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Au pair for a year: do you expect the family to pay for a holiday trip home or not?

(28 Posts)
choucroutegarnie Mon 06-Jul-09 23:18:44

We are interviewing au pairs at the moment and are wondering what would be right to offer as a 'package': would you offer to pay for a trip home, around Christmas for instance? We are looking for someone who's prepared to commit for a full year. I assume that the host family pays for the 'main' bit of travel, to the UK and back at the end. Am I right?

OnceWasSquiffy Tue 07-Jul-09 09:59:37

No, the au pair pays for her ticket to come and is also responsible for getting back home again at the end of the contract, although if you give notice ealry to the au pair if it doesn't work out then I think you should pay the return leg.

I always give my au pairs a visit home as a christmas present - paying for both ticket and (if I like them particularly) giving them paid instead of unpaid holiday.

Sayign that, I have never offered it as a package at the start, it is given as a surprise after a couple of months - that way they are really pleased and motivated (rather than expecting it as a right)

If you are recruiting from outside of Europe and the air fare is very high then it is normal to offer to help fund the flight and then recoveer the money via reduced pocket money over a couple of months. But beware of scams.

DadInsteadofMum Tue 07-Jul-09 14:45:17

Under employment law you are required to give them so much paid holiday. 28 days for a full year (20 days plus the bank holidays though the bank holidays don't have to be taken on the bank holiday - IYSWIM).

I too look for APs who are prepared to commit for a year and understand the need to provide a proper package, but would never pay for flight to and from the UK.

If they are coming from outside of Europe it is a condition of their visa that they have sufficient funds of their own to pay for the flight home when they enter the UK.

Paying for the trip back comes under the discretionary bonus heading, if they are doing a good job and you want to give them a mid-year bonus then the trip home would be nice, but I would never write it into the contract.

AtheneNoctua Tue 07-Jul-09 14:50:27

This raises the question of whether an au pair is an employee. Dad, are you saying they are employees now?

DadInsteadofMum Tue 07-Jul-09 15:09:32

When were they ever not?

Form Direct Gov
Employee: The majority of people in work are employees. You are classed as an employee if you are working under a contract of employment. A contract need not be in writing - it exists when you and your employer agree terms and conditions of employment. It can also be implied from your actions and those of the person you are working for. Your contract will normally set out what you are expected to do. You will usually be expected to do the work yourself - ie you can't send someone else to do your work for you.

Worker: This is a broader category than 'employees' but normally excludes those who are self-employed. A worker is any individual who works for an employer, whether under a contract of employment, or any other contract where an individual undertakes to do or perform personally any work or services. Workers are entitled to core employment rights and protections. The following groups of people are likely to be workers but not employees: most agency; workers; short-term casual workers; some freelancers.

So clearly employees not workers.

And included within workers rights is paid holiday.

JemL Tue 07-Jul-09 15:32:29

They are not employees:

au pair info

They are entitled to holidays, but not on the same basis as employees.

DadInsteadofMum Tue 07-Jul-09 15:38:37

Hmmm, sorry but I am going to believe the UK government website over an AP agency that may have an agenda.

They have a contract of employment (even if it is verbal, you do this for me every week and I will pay you £xx is a contract of employment) especially when you have an APs manual (which would consitute part of the contract employment).

They work under your direct control for a reqular salary, they are employees and AP host families need to wake up to this fact or they are leaving themselves open to all sorts of risks.

For example the formal contract of employment between AP and family is as much for the families protection as the AP's.

mousemole Tue 07-Jul-09 15:46:37

they are not employees - as it is a 'cultural exchange' as opposed to a job

Q What is the difference between an au pair, a mother’s help and a nanny?
A Au pair - The au pair programme is an internationally recognised Cultural Exchange Programme. It offers a young individual the opportunity to travel and live / work with a host family in a new country, learn a foreign language and experience the country’s culture. The au pair will work a set amount of hours for the host family, usually doing a mixture of childcare and light housework. The au pair may have some childcare experience and even qualifications, but an au pair is not a nanny and should also not be treated as a housekeeper.

DadInsteadofMum Tue 07-Jul-09 16:00:47

the Cultural Exchange Programme is based on an outdated (1969) agreement to allow young ladies to take positions overseas on special visas. That was superceded within the EU when employment restrcitions within the EU were lifted in 1992 and for the rest of the world when the AP visa programme was scrapped last year.

From a previous thread on this subject - Something to read though: Who Is An Employee

Sorry, but you if you have an AP your are her (his) employer and have certain responsibilities, I am banging on about this because I am worried that people are leaving themselves exposed to certain risks if they do not recognise this.

mousemole Tue 07-Jul-09 16:03:49

that's very worrying then..... what recourse do you have if you hire one through an egency ? Are they ultimately responsible or you ?

OnceWasSquiffy Tue 07-Jul-09 16:18:20

Blimey. And I am the employment expert blush.

I was 100% under the impression that au pairs were not defined as workers under employment law, and indeed this was the case until January 24th of last year, when European Court of Justice over-rulesd the UK Secretary of State on precisely this point.

The position now is that National Minumum Wage and Working hours directive continue to exclude au pairs from legislation (under specific exemptions given for people who work in the home as part of the family), but that all other aspects of employee legislation do apply. Even though Sec of State thought they didn't (so at least I was in good company)

For those who get excited by these things (ie me: sad, I know) here is the legal summary of the ruling.

Am v pleased that have so far been fully compliant with law (but only by luck not judgement, as have paid holiday pay thinking I am giving them a perk)

DadInsteadofMum Tue 07-Jul-09 18:12:52

Thanks squiffy - thought it hadn't been tested in case law and was banging my head against a brick wall trying to find something.

Did look at the case summary - didn't get excited by it.

DadInsteadofMum Tue 07-Jul-09 18:15:21

Mousemole - responsible for what?

An au pair agency is just an employment agency the same as any other.

You are reponsible for the au pair in that you owe them a duty of care to be a responsible employer.

PixiNanny Tue 07-Jul-09 18:18:34

I was under the impression that we are employees. Either way, though, in response to OP, I wouldn't expect you to pay for me to get back, and though I'm from the UK, train tickets can be expensive! I can end up paying well over £100 for a train to Essex (where I'm from) if I get given late notice holidays (which my employers can do), I wouldn't expect them to pay it. However, they pay me for 52 weeks of the year, but then I don't choose holidays, I go at their convinience.

frAKKINPannikin Tue 07-Jul-09 19:09:05

*does little happy dance that the "au pairs are employees" mantra I've been spouting has taken root*

Now I just have to convince people that au pairs from accession countries still have to comply with the WRS...

Back on topic: no, you don't need to pay for any kind of transport for au pairs. They fund themselves coming to you, should have sufficient cash to get away from you if necessary and if you want to give them a free return flight that's very nice of you but is neither expected nor compulsory. Having said that it can be quite a cheap Christmas present if they're European!

mousemole Tue 07-Jul-09 19:52:37

so even without a contract they are an employee ?

PixiNanny Tue 07-Jul-09 22:16:36

Verbal contract I'd assume, I don't have a written one and theres only one condition to my contract really (at least a months notice), but even agreeing to the job would be contractual of sorts.

limonchik Tue 07-Jul-09 23:09:06

Mousemole - I believe as an employer you have to provide your employee with a written contact within a couple of months of them starting with you.

DadInsteadofMum Wed 08-Jul-09 01:32:16

Joins FP in dance - the main problem is all the bloody agencies including the BAPAA who say they are not and give out all kinds of advice on their websites that is plain wrong - not just about employee status and WRS.

Mousemole just about anything can be a contract. If you give them a manual - that is part of a contract; if you emailed them with job offer stating duties and salary - that is a contract. Maybe not one that complies with employment legislation but still a contract.

And I have said it before but will say it again; a proper contract protects both host family and AP; e.g have you defined gross misconduct - without it if you summarily dismiss AP for GMC you run the risk of being sued for wrongful dismissal. Now there may be little risk of success but look at all the stress another MNer went through on another thread when her AP was threatening to sue her.

mousemole Wed 08-Jul-09 08:28:11

IMO it did all seem too good to be true/legal. In that you bring someone over from another country, pay them for work, yet were not obliged or so it seemed, to put in place any contract.
Thanks for the clarification. I will think long and hard about having another au pair in September.

frAKKINPannikin Wed 08-Jul-09 08:46:17

It's not that much stress if you set it all up properly. The main thing is having a contract, which mners are usually happy to help with. Then you have all the holiday and dismissal written in so you just have to stick to it.

There's no NI if you pay them under the threshold, the WRS is only a registration (popping along with a passport etc.) and in any case the au pair does that, you need employers liability but that usually comes with home insurance and they're exempt from NMW if living in.

Of course if you're talking about actually having an au pair not just the employment side then that's a different kettle of fish.

For those working without contracts the least you're entitled to from your employer is a written statement of employment - a verbal contract is still a contract but it won't give you anything like the protection you need. Employee status is not determined by the presence of a contract- someone could be found to be employed even if no contract is in place as long as there is some form of written job offer and acceptance. For this reason I insist that any job offered is done through e-mail, usually in addition to a phone conversation, to which I will respond saying I accept. Another very good reason for a contract IMO is if you have nanny insurance you may not be covered if working without a contract.

potentialJP Wed 08-Jul-09 11:01:39

I have always had a contract with our au pairs - it just sets out what is expected and makes things clear from the start. We have given paid holiday - half dates chosen by us, half by au pair. We have taken anything agreed between us and au pair as a verbal contract. This protects everyone.

DIOM - can I hijack thread and ask what you have specified as gross misconduct?

potentialJP Wed 08-Jul-09 11:03:37

I have always had a contract with our au pairs - it just sets out what is expected and makes things clear from the start. We have given paid holiday - half dates chosen by us, half by au pair. We have taken anything agreed between us and au pair as a verbal contract. This protects everyone.

DIOM - can I hijack thread and ask what you have specified as gross misconduct?

choucroutegarnie Wed 08-Jul-09 12:18:50

Catching this email late, huge thanks for the valuable input. Last question: anyone knows where to find a pro forma agreement / contract i could download and start from?

limonchik Wed 08-Jul-09 12:49:11

I think nannyjob has a sample nanny contract - you could adapt it for an au pair?

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