Au Pair

Au Pair

The Au Pair Programme is a cultural exchange for young people aged from 18 – 30 years of age.  The vast majority of Au Pairs are young people taking a 6 – 12 month gap in their studies to improve their knowledge of language and culture.

An Au Pair lives as part of the family and is expected to be made welcome as a family member. He/She is an extra pair of hands for a busy household and should be treated as part of the family, not an employee.  

The majority of our au pairs already have good English skills and many can drive. They can help with busy morning schedules, school-runs, play dates, after school activities, meal times, homework, some occasional shopping and light housework.  They can supervise the children in a responsible manner in the absence of the parents according to the instructions given.

Childcare International follows the Guidelines set by BAPAA (British Au Pair Agencies Association) to regulate standards for the Programme. These have been formulated to raise conditions for our candidates and to clarify expectations on all sides.

Hours on duty: Au Pairs can be on duty up to 30 hours per week to include any evening babysitting that is required. 

Pocket Money and Additional Incentives:

  • Pocket money must be not less than £80 per week for 25 hours to include any evening babysitting requirements, regardless of whether the minimum hours are worked, and not less than £100 per week for 30 hours per week.
  • Our native English speaking au pairs will expect to receive a minimum of £120 per week for 30 hours on duty.
  • A rate of £5 per hour is recommended for extra hours on duty.
  • If a family is paying £80 per week for 25 hours on duty, BAPAA recommends that the host family contributes at least £20 per month towards language school costs or equivalent benefits such as a travel card.
  • BAPAA recommends that the au pair is paid a completion bonus equivalent to at least one week’s pocket money on completion of their agreed length of stay with the family (for placements of 6 months or more)   This completion bonus should be agreed in advance. 
  • All expenses relating to the Au Pair’s role must be paid in full by the family.

Babysitting: Additional pocket money should be paid for any additional evenings. Au Pairs should not be asked to babysit on either of their two free days. Babysitting hours are evening time only when the parents are out. For extra babysitting, we recommend a minimum of £5 per hour.

An Au Pair cannot perform regular night duties.  BAPAA does not recommend that an Au Pair regularly babysits or is solely responsible for a child or children overnight.  Parents cannot leave the Au Pair regularly in charge overnight, whilst they are away on business/holiday or working night shifts. Furthermore, the Au Pair cannot be given responsibility for looking after a child or children at night (given baby monitor etc) whilst parents are also in the home. If the Au Pair is ever required to do this, a responsibility payment should be given.

Leisure time: He/She shall receive two free days each week  which should include one weekend totally free per month. 
The Au Pair’s schedule must provide sufficient time to attend language school 

Holidays: BAPAA recognises that the Au Pair is not a worker or employee and recommends best practice 4 weeks’ paid holiday per 12-month period (pro rata) plus Public Holidays. Pocket money will be paid during this time. The Au Pair should be encouraged to take holiday at a time that is convenient to the family. Holidays should ideally be mutually agreed between host family and Au Pair at the start of the placement.

Childcare: An Au Pair should not have any sole charge of children under the age of two. An au pair is not a qualified childcare provider and BAPAA recommends some daily formal childcare arrangements for pre-school children.

House Rules: House rules have to be clear at the beginning of the placement. Families must take time, when the Au Pair arrives, to explain and set out the family expectations when on and off duty.

Room and board: The Au Pair receives full room and board from the family throughout the stay. The Au Pair must have her own private room with a window and not be required to share with children, and she should be given facilities to study.   Families are required to send photos of the au pair’s bedroom and general accommodation. 

Internet Access: Au Pairs should be allowed internet access without limits during their free time

Travel and Travelling Costs: The Au Pair is required to pay their own travelling cost to and from the UK, unless the family chooses to fund this. The family should, wherever possible, collect the Au Pair from the airport. If this is not possible, they must pay for collection by taxi or organise reasonable onward travel and the family must be at home in time for their arrival.  Long tube journeys with a year’s worth of luggage are not acceptable. 

Insurance: An Au Pair from the EU must travel to the UK with an EHIC card which lets them obtain state healthcare at a reduced cost or sometimes free. The Au Pair may also wish to take out additional health insurance and travel insurance to cover loss of belongings, repatriation in case of accident, death etc.

Language School and Costs: Au pairs must be given enough time to attend language school. There are many colleges and courses in the UK enabling Au Pairs to learn English - some are state run further education colleges or centres and some are privately run courses. The costs will vary depending on the type of course and the hours which are offered. The Au Pair's host family or UK based agency will be able to help them find some good local options. Some families will offer to pay for their au pair's language course and others will offer a contribution (see Pocket Money and Additional Incentives), but the Au Pair must be prepared to bear the majority of the costs.

Written Offer: A written offer will be required from the family covering pocket money, hours, holidays, description of home and au pair’s bedroom and what help will be expected, etc.   In addition a completed and signed Host Acceptance Form will be obligatory.

Notice Period: 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.

Please remember, this is a cultural exchange programme, giving a young person the opportunity to learn about British culture and improve language skills through interaction with children. The Au Pair is there to help the family and is not in charge of the house.

Light Housework: An Au Pair’s primary role is childcare;  light housework should be a lesser part of duties and BAPAA recommends that up to 20% of the au pair’s hours is spent on household duties.   It is recommended that extra domestic help should be arranged for any additional cleaning.
Acceptable standards of cleanliness must be maintained by the Au Pair and host family. A list of suggested light housework tasks can be found below.

List of housework tasks accepted as light housework: 

  • Washing dishes, including loading and unloading dishwasher
  • Preparing simple meals for children
  • Keeping kitchen tidy and clean including sweeping and mopping floors.
  • Loading and unloading children’s laundry into washing machine.
  • Ironing for children.
  • Putting washed clothes away
  • Vacuuming
  • Dusting
  • Making and changing children’s beds.
  • Cleaning children’s bathroom
  • Everything to do with keeping their own room / bathroom clean and tidy.
  • Walking and feeding pets
  • Emptying bins

List of tasks considered unsuitable for an Au Pair: 

  • Gardening
  • Window cleaning
  • Spring cleaning
  • Cleaning the oven, other than simple wiping out
  • Washing carpets
  • Washing the car
  • Weekly shopping
  • Pet training
  • Clearing up after untrained pets
  • Making parents’ bed
  • Ironing for parents
  • Polishing silver and brassware
  • Cooking the family meal, unless the Au Pair enjoys cooking and has chosen to do this for the family

N.B. Au Pairs should not be required to do housework such as ironing, when looking after children of primary school age or toddlers, due to safety reasons.

In the United Kingdom, in co-operation with our associate agencies abroad, we place Au Pair applicants from the following countries: Austria, Greece, Portugal, Belgium, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Iceland, Slovakia, Cyprus, Italy, Slovenia, Czech Republic, Latvia, Spain, Denmark, Lithuania, Sweden, Estonia, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Finland, Malta, The Netherlands, France, Norway, Germany and Poland

Au Pairs are also permitted to come to the UK under Tier 5, the Youth Mobility Visa. Under this visa we can accept candidates from Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Japan