How many hours does an au pair have to work?

Keywords:Hours per weekWorking hours

There is no standard au pair working schedule that is applicable all countries. In some countries, like Germany or the United States, there are official rules. In others, like Australia, there is no official au pair programme. According to our basic idea of au pairing, though, an au pair should never work more than 30 hours per week. In most host countries, official au pair working hours include time spent babysitting.

Here is a short overview for every country:

Australia 25 - 40 hours/week
Austria 18 hours/week
Belgium maximum of 20 hours/week
Canada 25 - 30 hours/week
Denmark 18 - 30 hours/week
Finland maximum of 30 hours/week
France 30 hours/week
Germany 30 hours/week
Ireland 30 hours/week
Italy 15 - 30 hours/week
Netherlands 30 hours/week
New Zealand 30 - 40 hours/week
Norway 30 hours/week
South Africa 30 hours/week
Spain 30 hours/week
Sweden maximum of 40 hours/week
Switzerland maximum of 30 hours /week
United Kingdom 30 hours/week
USA maximum of 45 hours/week
Related links:

Experience from Ellen in Ireland: what's work and what's free time?

Working hours - Frequently Asked Questions
  • Next week, I am taking my au pair to the amusement park with us. Would that be considered as free time or working time?
    Host mother Swarda Johnson, UK)

    Dear Swarda, this is a very good question. Being able to draw a line between working hours and free time is often very difficult. In your case, it is important to tell your au pair why you are taking her with you. Is it to give her the opportunity to have fun at the park? Will it be part of her cultural programme? Or is it because you need her to help you out with the kids? Tell your au pair why she is coming and try to find an agreement which suits both of you.

  • Hello, do I have to pay extra money for the babysitting hours if these exceed my au pair's weekly schedule? Thank you in advance.
    Host father Jean-Paul, France

    Dear Jean-Paul, the working hours of an au pair in France are well defined. Au pairs are not allowed to work more than 30 hours per week and more than five hours a day. Babysitting hours must be included in the total working hours.
    Useful links: URSSAF:Stagiaire étranger (French)

  • We are looking for an au pair right now. Do we need to detail the 30-hour schedule in the au pair contract when she starts or can we make some changes later on?
    Host mother Gundhild, Germany

    It is preferable to discuss and define the key duties and working hours for your au pair in the au pair contract, at the start of the arrangement. Obviously, as we all know, planning everything is not possible. This is why your au pair should also show some flexibility. It would in any case be better for your au pair to have a schedule. Do not forget that your au pair is not allowed to work more than what is provided for on the information on your own country. And remember your au pair should also be given enough time to take language classes. The best thing you can do is to draw up a weekly or monthy schedule which you can then discuss with your au pair, ideally at the beginning of each week.

  • Hello, how does it work with days off and holidays? I always have to work on public holidays and this year my husband too. Can the au pair stand in for us and work during holidays?!
    Host parents Maria and Giacomo, Italy

    You should always check the regulations of the au pair programme of your country. In Italy, there are no official rules concerning holidays. Nevertheless, we recommend that they have the days off and that they never exceed their weekly working hours. Make sure that by standing in for you your au pair is not working additional hours. In other words, you should give him or her some other days off to even things up. Discuss this aspect with your au pair and try to find an agreement on holidays and days off together. An au pair placement is always based on a reciprocal relationship of give and take.

  • Is babysitting considered as working time? And if so, even when I watch TV while the kids are sleeping?
    Au pair Nena, The Netherlands

    Of course, you are definitely working when baysitting – even if you watch the telly while you are doing it! The reason is that you must always be there for the children should they wake up or need you. In your free time, on the other hand, you can do whatever you want. When you babysit, you cannot. In addition, there are specific rules in each country governing the maximum number of evenings an au pair is allowed to babysit. In most countries, au pairs are allowed to babysit only one to two evenings per week.

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