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Au pairs - actual costs?

(30 Posts)
Nonnus Wed 21-Nov-12 11:06:48

I am planning to get an au pair and am trying to get an idea of what it will actually cost, i.e. what are the 'extras' that you HAVE to pay for and then what are the extras that are non-essential?

From other threads on here I am estimating I'll need to pay £90 per week for an au pair aged 21+ to work 20-25 hours a week in Woking/Guildford area. Might start off at a lower weekly rate but am willing to/can afford to pay up to £90 to get/keep someone really good.

As I will need the au pair to use the bus to get to/from school to collect the DCs, I assume I will have to pay for her/his bus pass? That seems to be about £50 a month (quite expensive, I thought!). Then I have seen others on here say they pay £15 or so towards au pair's PAYG phone. Again, as I will need to contact the au pair during the day, this seems reasonable too.

Other things that I don't think I could stretch to would be gym membership, use of a car (insurance too expensive and I only have one car, which I use to get to work), and language lessons. Would the absence of any or all of these be a dealbreaker do you think?

Am also allowing an extra £75 a month in housekeeping budget to cover feeding the au pair as well as our family. Is that realistic?

Any other hidden costs I should be budgeting for?

fedupwithdeployment Wed 21-Nov-12 11:12:53

I think what you are proposing is reasonable - with the exception of language lessons. Do you know the cost of these? We send AP to local college in London (S Thames) where the cost is approx £300 - and we pay half. We pay AP £80pw, but only actually pay him £70 - and keep back £10pw towards the lessons.

I think £75 is probably reasonable re food, but some APs eat a lot more than others!! Current AP majors on bread, bananas and nutella, which is ok and doesn't cost that much more.

I provide a PAYG but don't provide additional credit.

Will AP be at home during day? Will you need to put heating on during the day where ordinarily you wouldn't? That could hugely increase bills.

Occasionally we take him on a family in half term he took boys to London and met me for lunch. Pay for his travel and museum and also lunch.

Metrobaby Wed 21-Nov-12 16:43:49

I don't pay anything towards my AP's courses as I find some of them don't even want to take a language course.

Food bills are very variable. I've had APs who eat lots, and others where I actually have to ask them whether they are eating. You may need to be flexible with your budget for this.

Other costs are general wear and tear around the house - ie broken plates/cups etc, damaged carpets (one AP of mine used to dye her hair in her room).

Don't forget that your AP is entitled to holiday pay too - but not sick pay. I pay my AP a minimum of 28 days holidays per year and bank holidays.

I always collect and drop her off at the airports whenever they go home for holidays.

I tend to also buy my APs much more expensive birthday and xmas presents than my usual friends to show my appreciation.

However, by far the largest cost is if you have to dismiss them. If this happens, depending on the circumstances, you may have to stump up the cost of their air fair home, alternative accomodation, notice period pay and any accrued holiday.

Having an AP is certaintly not a cheap option.

PeskyPiskie Wed 21-Nov-12 16:52:15

The expense of keeping the heating on was the worst for us. Our AP's all seemed to suffer from the cold so put the heating on all day (every day) from September (when they started) until they left in the following June. It was much more than I'd budgeted for. Also the last AP only ate expensive things, she was Swedish and didn't really like meat so wanted salmon for all meals, special milk and yogurts and breakfast cereals etc. We're currently trying out life without an AP, and although it is logistically more challenging I am much happier.

Nonnus Wed 21-Nov-12 20:09:11

Thanks all. Metrobaby, if you have to dismiss an au pair why do you have to buy their plane ticket home? I can't think of any parallel requirement under standard employment law.

I am slightly torn between an au pair and a housekeeper/cleaner for a few hours a day but am leaning more towards au pair because occasionally I have to stay late at work and thought au pair would give me more flexibility. But sounds like it might be a bit of a nightmare!

Anyone with a really good AP story?

dikkertjedap Wed 21-Nov-12 20:48:16

I think the cost of having the heating on all day, extra food, not just for au pair but also when she has friends over and the extra costs of including her in family dinners out, days out with the whole family (travel, food, tickets to events).

We have had many excellent au pairs. They are still friends and visit on birthdays, come over in Holidays.

Au pairs are not cheap! However, a good au pair is worth her weight in gold. She can be an older sister to your kids, build up a brilliant bond, help them in many ways (and you as well), in return, make sure she feels included and feels valued. Our au pairs can invite friends over for dinner and during the weekends friends can stay night/day. If she wants to go out on Friday night we will pick her up, even if it is very late, as we would do the same for our kids when they are older.

So, it can work really really well, but no, it is not cheap.

JammieMummy Wed 21-Nov-12 23:08:48

We live in the Guildford area and our au pair attends the ESOL course at Guildford college, there are a lot of other au pairs on her course so she has made friends and spends most of her weekends out with them seeing the sights. The course is about £120 a term which we pay half of (plus exam fees which we don't contribute to). We pay her £90 a week but she does 30 hours and knew that when she joined us (but only one very well behaved child), we give her £10 credit on her phone per month (one of these sim only deals which means she never has to put any other money on it) and she is very good. She is excellent with DD who adores her and she's the right mix of part of our family while giving us our own time as a family.

Admittedly she doesn't do the housework quite the way I would like (but I didn't do it that way at 21 either) and there have been some "lost in translation" issues but she is really very good. I would suggest interviewing very carefully and having their requirements/rota written out so they can see it before they accept the job as they really need to know what they are getting into etc (I am sure you will but I saw this terrible documentary on channel 4 a few months ago and felt really sorry for the poor au pairs who seemed to be totally out of their depth and struggling).

Sorry this has turned into a bit of a ramble! Good luck with your au pair though smile

MrAnchovy Thu 22-Nov-12 00:36:01

Thanks all. Metrobaby, if you have to dismiss an au pair why do you have to buy their plane ticket home? I can't think of any parallel requirement under standard employment law.

There is no such thing as 'standard' employment law, there is just the law, and it applies to au pairs and their employers as much as everyone else.

There is no legal requirment to buy a dismissed au pair a plane ticket home (unless you have written it in your contract), but personally unless he or she had actually attacked the children with a stick I would feel morally bound to see that they had somewhere to stay or could get home.

Nonnus Thu 22-Nov-12 06:19:19

Thanks all. Sorry for lax use of 'standard' when I mentioned employment law but what I meant was, if you dismiss one then presumably that is because they haven't done their job properly so why should you be out of pocket for a flight home? Do you normally pay for the AP's flights to and from the UK at start and end of stay?

Jammiemummie thanks for your post, did you use an agency or one of the websites to recruit? Do you mind me asking which one, and how long it took from starting to look to getting your AP?

StillSquiffy Thu 22-Nov-12 09:32:37

Nonnus, you pay the fare home because most normal people would be disgusted if you threw someone out of their home with nowhere to live and no means of getting back to their parents.

StillSquiffy Thu 22-Nov-12 09:33:59

But, no, you don't normally pay airfare at start of employment, nor for any of their trips home, nor if they resign and leave.

Metrobaby Thu 22-Nov-12 09:39:33

I don't normally pay airfare home - but if I asked an AP to leave, then yes I would pay for their airfare, as regardless of the circumstances, it is morally the right thing to do. I would do this as I appreciate the AP would otherwise be left without accommodation and potentially no means to get back to their home country. I do realise however, I am not obliged to do this. Thankfully, this situation has only ever arisen once out of the 7 APs I have had.

Nonnus Thu 22-Nov-12 10:49:21

I hadn't envisaged a situation so dreadful that you'd be turfing the AP out on his/her ear! Does this really happen? I would expect that if you decided it wasn't working for some reason then it would be a question of the AP working notice period just like another job. But thanks for the heads up! I'm worried now!

LadyHarrietdeSpook Thu 22-Nov-12 10:58:20

Essentials: weekly pocket money (obvs) and any costs incurred looking after the children (top of for phones and whatever transport costs she needs to cover.) Paid holidays as well, and I pay for sickness too (but note in contract this is at my discretion.) Overtime after x number of hours and extra money for weekend babysitting. You also need to make sure that you are on some sort of phone plan so they can call home/use the internet freely (IMO.) Access to a computer if they don't have their own laptop.

It's not a 'cost' per say but you really need to make sure you are giving them proper time off - being part of hte family doesn't mean that at the weekends they don't mind 'helping' with the children if you need to 'pop out.' DOn't have the two days' babysitting most people ask for Friday AND Saturday night.

We also do periodic day trips out during the year and of course pay for any meals out with us/other activities. It's nice to plan on something like this every few weeks.

I don't pay for language school but we don't ask her to take time off from it eiether ie. for sick children. However, I would consider paying in the future but not the first term. In my experience the APs paying for it themselves seem to take the investment they are making in going to the classes/learning English quite seriously which I think is no bad thing. I would be interested to hear from others who help with the costs what the attitude is like. Make the payment thing clear from the start though (like at the recruitment process) so they can make an informed decision.

RE food, some make 'special requests' We accommodate many of these but not all (I did not regularly buy berries in winter, for example, or smoked salmon every week.) THe poster further up buying in all that special food is NOT something I would do to that extent for various reasons. At the end of the day, the AP has come for a cultural experience and there would be a limit for me in sourcing foods from home.

YOu also don't have provided unfettered access to your hospitality for friends and overnight guests. OUr AP is welcome to have friends round but they are not included, as a matter of course, in our meal arrangements. I very much doubt that most APs would expect this.

REgarding the heating, I am sure I will get flamed for this, but I would have definitely put a stop to heating on in May/June (presuming you don't live in the Shetland Islands.)

OutragedFromLeeds Thu 22-Nov-12 11:05:18

An au pair isn't like another job though is it? If you've fallen out to the point where you've fired them do you really want them living in your home and looking after your children while they work their notice? Surely better to just pay for a cheap flight and have them gone asap.

andagain Thu 22-Nov-12 12:04:14

Hi OP,

Yes I have a really good AP story. We currently have a fantastic au pair (been with us for 9 months now) and the previous one was brilliant too. I keep touching wood as we have been very lucky.

Not much I can add to the above posts except I would say be very specific about what you expect them to do, and very specific about the days and evenings they have free. I think it is important for them to be able to plan their free time and this is one of the things that makes an AP happy. Give them in advance a run down on the way you live (as in we like to go out on this day so you will babysit then, we like to spend time on our own at least 3-4 evenings a week so would appreciate if you could find a balance between spending time with us in the evening and time in your room/out etc), tell them how you deal with shopping (I say that she can add what she would like on the shopping list within reason). We don't pay for their flight but say that if everyone is happy we will reimburse money for the flight if she stays 6 months. We don't offer to pay for the lessons, but will pay for half of our current's au pair's English lessons (haven't told her yet) from January as she is just fantastic!

If you allow overnight visitors specify how often and when. We are happy for overnight visitors as long as it is at weekend only (AP's free days) and it is occasionally (rather than every other weekend) and she has to check with us in advance to make sure we don't have visitors that same weekend.

Have a contract in place, go through it with your AP before they sign it so nothing is ambiguous.

I know this may sound obvious but as long as you treat them with respect, make it clear to your children that they need to treat your AP with respect, she is in charge when she is looking after them (so you don't override her decions in front of the kids and thefore undermind them), and you try and make her stay enjoyable, you will end up with a happy AP and in my book happy AP = happy children.

Don't start by thinking the worst (oh if they mess up, who pays for the flights etc). I am sure we have all heard lots of horror stories but it is because those are the ones people (understandably) talk about. Many many people (myself included) have very good experiences with au pairs.
Awful things happen of course but you can minimise the risk by being thorough during your recruitment process and clear about your expectations.

I always recruit through AP world (again not many have the same good experience with APW), my profile is very detailed so they know a lot about us and everything about the job. We interview suitable people on skype and tend to fly one or two shortlisted ones over for a test weekend. So far it has worked a treat.

Good luck!

andagain Thu 22-Nov-12 12:05:34

undermine them - (not undermind them) DOH!

Mosman Thu 22-Nov-12 13:06:03

And again would you mind posting a link to your profile to give me an idea as to how it should be laid out etc
Thank you

andagain Thu 22-Nov-12 13:08:49

I'll PM you with it.

Nonnus Thu 22-Nov-12 14:21:43

Thank you andagain that is a good story. I'd love to see you APW post as well, if you wouldn't mind PMing me a link. Would be good to see an example of how much info is required.

JammieMummy Thu 22-Nov-12 14:33:54

I have PM-ed you.

LadyHarriet- I have to say we pay half of our AP's course and it works really well. She is very motivated to do it and it helps her to make friends but she doesn't have the cost associated. We also offered to pay for the whole course and deducte the other half from her wages over time but she already had money wither and wanted to pay half herself upfront. Maybe we are just very lucky with our AP but we have had not problems (and regularly see her doing her homework!)

I agree with others here, we do our weekly shop and add on some extras that she likes/has shown a preference for. If there is food she doesn't like we make sure we don't make it for her but I do not (nor would i if asked) buy salmon etc for her. She eats with us the meals that we eat! The things I buy are particular biscuits and yogurts etc.

MrAnchovy Thu 22-Nov-12 14:52:16

it would be a question of the AP working notice period just like another job

It's not just like another job though:
(i) they are living in your home
(ii) they are looking after your children.

Given that you have sacked them presumably because things aren't going well, they are unlikely to get better during a notice period which is therfore likely to be a disaster. Unless it is for a serious matter meaning you can't have them in the house, the best procedure is probably to take a week off work, tell them on Friday that you don't need them to work next week and they will need to go by midday next Saturday and give them pay in lieu of notice and any accrued holiday. Ask them if they have somewhere to go or can get home, think about offering them a lift to the airport, book a temporary nanny for the week after and start looking for a replacement.

Newtothisstuff Thu 22-Nov-12 21:43:01

Our aupair arrives Sunday, I live close to Guildford, we are paying her £80 a week and topping a sim we got for her (with special international minutes) with £10 per month, I've been asking her for weeks what kind of food she likes and things but she just keeps saying she doesn't want to be a pain and will just eat what we eat !! I'm hoping once she is settled she will come out of her shell a bit !!

Mosman Fri 23-Nov-12 13:53:02

Thank you again

naughtymummy Fri 23-Nov-12 14:06:00

Lovely to hear all the positive stories. We have a housekeeper instead (similar cost) And I would highly recommend it. She is extremely flexible with late nights etc. She has run a hotel and is a fully trained chef so cooks and cleans well above my standards. She does about 10-20 hrs a week.

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