Au pairs come to this country mainly to learn the language. They live as a member of an English family for an average period of 2 – 12 months. They are expected to help with the care of children and light domestic duties relating to children for up to 30 hours per week. This can include up to 2 evenings babysitting within these hours. Any additional hours or babysitting should be paid at £4.00 per hour. Au pairs are to be regarded as a member of the family, share meals and activities, and join in with family entertainment. They must have their own room with heating and study facilities. It should be advised that au pairs do not necessarily have specific childcare experience and should not be left in sole charge of children under the age of 2 years old.
In return for their help, au pairs receive pocket money of not less than £80 per week. If a family live more than 5 miles from a suitable language school and social facilities, then a petrol allowance or contribution to bus fares would also be expected. A contribution to language school or other benefit should be given of £20 per week. For au pairs staying over 5 months a week’s finishing bonus should be awarded for completing the time with the family.
Two whole days a week should be completely free. Opportunity to attend language classes and do homework, to make friends and attend cultural/social activities should be given.
According to Working Time Regulations BAPAA recommends that the UK basic holiday allowance of 28 days per annum should apply or 1.66 days per month pro rata if the placement is shorter than a year. This can include the public and Bank holidays.
There are colleges in most areas, which cater for language students, and some language schools have classes specifically for au pairs. Some areas have classes of one whole day per week, some have two or three hours each day, usually scheduled to fit in with taking and collecting children from school (evening classes may also be available). At the time of considering an au pair, a family should find out about local school facilities and keep up-to-date with fees and travelling costs to inform prospective au pairs.
Au pairs can obtain treatment under the National Health Service if they fall ill or have an accident. They are accepted onto the doctor’s list at the doctor’s discretion and must pay the same charges as are paid in this country, i.e. prescription charges, dental charges and so forth.
Au pairs are responsible for their own travel expenses and should have a return ticket or sufficient fund for their return journey upon arrival. Families should collect the au pair from the airport and if this is not possible then a taxi should be arranged. Our Polish au pairs require their one way ticket to the UK booked and paid for by the family.
An au pair should be given at least two weeks notice of the termination of her employment and in return should give a minimum of two weeks notice of her intention to resign very different to how you do it in your own country.
If you are unable to keep your au pair for the two weeks notice then you would be expected to provide and pay for additional accommodation and also to pay the au pair the two weeks pocket money.