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Surely this isn't right?

(18 Posts)
porterwine Thu 06-Apr-17 03:04:36

So after uni I did some travelling and met a lovely Italian girl who has just moved over to London and wants to au pair. A few days a go I sat with her looking through ads on Gumtree.

One thing that really struck me was the cold abrupt tone of many of the ads. But one really stood out. I won't go into all the detail (it was very long) but every other sentence was either "you should" or "you will".

She also stated that she entertains quote often - "People will be in the house 2-3 evenings a week- you have a TV in your room to watch during these times" (seen and not heard ??)

Her kids are 10, 12 and 13 but on the list of jobs was tidying their rooms, packing their school bags and getting their PE kits ready. Am I odd for thinking they should be doing those things at their age? And there was no indication that the children help with any chores themselves.

She also didn't want friends or "partners" ever staying over- I personally can't see an issue with this if she has met them and its not for a long period of time? au pairing can be a very lonely job and if a friend had an opportunity to come over and visit I know I'd be more than happy to let them stay at my house than have them pay for a hotel!

Also she seemed to entirely miss the point that being an au pair is very much a cultural experience where they attend language schools and really get to know about a different way of life. Most ads at least say "you will be a valued member of the family" or "you will be welcome to join in on family activities" or "we will make you feel very at home and welcome within our family" etc...not a hint of that from this lady. Not even an indication that she'd help her find language classes or anything. an au pair should be part of the family not shoved in her room as soon as mum walks through the door.

And finally- she stated 36 hours per week of childcare and then gave a huge list of chores. As far as I know au pairs are not supposed to work any more than 30 hours a week- after that it is considered a full time job in which case a nanny would be best suited. Also, au pairs are not housekeeprs. I understand doing jobs relative to the kids but she was basically looking for a nanny and a housekeeper for an au pair wage (£80-100 she was offering based on experience.)

Just reading some of these ads made me quite worried for some of these young girls and guys who come over here. Does this type of attitude towards au pairs seem normal? What took me by surprise the most was the total lack of acknowledgement that she'd be welcomed into the home and included in their lives. And as I say starting every other sentence with "you will do _ you should be _" Am I being over sensitive or is this not on?

TitaniasCloset Thu 06-Apr-17 04:03:11

Is this a reverse of the other thread with the op looking for an Italian au pair?

porterwine Thu 06-Apr-17 04:05:13

which thread is that? The lady (single mum) was not looking for an Italian au pair- she didn't state any specific nationality.

Heratnumber7 Thu 06-Apr-17 04:33:21

If you don't like the sound of the job, don't apply for it. Simples.

porterwine Thu 06-Apr-17 04:39:13

Well that less than helpful. I'm genuinely asking if this sort of attitude towards au pairs is normal. It's sad to think that some people are being made to work 30+ hours a week for £100 or less and to be treated like "the help" who aren't even seen as part of the family.

nannynick Thu 06-Apr-17 06:17:27

Since the au-pair visa was removed, the working hours limit and the cultural exchange element of the arrangement are very much watered down. There is little to no control so it is up to young people coming to this country to select host families very carefully and to be prepared to move on to another host family, or move back home, if the role does not turn out as expected.

Heratnumber7 Thu 06-Apr-17 14:41:44

that some people are being made to work 30+ hours a week for £100 or less and to be treated like "the help"

No one is making anyone do anything.
As per my previous post, people who don't want the job won't apply for it.

porterwine Thu 06-Apr-17 15:04:30

You are missing the point. Why do they even think it is ok to advertise for that many hours (which is totally against the law anyway as au pairs should not be working more than 25 hours a week) with such little money? I mean how can they sit there, type that ad and think they sound reasonable? It's exploitation. Would you say that to I don't know a shop owner looking to pay £2 p/h for staff?

Snap8TheCat Thu 06-Apr-17 15:05:41

Why not post in the au pair section?

OlennasWimple Thu 06-Apr-17 15:06:42

I agree, OP, that the potential for young women to be taken advantage of is very high sad

porterwine Thu 06-Apr-17 15:06:45

Sorry am new to mumsnet. I googled "mumsnet au pair" and was lead to this section. I'll repost in the correct area thanks

porterwine Thu 06-Apr-17 15:08:25

Could someone link me to the au pair section? I typed "au pair" into the search bar to try but every post about an au pair calls into the childminders group

emmagency Thu 06-Apr-17 15:14:04

Well I also find this shocking (I wonder if I haven't seen this add or similar elsewhere actually). I know an au pair (from a playgroup I attend) who is completely exploited by her 'employer'.
In principle it's highly regulated, and au pairs aren't supposed to do anything not related to the kids but in practice it's down to the contract drawn up before taking up 'employment' and it's important not to start such 'employment' without having pre-agreed all responsibilities.

harshbuttrue1980 Fri 07-Apr-17 11:30:28

Porter, I agree fully. An au pair is part of the family, and that is why the minimum wage is waived. If the au pair isn't part of the family, then they are a nanny not an au pair. In this case, they should be paid minimum wage minus an accommodation offset, which is capped at around £40 a week, no matter what the accommodation is like. These people are taking the piss.

Trifleorbust Fri 07-Apr-17 19:31:42

I totally agree with you, OP, and I think the 'their choice' brigade are deliberately ignoring the relevant question, which is whether the ad posters are doing anything wrong. Just because someone is prepared to be exploited, that doesn't make it okay.

Booboostwo Fri 07-Apr-17 20:39:09

It depends...some young children are OK being looked after by grandparents. My DD would never have managed a weekend at that age, a few hours were difficult, my DS is a lot more confident. How is your DS with his grandparents? Do they look after him regularly?

I'd also think it was OK as a one off, a special event has come up on a difficult date and the grandparents are stepping in to help. But it would be very weird if your DH unloaded your DS on a regular basis if he had other choices.

Booboostwo Fri 07-Apr-17 20:40:05

I am so so sorry this is the wrong thread!

As you were, don't mind me!

underneaththeash Sat 08-Apr-17 08:27:29

There are always a few "dodgy" jobs on gumtree, but it really isn't the norm. Paying £100 for 36hrs is never going to be acceptable and I do think au pairing needs to be regulated (which may happen post-brexit when the pool of Europeans who need visas dries up).

As for the tone of it, well it is very important to make expectations clear before an au pair starts, overly fluffy isn't good either. Remember too that English people have high expectations on the level of politeness needed in spoken and written English that other nationalities don't have. All of my au pairs (except out French girl) have to be reminded that we use please and thank you a LOT!

Overnight visitors too are a difficult one, its much easier to start with no visitors and then relax it as you get to know each other. Remember your children are also going to be in the house with the au pair's visitor, they could be anyone! There's little point in police checking a reference checking your au pair and then allowing her to bring anyone into the house.

Anyway, au pairs are pretty savvy. The only family I know who paid at that level and expected that many hours, just found themselves being used as base for a couple of months, whilst the au pair found a better position.

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