|What is the AU Pair Program?|
|Benefits of Being an Au Pair|
|Support from Host Families|
|Support from Host Agencies|
|Who can be an Au Pair?|
|Au Pairs duties|
What is the AU Pair Program?
The Au Pair Program is an international cultural exchange program. An Au Pair is a young person from a foreign country living as a part of a host family. An Au Pair is a special category that is not the student or the worker. Au Pairs take on a share of the family's responsibility for childcare and some light housework, and receive a pocket money for personal use. Au Pairs are supposed to work part-time, and they also study part-time, focusing on the language and culture of the host country. An Au Pair is intended to become a temporary member of the family, as a friend to the host parents and a big brother or sister to the children, rather than a traditional domestic worker.Au Pair is not an employee and therefore not governed by employment legislation.
The concept of the Au Pair originated in Europe after World War II. Social change increased the number of middle class young persons who needed to earn their own living, and rising educational aspirations for them made experiencing foreign cultures and learning foreign languages more common aspirations. On the other side, the need for childcare in families was quite big because of women’s emancipation. Working hard in factories during the War while their men were fighting gave them the strength to oppose their traditional role in the family and to get the right to be financially independent. Obviously, this lead to the need of having somebody to take care of kids while the mother is busy. Cheerful, positive and outgoing foreign person is suited for this role very well.
The Au Pair Program is an object of the state’s attention. At first this Program is regulated by the European Council through the Agreement on the Au Pair Placement signed in Strasbourg on November 4th, 1969. At first this Agreement was ratified by Belgium, Denmark, France, German, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, Norway and Switzerland. USA and many other countries came into this program after.
The following questions are regulated at the official level:
- requirements to the Au Pairs, concerning age, education, marital status, etc.
- requirements of the families, concerning structure, material and moral stability
- visa rules for the Au Pairs
- rules for the Au Pairs stay in a host country (registration, need in the residence permit and in the work permit)
- social guarantees and Au Pair insurance
- Au Pair material and non-material benefits
- Au Pair working time, time off and holiday
- list of Au Pair duties
- an educational program of the Au Pairs
Benefits of Being an Au Pair
Being the participant of the Au Pair program is an incredibly rewarding experience. There are many benefits not found in other cultural exchange programs
During your time in a host country as an Au Pair, you’ll have the splendid opportunity:
* to learn a foreign language
As au pair you take part in your host family's daily life. You are forced to use the language of your host country and to listen to it during the whole day. Moreover you can train everything you learn at your language school in real life, so that your linguistic skills internalize. Soon you will speak fluently without having to search extensively for words. Your vocabulary extends and will be enriched by idiomatic terms.
* to extend your horizon
You leave your usual way of life for a certain time and to get to know the lifestyle of other cultures. You will see and learn a lot of new things, you will meet interesting people, who make you appreciate their philosophy of life. The understanding of a foreign culture represents a great enrichment not only for your general education but also for your personality.
* to become independent
By working autonomously within your host family and by taking over the responsibility for the children you learn to make your own decisions and to take on responsibility for other people. These are qualities you need both during your studies and your job. A valuable asset that can benefit your career and ability to take on new responsibilities in life.
* to get a great experience of childcare
You gain valuable work experience while caring for the children in your Host Family. This experience is a valuable resume builder and a great way to show future employers you are dependable and hard working.
* to make life-long connections
Many host families and the Au Pairs stay in contact for many years, and even visit each other after their time together in the host country ends.
Support from the host family
* pocket money
As an Au Pair, you earn a weekly or monthly stipend from host family in the common sum of 3000 - 10000 euro in the year! You may safe this money, because you don’t need to worry about paying for housing or meals during your time with the host family.
* board and lodging
Board and lodging are free for you. You are entitled to an individual furnished room of at least 8 square meters with a window that can be opened. The room should be heatable and lockable. You are entitled to free access to food, just like any other family member. Therefore, you should share meals with the family, have free access to the fridge, etc. You are also entitled to free board and lodging in cases of illness and during the holiday.
* time off
Each week, you’ll have at least one full day off, with at least one full weekend off a month. You can spend this day with your friends and to go to cinema, to sports hall, to basin or to travel around your town.
* paid holiday
You should get 2-4 weeks of paid holiday per 12 months. You have the opportunity to travel throughout the host country or even to go to the other country for the rest.
The education component is an important part of the Au Pair program. All Au Pairs are required to take classes at an approved and accredited university or language school. The family has to give the au pair the opportunity to attend a course. Normally, the host family monitors the Au pair's attendance at school and, in case of problems, offers own help at all times. Many families choose to pay a part of the costs of Au Pair education. In some countries this expense are obliged for host families.
* travel costs
By Au Pair program rules of some countries the host family is obliged to pay Au Pair's travel expenses entirely or partially. In other countries often the families agree to assume these expenses voluntary.
A host family must conclude a health and accident insurance for you. It is also compulsory to insure for your pre-term repatriation.
Your family should take care of your officially registered as a temporary resident of the host country in the state department and help you to register with tax service and receive a number of social insurance.
Support from the Au Pair Agency of the host country
* to screen the host family before you arrive
Our partners conduct interviews and screen potential host families. This is to ensure that we recruit quality families with reasonable program expectations and that the host family is able to provide adequate accommodations and financial support for an Au Pair.
* to support you duration your stay in the host country
Our partners provide au pairs and host families with support in the event of an urgent situation or emergency. You can call by phone at any time and you will connect with staff members of Au Pair Agency who can assist you in the event of a problem. You can call to the Au Pair Planet at any time too, and we will happy to help you if you need.
* to change a host family if you need
It can happen in real life that the host family didn't suit you. It is possible that you cannot find contact with children or with one of the parents, or the place is not good for your stay. Then the host agency will find a new family for you and help to make necessary papers.
* to find new foreign friends
Our partners often organize the meetings for all of the au pairs in their area. It’s a great opportunity to make friends and share your experiences. Often, meetings include fun events like holiday parties, museum trips, concerts, sporting events, and travel opportunities.
Who may be an Au Pair?
- The Au Pairs shouldn't be the qualified nurses. Being kind, friendly and helpful is what the host families are looking for. However, it isn't enough to have a desire to become an Au Pair. The participant of the program has to meet certain requirements which are listed below:
- Age: generally, an Au Pair should be between 17-30 years old. The minimum and maximum age of an Au Pair varies between different countries.
- Personality: an Au Pair should be the cheerful, sociable and positive person. An Au Pair should love for children and be caring and enjoy being in children's company. Besides, an Au Pair should be interested in the culture of the host country.
- Nationality: in the official Au Pair program there are no restrictions on nationality of an Au Pair. But in those some countries where there is no official program such restrictions are possible. So, only citizens from EU/EEA/EFTA countries can be the Au Pair in Great Britain and in the Ireland. In New Zealand and Australia not all EC countries take part in the Au Pair program, but Estonian citizens can be Au Pairs in these countries.
- Sex: female and male can be in the status Au Pair. But more often host families prefer the girls.
- Marital status: usually, an Au Pair should be single and not have own children. But in some countries this condition isn't obligatory.
- Experience: experience in childcare is obligatory. An Au Pair should provide at least two referents from the families or employers where experience of childcare was gained.
- Education: an Au Pair need a secondary education as minimum.
- Foreign language: an Au Pair should have at least basic knowledge of the native language of the host country.
- Car driving: often the host family needs the Аu Pair with driving license and experience of driving. But only in USA and in New Zealand this condition is obligatory.
- Other conditions: an Au Pair also needs to be of good health and cannot have a criminal record. Host families prefer non-smoking Au Pair
An Au Pair cannot work for other employers or other families, and cannot combine activity as an Au Pair with any other work, neither paid nor free.
Au Pairs duties
Au Pairs can be expected to do a combination of child care and light housework duties. Typically, about 60% of the Au Pair's daily tasks should be related to childcare and the remaining 40% to light housekeeping duties. Au Pairs are not responsible for housework that does not relate to the children’s or communal living areas that are kept tidy by all family members.
An Au Pair receives payment for light domestic work and childcare, but an Au Pair is not a full-time housekeeper or nurse. The person working for full time cannot reckon with an Au Pair, but an employed person only.
An Au Pair must work only in one host family and may not take another job in another place.
Au Pair's childcare responsibilities include:
- waking the children in the morning and washing and dressing them
- preparing light meals and snacks for the children
- helping the school age kids in the packing of the school bag
- taking/collecting the children to and from school or kindergarten
- helping with school homework
- taking the children on outings to parks, playgroups and other activities
- playing with children and keeping of their safe
- reading the books, drawing, occupation by creativity with children
- helping of looking after babies: playing, feeding, bathing, walking
- babysitting (on request)
Some families look for the Au Pairs who can execute the particular duties: to go to basin with the child, to take part in a musical or sport up-bringing, to accompany children to grandparents. If these duties are suitable for an Au Pair, he/she can do it for the work time only.
Au Pair’s light housework duties include:
- washing dishes, including loading and unloading dishwasher
- keeping the kitchen tidy and clean, including sweeping and mopping floors
- loading and unloading laundry into the washing machine
- putting washed clothes away
- vacuuming and dusting
- emptying the recycle bin
- making and changing the children’s beds
- cleaning the children’s bedroom and bathroom
- keeping the Au Pair’s bedroom and bathroom clean and tidy
- doing the children’s laundry and ironing their clothes
- walking and feeding pets
- light shopping (not to be confused with shopping for the entire household)
Tasks considered unsuitable for an Au Pair:
- windows cleaning
- car washing
- carpets washing
- work in the garden
- cleaning of an oven, fridge, freezer, shelves, bins, door handles and taps
- polishing of a silverware and brassware
- cooking for the family, unless the Au Pair enjoys cooking and has chosen to do this for the family
- pets’ training and clearing up after the pets
- making the parent’s beds
- ironing for the parents
- cleaning parent’s bedroom and bathroom
Some of these duties can be included where there is less childcare and the children are out of the house for most of the day, if this is agreed in advance. But generally, an Au Pair cannot be expected to do these duties unless they are thoroughly discussed and agreed on by both the host family and the Au Pair. Normally an extra financial compensation is paid to the Au Pair for doing such tasks.