1. Demographic profile
Au pairs are usually aged between 18 and 30 years and are not from the country in which they are au pairing (au pairs who are from the country in which they are au pairing are known as 'a mother's help'). Au pairs travel to another country to improve their foreign language skills and/or to gain a new cultural experience.
An au pair lives as part of a host family and will take on a share of the day-to-day duties of the family in exchange for board and pocket money. Nannies (sometimes refered to as childminders*) usually have a background qualification in childcare and have chosen childcare as their chosen career. Nannies will usually not live with a family and maybe considerably older than an au pair.
2. Material conditions
An au pair lives in a host family’s home and has a separate bedroom. A host family is responsible for supplying her meals and providing pocket money and usually provide her with internet access. They also ensure that she has time to attend language classes.
The pocket money that an au pair receives is not considered to be a salary and is not subject to taxation. Nannies usually come by day. They aren’t entitled to meals or accommodation. A nanny will work for a family as an employee in accordance with the employment regulations of that country.
Standard labour laws govern a nanny's employment, and their salary is subject to taxes and other statutory deductions.
A nanny will probably consider her work to be her long term career. A nanny's primary responsibility is taking care of the children but will probably not undertake household chores that are not related to the children.
The primary goal of an Au pair is usually continuing their education and participating in a cultural exchange. Au pairs are often undergraduate students travelling to a different country during their summer break from college or post-graduate students wishing to improve their language skills or travel before beginning their career in their chosen field. Au pairs often teach the children their language, a little bit about their culture or even enlighten them about their chosen college course.
Au pairs often have a background in a caring profession such as teaching, childcare or nursing.
Au pair pocket money is paid to an au pair weekly.
In the UK pocket money of approximately £75 per week. They may have come to the UK as part of the Youth Mobility Scheme or as a temporary worker and as long as they fulfil UK Border Agency requirements. Guidance as to their treatment is outlined by the Home Office who stipulate that they should be regarded as an equal member of the family and not as an employee. In Ireland they usually receive pocket money of approximately €100 per week. For more information about au pair costs see here.
In the UK a nanny works for a family as an employee and as such has a contract detailing her terms of employment. The family are her employers and are legally obliged to pay their nanny an acceptable wage in accordance with employment regulation and are responsible for paying her tax and National Insurance. Nanny positions are fully subject to employment law. Nannies expect to be earning between £18,000 and £20,000 per year for a live-in position or £22,000-£25,000 for a live-out position. In Ireland a nanny is sometimes referred to as a childminder* and is also considered to be an employee of the family. The family must pay a nanny's taxes and PRSI and can expect to pay their nanny either an hourly rate of approx €10-€12 per hour or €400+ per week.
Full-time Vs Part-Time
Most nannies work full-time or for two to three full days per week. Their hours tend to be longer than standard jobs with many working regular 10-12 hour days. This is in contrast to au pairs, who work a standard 25 hours per week in the UK and 30 hours in Ireland, and who are free the rest of the time to attend language classes, meet friends or explore the area. Some au pairs, known as 'au pair plus' and mother's help work more hours. Some au pairs, known as 'demi au pairs' work shorter hours. Pocket money is alterred to reflect these longer or shorter hours.
5. Work experience and qualifications
A nanny is likely to have several years of childcare experience, some form of childcare qualification or practical training such as montessori qualifications or may have worked in a nursery or creche for a period of time.
Whereas au pairs are often undergraduate students travelling to a different country during their summer break from college or post-graduate students wishing to improve their language skills or travel before beginning their career in their chosen field. Au pairs often teach the children their language, a little bit about their culture or even enlighten them about their chosen college course. Au pairs often have a background in a caring profession such as teaching, childcare or nursing.
Most nannies work full-time or for two to three full days per week. Their hours tend to be longer than standard jobs with many working regular 10-12 hour days. This is in contrast to au pairs, who work a standard 25 hours per week, and who are free the rest of the time to attend language classes, meet friends or explore the area. Some au pairs will work more hours, but these tend to be called an ‘au pair plus’ or a Mother’s Help.
* In Ireland a nanny is often referred to as a childminder. A childminder can also be a person who takes care of children in her own home and may mind children from a number of different families.
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