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Au Pair issue what would you do?

(35 Posts)
CookieLady Tue 06-Sep-11 20:01:18


I anticipate being ripped to shreds on here, but, oh well my day can't get worse! My au pair doesn't seem to understand (even though I have translated it into her native language) that whilst she has every right to privacy she can't keep non-kosher meat in the mini-fridge her room nor can she leave her laptop open and logged on to her emails when she is meant to be watching over DS. Her response was "You can't control me. It's in my room". Furthermore, earlier today she left DS unattended in the kitchen with our dog which we explained on the very first day is unacceptable and could be potentially dangerous. When I spoke to the agency they were more interested in the fact that they would have to find her a replacement family and weren't very sympathetic about her stinking attitude. They have stated that we need to give her one week's notice. I don't want her in my home any more. We've gone out of our way to make her feel welcome and part of the family but she keeps harping on about how it's not her habit. I don't have any confidence in her and think that she may do something horrid just to be spiteful. Is giving her a weeks pocket money in lieu of notice and setting her up in a B&B okay?


DrSeuss Tue 06-Sep-11 20:13:40

A paid holiday because she's too lazy to do her job properly? Sounds good to me! The only question I have is re the meat. Did you make this clear before she took the job and have you taken her to see what Kosher meat is available for her? If so, she agreed to it so why object now? If the above conditions are adhered to, I think you've been more than fair.

CookieLady Tue 06-Sep-11 20:22:02

The agency knew about the meat and we told her when we spoke on the phone. We even went out with her to buy kosher meat.

fraktious Tue 06-Sep-11 20:47:58

1 week pay in lieu of notice and alternative accomodation is more than fair. Depending on your contract either of those could be gross misconduct and dismissal without notice (not that I'm saying you should, btw, but something to consider for next time).

<is she French?>

killercat Tue 06-Sep-11 20:53:19

Get her out of there! We have had two fabulous aupairs, but one rubbish one before... We bought her a eurostar ticket and sent her home the next day (she sounds similar! Left our dd on her own to email upstairs and back door was open with paddling pool outside! I discovered it when came home unexpectedly and I'd just TOLD her the previous day how emailing and skyping upstairs was unacceptable if she was in sole charge which was never fir very long).
Urggh, she had the nerve to tell me I was in the wrong.

DrSeuss Tue 06-Sep-11 20:58:30

If she knew about the issue regarding your faith and took the job anyway surely that is agreeing to your terms. Just ditch her! I just googled it and there are plenty of girls out there who share your background. I would also say that there are plenty of non Jewish girls who would show more respect for your home and care for your kids.

CookieLady Tue 06-Sep-11 20:59:20

Fraktious, she's Czech.
Killercat, I really do want her out now but agency agreement means that she has to have a week's notice. angry

CookieLady Tue 06-Sep-11 21:01:07

We had a lovely Spanish au pair before and she never did any of these things. Feel very disheartened as am struggling with childcare.

fraktious Tue 06-Sep-11 21:03:45

Ah the 'you can't control me in my room' re: religion made me wonder, plus it would have been easier to send her home.

Agency can't insist you keep her if you provide her with alternative accomodation and if she's flouting your faith related house rules so blatantly (and therefore causing you lots of hassle) you're more than right to insist she goes. Legally you do have to give a week's notice though - as an employee she's entitled to it (or pay in lieu).

CookieLady Tue 06-Sep-11 22:09:17

Okay, just went in her room to tell her it's not working out. She had the cheek to tell me that we don't respect her religion. Arghhh!!! The wardrobes stink of sausages, she'd been hiding it in there. When we confronted she sniffed and said "no it doesn't". OMG. I'm furious. She refused to see that leaving a dog and a child alone is negligent. Instead she shrugged her shoulders and retorted "in my country it's normal". Argh!!! angry

fraktious Tue 06-Sep-11 22:18:51

It might be normal in her country but it's not normal in your house. You might have a particularly vicious breed of dog or your DS might have a habit of pulling the dog's tail. You're not being unreasonable here.

Be strong, get on the phone to the agency (now if necessary), pay her the week and organise alternative accommodation. I very much doubt her religion requires her to eat sausages but your religion requires you and members of your household not to.

CookieLady Tue 06-Sep-11 22:28:30

Fraktious, thank you so much. Felt as though I'm going mad.

harrietthespook Wed 07-Sep-11 11:01:56

She sounds exceptionally immature. It's scary that the agency is thinking of putting her with another family. Honestly.

A week's pay in lieu is fine but check out the plane tickets - it might be cheaper for you to send her back to Prague than a week in a B&B somewhere, if that's what you were thinking.

And bin that agency with the au pair.

CookieLady Wed 07-Sep-11 14:13:08

Harrietthespook, I can't believe the agency's emails to me. See below:
"i am also jewish and believe me i also dont know every rule there is to know! ... in your letter you mention that you enjoy eating out at restaurants so i would question whether you only frequent kosher ones or if you insist on taking your own utensils and plates. ... i do feel that you have been unreasonable in your reasons for wanting to leave and your hastiness in which you want her to leave". I was furious. I sent the following:

Everything that was emailed to you yesterday regarding the conduct of was true.

We had a wonderful experience with the first Au Pair you provided. Although at one point she lost our trust when she had an unauthorised male companion over to stay whilst we were. However with regard to the two subsequent au pairs, we have showed them both a warm welcome, made certain they were comfortable, took them out for meals, bought them welcome gifts, and showed them the sights and sounds of London. We also made sure that on a daily basis we would debrief them, and whilst focussing on praise, we also provided both of them with support on how to deal with situations.

Whilst I am certain that au pair had a less than pleasant expreience, she both brought it upon herself, and of course she will focus on and exaggerate the negatives whilst ommiting to tell you everything we do to make the au pairs feel welcome. This includes taking at least a week off of work to spend time as a family and allow them to get used to DS and develop a bond. This is very narrow minded not to realise that feedback from a disgruntled aupair would only reflect one side of an experience and as a paying customer you should also respect that we have used our integrity and judgement to make the best decision by our DS.

On the comment you made about telling the girls on arrival that if they are not happy they would have one to two days to pack up and go, and then to write it as gospel without knowing the context shows again incredible belief in your aupairs. In reality we do not want to keep someone here if they are not happy, and we made it clear to both when they presented us with their problems or concerns that will support them if they want to stay, however if they feel they have made the wrong choice we will not hold them to a commitment and they would not have to see out a week notice. You have taken the words of two aupairs and wrapped it up as a "if you don't like it here than get lost" situation, which is a long long way from the truth.

With regard to xxx, apart from the fact that she clearly did not enjoy the company of xxx, as whilst we were observing her for her week here she made little attempt to converse and encourage him, we continued to support her and did not ask her to leave. However after two episodes of crying in her room and not coming out after a few hours, SHE made the decision she wanted to leave, and because of our work commitments we were not in a position to mess around with her reliability. We made that very clear to you.

We made it also clear about the meat situation via Skype and Messaging service, and before inviting her over, we asked her if she understood, and she went away checked it out and then confimed her understanding. As discussed we also showed sympathy to the fact that perhaps she assumed food in her room was fine, by taking her meat shopping. However, with a doubt she continued to ignore our request by keeping back some of the meat. By defending her, you condone this action. In my house I pay the electricity bills and the mortgage, NOT **. After continuously reminding her that a laptop does not need charging day and night I went into the room whilst she was out with DS and pulled out the plug. She was horified that I did this, as I explained to you yesterday, and rudely asked me not to control her. She had her laptop charging all day because I kept catching her checking the internet and after the first few times of telling her of course I became annoyed - who wouldnt. I aslo believe she was extra nervous about her meat stash being rumbled and this is why she was very very perculier about entering the room. But I told you all of this and you still feel like defending her. It is no wonder i found DS alone in the kitchen with a sharp knife in striking distance and trapped behind a baby gate with a dog when she was clearly more bothered about the internet. So I dare you to continue to defend those actions.

When I called you yesterday, I was so hopping mad with her due to her rudeness and attitude and failiure to see her errors, that when I phoned you, I couldnt wait to get off the phone from you as you belittled my concerns by saying give her more time, and "I suppose I'll have to find her another family" that it is no wonder that at that moment when you asked me how she is with DS, I replied "fine!" as I quickly realised that my agent does not share the same concerns as the host family. However , since that conversation, we have highlighted the real truth of the matter, and in full knowledge you dare to call us over reacting hosts. I fully support my wife's comments that you are not concerned about our son's safety as you had the bare facts is detailed above. Although words are not being put into your mouth, you are guilty by implication and action.

What is equally concerning is the following comment you made

i am also jewish and believe me i also dont know every rule there is to know! mentioned that whilst she may have felt it was okay to store the meat in her own fridge that she would have used your kitchen utensils to cook the food. however in your letter you mention that you enjoy eating out at restaurants so i would question whether you only frequent kosher ones or if you insist on taking your own utensils and plates.

I am sickened and shocked by this and have never come across anything so damning from a company. I have worked at high levels in both the private and public sector and have never been treated in this way by a agency or sub contrator. The lack of integrity, self restraint and proffessionalism shown caused me to double take when I read this. How dare you comment about our house rules with regard to food, and moreover our interpretation of religion and culture. As a moderate Jew and Muslim, our choice, like millions of others out there is to keep kosher in the house, however we accept that whilst living in a western, multicultural society we are more relaxed with regard to food preparation outside of our home. - But then I should have to justify our rules on this to An Agent.

With regard to the level of service recieved from yourself we are most certainly not happy for all of the reasons highlighted above. Moreover, we made it clear we are looking for a Spanish or at least Mediterranean aupair, and expected you, as the agent to sift through and send us acceptable candidates. Instead it appeared like you just sent us anyone, and everyone available from all destinations, and left it for us to sort out the poor from the even worse. I work in Estate Agency, which at the heart of it a similar process to your own prevails. We employ 16 yr old who taken some registration details from a potential house buyer, and the incompetant 16 year old agents email any properties remotely similar to the clients needs in the hope of a sale - I'm sure we have all expreienced those frustrating agents but does this seem familiar to you?

was dismissed not just becuase of leaving DS alone, not just for persistently checking internet with multiple warning, not just for wasting our electricty (which by the way you seem to see that as normal and acceptable). DS was dismissed that her attitude along with all of this (that has previously been explained verbally and in writing to yourself)absolutely stank. Even more so than the rotting NON KOSHER meat hidden in her wardrobe.

Governing body and parents beware.

Sorry for long response but soo angry!!!

Harrietthespook, any tips on how to go about recruiting next au pair? Please! confused

harrietthespook Wed 07-Sep-11 14:25:33

I have only read your first sentence and am already flabbergasted.

Fucking outrageous, that comment about restaurants and whether you take your own stuff. How dare she?

CookieLady Wed 07-Sep-11 14:26:30

I know!

harrietthespook Wed 07-Sep-11 14:41:11

Regarding the recruiting, would you say that you rely on the agency quite a lot for the vetting process? I'm thinking this may be an issue. Agencies don't really 'provide' an au pair although for the fees they charge I can see why people assume they are pulling their finger out to find someone uniquely suitable. Most are not so thoughtful and you should expect to do the lion's share of the legwork. Have you considered Au Pair World? You may like having more control over the process this would provide.

margerykemp Wed 07-Sep-11 14:56:56

If your ds is young enough for a baby gate then he is too young for an au pair to be left in sole charge. You are using her as a nanny then blaming her for your warped financial choices. You aee a tyrant and she is well off away from you.

CookieLady Wed 07-Sep-11 15:00:02

Margerykemp, FYI it's to stop the dog running out on the streets.

CookieLady Wed 07-Sep-11 15:16:36

And she wasn't on her own with DS, DH was in another room.

CookieLady Wed 07-Sep-11 15:19:12

Harrietthespook, we did try au pair world before the summer but found that we didn't have much luck. confused

theotherboleyngirl Wed 07-Sep-11 15:52:31

Ok, there is no doubting that the relationship with this au pair has completely broken down and you don't trust her with your DS and so now you do need to manage her leaving. I suggest you pay her flight home, organise an immediate one, get her to the airport, and then have nothing further to do with that agency. I second the use of Au Pair World - you may do the leg work but that is in your interests and pays off later.

We are currently on our 6th au pair, so I'm talking with a reasonable amount of experience.

Your DH's letter shocked me though (and to be honest it is quite hard to read).

You have no right to be marching in and out of her room. I would NEVER do this to any of my au pairs, even the one I suspected of pinching all the family snacks. The relationship has to be 2-way and involve respect on both sides. No she shouldn't have been on the internet all day but THAT is the issue you deal with, not marching in to her room and pulling the plug on her laptop.

It sounds like yes, she has done wrong in terms of not respecting your house rules (which you were right to spell out from the start), but it also sounds to me like you haven't handled it very well either. I know (from personal experience) that when you are aware that an au pair relationship isn't working it's horrible and you desperately want them out of your space, but I do think the situation could have been handled more appropriately. I'm not surprised in the least she has become incredibly defensive, and also clearly very unhappy.

I think the only option now is to move forward and learn from this. Get her out as quickly as possible, but as kindly as possible and with respect for her. Then have a long hard think about how you will deal with any problems with future au pairs so they don't errupt in to such out of control proportions.

And for what it's worth I think the agency's comments on your kosher rules are appalling, and for that alone I wouldn't be touching them with a barge pole.

Hullygully Wed 07-Sep-11 15:56:44

good lord

margerykemp Wed 07-Sep-11 18:25:13

If your dp was there then why are you blaming the AP? She's not a dogsitter. If it is not a safe animal it shouldnt be in the house with an infant. Cough up and get a nanny.

apotomak Wed 07-Sep-11 19:05:30

To be honest ... since you have specific requirements I think an au pair is not the best childcare option for you. It's just not worth the nerves. I suggest a nanny would be better if you can afford it ... if not a childminder would be cheaper ... you can outsource chores to a cleaner. You'd have your privacy and you'll be a happier family. I have had au pairs ... some were better some worse but I tell you I would not consider au pair again ... it's just not worth the hassle.
theotherboleyngirl she absolutely has the right to go in and out of her room if she has a reasonable doubt she has not followed instructions which was to unplug a laptop when not in use. We had a cat in au pairs bedroom because she left the window open and went out ... luckily it was just a visiting cat ... not a burglar.

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