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Au pair contract and handbook

(19 Posts)
FrozenNorthPole Wed 20-Jul-11 22:45:09

I need to sort out a contract and handbook for our au pair who is joining us next Weds - looking back at the contract we used for our previous au pair I think it could be substantially improved, and we didn't have a handbook.

Does anyone have an example of either of these that they would be willing to send me, or does anyone have any important points that they feel should be included in either of these? The examples on the internet seem pretty outdated. I think I've covered most of the important ground but I know people here will remind me of key things that are missing.

fraktious Wed 20-Jul-11 23:18:04

Personally I'd use the nannyjob ANA contract which covers the basics you need for a written statement and add what you think is necessary.


I would link but switching between safari and the a

fraktious Wed 20-Jul-11 23:21:48

???? Post eating going on!

Personally I'd use the nannyjob ANA contract which covers the basics you need for a written statement and add what you think is necessary.

Check the website for what you need to include in a qriiten statement. The wage should be gross. Holidays is 5.6weeks inc Bank Hols. Tighten up the dismissal section and include examples of gross misconduct.

I would link but switching between safari and the app is a PITA.

Handbook-wise it really depends what you feel you need to cover. I would err on the side of caution and write everything. If you have limited language skills, even if you're relatively fluent in fact, it's difficult to retain information transmitted orally.

FrozenNorthPole Thu 21-Jul-11 10:09:37

Thank you so much - very helpful. Thanks in particular for the nannyjob idea - I've looked at their example contracts and you're right, they cover the basics and I can rearrange bits and add bits to suit us. I'm right that the usual hours worked per week is a maximum of 25, aren't I? I always worry that the rules have changed since I last looked into it smile
Handbook-wise, do you reckon it would be a) useful or b) scarily controlling to set out a rough timetable for the housework? I'm conscious that I don't want her to take on too much (our previous au pair did this) but equally need to fit my own cleaning activities around what has / hasn't been done on certain days.
I want to include a clause about sick leave / maternity leave but I seem to remember that au pairs are not entitled to statutory sick / mat pay: am I right and, if so, what do you think would be a reasonable arrangement?
Final question (sorry!) - there is a chance that the structure of the job might change somewhat if I get a new job, starting in early 2012. This would mean that she worked for an hour or two each morning, but had less to do in the evenings (currently it's an evenings only job). Do i need to mention this specifically, or can I include a clause about changes to hours with mutual agreement?

fraktious Thu 21-Jul-11 10:51:00

Most au pairs work around 25 hours, although in reality the hours aren't limited for most candidates - just Romanians and Bulgarians. If you put 25 hours in the contract then you don't need to specify times, so if you need to you can alter them at a later date. Do be upfront about that possibility though, as some candidates may want to commit to something, such as an English course, which is incompatible with work in the mornings.

I think a timetable, presented as 'you might find this useful as a guide but I want XYZ done by Wednesday so I can do ABC', would be useful. I assume there is a certain amount of flexibility in when they do their jobs. You could balance it with some jobs needing to be done on certain days but others being more flexible. That way they could have an easy day where they only do 1 job which has to be done and a more intensive day if they wanted. If they're slacking on the housework you can then point them in the direction of the timetable and ask them to stick to it more closely.

SSP/SMP it depends what you're paying. Most au pairs aren't entitled however if you pay above the threshold for NI but below the threshold for tax they may be entitled to it. In either case I would just put that statutory legislation applies. Statutory legislation in practice means they don't get anything because they don't earn enough however it leaves you the flexibility to pay them sick pay if they're genuine and come to an arrangement over maternity. Maternity situations for live in employees seem to be very delicate though, so I'd make it clear that the accomodation is provided for the person who is undertaking the job and if for any reason you need extended cover the accomodation will be required for that person.

mranchovy Thu 21-Jul-11 12:38:16


I don't agree with just putting 25 hours per week in the contract thinking that you can just decide when these need to be worked later - she can equally turn round and decide when she is going to work them!

You can always amend a contract by mutual agreement, so you don't need to say anything now. When the time comes, just write down that from xx/xx/xx the normal working hours will be such-and-such and both sign it. I take Frak's point about being upfront about the possibility, but this is something to talk about not try and preempt contractually.

IME a handbook can never have too much detail, Frak has got it spot on.

Statutory payments (SSP, SMP etc.) are exactly that - they are governed by statute. You can't reduce them in a contract so all you can do is increase them - I therefore prefer to leave any reference to them out of the contract, however if the contract is the principal statement of employment you must include something - how about:
"In case of incapacity to work you may be entitled to statutory payments. We may at our discretion pay you more than your statutory entitlement on any occasion, but if we do this will not create any additional entitlement."

You can put in the clause about accommodation during maternity leave, but I can't see it ever having much relevance in a real situation. She has no right to live in your home with her baby (at the moment, and if a right was established in law in the future you wouldn't be able to take it away contractually anyway) so you if there is a pregnancy, you are all going to have to come to some suitable arrangement.

FrozenNorthPole Mon 01-Aug-11 21:37:10

Really belated thanks for this - contract done and dusted!

Migsy1 Sat 06-Aug-11 18:40:10

Do au pairs normally have a contract? The agency I used told me to write a "letter of invitation" in which I specified what she would be expected to do. It was not a formal contract as such. You only have to give 2 weeks notice for ending the arrangement so I assume that it would be easy to vary their duties etc if required.

fraktious Sun 07-Aug-11 10:18:00

Au pairs are employees (well, workers but unless you have a fully staffed house it's the same difference). Employees are entitled to a written statement of employment which fir most people is a contract. You may have covered everything in the formal invite but it's worth checking - will give a link to drawing up a written statement in my next post.

As for notice, yes, 2 weeks in most circumstances will be fine. Statutory notice for less than a year of service is 1 week, most don't stay past a year however the notice period increases with the length of employment.

As for the agency: biscuit

You may want to double check that you are giving the au pair enough holiday etc. Agencies have been giving incorrect info on this for quite some time.

fraktious Sun 07-Aug-11 10:19:46

Written statement guidance from

Migsy1 Sun 07-Aug-11 18:00:22

Thanks Fraktious. I'll take a look at that. The agency told me that I should give 2 weeks paid holiday per year and also pay if I choose to go away myself on holiday and leave her behind.

fraktious Mon 08-Aug-11 05:07:42

Holiday is 5.6 weeks including bank holidays per calendar year - you can choose all of it if you want but that may not make her very happy. Some on here plan for the year by mutual agreement, others give the au pair a limited amount of free choice (for example 2 weeks) maybe with restrictions such as school holidays only. Yes you should be paying if you go away as she isn't choosing not to work.

The basic guideline is to treat them as your employer treats you and you won't go too far wrong.

Strix Mon 08-Aug-11 08:36:10

I just treat an au pair like any other domestic employee. There seems to be some debate on whether or not this is required, but it keeps things simple for me as my contract evolves between nanny and au pair "employees". Currently we have an "au pair" who really is more of a full time live-in nanny in the 6 week summer break. This means:
- 5.6 weeks annual halos (incl. bank hols)
- Hols agreed and written into contract when she starts the job
-Stat everything (hols, SSP, SMP, etc.) although in practice if she is sick and I believe she is sick, I have always paid sick days.
- 4 weeks notice to terminate the contract on either side. Any less notice would put me in a bind to replace her on such short notice if she resigned. Any longer would be unaffordable for me if I ever wanted to let her go and pay her in lieu.
- Fixed term 12 month contract, which is more compatible with au pairs than nannies to be honest since au pairs often look for 12 month job and nannies tend to be looking longer term.

FRAK, I didn't know bulgarians and Romanians have restrictions on their working hours. Can you tell me what the restrictions are?

Migsy1 Mon 08-Aug-11 12:20:59

Mine will certainly get the holidays then. I've already got 2 weeks planned. She can choose the other 2 weeks and I knew that I would have to give her the bank holidays off. She has been ill already (one day in her first week), but I believed her and just paid her anyway.

I now have to get her to go out of the house on her own and collect the kids. I've walked her to the holiday club 3 times now and she is under orders to collect them on her own today. She has been here over a week and has never ventured out without me which I think shows a lack of "get up and go". She is nearly 20. The duty of collecting the kids was specifically pointed out in her letter of invitation. I'll see what happens later.

fraktious Mon 08-Aug-11 14:21:51

If they're coming as an au pair using the BR3 form then it's no more than 5 hours/day, 5days/week (and it must be an English speaking family). If they're already living here they may have qualified for their blue card which gives them unlimited working rights.

Strix Mon 08-Aug-11 15:19:21

Right, well that strikes them off my list. How did I miss this?

Strix plucks head out of sand

Strix Mon 08-Aug-11 15:20:10

Migsy, I would just drop and run. :-)

Migsy1 Mon 08-Aug-11 15:48:06

I've put a call into the agency about her problem with not going out. They find it very strange and are going to call her later to try to find out what the problem is. She has just gone to get the boys but was in a real panic about it.

Strix Mon 08-Aug-11 16:01:14

hmm... that is a bit odd. Let us know how it goes. Sometimes people just need a good shove into the deep end. Hope she doesn't sink.

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