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News | Avon Au Pairs | Polite • Efficient • Discreet

Au Pairs vs Nannies

Q: What is the difference between an au pair, a mother’s help and a nanny?

Au pair – The au pair programme is an internationally recognised Cultural Exchange Programme. It offers a young individual the opportunity to travel and live / work with a host family in a new country, learn a foreign language and experience the country’s culture. The au pair will work a set amount of hours for the host family, usually doing a mixture of childcare and light housework. The au pair may have some childcare experience and even qualifications, but an au pair is not a nanny and should also not be treated as a housekeeper.

Mother’s help – A mother’s help is a carer who has got a genuine interest in children, who works under supervision on the daily running of the household. The mother’s help will have at least 1 year’s relevant experience and / or a qualification. Duties regarding children will be according to their experience, the type of household and the ages of the children. An extra hand rather than someone who takes charge. Depending on the childcare responsibilities expected, they will be able to help around the house with light housework and run errands. If she is experienced and confident enough, she can take sole charge of the children at times. Unlike most nannies, mothers’ helps will normally do some light housework (dusting, hoovering etc).

Nanny – A nanny is a qualified and / or experienced childcarer who works in the setting of the family’s home, either live-in or out. The nanny is able to assume the responsibility of sole charge of young children. They are professionals and therefore expect a permanent contract with normal working conditions i.e. annual salary plus bonuses, overtime, paid holiday and their salary is subject to national insurance etc. Apart for doing childcare, they will usually only do child-related housework.

Please note that, for 2014-15, UK income tax is payable on income over £10,000 per annum.

Families are responsible for ensuring income tax and National Insurance contributions are paid, if applicable.

Please check with the HMRC for further information on income tax and National Insurance thresholds (website

What is an Au Pair?

The title “Au Pair” originates from the French term meaning “on a par” or “equal to” indicating that the relationship is intended to be one of equals.

Most Au Pairs in the UK are from an EU country and generally are between 18 and 27 years old. Au Pairs come to Britain to learn English as part of an English speaking family. They are not domestic staff, cleaners, nannies or employees but are a part of a cultural exchange – they live as part of a family, join the family for meals and have their own bedroom in exchange for helping with childcare needs and light housework for up to a maximum of 35 hours a week. Au pairs can work more hours for more money where this has been mutually agreed between the host family and the au pair

Generally au pairs are not trained childcare professionals and should not be left in sole charge of youngsters under 3 years old.

Au pairs in the main tend to be female and sometimes male or even couples!  Specific daily and weekly duties will be agreed between the family and the au pair in advance, which may last up to 2 years. Placements over 12 months are less common though as young people tend to want to move on.

It is important that the family correctly identifies their requirements in order to find a good match. Factors to consider will include: maturity, childcare experience, driving ability, start date, length of stay, etc.

Pocket money is paid to the Au Pair on a weekly basis and BAPAA’s recommendations are a minimum of £75 for 25 hours and £85 for 30 hours. An Au Pair must have 2 days a week of free time.

If you are keen to spend a little more time on yourself and your children do please get in touch to see what we have that might well make all the difference to your life.  Au Pairs are also expecting to spend 2 nights a week babysitting so you might even get to see more of your friends or husband!  Might not be quite what you’re after, but hopefully you will get what you need from the relationship, someone who’s on your side to genuinely help.



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