The Au Pair programme is a cultural exchange programme. Au Pairs are aged 18 to 30, but an Au Pair without visa requirements (from the EU) can be older.
Au Pairs are not employee's and pocket money and expenses are paid rather than a wage.
Pocket money must be a minimum £90 per week for 30 hours to include any evening babysitting requirements, regardless of whether the minimum hours are worked. Additionally, all expenses relating to the Au Pair’s role must be paid in full by the family.
It is also recommended that the host family contributes at least £20 per month towards language school costs or equivalent benefits and pays a completion bonus equivalent to at least 1 week’s pocket money on completion of the agreed length of stay. This completion bonus should be agreed in advance.
Additional pocket money should be paid for any additional evening babysitting duties.
The Au Pair programme is a cultural exchange programme and Au Pairs must be welcomed as a member of the family. An Au Pair is not an employee or paid worker and it is important to pay attention to government guidance.
The British Au Pair Agencies Association (BAPAA) provides information and guidance on being a host family for an Au Pair.
It is important to remember that an Au Pair is an unqualified child carer and their hours and duties should reflect this.
An Au Pair should not be expected to have sole charge of a child all day unless exceptional circumstances occur and should not be solely responsible for a child or children overnight.
Au Pairs should also not be given responsibility for looking after a child or children at night whilst parents are also in the home.
Au Pairs can be on duty up to 30 hours per week. This must include any evening babysitting that is required.
The most important thing is for the host family to have an understanding that this is a cultural exchange programme based around childcare. A host family needs to be realistic about expectations and understand that an Au Pair is not a nanny or a cleaner.
The balance should always be on the children and not on housework, and the Au Pair should be welcomed as a member of the family including sharing in some or all family meals and being invited and included on days out and family events.
Accommodation should be welcoming and pleasant and part of the home, yet private. The host family must provide a comfortable bedroom, with a bed, wardrobe, small desk and a door that can be closed.
Most families provide internet access and optional extras would be to provide sole use of a bathroom and TV, and music and a computer in the au pair bedroom.
The host family should set aside time to get the Au Pair settled, explain duties and routines, help to enrol in language classes, register with a GP and find friends locally.
The Au Pairs' schedule must provide sufficient time to attend language school, and the Au Pair should receive two free days each week and be given one full weekend off per month.
It is also recommended that at the Au Pair is given 4 weeks’ paid holiday per 12-month period (pro rata) plus Public Holidays.