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Is this reasonable for an au pair job? And when should I start recruiting?

(84 Posts)
SamSmalaidh Tue 02-Oct-12 17:53:55

I have never employed an au pair before but have read recent threads about expectations with interest!

At minimum I need someone to:
collect 3 year old DS from nursery around midday
take him home and feed him lunch (sandwiches, beans on toast etc)
play with him, maybe take him swimming, library etc until I get home around 4.30pm

Ideally I would also like someone to:
clear up breakfast things/tidy up the kitchen daily
keep on top of DS's laundry
run the hoover round up and downstairs at least once a week
occasionally hang out washing/put washing in or out of dryer
babysit once a week
maybe do a few hours on a Saturday morning every month or two so we can lie-in

Does this sound reasonable for an au pair?

I need someone to start doing childcare probably from end of August/beginning of September 2013, so was thinking they would arrive mid August to give them time to settle in. We will be away all of July 2013. With that in mind when should I start recruiting, and should I invite candidates for a trial weekend?

andagain Wed 03-Oct-12 10:42:19


I think 11.30-4.30 Mon- Fri hours are perfectly fine as is Saturday babysitting occasionally as long as you give them enough notice.
I personally think that as long as hours (excl babysitting) do not exceed 25 and your AP knows exactly which hours she is working, that is fine as that gives them a chance to plan their social life around the hours they work.

We have it in our contract that she babysits on a specific day every week, so that she can plan her social life around it. If we want our AP to do any additional babysitting (which is about one extra night every fortnight) we pay extra.

Paying for their language course is a perk. If you want to contribute to her course fee I would offer to reimburse her for however much you want to contribute, once she has stayed six months (or whatever you think is appropriate minimum stay).

We always recruit our au pairs well in advance. It is perfectly reasonable for you to start looking in May for Aug/Sep start as that will give you enough time for phone/skype interviews and if you wish a weekend trial with the final one or two. We always do this and I strongly recommend it. Worth every penny.

I hope this helps.

MrAnchovy Wed 03-Oct-12 10:52:45

"Usually au pairs are young girls/boys, aged 17-19 with very little child care experience."

Very many au pairs are graduates aged 21+, this is particularly true in the current European econimic climate: you choose the AP to suit the role. Picking up from school at 3.30 and sole charge till 7 when parents get home is very common, 12 to 4.30 is not much different and the earlier finish and lack of morning split shift is more attractive to many.

areyoutheregoditsmemargaret Wed 03-Oct-12 11:15:23

I would advertise on Gumtree or aupair world (personally don't like latter but many swear by it) stating exactly that this is what you're looking for and what you're prepared to pay.

When good people respond double check they are happy with this deal. If they are, then bingo! So long as you pay reasonably I'd have thought it was perfectly possible to find someone.

Mummyisamonster Wed 03-Oct-12 12:20:24

I think you're on the right lines looking for an au-pair. Not a nanny!

We have an aupair (our second) and she takes the kids to school, hoovers, tidies up, babysits twice a week (by arrangement) and does their laundry & ironing. It's about 25 hours a week.
In return we pay her pocket money, include her in all our family outings (if she wants to!) and treat her like a member of the family.
We are not paying for english lessons - the agency I used (an excellent one called suggested that paying for lessons is not an expectation of host families. Can I suggest that you DO use an agency - they do al the legwork, all the CRB checks are done etc, and it's far less stressful How would you know the person you see on Gumtree has had all these checks?

I am quite stunned at some of the rather snotty remarks left on this thread! hmm

Direct message me if you have any queries. Good luck! smile

Mummyisamonster Wed 03-Oct-12 12:34:08

Ps: I'd start recruiting at least 8 weeks before. If you use an agency talk to them a few times to give them a better idea of what it is you're looking for.

Frakiosaurus Wed 03-Oct-12 12:57:15

mummy please tell me you did at least verify the checks?!

A good agency will do them, a bad agency will say they do but don't or will do them half-heartedly. You can't know which is which just by looking so you should always verify the info. It's safer to recruit yourself and do the checks yourself than rely just on the word of an agency.

There are other benefits to agencies if you want additional support but supposed background checking and knowledge of employment law are on my list of disadvantages rather than positives.

blueshoes Wed 03-Oct-12 13:23:17

Totally agree, Frakio. You can never tell with an agency. My aupairs have previously told me the level of checks vary from agency to agency, some of which are shockingly little to none.

I personally use aupair world (which is good for German aupairs, in particular). The most important part of my due diligence, apart from paper references, is to get an English-speaking non-relative/non-family friend employer reference and to call the reference and ask their views about the aupair specifically. I don't hire without such a reference.

MrAnchovy Wed 03-Oct-12 13:46:59

In particular, a CRB check is useless for someone who has spent most or all of their life abroad. Most European countries operate a system of police checks though, you have to contact them directly: the embassy web site is a good place to start looking.

SamSmalaidh Wed 03-Oct-12 14:57:51

I'm quite suprised that some people feel an average 18-22 year old couldn't watch one 3 year old for 4.5 hours at a time - I would look for someone who has had some experience with children this age and have them first aid trained. I can understand not expecting an au pair to do a 10 hour day or look after a young baby but feel that most should be able to keep a child safe for 4-5 hours.

Quintessential - 11.30am would be the time they'd have to leave the house. I would assume she'd eat dinner with us, but wouldn't insist on it. DH would take DS to nursery - he also works from home so would be on hand if she had any problems.

OK, the alternative set up I could do with less childcare involved/fewer hours would be:
Collect DS from nursery at 3pm and look after him til 5pm Tuesday-Friday
Take over all the cleaning (3hrs for a cleaner, so 6 hrs for an au pair?) to be done before 3pm Tuesday-Friday
Babysit Friday night
Saturday morning 7am-12pm
Sunday and Monday off

Would that be more/less attractive for an au pair?

YUNoSaySomethingNice Wed 03-Oct-12 15:16:13

It depends how much you are going to pay her. I think a lot of AP are paid very little for the number of hours they are expected to work.

LadyHarrietdeSpook Wed 03-Oct-12 15:30:03

Your initial schedule was fine. I don't think you need to rejig.

On the revised one I don't think many APs would be very happy committing to the saturday am thing, with Sun and Mon off.

I would just go with what you originally suggested.

OttillieRidiculous Wed 03-Oct-12 16:39:04

You want to go out every Friday night and have a lie in every Saturday morning?

SamSmalaidh Wed 03-Oct-12 18:03:58

I'd like to have the option of going out one night, and probably some lie-ins. And if DH takes over some of the childcare (eg. on a monday) he'll probably need to catch up on work at the weekend so it would be good to have some Saturday cover.

Ottillie will you explain what you meant about the au pair needing to get something out of the experience?

SamSmalaidh Wed 03-Oct-12 18:09:45

In terms of pocket money I was thinking £75 a week for 25 hours, so with the value of the room and board (approx £100 a week) it works out to around £7 an hour.

blueshoes Wed 03-Oct-12 19:31:04

Agree with Harriet. Friday night is prime socialising night for aupairs, so making Friday babysitting and Sat morning duties a regular thing won't be attractive. I am sure occasionally upon pre-arrangement is fine.

Also I don't see any objection to an 18-22 year having sole charge of a 3 year old for 4.5 hours. Of course, you would keep an eye in the early days but if all goes well, that should be fine. All my aupairs would have been up to the task.

blueshoes Wed 03-Oct-12 19:31:29

The pocket money is also fine for the hours you state.

MrAnchovy Wed 03-Oct-12 19:39:59

Many people find the term "pocket money" patronising and that does not accurately reflect the fact that you are paying the AP (and providing board and lodging, bus pass, phone etc.) in return for the work she does for you and your family. This forms a contract of service and makes her an employee, and the money you give her is wages or salary (and is of course subject to income tax and national insurance if over the thresholds).

Pocket money is something given freely to a minor child: the child may be expected to do some chores in order to 'earn' the pocket money, but there is no intent to form a binding contract on either side.

YUNoSaySomethingNice Wed 03-Oct-12 19:58:45

Paying £7 an hour for cleaning is very cheap. Most people pay £9 or £10 and £100 a week for board is what you would charge if you are wanting to make a profit. It won't cost you anything like £100.
I think £75 for 25 hours work including cleaning and evening and early morning work to be very very cheap. I do understand this is not unusual though. I just find it a bit tight. If it were me I would pay more and hope to have a happy and hard working AP. Alternatively, I wouldn't ask her to do cleaning.

blueshoes Wed 03-Oct-12 21:22:51

YuNo, you must bear in mind that the rates you are quoting are for a professional cleaner or even a professional nanny.

Aupairs are not skilled and very often, their cleaning leaves a lot to be desired which the host family is generally happy to put up with if the aupair has good rapport with the children.

I am sure your aupair will be very pleased with more pocket money. However, I don't really think the amount you pay correlates with the quality of aupair that you get. You will find that many families with good aupairs will be naturally inclined to be more generous and flexible but are also somewhat wary at the start because you do end up with timewasters as aupair hiring is not a science and all too often a hit and miss affair.

dikkertjedap Wed 03-Oct-12 22:16:20

I don't think that it will work long-term to have your au pair working on Friday night and Saturday morning. I think that the risk is that you get a desperate girl agreeing to your terms and once she is here, she will get to know other au pairs (and thus other families) and may leave at short notice. You are stuck then.

Others may suggest that you come to an agreement and that is it. This is not true because she is not your employee in the strict sense of the law so you are not going to be able to enforce your agreement.

I have had many au pairs. We are still in touch with au pairs from years and years ago and we get many new au pairs on their recommendation. I have found that the best way is to make sure your au pair is happy and feels a valued member of the family, through:

- well defined tasks, including precise working hours
- not too much cleaning (she is not your cleaner after all)
- clear suggestions how to occupy the child(ren) and what to do or not to do
- making sure that she has a nice room
- making sure that she has access to internet/skype/phone
- making sure that she has plenty of time to socialise
- allowing her to have friends/sisters visiting and staying overnight during the weekend
- giving her the full weekend and Friday evening off
- not more than two evenings babysitting during the week
- giving time off for courses, including during the day which can be quite inconvenient for the host family
- including the au pair in family activities (eg days out, dinners out, film, theatre etc.)
- I would pay at a minimum £75 plus travel allowance and phone card per week, several au pairs we have paid £100 after three months because they were simply worth their weight in gold and brilliant with the children

I also would give yourself plenty of time to find an au pair. If you go through an agency I would say three months in advance.

blueshoes Wed 03-Oct-12 22:29:47

dik: "Others may suggest that you come to an agreement and that is it. This is not true because she is not your employee in the strict sense of the law so you are not going to be able to enforce your agreement."

Absolutely. Anyone who has used aupairs are all too aware that aupairs can pretty much leave any time they want and there isn't much the families can do about it. All you can do when hiring an aupair is give them as clear an idea about their responsibilities and hours and reach a mutual agreement. This means they are more likely to stay than if the family sprang a Fri babysitting arrangement on them, but it is still no guarantee they will stay if it does not work for them down the road.

So all this talk about exploitation goes right over my head. If anything, I find myself at the mercy of aupairs. Hence, I pay a lot of attention to the aupair's profile and find out what they want out of their stay and try to meet it to mutual satisfaction. It makes no sense for me to try and force unpalatable terms because hey, I would just be shooting myself in the foot.

DowagersHump Wed 03-Oct-12 22:49:44

That's true to an extent but my cousin was stuck in a remote village with little money, no public transport and a hideous family. She couldn't leave.

That was a long time ago, before the advent of mobiles etc. On that basis though, I would feel much more comfortable employing western APs because they don't have a massive financial incentive to stay. The person who posted on that other thread that said they always employed Romanians made me feel v uncomfortable.

blueshoes Wed 03-Oct-12 23:03:50

Dowager, once an aupair is in UK, her attractiveness to other host families in the UK goes up dramatically. Some aupairs, even after some fairly nominal aupair/childcare experience, including the Eastern European ones, start to ask for rates on Gumtree approaching nanny's.

All my aupairs, including the one from Romania, had their own laptops and mobiles. I offered them a free one in my ad but none of them needed it. They know about aupair facebook and pretty much can access a lot of information on their own. Certainly they must exchange information about the perks and treatment by their host families. I don't think aupairs are necessarily as vulnerable as you have in your mind.

MrAnchovy Wed 03-Oct-12 23:40:41

"This is not true because she is not your employee in the strict sense of the law"

Actually she is your employee in the strict sense of the law, but I agree with everything else you say - if she feels that she is getting a raw deal compared with other APs she knows/comes into contact with, she will leave, and rightly so.

LadyHarrietdeSpook Thu 04-Oct-12 10:35:27


On that basis though, I would feel much more comfortable employing western APs because they don't have a massive financial incentive to stay.

We've always done this. Our APs come from Germany, have been well educated and are from well off families. They certainly don't need the job or the money. People who speak good English and have had loads of opportunities already leave us speaking even better English, having had some great experiences.

I have actually struggled a bit with this, thinking that maybe it's right we offer the opportunity to someone who has had fewer opportunities growing up, that we make some sort of 'investment' in a young person in this way, including possibly paying for the language school.

So you see this is the other side of the coin to employing someone from a country which is less economically well off than the UK - not everyone is looking for a 'slave' who needs the money. If I had more time to spend with an AP, I would hope I would be incliend to do this.

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