Host Family Frequently Asked Questions

Host Family FAQs

Q. What questions should I ask the au pair when I interview him/her?

Answer

Childcare International will give you every assistance in selecting the best au pair for your family. Once you have reviewed some applications you will have the opportunity to call or skype your preferred candidate(s) to interview him/her yourself. This will enable you to learn more about the personality and past experiences of your possible future au pair and also to assess his/her language skills. Once you advise Childcare International that you would like to speak with a particular candidate, we then inform our partner recruiting agency abroad of your proposed preferred time for an interview and naturally provide them with a copy of your family information so that the candidate(s) is aware of who will be calling.

We appreciate that you may wish to speak to a candidate on more than one occasion. Generally the first call gives the host family the opportunity to talk about their own circumstances, the area where they live, their expectations and a typical schedule of their day. Naturally they should ask some brief questions of the au pair. A follow-on second call is generally a chance for the au pair to speak more fully and ask his/her own questions of the family. You can also arrange to exchange photos and emails before making your final decision. Either way, please keep Childcare International informed as to your progress with any particular candidate. Because the interview is important, it is advisable to prepare some questions in advance. As a guide you may find the following list helpful as you prepare for your interview, but naturally as the list is long you need only select those questions which are relevant to your family:

  • Why have you chosen to apply for an au pair position?
  • Have you ever lived away from your family/home country before?
  • How do you feel about leaving your family for a few months?
  • How does your family feel about you coming to the UK?
  • Do you have any friends who have ever been an au pair?
  • Do you know anyone in England?
  • Do you live in a busy or quiet area? Do you live in a large city or a rural area?
  • Can you adjust to living with a foreign family and being a part of it?
  • Do you drive? Have you ever driven an automatic car?
  • Will you be happy to drive in England?
  • Do you realise we drive on the left-hand side in the UK?
  • Do you like pets?
  • Are you willing to take our dog out for a walk / feed our dog?
  • Do you have any dietary restrictions? Are you a vegetarian?
  • Are you willing to cook meat for the children?
  • Are you able to cook simple meals for the children?
  • Do you smoke? Discuss your family restrictions on this point.
  • What experience do you have with children?
  • Have you ever bathed or put children to bed?
  • What are the ages of the children you have cared for in the past?
  • How would you discipline a child?
  • How were you disciplined as a child?
  • Do you help with the housework in your own home?
  • Whilst we will welcome you as a friend to our family, do you understand that your duties will include helping with the housework and keeping our home clean and tidy?
  • Are you a tidy person?
  • Will you be happy to accept our household rules?
  • Do you have a boyfriend/girlfriend and how do they feel about your proposed stay in the UK?
  • What are your hobbies?
  • Are you sporty? Do you enjoy swimming/football/tennis etc. etc
  • Are you artistic? Do you enjoy painting/music?
  • Do your parents work?
  • Please tell us something about your personality. Are you a cheerful person?
  • Are you planning to go to a language school?
  • Discuss holiday requirements and possible schedules
  • Are you willing to join in on our family outings or holidays?
  • Are you flexible? If we sometimes return home late from work, will this be a problem?
  • Do you have any first-aid training?
  • If we wanted you to teach our children your native language, would you mind speaking to them in your language?
  • Are you in good health?
  • Do you have any allergies?
  • Are there any health related issues you should mention?
  • Can you help the children with their homework?
  • Will you read stories to the children and play with them?
  • How many children do you feel confident to take care of?
  • If our children have friends over to play, are you able to supervise them?
  • How do you think this experience will change you as a person?
  • What are your future plans?

Q. Do we have to pay tax or National Insurance for our au pair?

Answer

Tax and NI contributions are payable as soon as pay is more than £157 gross per week. For more information on Tax and NI contributions see:

http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/rates/it.htm and www.nannytax.co.uk

Q. Will my au pair have health insurance

Answer

We recommend that au pairs take out a policy in their home country to cover for costly emergencies such as dental care, legal assistance and repatriation.  

Q. Will my au pair be covered under the NHS?

Answer

All EU Nationals are entitled to free health care under the National Health Service.  A European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) entitles the au pair to reduced-cost, sometimes free, medical treatment.  The card is free but must be obtained by the au pair before travel.  See http://www.ehic.org.uk Please remember to register your au pair with your family doctor.

Q. Who pays for the car insurance?

Answer

The Host Family is liable for the car insurance fee.  The car must be roadworthy and covered by fully comprehensive insurance. The family should pay all the resulting costs of any accidents, including any excess payments.  Petrol must be provided for use on duty but the au pair may be asked to contribute towards petrol for personal use whilst off duty.

Q. Can my au pair drive in the UK?

Answer

Yes if she has a full clean driving licence from another EEA country.  Please check http://www.dvla.gov.uk for full information.  Candidates on a Youth Mobility Visa should obtain an International Driving Permit.

Q. How can my au pair (or nanny) become registered under the voluntary registration scheme?

Answer

Follow the following link to download information from the Gov.UK website:
https://www.gov.uk/guidance/how-to-register-as-a-childminder-or-nanny-quick-guide

Parents who use an approved child carer will be able to receive some financial support towards their employment costs.
Find out how you can help your Mother's help or even your au pair to become an approved carer so that you can benefit both financially and due to their increased knowledge on childcare.

Q. Do au pairs receive paid holiday?

Answer

Yes. The family must specify the au pair's entitlement to paid holidays and must state when they can be taken or if there are any times which are inconvenient to them. In recent months in the UK there have been ongoing discussions regarding the status of the au pair given that the au pair is not an employee, but a participant on a Cultural Exchange programme. However in order to avoid any conflict with UK working time regulations, we recommend that families should give their au pair 28 days paid holiday pro rata.

The matter of paid holidays should be discussed and agreed between the Host Family and the candidate.  The family must specify the 
Au Pair’s entitlement to paid holidays and must state when they can be taken or if there are any times which are inconvenient to them.  Holiday times are to be mutually agreed between the host family and Au Pair at all times. If a host family wishes to take an Au Pair on holiday with them, it must be decided in advance if it is a holiday for the Au Pair as well, or if he/she will be working i.e babysitting 

Q. How will my au pair occupy himself/herself during the day when the children are not at home?

Answer

Your au pair will probably be happy to attend a language course at a local college. Many schools have courses designed specially for au pairs. Au pairs do not work full-time and a proportion of the day should be set aside for study. He/she may also like to join the local sports centre / swimming pool.

Q. What household duties will an au pair expect to do?

Answer

Official guidelines recommend that only 20% of an au pair’s duty hours should be spent undertaking household tasks.   The remainder is for childcare/babysitting duties.

The acceptable household duties of an au pair can include washing dishes, preparing simple meals for the children, keeping the kitchen tidy and clean, loading and unloading laundry into the washing machine, ironing for the children, vacuuming, dusting, making and changing children's beds, cleaning the children's bathroom, everything to do with keeping their own room clean and tidy, light shopping, walking and feeding pets, emptying bins.

Q. Can I have a live-out au pair?

Answer

No. As this is a Cultural Exchange Programme and the au pair will specifically be joining your family, it is expected that she will be provided with her own private bedroom and full board. She must live as a family member and be made to feel welcome by all.

Q. What duties are not acceptable for an au pair?

Answer

We do not expect au pairs to be asked to do gardening, spring cleaning, window cleaning, cleaning the oven other than simply wiping it out, washing carpets, washing the car, the weekly household shopping, pet training.

Q. Is there a notice period?

Answer

Both families and au pairs are informed that a two week notice period is required. This normally allows sufficient time for us to find the host family a replacement candidate and relocate the au pair. Flexibility is required at this awkward stage but the situation can be handled well if both parties are reasonable and helpful.

The host family can terminate the arrangement by giving two weeks notice to the candidate. Under exceptional circumstances, should the host family require the candidate to leave before the end of the notice period then money must be given in lieu of notice AND a contribution towards either alternative accommodation or a flight home.  Sufficient time must be given to the candidate to make other arrangements or organise travel home.

Q. Can I have an au pair to care for my child who is younger than 2 years of age?

Answer

An au pair should not have continuous sole charge of infants under the age of two. They are not usually qualified to undertake this level of care.

Q. Can an au pair look after an elderly relative?

Answer

By prior agreement an au pair can look after an elderly relative, as long as the relative is not an invalid and is in good health.   We also operate a specific category of “Au Pairs for Seniors”

Q. Who pays for the Au Pair’s travel costs?

Answer

The Au pair pays for his/her own travel costs. However it is expected that the host family collect the au pair from the arrival airport or pay for a taxi/minicab to meet the au pair and drive him/her to the host’s home.

Q. Will my au pair babysit for us?

Answer

An au pair would normally expect to babysit for two evenings in any given week. If extra hours are required this can be discussed with the au pair and extra free time or money should be given as appropriate.

Q. How should my Au Pair spend his/her free time?

Answer

Your au pair will probably be happy to attend a language course at a local college. Many schools have courses designed specially for au pairs. Au pairs do not work full-time and a proportion of the day should be set aside for study. He/she may also like to join the local sports centre / swimming pool or even undertake voluntary work in a nursery or school.

Q. Are Au pairs, Mother’s helps and Companions exempt from being paid minimum wage?

Answer

Au pairs, Mother’s helps and Companions are only exempt from being paid minimum wage if they are treated as part of the family.  Please see here link to more guidance from HMRC.

"Workers who live in a family home as part of the family (but who are not members of that family) and who share in the work and leisure activities of the household do not need to be paid the national minimum wage for the work performed relating to the employer’s family household.  Living as part of the family means that the worker must be provided with living accommodation and meals free of charge and must share in family tasks and leisure activities on the same basis as other family members."