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I suspect new au pair is a smoker. Pls help me decide what to do!

(72 Posts)
MGMidget Mon 03-Sep-12 11:32:41

Our new Au Pair arrived on Saturday evening. Less than an hour later I came to her room with some towels and could smell stale tobacco smoke at the door. She hadn't unpacked at this point and I hoped that the smell was a result of people smoking near her during her journey. However, the following day when I walked past her room the smell of stale tobacco was wafting out! I don't think she's smoking in the room but the smell is coming from her clothes and baggage. I am worried the extent of the smell means she is quite a heavy smoker. The thing is I specified we wanted a 'no smoker' in our APWorld profile and she also returned my email questionnaire during the application process, answering the question 'do you smoke' with a 'no'. Now I realise its possible she has shared a house with a smoker rather than being a smoker herself so I'm trying not to jump to conclusions too quickly. However, I would really like some help in deciding what to do if I conclude she is a smoker or catch her 'in the act'.

My concerns are:
1. I don't want her smoking in front of our young son. While a light 'social' smoker might manage to restrict themselves to the occasional cigarette in a bar with their friends, I'm worried that the extent of the smell means she's a heavy smoker and will have trouble going without a cigarette for any length of time. Do you think I'm right to conclude she's probably quite a heavy smoker?
2. If I discuss this with her and she agrees not to smoke in front of my son or in our house what happens when she's desperate for a cigarette? I'm worried she'll go outside and leave him unsupervised, or get really irritable and distracted so not be so good at her job.
3. I have googled some information on second hand smoke on clothes, skin etc and it seems this is also harmful to young children even if they are not directly exposed to cigarette smoke. I'm not sure how seriously to take this but my son does suffer from eczema and mild asthma so I am trying to keep these things well controlled!
4. I really hate the idea of stale smoke wafting around the house (if it gets worse than it is now) and starting to lodge itself in the soft furnishings in our house. I really don't want to have to replace the bed and all the soft furnishings in the Au Pair's room when she leaves and if they stink I'm sure the next (hopefully non smoking) au pair will be unhappy!

On the other hand it is going to be a real pain to sack her and find a replacement at this time. It is a busy time of the year for me and I recruited her after careful selection and reference checking back in June. This has been carefully planned and I arranged for her to start a week before our current au pair leaves so there is a handover period. Everything was going smoothly until this red flag! Aarrgh!

I'd really like so help in working out what to do. I think it is better to try and resolve this quickly before my son gets too attached to her if we are going to have to let her go. Do you think I should:

1. Confront her by asking her if she smokes as I have noticed the smell coming from her room? That would give her the opportunity to explain (and ideally put my mind at rest) but it may also mean that if she is trying to cover up the situation it may be harder to catch her 'in the act' later.
2. Say nothing for the moment but keep a close eye on her to see if I or our current au pair can catch her in the act? Our current au pair is planning to take her out for a drink one evening. I could ask her to try and find out if she smokes, maybe by offering to buy her some cigarettes at the bar.
3. Remind her of the house rules (she's had the handbook already) by telling her that she must never smoke in front of our son or in the house, only when she is off duty? The thing is it shouldn't be necessary to remind her of this if she is a non smoker as she stated so I don't think I can say this unless I also do point 1!

If it turns out she is quite a heavy smoker would you automatically sack her or try to make it work by using the house rules? I am wondering if anyone has been in my situation and did you manage to make things work or did you have to send the au pair home?

Thanks for feedback and sorry for long posting. This is troubling me as you probably realise!

SaskiaRembrandtWasFramed Mon 03-Sep-12 11:41:21

You have a handbook of rules for your house?

SPsFanjoSponsoredByFemFresh Mon 03-Sep-12 11:45:22

She's a smoker not a murderer for Ffs!

I'm a smoker but I don't suddenly get an urge to leave my toddler alone in the house so I can have a quick fag.

If you cone home and your kids are having a malboro light with her then you have a problem

SchrodingersMew Mon 03-Sep-12 11:50:22

Is it actually legal to sack someone for being a smoker? Even if it's not at work? shock

MrsMarigold Mon 03-Sep-12 11:53:59

You specified you didn't want a smoker, if she is a smoker she lied to you - what else will she lie about. Your children are your top priority so best just to be upfront say you didn't want a smoker and it's too bad but she will have to leave.

MrsMarigold Mon 03-Sep-12 11:55:26

I wouldn't want a smoker around my child.

AmberLeaf Mon 03-Sep-12 11:56:18

Yeah you had better watch her she'll be smoking crack next.

Kaluki Mon 03-Sep-12 11:58:21

I think you should leave the poor girl alone - she has only just arrived FGS!!
She knows your rules about smoking from the handbook and there is no reason to suggest she will break those rules.
Second hand smoke from someones clothes is not going to ruin your soft furnishings and there could be any number of reasons why her clothes smell. Maybe at her last house they all smoked heavily.
I have given up for 2 years (hurray!) but when I smoked I never smoked at work and never around dc. Its none of your business if she smokes in her own time.
It sounds like you are waiting to trip her up and sack her and getting the current au pair to spy on her like that is just plain horrible.

SchrodingersMew Mon 03-Sep-12 12:05:44

"I wouldn't want a smoker around my child. "
Even if they didn't smoke around your child? That's ridiculous.

SaskiaRembrandtWasFramed Mon 03-Sep-12 12:08:02

"You specified you didn't want a smoker, if she is a smoker she lied to you - what else will she lie about"

Oooh, probably loads of things ... I bet she's not even a real au pair, more likely she's some kind of sleeper agent sent to subvert us all with her smoking and cavalier attitude towards the handbook of rules.

SPsFanjoSponsoredByFemFresh Mon 03-Sep-12 12:13:27

saskia grin she might be a escaped convict

DottyWottyDooDah Mon 03-Sep-12 12:17:17

I would comment on the smell tbh and ask her if she smokes.
Perfectly reasonable to stipulate that you want a non-smoker in your home looking after your child.
Your concerns are valid.

poopnscoop Mon 03-Sep-12 12:18:00

People seem to have got the wrong end of the stick... she has LIED ... had she said she smoked she would not have been offered the job. This is wrong. no matter how you look at it. And the OP has every right to not want a smoker in her home/working with her child/ren.

AmberLeaf Mon 03-Sep-12 12:21:00

Maybe she is of the mind that it is none of her potential employers business as to whether she smokes?

As long as she doesnt smoke in the OPs house if that is her wish then it really isnt any of the OPs business.

OP you do realise that your childs future teachers may well smoke in their own time and there is nothing you can do about that? they too will spend lots of time with your child.

SaskiaRembrandtWasFramed Mon 03-Sep-12 12:23:02

grin SPsFanjo Maybe she's on the run after stealing a lorryload of cigarettes <<nods knowingly>>

poopnscoop But there's no evidence that she does smoke - her clothes might smell like that because she previously lived in a house with people who did.

But the op doesn't know she had lied yet.

Just ask her.

Alibabaandthe40nappies Mon 03-Sep-12 12:26:01

I wouldn't want her in my house.

She has lied to you to get the job - what else will she cover up?

I would sack her and replace.

Alibabaandthe40nappies Mon 03-Sep-12 12:27:46

AmberLeaf - but the OP requested a non-smoking Aupair and hasn't got one. It is a bit different from a 9-5 office job.

Oh dear god no one knows if she lied

MistyB Mon 03-Sep-12 12:28:15

Mixed views on here but I wouldn't want second hand smoke on someone's clothes around my young child who has eczema and asthma even if they didn't smoke around them. And even minimal amount of smoke can be quite pervasive and linger in the house.

SPsFanjoSponsoredByFemFresh Mon 03-Sep-12 12:29:59

She is obviously a cigarette smuggler! That is why she smells.

Get a grip! It is non of your business if she smokes. That is what I believe to be smokerism.

MrAnchovy Mon 03-Sep-12 12:31:18

I think you two must be lost, the link to AIBU is here.

The issue is that you advertised for a non-smoker, she said she was a non-smoker and it seems to have turned out that she was lying. I think you have to deal with this, and this is not just a matter of saying "we think you lied to us about something we feel strongly about in order to get the job but that is OK as long as you don't smoke around the kids".

As your current au pair is around I would wait to see if she can find out any more, although the idea of setting up an ambush is a bad one and would almost certainly backfire.

Remind her that she said she is a non-smoker, and tell her that she has a choice - stop smoking or leave.

ItsaTIARA Mon 03-Sep-12 12:31:33

Ask her straight out, remind her of the house rules, wash all her clothes for her and air the room. (this will a) get rid of the smell b) make it clear that you take this very seriously so she won't be tempted to bend the rules c) mean that if she's smelling of smoke in future there will be no question of it being "left over")

MrAnchovy Mon 03-Sep-12 12:32:23

Oops, I wrote that after the first two posts but was a bit slow posting it!

DottyWottyDooDah Mon 03-Sep-12 12:32:27

Teachers, I would imagine, do less cuddling, lifting and carrying of children than au pairs. I have also heard of evidence for second hand smoke on clothing and breath being harmful to young or susceptible children.
OP's choice whether she wants a smoker in her home looking after her son

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