Hello all - first time I've ever asked a question on mumsnet. Our first au pair started this week, she seems nice (19 from Holland) and hasn't done anything yet to cause concern, however I was hoping to get some reassurance and a quick answer to something. Firstly, it seems so weird and unsettling leaving our children with a total stranger who we have no reason to either trust or mistrust. Initially the idea of an au pair seemed so convenient but now perhaps reality has hit home. How long have others found it takes before you are comfortable with your au pair and what steps should we be taking now to ensure the first few weeks are as smooth as possible? Also, while we have given her a handbook (which we got from mumsnet), we haven't given a contract, everything seems a bit informal from an employment perspective, even though the handbook very clearly lays out responsibilities and expected hours of work. Should we have something more official in place? Hoping for some experienced words of mumsnet wisdom. Thanks all.
Hi football friend. I just did a search on au pair contracts here on mumsnet and found a thread of conversation where someone had kindly posted a link to their own handbook. Was pretty easy to find. Sorry I don't have the link to that thread to forward on to you. Best of luck in your search for an au pair. It sure is an odd experience.
Yes you do need a contract. An au pair is a worker and, in any case, as an EU citizen she is entitled to exactly the same working conditions as anyone else. You are paying money (plus bed and board) and receiving a service.
In terms of trusting her that takes time, supervision and dialogue. How old are your DCs? Would they be (reliably) able to raise any (serious) concerns? Did you take up references? All those should be pointing towards trusting her. Do you have a bad gut feeling?
In terms of helping the process along you should be taking time to show her/help her do the tasks she needs to carry out, giving clear written instructions especially on how appliances work and timings, sitting down and talking things through, giving feedback especially positive and nipping any potential problems in the bud with a quick chat.
Do remember that whilst she's employed by you (and you have certain responsibilities in that respect both contractwise and from a financial perspective) she's also young and new to the UK so will need quite a lot of basic guidance with day to day stuff like finding a GP, setting up a bank account, how public transport works, driving, meeting people etc. Our nanny has been with us for a month (she's 23 and trained/experienced but we're abroad) and doing all of that has helped her settle.
Thanks for the messages. Great to hear from some experienced people. Our kids are 2 & 4 and seem to have taken to the new au pair really well. I suppose we just relied on the handbook as our contract. Will look into it a bit further now. Thanks again.