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Au pair in need of some host parents advice

(31 Posts)
Grace95 Sat 12-Oct-13 08:08:20

Hi I am an au pair working in the south of France and at first the job was great, the family is loverly and its a real home from home. However it suddenly becom very hard for me. I know take the eldest to school in the mornings which I don't mind but means leaving at 7am which wipes me out as we don't have dinner till 8/9 pm. I then play with the baby (9months) till lunch, help with lunch, then keep the baby again in the afternoon assist with any jobs the parents are doing (who work from home). These working days can be up to 10 or 12 hours long and I am only contracted to do 5 hours a day! I don't want to sound stroppy as they have put me up in there home and are teaching me french but I am so tired by Friday evenings I just breakdown. I know I need to approach the parents but don't know how. It's such a hard situation to be in. Any advice would be great fully received! Oh so I work about 50 hours a week for 50€ a week

Arrtttiiieee Sat 12-Oct-13 08:15:45

Hi Grace

When you arrived did they sit you down and outline your duties? If so were they upfront about the hours or have the hours crept up? Either way you clearly need to have a chat with them.

I am a host mother and I hope our au pair would talk to me if she was concerned about her hours. Could you wait until the kids are in bed and ask for a chat about your hours? Explain you feel welcomed and happy with them but that you were expecting a normal au pair workload (25 hours in the UK but check the French average on au pair world). Explain you are very tired and ask if you can sit down and write out exactly what hours you are needed and build in some breaks. If they are as lovely as you felt they were when you arrived then they should react well. It's hard raising these kind of things but having a difficult chat is much better than being worked into the ground.

Good luck!

Arrtttiiieee Sat 12-Oct-13 08:20:36

I just found this on Au Pair World:

They should not use you for more than 30 hours a week (excluding babysitting once the kids are asleep). And it looks like they should pay you more. Did you sign a contract with you current pay specified?

JustBecauseICan Sat 12-Oct-13 08:21:36

It sounds like they have gone for the cheap labour approach.

I am an ex au pair and the hours where I wasn't actively "doing" things with the children were my own. Tbh, I almost felt a fraud as I had so much free time. My friend, same country, had an experience that sounds like yours. Lovely people, sure, but she was on duty 24/6 with just Sundays off.

I think you do need to sit down and clarify your exact hours, point out to them just how many you are actually doing. Check contracts etc.

Grace95 Sat 12-Oct-13 09:12:58

Yes my hours where pre arranged in the contract 5 hours a day, two days of and two evenings babysitting a week which sounded like a great offer, I wasn't told they worked from home and that I wouldn't be able to go out on my own on weekdays with the baby to visit local markets and towns. And yes unfortunately I signed the contract knowing the pay they had told me the basics. The problem I am finding however is when to talk to them as the children are up at 7 and go to bed really late. I know I need to talk to them but its scary being on my own but I know it will be better once talked. Thanks for all the loverly replies

NomDeClavier Sat 12-Oct-13 09:20:49

Far too much. How is your French? You can report then to the relevant authority for exploitation if they're exceeding your contract and not letting you go to Fremch lessons. You contract should have been stamped to shown its approved.

I've just had to handhold a friend of our ex-AP through it here so PM me if you want more details.

TheDoctrineOfSpike Sat 12-Oct-13 09:25:45

Did you find the job direct or through an agency?

Can you ask to talk to one parent I the evening whilst the other watches the kids?

You are working twice as many hours as you are contracted to and that needs to stop - bet they wouldn't work twice their contracted hours for free!

duchesse Sat 12-Oct-13 09:28:40

Yes you are being worked far too much. I feel angry that people would do this to 18 year olds a long way away from home, possibly for the first time. Have they had Au Pairs before?

Can you get out and about by yourself to go anywhere or meet new people or do you have to have a lift everywhere?

I think a good way of tackling this would be to tell that you need to make friends and meet people your own age. Ask them if you can attend French classes (maybe at the local GRETA)- if you can say here whereabouts you are in France (or PM me your location) I will have a google and see what there is in the way of classes.

What are your hobbies? You might want to follow a class in one of them, or go out to do sports.

Grace95 Sat 12-Oct-13 18:00:52

My french is much improved and I was initially offered french lesson and am going to ask about them, I found them directly and so unfortunately don't have an agency to go to although I have met another au pair who is so loverly and so are her host parents who I've now met and they take me out as I live in a remote area. I just worry thing will turn sour if I say something and they are loverly people although I wonder about that now as they seem loverly but don't seem to realise how much I work.

LUKYMUM Sat 12-Oct-13 22:06:40

I just can't believe posts like these. It's such a sad and awful situation. Definitely don't accept things as they are. Why do people with kids treat other people's kids like this??!

fedupwithdeployment Sat 12-Oct-13 22:39:35

Grace - I was you 25 years ago. My stay was for about 6 weeks post a levels and I was paid about £50 for the stay. At least you have a contract and know what you should be doing. I was in the country v isolated before the Internet.

Try and build up your courage to have the conversation. Remember the French are far more fixated on the amount of hours you can work. I would respect someone who came to me with such concerns - not that I over work my AP!

Having said that I hugely sympathise. The parents did nothing with the children I looked after and I had them fir about 14 hours a day. It was a bit grim despite the lovely surroundings. Good luck. X

NomDeClavier Sat 12-Oct-13 23:05:42

Please don't be scared to being up the working time regulations and the rules the DDTEFP set out about au pairs.

It's supposed to be a cultural exchange with French tuition that they have to help you access. You're not supposed to be looking after a baby all day. They're using you as FT childcare.

Grace95 Sun 13-Oct-13 06:06:31

I will definitely talk to them as this gap year was meant to be fun and an adventure. I just find it particularly hard as I cannot take the baby out during the days so am really stuck in the house.

TheDoctrineOfSpike Sun 13-Oct-13 08:44:51

Why can't you take the baby out?

Grace95 Sun 13-Oct-13 08:51:10

Because she cries when she's not with the mother but I have never seen that when I have been home alone with the baby.

TheDoctrineOfSpike Sun 13-Oct-13 12:29:26

So the mother has told you not to take her out during the day, but the mother is working somewhere else in the house?

Grace95 Sun 13-Oct-13 16:01:56

Yes the baby cries when she can see the mum but not play with her as the office I close to the play room but once alone with me she is just as happy and smiley and giggly

fedupwithdeployment Sun 13-Oct-13 16:12:33

That sounds ridiculous and very difficult for you. Sounds like they are trying to get round the fact that AP should not have sole charge of a child under 3. It sounds as though this is what you are doing although mum is around the corner. They need FT child care and ought to be paying for it. When we first had an AP our boys were 1&3. They were at nursery FT so AP had to take to and from nursery but was free during the have to do everything!

MaternityNanny31 Sun 13-Oct-13 16:44:24


There are millions of families out there, only a year in your life and its not work experience so you don't need the reference, and the money is awful!

Honestly, you could get a nanny job overseas doing the same hours and be paid £400 plus a week!!

I honestly think... put it down to experience, but leave... if your miserable and tired it isn't worth your health and happiness xx

Grace95 Sun 13-Oct-13 17:00:27

Unfortunately that is the decision I have had to make I am going to talk to them this week and I am pretty sure I will hand in my notice. I have also noticed they have started looking for a new au pair so trying to find a way to email this person to warn them.

Grace95 Sun 13-Oct-13 20:09:02

Hi I know people have said about not being aloud to take sole charge of under three can you let me know where I can find that as that will mean I won't have to work my notice period due to gros misconduct . Thanks for all the support!

NomDeClavier Sun 13-Oct-13 20:27:08

Are you termed 'jeune fille au pair salarié' or 'stagiaire aide familiale' in your contract? There's quite an important legal distinction in what you can be asked to do between the two statuses.

Either way they're breaking the law by you not attending French classes. And they're not paying you enough whether it's the minimum for a salaried employee minus food and board or the 271€/month.

Ragusa Sun 13-Oct-13 23:12:44

They are really not 'nice people' if they are paying you such a small amount for such a huge number of hours. They are exploiting you, simple as that. I would just look for another position TBH. Or failing that, just say "I really like you as people, but this isn't working for me at the moment - I feel you are expecting too much. Can you suggest ways my hours can be reduced so I can consider staying?" Or something along those lines??

Grace95 Mon 14-Oct-13 14:47:37

I have been forced to left after being fired after bringing up my contract hours apparently I didn't do enough work and was lazy despite working 10 hours a day most days. I am now staying with another au pair I know in the area whilst I try to sort everything out, thank you for your support

duchesse Mon 14-Oct-13 14:49:21

Ah. They do not sound like nice people at all. I hope you find something else soon. Is your friend's host family nice? Can they help you find something?

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