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when is it fair to ask an au pair to pay for damage/breakage

(11 Posts)
MizZan Wed 17-Jun-09 00:26:36

Our current AP, who's been with us since mid-April and thank God is due to leave around the end of July, has managed to destroy our very expensive B&O cordless phone by "dropping it in the sink" while doing the washing up. We weren't here at the time and am mystified as phone is normally nowhere near the sink so unless she was waiting for a call from a friend or her mom, I have no idea how this could even have happened.

This AP has cost us more money than it would have cost to pay for a nanny, what with insane eating habits, need for us to pay for taxis to ferry DS2 to and from school because she stayed out too late to be able to drive or scheduled holidays without checking first, destroyed 2 pairs of DS1's brand new trousers by washing them with a new red shirt...the list goes on, and she remains completely oblivious to how much she's costing our family. The latest is we discovered she is about to get points on her license from being caught driving with a cellphone (this was when with her previous family), so we now have to decide whether to stop her driving altogether or fork out to pay hundreds of pounds extra on insurance.

anyway back to the point at hand...what is fair to ask AP to pay for, re this d*mn phone? The thing costs a good £400 if I remember correctly, so for us to replace it is not just a matter of a small amount. We are not rich - far from it - this is a phone we bought pre-DCs when we had more disposable income, and yet it has survived two small boys with no problems and only the advent of this AP has managed to destroy it.

AP is from a reasonably well off family and manages to pay for trips back home nearly every month, expensive English courses etc. Realise this is not the point, but honestly, what do we do here. Am just furious, and we can ill afford a £400 replacement outselves. I'm sure AP does not realise it cost that much, but again, that's not the point - she is really old enough to know better and to step up and take responsibility (which she has not offered to do, appears instead to be hoping phone will magically repair itself, which would be nice of course). Suggestions anyone?

FluffyBunnyGoneBad Wed 17-Jun-09 00:30:05

You could try or could you claim for it on the contents insurance and ask her to pay the excess??

FourArms Wed 17-Jun-09 06:24:18

I'd imagine she was talking with the phone under her chin whilst washing up, and it dropped out. I've done it with my mobile, but luckily never into water.

Has she had warnings regarding breakages in the past? If not, and seeing as all examples (although imagine there are many more!) are quite different, I don't think asking her to pay is fair. If she offers though after some hints, then you could take her up on it.

Do you need her to drive for work, or could she bus the school run? If so, I'd probably remove her from the insurance or ask her to pay the premium increase. How do points work on a foreign licence?

sunnydelight Wed 17-Jun-09 06:24:40

I too think it has to be insurance (though I totally understand why you are spitting chips - she sounds like a nightmare). Personally I would check if she has travel insurance that might cover it, though if she's from an EU country it's probably unlikely. Otherwise as APs are supposed to be living as "part of the family" unfortunately it will have to be your insurance.

There is NO WAY I would let her drive my car again though, can you be sure she wouldn't use her cellphone whilst driving with your kids in the car. If that means she can't actually do what you need her to maybe she'll just have to leave early... (I know you didn't ask for advice on that though grin).

AtheneNoctua Wed 17-Jun-09 09:23:08

I am more shock at the taxi fares because she stayed out too late to drive a car. And how does staying out late render one unable to drive -- unless you mean she was drinking, in which case are you saying she showed up for work under the influence?

I'd write off the phone to be honest. Same for the trousers. However, I would NOT pay for taxis when I had already incurred the cost of her driving the car. I would tell her that it is her job to show up fit for driving as that is what her job entails. And, I WOULD ask her to pay the the increased insurance which results from the additional points on her license.

Athene makes note to ask for driving record if ever she decides to put a nanny / au pair on the insurance.

AtheneNoctua Wed 17-Jun-09 09:26:10

Incidentally, I had a nanny from a proviledged upgringing and she was by far the laziest one I have ever had. When she left she told me the thing she was most looking froward to was having a maid again (at her mums house). I had to laugh thinking boy did you come to the wrong house.

ingles2 Wed 17-Jun-09 09:31:41

totally agree with Athene, the driving is much more of an issue... I take it you mean she has been out drinking till late so don't want to risk her driving the dc's in case she's still over the limit?
In that case if she's not fit for the job she can pay for her own taxis...
As for the phone... well I'd claim it on the insurance this time but I sit down and warn her that any other breakages she will have to contribute towards the cost of replacement.

NewTeacher Wed 17-Jun-09 09:42:15

If you have not discussed the other breakages in the past with her it will be hard to expect her to pay for the phone.

I would expect her to pay taxi bills as that was part of her duty and you should have told her at the time you would be deducting from her pay.

As for the phone its going to have to be from your home insurance with you telling her exactly how much its going to cost to replace. I too get worked up when AP breaks something but I make sure I tell her at the time the cost of the item and how much it will cost to replace with a telling off. This means she is aware of what she has done.

Learn from the experience and make sure its something your next AP is fully aware of, and that if there are too many 'accidents' she will be liable to pay. That may make the new AP be more careful..

Good Luck...

Squiffy Wed 17-Jun-09 09:43:40

When one of our au pairs reversed my brand new car (which she wasn't even allowed to drive....long story) through a hedge, we made her pay us back in kind via extra weekend help and a couple of overnighters of babysitting. You can't ask them to pay up for this kind of thing.

Saying that, agree with the others <waves at ingles & AN>, I would be worried about the other stuff, I would probably have got rid by now TBH.

ingles2 Wed 17-Jun-09 09:49:19

<hi squiffy grin >

AtheneNoctua Wed 17-Jun-09 10:00:36

Hi Squiff! grin

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