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Au pair unable to work because sick. Again.

(21 Posts)
WaverleyOwl Wed 08-Jun-16 19:35:36

I have a great au pair, although (disclaimer) she is my first. She had a rocky start over here, and moved families to be with us, so I've been very accommodating as I was really worried about her not feeling welcome.

We have got on so well, that she will be staying with us for 2 full years (taking us up to the point where both DSs are in school) and then possibly staying with us as a lodger while she goes to college here. Win win.

The only issue is that she seems prone to getting ill. In the last 6 months, she has had 3 full weeks where she's not been able to work. Totally not her fault, and for 2 of those periods I've been ill too!

My question is that if she is ill, DS2 (3) needs to go into nursery all day instead of mornings only, and DS1 (6) needs to get picked up from school, which means we are left juggling who will work from home, and paying extra for nursery.

Up till now, I have just given her pocket money as usual. Should I not be doing this? Should I give her what is left over after I have paid extra nursery fees?

I don't want to annoy her, but am aware that I am a push over in real life, so go for the line of least resistance. We are also pretty stretched for money atm, so if it is reasonable to not give her money when she is not actually doing her au pair duties, then I'd like to know.

We live somewhere where there are not a lot of people with au pairs, so I have no one to ask in real life.

MariaSklodowska Wed 08-Jun-16 19:40:30

'Au pair' means 'equal' so you should treat her as you would an elder daughter rather than an employee.

Heratnumber7 Wed 08-Jun-16 19:44:46

Was she really so I'll that she couldn't get a child from school?

WaverleyOwl Wed 08-Jun-16 19:55:20

Well, I wouldnt have wanted her driving (to nursery) and she's taken to her bed. She has tonsillitis, so I know how crap that makes you feel. I've had it recently too and just felt like death. I wouldn't want her looking after the kids like that.

WaverleyOwl Wed 08-Jun-16 19:57:45

DS(3) is particularly tricky atm so hard work to keep him safe. DS (6) would be no bother if she wanted to chill on sofa while he played.

WaverleyOwl Wed 08-Jun-16 20:00:42

Maria does that mean that you think she should only get money when she is looking after kids. Sorry, I'm new to this and not wanting to do the wrong thing as our childcare options are limited (think village with no after school club)

MariaSklodowska Wed 08-Jun-16 20:32:35

I meant I am not sure if it would be OK to withhold her pocket money. Not sure tbh.

Karoleann Wed 08-Jun-16 20:39:21

Usually I pay if my au pair is off sick, but none of them have had as much sickness as yours. I think the maximum has been 2 days in a year.

Were you also off for a week each time when you were ill too? If you really genuine think she is unable to work then I would pay her. If you suspect that she could be working, but isn't, then I'd offer half pocket money only.

AppleMagic Wed 08-Jun-16 20:39:57

You should give it regardless. It's "pocket money" not wages.

TendonQueen Wed 08-Jun-16 20:44:12

If you accept that she has been genuinely ill (which is how it sounds, given that you were ill yourself for two of these instances) then withholding money is basically penalising her for something she couldn't help. I assume your employer still paid you when you were off sick? If you think she's swinging the lead, or is developing a tendency to, then that's another matter.

Stillunexpected Wed 08-Jun-16 23:31:11

The aupair relationship can be a tricky one. If she is earning normal aupair rates, that will be so little in monetary terms that withholding any of it seems really mean - and leaves her with almost no spending money. However, if she has been sick for three separate weeks in 6 months, I think you have been very trusting in arranging for her to stay 2 years with you. If you are happy with that arrangement, you need to take on board that she may well be ill as many times going forward.

Blondeshavemorefun Thu 09-Jun-16 10:04:08

So she has caught tonsillitis twice in 6 mths. Agree can knock you out. If she gets again within the year maybe she needs to request tonsils out

What was the other week for? Seems a long time to be off. Most illness 's - colds - s&d are 24/48 hrs off

I'd she really ill so can't look after children. Can she have a duvet day with 3yr

What hours does she work?

Generally ap do 25hrs a week which is often 7-9 and 3-6 before and after school

Sounds like she may be doing more hours if has 3yr all afternoon and then after school with older sibling

I wouldn't agree to a Def 2yr contract and then possibly staying on when both at school

See how things go

But no I wouldn't deduct her wages as ap get paid a pittance anyway

WaverleyOwl Thu 09-Jun-16 10:24:44

Okay, many thanks for the sanity check. As I said I'm new to this, and the au pair relationship is definitely an odd one. I would be reluctant to tell her it isn't working, as I would be very wary of taking on another au pair, knowing now how it works for us as a family. She fits in fine, but another type of personality wouldn't work for us.

Up till now I've very much treated her as I would want myself or one of my children to be treated, and she's as much a part of the family as she can be. I guess I just didn't know if I was going too far in bending over to help her. I do genuinely think she's ill, and just gets hit hard by illness (think colds turning into tonsillitis/chest infection). My 3yo is very hard work at the moment, so duvet day probably won't work.

I'm lucky that my work is flexible enough to let me work from home last minute, but while my youngest is in nursery we still have to pay for any afternoons she can't work. It's just frustrating because things are very tight financially at the moment.

Guess we'll just do what everyone has to and juggle things, and work around it. And hope for a healthier second half to the year!

harshbuttrue1980 Sat 11-Jun-16 17:59:11

Are you seriously considering not paying her because she is sick?? That would be a horrible thing to do, when au pairs have so little money anyway. If she's genuinely ill, I'm not sure how a punishment like this would improve things. You were ill for two of the three times that she was ill, and I presume you got paid? Au pairs are human beings. If she was lazy (e.g. not well enough to look after the kids but able to go out at night), it would be a different story, but she was ILL. If you treat her like that, you'll be looking for a new au pair every few months.

AndNowItsSeven Sat 11-Jun-16 18:06:31

Of course you still pay her, you are getting cheap as chips childcare anyway. How many hours does she do?

WaverleyOwl Tue 14-Jun-16 22:04:58

Okay, I'm hoping this is a cross-post.

I'm new to this, and it isn't an employer-employee relationship, which is why I was wondering. I wouldn't not pay her, but I did want to get some opinions (which is what I did).

It might be 'cheap as chips' childcare, but we are stretched to the max at the moment so thought it best to get a reality check. Which we did. While she has spent a week (and more) in bed, being looked after by me, we have had to pay for alternative childcare, which is (financially) painful.

I have bent over backwards to make her feel at home. I want her to be welcome. I have not done this before, and don't have a background which would mean that I automatically knew whether 'pocket money' was something you earnt (by doing the childcare), or something you got, regardless (like a salary).

Sorry if this seems like I'm being obtuse. I won't deprive her, but I just wanted to ask the question in case my natural instinct to give her everything was the wrong one.

jannier Tue 14-Jun-16 23:35:02

Its pretty common when people first start to work around children to get ill more often and as you've had 2 bouts yourself I would hope that her immunity picks up.

Id pay her.

TreadSoftlyOnMyDreams Wed 15-Jun-16 16:06:12

If she were a nanny you potentially would only pay her SSP which may or may not be a reduction in her weekly payment.

It's something that you should have discussed up front but since you didn't, I would suggest that you now say that her sick leave is 15 days and counting for the year. Figure out what a cut off point is and what reduction [if any] you would propose for additional sick leave. Then discuss it with her.

It can still be discretionary - if you or the kids pass on a nasty dose of something it would be unfair to dock her at all imo. If you are concerned that she is starting to take the piss because there are no consequences then you have something in writing at least that you can effect.

It's irrelevant if it's as cheap as chips.

BaboonBottom Wed 15-Jun-16 16:20:21

Ive never had as many illnesses as i have when mine were under 5. Honestly every sniffle they had i would get, lets face it they are germ monsters and poke their little hands in everywhere, and then poke them in your eyes/ ears/ nose. Let alone the joy of sneezes and coughs everywhere. Every time they picked something up, we would end up all sharing it. As I'm prone to tonsillitis id also sometimes suffer more than the kids would.
Whilst its crap for you i think you have to pay her, especially if the cause is sometimes coming from the kids.

jannier Thu 16-Jun-16 14:03:46

How much pocket money does an au pair get a week? I understood that they were mainly to cover a few hours a day in return for board and logging and pocket money whilst studying and that is you needed full time care you got a nanny or childcare. I used to be a nanny and the Aupair took over at 5pm until 7.30 and did the am until 8.30. She lived and was treated like a family member (elder sister type thing) and helped around the house.
I agree with the op and think she should get paid its not like they earn as much as minimum wage and I didn't think they came under employment regs needing pensions etc....but may be different now. Surely the cost of food and room is not that much so really low cost anyway probably about £3 an hour all in (guess) for 2 children so still a massive saving over the average £8 to £10 an hour most childcare would be costing fro 2 children.

harshbuttrue1980 Thu 16-Jun-16 17:52:47

If you want to know what you should do, its always good to fall back on the "do unto others" cliche. If you were in bed too ill to work, how would you feel if your employer gave you no pay?? If she doesn't have any money, how is she supposed to buy the things she needs?? She's a human being.

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