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Would you expect me to do this?

(32 Posts)
R2D2candy Wed 04-Nov-15 13:30:10

I'm an au pair and the family I work has been away out of London for a long weekend since Friday.

On Monday the boiler was acting up and Tuesday it broke down completely. So Mum has a new baby and a toddler decided to stay where she was and not come home until it's fixed since there is no central heating or hot water.

Today I got a text asking me to Travel out of London to help her with the children with the kids for one day. She has family where she is and she doesn't want to have to cope. Nor has she offered to book a ticket for me to go to them. I think she's really just being unreasonable. At one point she wanted me to stay in cold house to do the weekly cleaning and then said oh well it didn't make sense until the weekend. She's expecting me travel out of London and then come back on Friday to do the cleaning when she gets back.
I'm trying to think of polite way to say no but I just think this is the final straw with this job and I'm going hand in my notice on Monday.

LemonBreeland Wed 04-Nov-15 13:34:02

I don't think it is unfair to ask you to go to wherever the children are to help with them, as surely that is your job. Is hse expecting you to do it at your own cost? That is wrong obviously, but other than that it doesn't seem entirely unreasonable.

Blondeshavemorefun Wed 04-Nov-15 14:29:10

Your job is to help look after the children so yes not unreasonable to ask you to go where mum is

But she should pay for your ticket upfront or check You have enough money and refund you once there

No point her coming home to cold house with kids so makes sense for her to stay

Assume when she comes home she will sort out someone to repair the boiler

Do you want to stay in a cold house ?

R2D2candy Wed 04-Nov-15 14:42:32

I'm not at the house. I'm staying with friends and I think it's unreasonable to ask me to travel to go somewhere for one afternoon and then get back on Friday.

LemonBreeland Wed 04-Nov-15 14:44:53

Why is it unreasonable to travel for one afternoon? Unless it is an 8 hour train journey or something.

Artandco Wed 04-Nov-15 14:47:55

As your an au pair not a nanny I assume your only contracted to do say 4 hrs a day. Therefore it does seem too much if you will spend say 2 hrs travelling there and 2 hrs back as that's doubled your work time

R2D2candy Wed 04-Nov-15 14:54:37

Exactly and it's not comfortable to go to someone else's house to work for afternoon and stay over till morning. It would be different if they were in a holiday home.

MiscellaneousAssortment Wed 04-Nov-15 14:57:52

Within your normal hours that's absolutely fine, in fact, to say no and take umbridge about it would be very unprofessional indeed.

However if it's not in your normal hours then they'd need to request rather than just decide on that change of plan. If they're demanding it then you'd be within your rights to say no, unfortuneately that it doesn't fit with your own plans. Asking you to pay for trains tickets would be bonkers. Expecting you to sort out your own train times and tickets and get reimbursed / paid in advance and that's fine too. You sound cross that they haven't prebooked your tickets? Not quite sure why that's an issue for you, or why you expect it, as actually a lot (all?) of ticket reservations need the original booking bank card to get the tickets, so they couldn't prebook it for you. Is the issue money (understandable), or that you feel that you should have everything organized for you?

An au pair position is somewhere in between being treated as one of the family, and having your own role and responsibilities to do, and the remit changes a lot between families.

Unless there's a tale of ill treatment and slave labour behind this one event, my sense is that you want more looking after than this family expects to do, and perhaps you'd be better off looking for a family who will treats you as an older sibling?

R2D2candy Wed 04-Nov-15 15:15:02

I go travelling by myself all the time so I don't need someone to organise my travel. It's the mere fact that they've offered to even book the tickets or reimburse me.
Nor do I think it would be fair to expect me trek to someone else's house to help for an afternoon. If I was asked initially when the boiler broke it would be different. I wouldn't want to travel with a family and specifically chose a job where that is not requirement.

Anon2309 Wed 04-Nov-15 17:18:46

Wait OP, a few questions.
1) are you supposed to be working, if they were at home? Or did you take time off?
2) what is your average working day, how many hours did you do?
3) how far away is she exactly, how long does it take to get there by train?
4) she hasn't offered to pay or reimburse you for your ticket and us expecting you pay on your own?
5) you haven't worked the entire week then? Are you expecting to get paid for that?

Karoleann Wed 04-Nov-15 20:30:03

Your English is impeccable for an au pair.

If you've not done many hours this week as your host mum has been away, then yes, she's not being unreasonable to ask you to pop down and help out. We live "outside London", but we're only 25 minutes on the train from central London. She should be paying your train fare though, maybe she thinks that you realise that?

MrsFogi Wed 04-Nov-15 20:33:17

I'm assuming this is a one-off, unusual situation and there is not some other back story of on-going ill treatment or exploitation. On this basis my view is: The mum has a new baby and the boiler has broken down - she is probably stressed trying to deal with organising for the boiler to be sorted and dealing with toddler and baby. You are the au pair and I'm sure they put themselves out for you occasionally. I think you are not sounding like an au pair who is flexible with your family when they're in a bit of a crisis.
Our lovely au pair wouldn't think twice if she was asked to do this.
You on the other hand are also thinking of adding to the stress by resigning. Tbh you really don't sound like an au pair who goes along with the give and take that is necessary for an au pair/family relationship to work.

MiscellaneousAssortment Wed 04-Nov-15 21:15:18

Yes assuming no back story, you don't sound like you have much sympathy or thought for your host family. Which is why I'm wondering if you're very young? It sounds a bit like the kind of one sided perspective that teenagers can have.

Anon2309 Wed 04-Nov-15 21:24:21

I'm an au pair and I personally think it's a bit of common sense, the mum has a baby and toddler, so she isn't going back home to a freezing house (obviously!). OP got a free week (even though it seems she wasn't supposed to get it), the host mum is asking for one day help and she's being somehow unreasonable? It's only unreasonable if OP isn't getting paid for the week, took a week off and her host mum won't pay for her trip back. That's how I got it.

nannynick Wed 04-Nov-15 21:26:11

You are currently in a house with no central heating or hot water - or you should be there. You are not though, you are with friends. Why are you with friends? You may have decided to do that yourself but your host family has the obligation I feel for making sure your accommodation is suitable.

As you are part of the family, it makes sense to move you to stay with the family, not leave you on your own in a cold house or having to find alternative accommodation. Your role is to help out the family, so that can be done wherever the family are at the time.

Sure it may not be ideal for you but it is just a couple of days.

What needs to be clarified is who is paying for the travel cost. Logistically it may be hard for the mother to pay that cost in advance, easier for you to buy the tickets and for her to pay you back the cost once you get to your destination.

Blondeshavemorefun Wed 04-Nov-15 21:48:25

i would hardly call going to help mum at friends 'travelling' with the family

how far is the journey

yes your language is very good for an au pair .......

in the end the family is your job and the mum isnt asking anything unreasonable, but you think she is, so yes i think you should leave, hand in proper notice and let the family find a new au pair who wants to help in a crisis

NuffSaidSam Thu 05-Nov-15 14:24:48

I don't think an au pair would normally be required to travel out if the family choose to go away/stay away for any reason, unless it has been previously agreed in the contract.

I understand the annoyance. It's a hassle to travel somewhere for the sake of a few hours work.

Whether she is being unreasonable or not depends on lots of other factors I think. How far away are they? How flexible are they with you? Is it a real need or is it a petty 'I'm paying you so I'll bloody well use you' type thing?

Blondeshavemorefun Thu 05-Nov-15 15:36:34

The mum is only staying away as no hot water and cold house and small baby

I would do the same

Agree distance /how long it takes does matter

Blondeshavemorefun Thu 05-Nov-15 15:37:03

As in probably wasn't discussed previously as usually this wouldn't occur

citytocountry Thu 05-Nov-15 17:13:38

If I'd been away for the best part of a week, had a new baby and a toddler and a broken boiler/freezing house to deal with, then yes, generally I would expect my au pair to come and help me out. Its not general "travelling with the job". Its emergency circumstances, not normal course of events, and she probably hadn't thought about it when it first happened and is now frazzled/exhausted.

I would obv pay for her ticket - she'd pay up front and I'd reimburse her (although I'm sure mine would feel comfortable enough to ask for the money if she was skint - I could ping it electronically to her bank account if need be). I can understand not having mentioned it in the circumstances (as I said, I bet she is frazzled/exhausted. You just need to text her and confirm that you'll sort it and she'll pay you back?

I assume she's paid/will pay you for the whole of this week. So you've had most of a week off work with pay so far?

Flexibility is absolutely crucial to me with au pairs - its the whole "part of the family" thing. I'd be unimpressed if you could see what a pickle I was in, and refused to help.

If you resign, you could at least be decent enough to give her some notice. Its the last thing she needs I'm sure.

citytocountry Thu 05-Nov-15 17:15:27

This is on the assumption she's a reasonable distance away and you're not in London with her in Inverness!

NuffSaidSam Fri 06-Nov-15 11:20:57

Has everyone missed the fact that they want her for one afternoon only? It's hardly a crisis or emergency circumstances! If they'd taken her at the beginning of the week it would be understandable, but realistically if you've been away with family (she's not by herself with the children), for nearly a week do you really need your au pair to schlep down to help for one afternoon?!

R2D2candy Fri 06-Nov-15 14:24:48

And that's my main issue!!! That it's one afternoon and she's actually it's for bath time. The way she ask it's like you're here to serve me and must come when I call.

MrsFogi Fri 06-Nov-15 20:21:32

R2D2 from your responses I don't have the impression you really wanted views of those who have au pairs I think you just wanted confirmation of your take on this situation. You clearly have made up your mind so I suggest you communicate with your au pair mum and hopefully you'll have the decency to give her notice and she'll be able to find a nice new au pair that will perhaps try to see things from the mum's perspective occasionally.

NuffSaidSam Sat 07-Nov-15 00:28:55

I'm trying to see it from the mum's perspective and struggling tbh.

If they are very close-by fair enough, but it doesn't sound as though they are.

I can't see why you would ask someone to do a long journey to come and help you look after your children for one afternoon. Having to look after your own baby and toddler for ONE afternoon while staying with a relative is hardly the crisis that people are making it out to be!

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