This topic is for discussing childcare options. If you want to advertise, please use your Local site.

What's the difference between a nanny and an au pair?

(27 Posts)
HeadFairy Thu 14-Feb-13 14:00:27

Don't flame me, I know there is a difference of course. Nannies are highly qualified and experienced and have tons of training. Au pairs don't. But if an au pair has been working in childcare for 10+ years, usually sole charge but she has no formal training can she call herself a nanny?

Can Nanny A call herself a nanny? She has no formal training, has been working 10+ in childcare in various settings. She works a 30hr week and she works though she does no nursery duties (ie washing children's clothes, tidying bedrooms etc), does no structured activities with the children (one is at school all day and one is at nursery/pre school for 7 of the 30 hours. She usually lets the children entertain themselves and she is there as a responsible adult. She doesn't really cook beyond reheating food that's been cooked by the employer.

SamSmalaidh Thu 14-Feb-13 14:31:30

An au pair lives in the family home as part of the family (is included in meals, sometimes day trips, holidays, family events). Works around 25-30 hours a week doing some childcare and light housework and gets pocket money of around £75 a week.

A nanny can be live-in or live-out, usually does not live as a family member but is an employee so must be paid at least minimum wage, often works 50 hours a week, primarily childcare and related "nursery duties".

SamSmalaidh Thu 14-Feb-13 14:32:49

And yes, Nanny A can call herself a nanny if she is employed doing childcare in a private home, but does not live as part of the family.

juneau Thu 14-Feb-13 14:34:07

A nanny has done a two-year course in childcare and has a proper qualification with experience in a school, with special needs, nutrition, first aid, etc. An au-pair is just a girl who will babysit for you. She needs no qualifications at all to do that. Hence, an au-pair can be quite cheap, while a nanny expects a proper salary, benefits, etc.

juneau Thu 14-Feb-13 14:35:48

i.e. being a nanny is a career, whereas being an au-pair is often something young women do for a year or two in order to live overseas and/or learn another language.

apotomak Thu 14-Feb-13 14:38:56

Au pair is usually a young girl who goes to a foreign country to learn a foreign language and experience the culture in exchange for accomodation and food plus pocket money.
Somebody with the level of experience you described is not going to be in late teens or early 20's and therefore likely to be a nanny imo unless she's there to learn English (or another foreign language spoken in the country she's going to).
Nannying is a profession while au pairing is just an experience with the opportunity to learn another language and experience different culture.

iluvkids Thu 14-Feb-13 14:39:10

juneau - a nanny does not need to have done a 2 yr course ... a nanny does not need to be qualified

a nanny can be very experience but not qualified (&still a great nanny)

nannynick Thu 14-Feb-13 14:41:12

Yes an au-pair can become a nanny through:
Deciding that Childcare is the career they want to do and gaining several years experience of caring for children.
Learning the language in which they have chosen to live.
Becoming free of visa restrictions (if they applied in the first place, such as those from Romania or Bulgaria).

Saying that though, anyone can call themselves a nanny, it is ultimately up to parents who they choose to employ (subject to immigration rules) and what experience and/or training they expect the person to have.

juneau Thu 14-Feb-13 14:44:12

If she's not qualified then she's not a real nanny.

iluvkids Thu 14-Feb-13 14:49:09

"if shes not qualified, shes not a real nanny" - juneau

so, you define a 'real nanny' as a qualified nanny .... (?!)

i disagree, strongly (& i am qualified)

there are some great, (real!! not pretend ;-)) very experienced ... yet unqualified nannies

nannynick Thu 14-Feb-13 14:51:51

Lots of different courses around, none to my knowledge bar Norland/Chiltern are dedicated nanny courses - or do you know of others?
Given that courses can be done over different periods of time, hard to say that someone is only a nanny if they have done a 2 year course.

SamSmalaidh Thu 14-Feb-13 15:04:27

You can be entirely unqualified and inexperienced and still do a nanny job. Someone who has been an au pair or nursery assistant can equally start doing a nanny job.

If your job is looking after children in a private household during the day (so not just a couple of hours in the evening) then you are a nanny.

juneau Thu 14-Feb-13 16:36:07

Well, anyone can call themselves a nanny. IMO a 'nanny' is someone who is trained and has a qualification to show for it. I certainly wouldn't employ anyone as a nanny or pay them 'nanny' wages if they didn't have the requisite training.

OutragedFromLeeds Thu 14-Feb-13 16:40:49

'If she's not qualified then she's not a real nanny. '

but if she wishes really hard on the brightest star in the sky the blue fairy may, one day, turn her into a real nanny

hmm

HeadFairy Thu 14-Feb-13 16:59:41

Sam Sorry I should have clarified, I meant what's the difference between a live out nanny and a live out au pair?

It seems like where there are no qualifications involved there's a bit of a grey area between a rubbish nanny and an excellent au pair. Would that be right?

fraktion Thu 14-Feb-13 17:18:42

There is no such thing as a live out au pair. There's your difference in one.

The distinction tends to then come in the hours (au pairs are never FT), job they do, whether are expected to be autonomous and their motivation for doing the job. An au pair is looking after the children as part of a cultural exchange deal, for a nanny it's more likely a career and qualifications are a mark of that career minded-ness.

Both can be very good childcarers/good with children but a good nanny will be capable of being a lot more autonomous than an au pair and probably more development focused too.

SamSmalaidh Thu 14-Feb-13 17:19:24

Live out au pairs don't exist - an au pair lives as part of a family and receives pocket money.

HeadFairy Thu 14-Feb-13 17:56:21

oh... my sister claims to have a live out au pair (the woman is studying and works part time for her, about 25-30 hours a week). She advertised for a live out au pair and got one.

I suppose it just goes to show these definitions are open to interpretation (if the person in question doesn't have formal qualifications)

I suppose if someone has the experience I mentioned (10+ in childcare of various sorts) then really it is a career rather than a stop gap.

SamSmalaidh Thu 14-Feb-13 18:34:09

Yes, she has a nanny rather than a live out au pair. I assume she is paying bottom end though, just to have someone to supervise/reheat food?

HeadFairy Thu 14-Feb-13 18:53:50

Sam I think so, the woman doesn't really do any of the things I would associate with a nanny (supervising homework, organising some activities etc) she merely collects them from school and sits at her house until my sis and her dh come home usually texting from her mobile the whole time according to my niece

Strix Thu 14-Feb-13 19:06:35

Interesting. Lots of posts here about the differences in experience and qualifications. But I actually think the difference is more in the job description itself. An au pair works fewer hour (usually), is less experienced, makes less money and may be asked to do non childcare related duties (e.g. Pick up my dry cleaning). A nanny I would only ask to do child related things. And I would expect a nanny to already know how to look after children, appropriate discipline, cook (nutritiously!), etc.

fraktion Thu 14-Feb-13 19:48:14

You cannot be an au pair if you live out. Your sister has a part time nanny, and not a great one from the sound of it.

There are many different ideas of what an au pair is and the different relationships employers have with their au pairs but they all agree on one thing - they live in and are treated the same as a family member (hence the term 'au pair').

When it comes down to duties, though, you get what you pay for. The empliyment obligations are the same for both and the tax law is the same if you're over the threshold. The difference in pay is anyone live out has to be paid at least minimum wage as they don't get bed and board included. But either way if you pay at the bottom end, whoch is what live out au pair sounds like to me, you get bottom end service (sitting and texting). Career nannies expect to be paid more and will do more.

SamSmalaidh Thu 14-Feb-13 19:50:46

You get what you pay for, don't you? I pay a babysitter just under £7 an hour to supervise, watch TV, reheat some food and get DS into bed. If I was paying £10 an hour I'd expect activities etc.

OutragedFromLeeds Thu 14-Feb-13 19:56:01

If she just picks up from school and supervises for a couple of hours perhaps she could be better described as a babysitter?

HeadFairy Thu 14-Feb-13 21:40:43

outraged and sam I think you're right, she sounds more like a babysitter. For some reason I assumed a babysitter would be someone who worked on a casual basis, in the evening when the parents are out. Didn't think of it as someone who would work regularly or during the day time/after school.

SamSmalaidh Thu 14-Feb-13 21:55:01

The job title doesn't really matter as much as the job description. You could just as well describe all nannies, babysitters and au pairs as "home childcarers".

Scarletlips Thu 14-Feb-13 23:54:38

Take a look at the blog entry on kangarooa*p***.com 'the difference between au pair and nanny'. Explains the difference well

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now