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Au Pair Experts-Over here please......

(66 Posts)
whooosh Sun 05-Oct-08 22:11:18

Been looking for an Au Pair since nanny left in the Summer (actually loving have the house to ourselves so been a bit slack about it).Out of the blue,managed to interview a Romanian girl,already in the country,on Saturday.
Have offered her the job and she has accepted-ariving Tue PM.
A couple of questions.....

Other than a bunch of flowers,a bit of local inof etc-waht should we have ready for her?

Secondly,we are off on holiday for a week from 14th Ocotber-big risk leaving new AP in the house so soon after joining us I know-but should we pay her a full weeks salary? SHe is starting pre-our holiday at her request as she couldn't afford her rent where she is now.

Should we leave her at all?

She seems really sweet and appears to have had a pretty rough time since being in the UK but we do only have one side of the story.....can you tell I am nervous????

Quattrocento Sun 05-Oct-08 22:23:48

Hi Whoosh

I had some good advice on getting a room ready for an aupair - heregetting ready for AP

Have you done a set of house rules and information?

Have you looked up the local language courses?

On the holiday stuff - I dunno - I'd probably pay her for the week - she's prob entitled to a couple of weeks during the year and you could do it on this basis.

All the best Qx

blueshoes Sun 05-Oct-08 22:28:15

whoosh, I am not an aupair expert (only on second) but these are my thoughts ...

I like to give some nice toiletries. If you know her fave food, you could have that for her first day.

Practical things include a written timetable of duties, and house rules, so she has a clear idea of your expectations.

On leaving her in the house, if she is already moved in, you pretty much have to let her use the house in your absence. Whether or not you pay her pocket money for that period is up to you to agree (particularly as she was made aware of your hols before joining). If you pay her in arrear, you could time it so that she does not get paid for that week until you are back safely and see that she could be trusted with the house.

It is a risk but you can take precautions - I always bar overseas calls and 090 numbers on my home phone. Lock up all cash, valuables (including laptops) and personal info, like bank account and credit card details. Hide the car keys. You need to lay down ground rules about whether she can let anyone in the house during your absence but of course, there can be no guarantees ...

Curious how she landed herself in these straits. Was she previously an aupair? How is it she can suddenly find herself unable to afford her rent? Can you verify her story?

HarrietTheSpy Sun 05-Oct-08 22:46:49

I wouldn't be too surprised/worried that she couldn't afford her rent. England is expensive - esp London - and she was probably living week to week, etc.

Did she come with any references you could check Whoosh? I would want to get some handle on her background before leaving her alone. Sorry - I know you probably don't want to hear that...

Are you totally opposed to telling her it's all moving a bit quick and you want her to move in when you're back?

Badpups Sun 05-Oct-08 23:07:46

Hi
We've had several APs and have left most of them (probably all) on their own at some point without any problems. I can fully understand your concerns about leaving her alone so soon after she starts but you have to be able to trust your AP in your house.

Whether you pay her or not possibly depends on whether you're asking her to do anything around the house whilst you're away. In any event I'd leave her some money for food and emergencies and take her shopping before you go away. I'd also give her some emergency phone numbers or introduce her to your neighbours so she has somebody to contact if there's a problem.

Agree re. timetable and house rules. Also about ground rules for whilst you're away.

Re. the rough time and you only having one side of the story. We had an AP who we "let go" (for various reasons) in the summer. She went to another family and they never contacted me for a reference which I found very strange. I can only imagine that she must have given them a sob story about how terrible we were to her (we weren't at all!) otherwise surely they'd have contacted me? Have you followed up references for your AP?

whooosh Sun 05-Oct-08 23:10:10

Thanks for the replies.

We did give her the option of waiting till we returned but tbh I felt sorry for her (fatal mistake?).
She came to the UK for an Au Pair job in July and for 2 mts she worked (she says) from 7am till 7/8pm and even the 7yr old used to say "make my dinner slave".
Now I am not completely naieve but she did strike me as pretty honest.
She has been renting a room in a house in Greenford (£80 pw)since then having a bit of a holiday but also looking for other jobs.Apparently,emplying a Romanian citizen requires more paperwork than a typical EU citizen and so she decided to go back to Romania and then get another Au PAir job via an internet agency.
We happened to get in touch and tbh I was delighted to be able to see someone face to face rather than have someone just turn up.
Her English is excellent-a big plus for me and she did seem genuine.
DP is away all week so will be jus me and DD helping her settle in.Had schedule and tips/house rules kind of typed out and then my damned printer broke-will have to hand write if all else fails I guess.
Thanks for the "leaving her alone" tips-very useful.
Do feel stangely nervous but I suspect it is more about how dd will be than anthing else-she was fine when AP was her but you knw what 3yr olds can be like.......

whooosh Sun 05-Oct-08 23:13:42

Oh God Badpups-you're not in Kent are you??hmm

Have not asked for the previous family's contact details as I assumed that there may be alittle bad feeling on both parts and decided (righly or wrongly) to go with my instinct.
I work from home a lot of the time and DP is also around a lot so apart from the week we are away,we will be able to keep a very close eye on her.

annh Mon 06-Oct-08 01:04:45

Regardless of the potential bad feeling, you MUST get some references for this woman! If she cannot get one from her previous family, what about references from back home? You will presumably be leaving her alone with your children at some point and even though you have two weeks to show her around, you are then leaving her completely alone in your house. I am a veteran of several nannies and wouldn't have employed someone who couldn't give me references. Even a bad reference from previous family will at least prove she was there!

HarrietTheSpy Mon 06-Oct-08 07:12:58

Whoosh
If you get names and numbers I have someone who might be able to ring for you as a favour. CAT me.

blueshoes Mon 06-Oct-08 08:23:33

I agree you should push the aupair for references from her previous family. As you say, it is just her story and you Are taking it at face value by not contacting her previous family.

You can always caveat to the aupair that you understand she did not leave in the best of circumstances and will take what the family says in that light. Once you speak to the family, it should also become clearer whether they are the sort to drop the aupair in it or are considered in their answers and credible.

For all you know, they might be surprised to hear the 'slave' description. I have read before on mn, no less, that Romanians have been known to use the word 'slave' (naughty me, I should not generalise by nationality) so perceptions of slavery are worth exploring.

Be on the look out if she furnishes a bogus reference. Over the course of the next few days, ask the aupair a few details about her previous family eg how many children, which schools they went to, did she have to drive, what were her duties and hours, who cooked, did both parents work, what time did the family wake up etc and then innocently drop those or deliberately plant wrong details into the conversation with the reference and see the reaction. A mate with an English accent doing her a favour is not likely to be able to get the story right.

Sorry, I am a bit devious. But better safe than sorry. As the Russians say, Trust but Verify.

whooosh Mon 06-Oct-08 08:24:56

Good point-I researched our previous nannies beyond belief as they would have had sole charge frequently.
I guess becasue she won't have DD alone much and DD is much older it would be different.....it's not.

Harriet-thank you,may take you up on your offer if no reference if forthcoming!

HarrietTheSpy Mon 06-Oct-08 09:29:53

Blueshoes - such good advice.

And don't be flummoxed by the language thing when she says none of her references will speak English. There is always a way around this. We interviewed a Portugese girl who gave us this song and dance. When I told her that I could manage that through colleagues/friends we never heard from her again despite a bit of chasing.

marmadukescarlet Mon 06-Oct-08 09:40:07

I was about to give same 'slave' info as Blu, I would REALLY check this out.

Badpups Mon 06-Oct-08 10:01:47

Hi Whoosh

No I'm not in Kent but Herts - and our previous AP moved to Leeds.
She was also Romanian and you're right that they need more paperwork than most other EU citizens. They must have completed a BR3 form and have a worker accession card even to be an AP. If they don't have this then they risk a hefty fine. You should definitely check that she has this before she joins you. It can be applied for retrospectively but she mustn't work, even as an AP, until she has it. We learnt all this the hard way with ours!

I've got to agree with all the other comments about Romanian APs. I'm sure that lots of people have had very positive experiences but ours were in line with the OPs.

If she came through an agency to get her first AP job then she should have references (translated into English) that you can see.

Hope it all works out for you.

whooosh Mon 06-Oct-08 10:14:31

I have taken all the very good advice on here and have emailed asking for various info. I texted her to let her know I needed her to respond and she has apparently emailed back. As soon as I get home will check and hopefully call Kent!
Feel very twitchy now!

whooosh Mon 06-Oct-08 11:17:59

Well this is what she has sent me

"I have some papers from them, I will show you tomorrow. I can give you her phone number, but there is only one problem.
You know that I had problems with them, and I've been there for not even 2 months. Beside that, when I left them I told them that I'm going back in Romania, because I didn't want to upset them.
Here is her number: 01892 ******- Maureen.
I sent them even an e-mail, not long ago, and they didn't even answer."

Am going to try and ring Maureen now hmm

marmadukescarlet Mon 06-Oct-08 11:20:28

OOHH with that code they live near me!

Good luck.

whooosh Mon 06-Oct-08 11:23:09

Oh and she says she doesn't need the BR3 form until she has been her 3 monthshmm

<<Whooosh rushes of to check>>

whooosh Mon 06-Oct-08 13:09:58

Been trying to call Maureen all morning-she's obviously out shopping or summat <grr>

QuintessenceOfFrankenShadow Mon 06-Oct-08 13:12:20

Or Maureen will turn out to be your nannys friend.

One of the aupairs we interviewed was more than happy to provide a reference. Only thing is, he got the ages and amount of children she had been looking after totally wrong, so he couldnt have been the father in the family, then...

whooosh Mon 06-Oct-08 13:21:47

I know......you are not helpingwink

Are you still happy with your AP?

QuintessenceOfFrankenShadow Mon 06-Oct-08 13:24:56

I didnt hire that one.

I sent her an email saying "I am sorry we will not be offering you this position as sadly your reference was not very good".

I suspect it was her boyfriends number she provided.

whooosh Mon 06-Oct-08 13:30:36

Well I am not expecting a glowing reference as she was there such a short time and didn't sound like she was happy-but I hope Maureen doesn't have a very deep voice and a strangely familiar accent!

HarrietTheSpy Mon 06-Oct-08 15:54:07

Let us know how it goes. I am probably about to hire an ap. She is coming over to us for a few days as a trial, as I am too nervous to take her on sight unseen. Have asked for references which for childcare are pretty informal - and I'm thinking what else I should insist on. Proof that she's enrolled in the university she says she is???

Badpups Mon 06-Oct-08 16:31:32

Hi Whooosh,
Re. BR3 form. I phoned the immigration service and they told me that although she could enter the country without any problems (as Romania now part of EU) she should have filled in the BR3 form before leaving Romania. I was told that she definitely needed the worker accession card in order to stay in the country as an AP.
However, my AP seemed completely unaware of this fact and said that the AP agency she had registered with in Romania hadn't mentioned this at all so I suspect that many Romanian APs are here without the necessary paperwork.

BTW this is not why she left us. She completed the BR3 form and I wrote a letter to the Border and Immigration Service explaining why she had not applied before. The paperwork took about 6 weeks to come through.

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