An au pair is a family member, not an employee

Question of the week (18 July 2011). Host mother Nicola is surprised by the high demands of some au pairs. She says that her last au pair girl expected a lot but did not do much in return. When financial demands got too high, she dismissed the au pair. How can host families protect themselves from au pairs who consider the au pair placement to be a mere profitable employment - vice versa?

, in Archive

Dear AuPairWorld Team!

I have found really nice au pairs via your website for several years. However, I have recently had a negative experience as well. Apparently, some au pairs do not have a clue about what au pairing is about. Here are some examples: Our last au pair asked us with regard to pocket money: "Can't you pay a bit more?" Next question: "Which car do I have at my disposal?" She furthermore asked for special diet food and expensive products and for a new latex mattress. Apart from her language course, she also wanted us to pay for her flight.

In the first week already, she accepted an additional full-time job in a hotel and only looked after our daughter for 3 hours per day. Unlike what we had agreed upon, she did not help with household chores. When she asked for a further pay rise, I dismissed her. How can I protect myself from au pairs that only come to our country to earn money?

Nicola from Germany

Reply of our Support Team

Dear Nicola,

To cut a long story short: your reaction to dismiss the au pair was correct. Obviously, this was not a typical and "real" au pair. That is why AuPairWorld immediately deleted the profile of the au pair. We, the team of AuPairWorld, count on au pairs and host families who act according to AuPairWorld's basic idea of au pairing because we would like you to have a fantastic time together and to gain great experiences.

Of course, it would have been better if you had not employed the au pair at all. We recommend that next time you ask your potential au pair if he/she is really interested in an au pair position in your family. In our section Info Host Countries we have included relevant questions for au pairs within the respective Quick Check section.

An au pair placement is completely different to classic employment – for both parties. For this reason, we, the team at AuPairWorld, woud never label it as a "job". A classic au pair placement is something very special: You as a host family, welcome an adult daughter or son in your home. This way the au pair gets acquainted with the language, customs and culture of your country as authentically as possible.

The au pair, in turn, should consider the au pair placement as a "cultural exchange at family level" and not as a source of income. Thus, he/she does not get a salary, but pocket money. He/she is neither a nanny nor an employee, but he/she is a family member for a certain time period. That is very important! If one party has a different take on au pairing or different expectations, then conflicts are bound to occur. Please talk about your mutual expectations in advance, in order to turn the au pair placement into a real success..

We hope that our tips will be of some help.

AuPairWorld Support Team