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Tell me about Au Pairs

(5 Posts)
houseofheave Thu 14-Jul-11 20:16:56

We want some help with the children as we both work full time. A nanny is out of the question due to cost, so we're thinking about an Au Pair instead.

Does anyone have experience of having one?
What is a reasonable salary?
What extras would I provide?
Is it reasonable to expect some tidying? (note, not skivvying, tidying!) like loading the dishwasher, putting toys away, running hoover round after lunch etc.
Can anyone recommend where to start looking?

Thanks!

LaTook Thu 14-Jul-11 20:18:53

Watching with interest

tiggersreturn Thu 14-Jul-11 22:06:52

I have just managed to find one who hasn't started yet so not a great expert but this is what I've learnt.

Legally they're not meant to do sole care for under 3s you don't say how old your kids are so I don't know if that's problem. Standard hours are 25hrs pw. 30-35 hrs is an au pair plus.

Salary depends on where you live. Suburbs of London £65 seems to be fine for aupair going up to £75-85 pw for au pair plus. You provide room to themselves and entertainment, food etc. Anything else is pretty much at your discretion. Also 1 week's paid holiday in the year. I'm providing a one-off sum to help set her up with an oyster card explore London etc and a phone and sim and £5 pm pay as you go. I've also agreed to contribute some money towards her english lessons if she stays past a certain point.

From talking to lots of people the things which seem to upset au pairs most are families who treat them as unpaid skivvies so lots of cleaning no childcare. My standards aren't so high and I have a cleaner so hopefully we'll avoid this issue.

Places to look - aupair world, a bit hit and miss, gumtree - you'll get ones already here so able to interview but unhappy with their families which could be indicative of a problem or a problematic family. Also agencies.

The more info you put the more help you'll get on here.

Good luck!

MiraNova Thu 14-Jul-11 22:21:31

I've had a couple of aupairs, and they were both lovely, 8- 10 years on, they are still family friends, and talk to my DDs (and me) on facebook, and visit us occasionally.

I always took the view that they were part of the family, - welcomed their friends, chatted to them, invited them to join me for dinner, even if friends were over. Sometimes they did, other times they did their own thing. Mine used to do the children's washing, tidy up toys, and a bit of hoovering here and there.

I worried about them being out late at night, but it was great practice for having teenagers.

My advice would be to treat them like you would a grown-up niece or step-daughter..

fraktious Fri 15-Jul-11 02:16:11

A bit of misinformation here:

Au pairs are employees. That means contract and 5.6weeks paid holiday (can be pro rata as they rarely stay 12 months). Despite being live in, and therefore usually below the threshold, it also means operating PAYE and deducting tax and NI if you pay over the threshold or if it's their second job.

Pay is £65+/week depending on location, duties, quals/experience etc. Expect to pay a premium for driving, experience or excellent English. Most people provide a cheap phone mostly for work use, some pay for English lessons. If you need the au pair to travel to school/activities you will need to insure them on your car or pay for a bus pass.

Besides Romanian and Bulgarian nations there are no restrictions on hours (buy should be remunerated appropriately if working more than 'standard' hours) or duties, including age of children, but be realistic in your expectations and their general competency.

Some light housework is pretty much par for the course.

Before you recruit make a list of what they'll be doing and what you want and at stick to it. Have non-negotiable qualities, nice to haves and deal-breakers. Be ruthless!

It's infinitely preferable to sort everything by the book and then develop a nice, friendly/familial relationship than not to it and be threatened with an employment tribunal when things go sour. It does happen, happened to a MNer a couple of years back, but if you respect the rules you will be fine. 99% of the time it's a safety net and everything goes swimmingly (in terms of legals).

By their nature most are unqualified, relatively inexperienced and need a lot if direction. The clearer you can be at the start of the process about duties, expectations, benefits and house rules the better you will cope with odd questions.

Good luck!

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