Many of our families have had to recently get used to the changes in the au pair guidelines. At first I had some families telling me that the new guidelines won’t work for them, that they have older children so do need them to do much of the housework, or they need the 2 evenings babysitting as well as the weekly hours. However, most of these families have come back and said actually, on reflection, it is still worth it and can I please search for an au pair for them.
Families were historically fairy spoilt with a huge array of au pairs to choose from, older girls, longer stays and au pairs happy to help with whatever the families asked for. Unfortunately there were always those few families who consistently asked for a little too much, more household duties than was recommended, a few more hours here and there and generally didn’t treat the au pairs as they should be treated. It is these families who ultimately help to cause the loss of the au pair programme as we knew it.
There was some terrible programmes shown in many of the EU countries that we source au pair from – and as with most media only the bad were shown. They reported that many UK families treated their au pairs very badly, taking advantage of them, using them as low paid housekeepers and not caring for them in the way they should. I have always guided my families well and do hope that our au pairs have always been safe and enjoyed their experience in the UK. Of course many of these families had found their au pairs online and hadn’t used an agency – taking the safety net away from the au pairs and the families – but this was not shown.
Because of this – and of course Brexit – there has been a HUGE decline in the amount of au pairs willing to come to the UK.
Au pair agencies abroad have worked closely with au pair agencies in the UK to ensure that the programme is clearly outlined, with very strict hours and a fixed payment structure and guidelines in exactly what is acceptable and what isn’t. This is to ensure that the programme can continue and there are still au pairs who want to come to the uk and have what should be a great cultural exchange experience.
As most of our families know, an au pair can be a great asset to any family, there is not other childcare option that gives you the flexibility and stability that an au pair does at such an affordable cost. And for au pairs, a fantastic experience to live with a family, attend language school and learn fantastic English whilst helping with childcare – for many this is a life changing experience and friends made for life. Long may it continue!