Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Au pair and host family support

Here at Kangaroo Au Pair, the safety and well being of our au pairs and host families is our primary concern. If you have any issues or concerns that your host family or au pair is not treating you in a way that is acceptable, please get in touch with us and we can advice you. You can contact us at or on 01-6966036(Ireland) or 020 7060 4877 (UK). Below is a list of the main conditions and guidelines of an au pair placement.
1. The au pair arrangement is first of all a cultural exchange rather than an employment. Au pairs are young foreigners who decide to move to a different country to learn and experience a new culture and language and that’s why they decide to live with a host family. As such, au pairs have to be treated as part of the family during their stay. They will have meals together with the family and will take part in some family activities. Au pairs will look after the host family’s children and will take on a share of the family’s household duties, primarily childcare, in exchange for free board and lodging and an appropriate amount of pocket money paid weekly on an arranged day. An au pair must be provided with all their meals and should have their own bedroom.
2. The amount of pocket money can vary slightly from au pair agency to agency. Kangaroo Au Pair recommends pocket money between €100 and €120 per week in Ireland and between £70 and £100 in the UK for a standard au pair.

3. Working hours- A standard au pair can work between 30 and 35 hours per week as well as 1 evening of babysitting (consisting of up to 5 hours) in Ireland. In the UK a standard au pair can work between 25 and 30 hours per week and 1 evening of babysitting. Babysitting consists of an evening, minding children when they are either in bed or will be going to bed within an hour or 2 of the host parents going out. 

4. Days off- Au pairs should have no less than 1 full week-end off per month and a minimum of day and a half off per week. Au pairs are entitled to 1 week of paid holidays for every 6 months placement and holidays should be agreed upon commencement of the au pair stay. Should the family decide to go on holiday without bringing their au pair, they cannot ask the au pair to leave their house* and must ensure that suitable arrangements are made for the au pair during this time. Many families organise for their au pair to stay with a friend or relative while they are on holidays.
4. When it comes to the type of housework required from an au pair, the au pair’s main duty is to look after the children and that the au pair should only carry out housework that is related to the children or everyday tasks such as filling the dishwasher, sweeping the kitchen floor after meals, tidying up after the children and giving the children snacks and light meals etc. 

5. Au pairs hours, working schedule and duties should be listed in an au pair contract and agreed to by both the host family and the au pair at the beginning of the placement.

6. If things are not working out and an au pair or family chooses to end an au pair stay. A 2 week notice period is required. During this time an au pair must be allowed to stay in the family's home. If the family do not want the au pair to continue to stay in their home during the notice period, they must provide alternative accomodation for the au pair. The only time that no notice period is acceptable is in the case of gross misconduct by either the family or au pair. In this case the au pair placement can be broken without any notice period.

7. An au pair must be paid every week on an agreed day. An au pair should still be paid weekly pocket money, even if she has been sick for 1 or 2 days of a given week.**

8. Lastly, being the au pair placement a cultural exchange programme, au pairs should always be granted enough time off to attend their language classes. Host families are not required to pay for the language course as au pairs should bear this cost themselves, but they must ensure the au pair will be able to attend all classes if they so wish. Families cannot ask an au pair to babysit on an evening when she does her English classes.

If you feel that your host family or au pair are not abiding by the guidelines of an au pair placement, please do not hesitate to contact us and we can advice you what to do. We are here to support and we are happy to help you with any of your concerns. Please do not hesitate to get in touch with us.

* Unless the host family and au pair have agreed that the au pair will take their holidays during this time. 
**An au pair should provide a family with a doctor's letter, at the beginning of the au pair placement, stating that she/he is in good health and that she/he has no underlying condition which would ensure that she/he is not capable of minding children or entering into an au pair placement.

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