An Au Pair is a single, unmarried person, without dependents, aged between 18 and 30 (inclusive) who comes to the UK to study English and learn about the British culture. If from the EU, there is no specific age limit. Usually female (although more males are now applying to become au-pairs), they live as part of a host family and in exchange for bed, board and a weekly allowance, help with childcare and general duties around the house. This mainly involves helping with children, some light housework, preparing meals and babysitting.
Au-Pairs can live for up to two years as a member of an English speaking family. The minimum stay is two months – which is usually a summer placement. Summer placements are made for families who need cover for the school summer holidays and for au pairs who want to experience another culture and language for the summer. Most families are, however, looking for an au pair who is willing to stay for 12 months or more. This is now becoming rarer, with the majority of ‘long-term’ applicants staying an average of 8-10 months. This is usually to coincide with academic years and gap years for au pairs.
An Au Pair should be treated as one of the family. Honest, open communication is important, as is consideration for their needs and flexibility on both sides. It is important to make your Au Pair feel welcome and to share in family life.
Types of Au Pair
Standard Au Pair – works for a maximum of 5 hours per day, 5 days per week (or up to 25 hours per week) plus two nights per week babysitting. Two full days must be allowed off per week.
Au Pair Plus – works for between 26-35 hours per week plus two nights per week babysitting. They should be allowed time to attend an English Language course, and be paid for any extra hours. We recommend a rate of £4 per hour. They will need to receive increased pocket money, please give us a call to discuss the recommended ratios.
Standard au pairs or Aupair Plus’ may be either Temporary or Permanent. Temporary au-pairs usually stay for two or three months, often in the summer and may be students who wish to spend their vacation with a British family. ‘Permanent’ or ‘long-term’ Au Pairs are those who are wishing to experience a longer amount of time in the UK and will stay for up to a year, and occasionally longer.
The minimum recommended pay for an Au Pair is £75.00 per week for a Standard au pair and £85-£100 per week for an Au Pair Plus. Payment is often called ‘pocket money’ as the au pair is part of a government cultural programme rather then a migrant worker. National Insurance payments by the family on their behalf are therefore not necessary. However, the cost to the family also includes food and occasional family trips as well as any additional costs incurred as part of the au pair’s duties for the family.
Pay your au pair weekly, preferably in cash, and on time. This will be very much appreciated!
It is important to realise that an au pair is NOT a cheap substitute for a nanny, and although often employed to help look after children, they are not expected to have any formal childcare qualifications. An Au Pair should never be left in sole charge of a child under the age of three.
Avon Au Pair Agency requests that all potential Au Pair applicants provide a detailed application form outlining their experiences, interests and proposed contribution to the family, plus a letter of introduction, photographs, medical certificates and references. All of these will be shown to the potential host family. However, it is important to understand that a UK agency will not have met the applicants in person.
Au Pairs can live for up to two years as a member of the family and should be permitted two weeks’ paid holiday every six months, and paid Bank Holidays. Most Au Pairs appreciate the opportunity to go home for Christmas and New Year.
English Language Tuition
An Au Pair must be allowed to attend English Language classes if desired. The primary reason for Au Pairs to come to England is to learn English and, in many cases, to gain an internationally recognised English Language qualification. It is a Home Office requirement that families allow for attendance at language classes in order to comply with their regulations. It is important for you to familiarise yourself with the local colleges providing English lessons for foreign students and to establish the cost of these courses. Some families make a small contribution to the cost of the classes or assist in spreading the payment of the courses, as a good-will gesture. However this is not essential and an Au Pair should be aware that they must pay for their own language tuition.
Au Pairs who can drive
If you require an Au Pair who has a driving licence, please indicate this on your application form.
Please also note that it is unlikely that they will be experienced drivers. We would strongly recommend that you pay for some lessons with your local driving school, using your own car, before you let them drive on the British Highways. He/She needs to be fully acquainted with the British Highway Code and driving on the left side of the road. It might be a good idea to think through carefully what your family ‘policy’ would be if an au pair scratched or bumped the car in some way. Most au pairs are students or girls on ‘gap’ years and will not have money to pay for damages…
You must insure your au pair for use of your car and provide her with fuel when on duty. Insurance can be expensive, so please check this before requesting a driver. If you are happy for her to use the car when off duty, the au pair should pay for their own fuel accordingly.
Au Pairs are responsible for paying for their own travel from their home country to their first UK destination e.g. London Airports, London Bus Station, Regional Airports etc. It is the responsibility of the family to either meet them at this initial destination or to pay for their onward journey to their host family’s home town, and to meet them there at the agreed time.
Insurance and Health
Au Pairs from EC countries should be eligible for NHS healthcare. They should obtain an EHIC card before they arrive in the UK.
We recommend that you check what insurance, if any, your Au Pair has when she arrives. You are not responsible for paying for medical treatment for your Au Pair, however you will have to continue to provide accommodation and food if your Au Pair becomes ill.
Encouraging your Au Pair to settle in
When your Au Pair arrives give them a little time to settle in and get to know your family. Allow them to phone home to let their family know they have arrived safely. Don’t forget that your Au Pair is a long way from home and may be homesick. Reassure them and be patient. She/he also may not understand everything you say so speak slowly and allow them to ask you questions.
Show him/her around your local area and point out key places such as the language school, leisure centre, library (where they can often gain free internet access), cinema, recreation parks, children’s schools etc).
Help them to make friends by introducing them to other families who have Au Pairs. It always helps an Au Pair to settle once they start to make friends.
Outline on paper your house rules and their work schedule, duties and free time. Sit down and take them through these rules within a couple of days of their arrival ensuring they fully understand.