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To Think This Must Be The Worst Au Pair Job In The World?

(176 Posts)
HoneyStepMummy Tue 18-Jun-13 21:39:16
I mean who wouldn't want to share a couch with someone else's kids, iron, cook, clean, and babysit for 12 hrs a day for $120 a week??? This must be a joke, surely???

ApocalypseThen Sun 23-Jun-13 00:21:41

I think it's great that the second family are looking for someone who can write English competently to help their daughter.

They're not so hot at it themselves.

Mimishimi Sat 22-Jun-13 22:37:57

Mumsy, I think to qualify as an au-pair (with the corresponding pay) they have to live in your home. Otherwise you are just hiring a 'mother's helper' and would need to pay minimum wages. Like a PP saod, these people don't really want an au-pair, they just say they do. Does anyone remember the Matty Eappen case in Boston where they were paying a nineteen year old British girl similar type of wages and making her work for more than 40 hours a week? That's the kind of risk it seems these people are willing to take with their own children.It's very sad.

Mumsyblouse Sat 22-Jun-13 11:47:05

There are loads of ads on Gumtree where the parents are openly asking for way more hours than would be covered by the au pair guidlines (are these legally enforceable?) 50/60 hours a week, sole-care in the school holidays. I feel really quite disturbed by this practice, I had no idea that there were so many families out there quite willing to exploit young often quite poor young people (nearly always women). I was thinking of getting an au pair, although not sure about someone living in my house, to help out, take the children to school, pick up etc. I am now thinking very carefully about what that would entail, what hours etc.

ConfusedPixie Sat 22-Jun-13 10:26:24

"It is also a complete red herring, by the way, to say that au pairs must not have sole charge of babies, etc, etc. that's not true."

Technically no, but they should not have charge of them. Developmentally it could really screw over the child, they are usually young and foreign and have no first aid training, no or little experience with little ones and the chances of something going wrong are higher. Why anybody wants to leave a toddler in the care of a young woman with no experience or knowledge on child development I don't know, but they do sad

Mimishimi Sat 22-Jun-13 00:17:59

My cousin was an au-pair for a year between school and uni about twenty years ago. The family she worked for were travelling around continental Europe and great family friends of her parents. There was no way she was expected to take on these kinds of duties - just keep an eye on the kids when the parents went out. She was given lots of time for herself and had a fantastic time (getting chased by or chasing boys grin).

ZZZenagain Fri 21-Jun-13 11:59:03

was it on this thread that someone suggested researching au pair conditions nowadays would make an interesting article? I think so too, they seem to vary widely between decent posts and those with very long hours/llow wages and a lot of work. I posted a thread to ask people if they had been au pairs and what it was like but only got one response on there (good response though). Her experience was very different to the way these gumtree ads sound.

Farewelltoarms Fri 21-Jun-13 11:15:17

That housekeeper/nanny role is not a million miles away from a role we offered five years ago. Ours was much more nannying and she wanted to bump up hours with cleaning but it added up to the same hours as the ad, live-in and no weekend babysitting. Also central London but no expectations of homework supervision or music practice (yes practice not 'practise' - if you're going to demand good English you should proof read your own ad).
The big difference? We paid £350 net a week, did all the pay roll, national insurance and tax on top of that.

Isatdownandwept Fri 21-Jun-13 10:58:27

The biggest problems are that

(A) the uk government is ignoring completely the definition of au pairs as set out in the European court of justice some time ago, which defines au pairs as workers. Why? god alone knows. In fact i am fairly surethat the gov definition that has been linked to was drawn up after the turkish au pair case, so they drafted it knowing that what they were writing was illegal in european law. Because the uk government doesn't define an au pair as either a worker or an employee then they effectively operate outside of the protection of all uk employment law and have effectively no protection whatsoever from exploitation
(B) even if they followed ECJ ruling there are a number of exclusions within uk employment law relating to people living inside a home as a carer, or as part of the family, which render some standard rules - eg NAtional minimum wage, Working time directive - as not applicable anyway.

A whole host of au pair sites will post the 'rules' but most of them are completely wrong in what they say. It is also a complete red herring, by the way, to say that au pairs must not have sole charge of babies, etc, etc. that's not true.

If you followed the ECJ position your au pair would have rights to notice period and paid holidays and some protection from dismissal but still no rights regarding number of hours, nature of work to be performed or pay.

FWIW in the US it is quite normal to have au pairs do full time sole care throughout school holidays of similar levels of 'pocket money'. Am glad most UK employers are a bit nicer than that. Although I do personally know of two cases where the au pair (both girls under 21) has had a row or disagreement and has been thrown out onto the streets there and then shock. How some people live with themselves I don't know.

ZZZenagain Fri 21-Jun-13 10:54:30

it is a different world obviously to when I was young. An au pair was a young girl or boy who was supposed to live with you as a member of the family and travel or learn English in exchange for light household duties and looking after the children. It was not supposed to be anything onerous but I suppose it sometimes was. I remember a friend of mine going to France as an au pair. She told me the mother of the house had shown her where the hoover was and she had wondered what on earth for!

I can see the logic in working as an au pair if you need to improve your English even as a mature applicant but if English is your mother tongue it still seems strange to me to be doing this kind of work at 25+ Maybe once, to move abroad and find your feet in a new place but then you'd want to move on and look for some kind of career job. It would make more sense then to train as a nanny and have a career. Just seems to me at 25+ you could reasonably expect to have a family of your own to look after, a home of your own to clean. I suppose times are a lot tougher all round now.

Eye openers for me these threads.

humdumaggapang Fri 21-Jun-13 10:51:07

I agree with Pointless , something should be done about this massive loophole. Are there any MNers who happen to be, or know, an investigative journalist with good connections who'd like to do an expose of the world of au pairs..

Omen thing is for sure, these 'employers' with six figure salaries wouldn't get out of bed for what they are asking.

megsmouse Fri 21-Jun-13 10:31:01

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ZZZenagain Fri 21-Jun-13 10:12:28

I saw that one mimi and I wondered where they would find someone aged at least 25, willing to commit for 2 years, with a driving license, English mother tongue and a good education, able and willing to help with homework and supervise violin/piano practice.

Are there really 27 year olds who are prepared to live like this? I suppose there must be. Really when I was a young woman setting out, au pairs were young people straight out of school. I don't think many people would have been aupairs over the age of say 22 tbh

IAgreeCompletely Fri 21-Jun-13 09:25:58

Au Pairs are only exempt from being paid minimum wage if they are obviously Au Pairs.

Already linked but here it is again - UK Gov Definition of an Au Pair

UK Gov info on who gets a minimum wage

I like to think some of these poor exploited people will take their employers to court and at least get their minimum wage repaid.

Employers can only offset charges for accomodation of £4.82 a day or £33.74 a week however, this is for employees who recieve minimum pay

Does anyone know any case law?

thismumismad Fri 21-Jun-13 09:21:25

I've just found one that offers accommodation for housekeeper, cooking, ironing and child care for a large family but no pay!!!

Mimishimi Fri 21-Jun-13 09:09:24

Wow Painsnail ... They practically want a qualified nanny, governess, housekeeper and cook rolled into one. For what amounts to peanuts. All the non-childcare related items would require them to work most of the rest of the day, possibly well into the evenings . Yes, I realise many mothers do exactly all of these things but not for someone else's children! I wonder if they realised that their ad showed where they live on the map. Perhaps someone on here knows them and can give them a sound telling off or, better yet, tell everyone they mutually know.shock

Corygal Fri 21-Jun-13 08:30:14

New OED definition of au pair = n.,etym. Fr., desperate illegal about to get more desperate.

These ads are truly repellent.

ZZZenagain Fri 21-Jun-13 08:09:02

perhaps the meaning of au pair has changed to something like cheap live-in servant. See quite a few students from eastern Europe are looking for these type of positions as holiday jobs where they can improve their English which they already speak to a good level.

I am surprised at ads wanting au pairs with 3-4 years experience. It is the kind of job you'd do once for the travel experience, possibly twice but then you want to move on with your life. I have seen ads wanting Australians, NZers, South Africans with 3-4 years full-time experience, driving licence etc to help with homework and so on. What is in it for these young women, living in thre UK asan aupair for 4+ years? I don't see it.

EverybodysStressyEyed Thu 20-Jun-13 23:09:50

But these people aren't looking for au pairs. Thu just say they are.

PointlessPost Thu 20-Jun-13 23:03:35

I think the government should tighten up the laws governing au pairs and other live in employees. It is awful that people can be exploited to such an extent.

showtunesgirl Thu 20-Jun-13 22:32:19

Depending on how much "pocket money" they get, au pairs don't have to pay income tax or national insurance as they are neither a worker or an employee.

thefuturesnotourstosee Thu 20-Jun-13 22:30:59

Thinking back, my mum had tenants when we were children - usually students. They paid no rent but they looked after us from about 3.45-6pm on weekdays during term time. Usually she let it to couples so they could split the child care between them. It was a self contained flat and I think the arrangement worked on both sides. Just over 11 hours child care in exchange for a rent free flat. It would probably be frowned on now though and she'd be getting a slating on here grin

EverybodysStressyEyed Thu 20-Jun-13 22:16:40

But £4 an hour with accommodation and food included isn't that bad in those areas. That role isn't as shocking as the original in the op. a live out role will pay 8-10 net.

Ultimately if you don't pay a great wage you are going to have high turnover of staff and you pay for it in the end. Completely shortsighted.

Also, none of these people mention tax. I would love the tax authorities to do a crackdown on this but I know their resources are tight at the moment.

LondonBus Thu 20-Jun-13 22:10:48

PainSnail...they will find someone to fill that post.....whether they stay 2 years or not is another question.

PainSnail Thu 20-Jun-13 22:05:15

gumtree is positively teeming with them. I cannot fathom how people expect these fantastic supernannies who'll work every hour god sends for 4 bloody quid. This one's pretty great.

CruCru Thu 20-Jun-13 20:35:04

They have a 5 bedroom house and want to pay £25 a month. It says the ad isn't available any more - do you think the £25 was just a typo?

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