, and have been to visit them in their home countries whilst on holday.

jumpingjane Fri 05-Oct-12 20:17:24

I think it sounds fine apart from possibly the Fri eve/ Sat morning. Do you mean every Fri/ Sat or just once a month or so? Every week would be unreasonable as she will want to socialise/ go away for the full weekend.

SamSmalaidh Fri 05-Oct-12 20:46:41

Thanks everyone for your input, it's been very interesting to read so many different views.

I think we're going to offer the position as 11.30am-4.15pm 4 days, with one day 10.30am-4.15pm with the extra hour child-free to put a wash on/put clothes away/tidy and hoover DS's room (or as much as can be done in an hour!). It will still involve 4.5 hours of sole charge childcare a day but DH will be in the house and on hand if necessary. Also going to include one night babysitting a week, though we may not use it, but it could be a Friday or Saturday.

I'm planning to start looking in May I think.

DowagersHump Fri 05-Oct-12 21:27:32

I think that sounds fine, Sam. You didn't mention in your OP that your DH would be working from home and while I understand that does mean that he's working, it does mean that your AP won't be sole charge in the sense that there is no one there in case things go tits up.

I work from home a lot of the time - I don't need to be here for DS's sake but it was an added reassurance when his babysitter/nanny first started working for us smile

Rasher38 Sun 07-Oct-12 12:06:23

If you are really clear in your advertisement what you need and what you can compromise on - then you will get a guage on interest. Given economic difficulties elsewhere in Europe many people are looking at au pair options that might not previously have done so. This is about them using a 'lean' year work wise to usually boost their English skills. With aupairing its really about getting the right match - you have your wish list and the au pair will have theirs - if you pay attention to this then you both come out of it a winner. I found recruiting this year that there were alot of people looking who were excellent candidates. Be clear what you have to offer too - if you are in a city thats a bonus; how much of a social life will they easily access etc. Given you know when you want them I wouldnt be opposed to recruiting earlier as people do look with a view to forward planning. Although too early and they might say yes but be a no show, good luck with it

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