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Not so great au pair would like a reference from me

(26 Posts)
BelladiMamma Tue 19-Jul-11 09:59:36

Some of you may remember this thread when my ap was having problems settling in and it then transpired she was ill.

Since she has left, I have realised that she was not a great choice of au pair for our family, eg often late, not always dressed in time to start work, revelled in teaching the children disugusting amusing habits such as burping at table, tried to disappear with some of our stuff (the mobile phone and plug adaptor, no great shakes I know, but, still), kept changing her hours and holiday arrangements to suit her better … etc etc.

In mitigation, she was unwell with celiac's, and this undoubtedly impacted on her ability to settle in and make a go of things. We helped her out as much as possible with extra pay and extra time off to recover. However, I felt that she had been a bit dishonest with us about this as well, as apparently she was advised to get tested before travelling over here but didn't because she didn't believe she was celiac's. Anyway, you live and learn.

She left 4 weeks ago and has got back in touch to ask for a reference. What sort of reference do I give her?

I don't think she is a bad person or necessarily a bad au pair. The children quite liked her as she could be very "up" with them but, IMO, inconsistent, eg would ignore them when she was blue. She'd just sit skyping and let them play on their own, or once, have a fight before bedtime while she was skipping her mum. I just don't think she was a very good AP. Her health certainly didn't help us to see the best of her.

I haven't yet answered her email because I don't know what to say on a reference. She may not want another childcare job, as she hasn't said what she is applying for - but if she is, what would you as parents want to know about her? Does our experience mean that she isn't suited for childcare or she isn't a great hire for anyone, including shop work, bar work etc? Does anyone have any opinions?

Thanks very much as ever for listening!

BerylOfLaughs Tue 19-Jul-11 10:03:27

X was with us for Y amount of time. In that time she managed to be on time at least half of the days, sometimes she was even dressed appropriately.
She was a great help with teaching our children to burp.

BelladiMamma Tue 19-Jul-11 10:21:43

hahaha :-)
thank you!

harrietthespook Tue 19-Jul-11 10:26:57

Confirm dates of employment only. Tell her when there is a specific job she is applying for you can 'tailor soething for that particular situation' as appropriate. Doubt you'll hear from her.

You could also say to her that it was 'difficult for you to judge how she'd be in a normal employment situation' given that obviously there were exceptional circumstances of an undiagnosed health problem, etc when she was with you which meant she 'possibly wasn't her usual self' etc.

This girl is abroad now right? And she was on normal au pair wages, etc?

MovingAndScared Tue 19-Jul-11 10:30:42

I would do a very breif one - I confirm that x worked for us for this time - if you want to dicuss further my contact details are ...

she sounds like quite a bad au pair - and she did try and take some of your stuff and generally messed you around -
but I wouldn't put any of this in a written reference

BelladiMamma Tue 19-Jul-11 10:33:32

Spookifier -

She is back in Australia and was on normal AP wages (£110+) on youth mobility scheme.

She had a couple of good weeks and then was pretty rubbish.

BelladiMamma Tue 19-Jul-11 10:34:08

Moving -

Good advice. I can't believe we put up with her for so long.

harrietthespook Tue 19-Jul-11 10:38:59

is she planning to come back to the UK? Why does she need it?

BelladiMamma Tue 19-Jul-11 10:39:16

Can I just ignore her email until I get another one and then send reference confirming dates of employment, get in touch for more details etc?

Upside is if I ignore her, there is nothing she can get upset about - if I write with a non-committal reference then it becomes something she can doctor / tailor / get upset with me about. i think she is quite good at emotional blackmail otherwise she wouldn't have got us to keep her for so long / extra pay / extra hols from us etc.

Or i could write a heartfelt "I am disappointed …" type ref? Or email her and say that I can't in all honesty provide a ref because she never fulfilled the terms of her AP agreement with us?

BelladiMamma Tue 19-Jul-11 10:40:31

Sorry X posts.

Harriet, it is not obvious from her email whether she wants it for a job in OZ or back here. She hasn't made it clear as she talks about wanting to come back but also needing a job so that she can come back - ie could be to save money before coming back, or could be working holiday back here.

MovingAndScared Tue 19-Jul-11 10:46:19

In that case I would say that you will provide a reference direct to any potentail employers and maybe say that as you know - I assume she does know - that you were not particularly happy about her work

BelladiMamma Tue 19-Jul-11 10:57:37

Moving -

Fair enough. I can phrase it OK I think, so that I don't have sparks flying via email.

harrietthespook Tue 19-Jul-11 11:04:54

You can PDF the reference so she can't doctor it. There are free downloadable programmes to do that.

And yes, you can ignore her for a bit.

BelladiMamma Tue 19-Jul-11 11:06:51

H - good call. I have PDF.

Will sleep on it and send one over when I am ready / decide it is the right thing.


fraktious Tue 19-Jul-11 16:13:06

I would do the basic length of employment and your contact details. Then if she wants a more detailed one for a specific job you can figure out how the phrase things.

I wouldn't personally ignore it but I'd be very neutral.

HattiFattner Tue 19-Jul-11 16:23:11

Tell her you are happy to be a referee, and that she should direct potential employers to your email address/telephone number, where they can ask questions specific to the role she is applying for.

BelladiMamma Thu 21-Jul-11 09:31:43

Reference for xxxx

To Whom It May Concern:

xxx joined us in mid February 2011 as an au pair, and was with us until 20th June 2011.

We live in central xxxx and have 2 children, aged 4 & 8.

As xxx has no doubt told you, she left due to ill health.

I am happy to provide a more detailed reference if you would like to get in touch with us directly on:

What do people think if I send this as a PDF direct to her? I think I should provide her with an explanation as to why I am not providing a fuller reference.

harrietthespook Thu 21-Jul-11 10:57:42

Hi Bella! Here comes the procrastinator. So just a couple of changes!

"...XXX had some health problems when she was with us which she and her family agreed would be better resolved at home in Australia.

I am happy to provide a more detailed reference when a specific position arises. Please contact me directly on xxx."

Then tell your au pair to warn you when you might be contacted. Be careful about her putting her friends up to it to see what you'd say though.

I don't think you need to offer her any more explanation that that. Don't make it into a big deal, just pdf it and send it.

BelladiMamma Thu 21-Jul-11 11:01:39

Thanks H very helpful. I think that option works very well, with a slightly more fluffy "hope that's OK" covering email.

I find that with the years I am either becoming less tolerant or more aware of my desire to please others struggling with my real feelings about a situation. Sorry, a little off topic but this is the 3rd issue of the sort this week, ie another person (female friends) asking me to do something I disagree with and me sitting on the fence all week and not speaking my mind.

harrietthespook Thu 21-Jul-11 11:06:52

Not too fluffy. smile

"Here you go. Hope you're well."

If she presses you, just say that in your experience a potential employer will want to speak to you anyway to confirm you're not just her mate! At this point her objective is to account for time on her CV, which you have helped her do.

These situations aren't easy. She's been a pain, but she was ill, she's young, she might be better in another job. Etc

BelladiMamma Thu 21-Jul-11 11:14:11

H what do you do in RL? You are very wise. Thanks again!

harrietthespook Thu 21-Jul-11 11:25:49

Vicaress. (Just kidding.)

"Pre-transaction due diligence." (WTF is that?)

harrietthespook Thu 21-Jul-11 11:27:41

But thanks for the 'wise' comment.

BelladiMamma Thu 21-Jul-11 11:29:08

hahaha. Yes I also looked in to DD. Do you work with CIL much? (yes i am fishing because if so then my DH uses you frequently!)

BelladiMamma Thu 21-Jul-11 11:29:44

in my more pointless internet trawls i have also looked at the Cof E website for careers info. Even tho I am Catholic (severly lapsed)!!

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