Questions and answers about all the basics of the au pair stay
From the first planning steps to the detailed conditions of organizing an au pair stay, you'll find all kinds of useful information for handling the basics of an au pair stay. Here you'll find answers to the questions frequently asked by our users.
Becoming an au pair - the right thing for me?
- You'd like to get to know a different culture and explore a foreign country?
- You want to improve your language skills in your host country and gain important new experience for your personal and professional future?
- You enjoy taking care of children?
If you have answered these questions with "Yes", then au pairing could be just the thing for you. In the course of an au pair stay, you'll learn the language of your host country and get to know its culture with a unique intensity and depth of experience. At the same time, you'll be living with your host family as a new big sister or brother for the time of your stay, giving you a secure position in the new foreign environment.
Au pairing involves lots of fun and good times, however, it also entails significant responsibilities, especially when it comes to childcare. Therefore, it is very important that you feel ready to assume responsibility and are not afraid of new challenges. Indeed, it is meeting these challenges that many au pairs find to be most enriching part of the experience. You can get a more detailed overview of the au pair experience by reading our Au pair stories and testimonials from au pairs and host families around the world.
Is hosting an au pair the right thing for me and my family?
Before hosting an au pair, you need to clarify the following questions:
- Do you need childcare?
- Can you afford hosting an au pair?
- Do you have enough space at home?
- Do you want a cultural exchange?
If you answered all these questions with "Yes", having an au pair might be just the right thing for your family. Next step would be creating a profile as a family to start looking for the best match for your family.
Video: should we host an au pair?
According to Jenny, you should only host an au pair if you can answer yes to some simple questions. Watch her own experience with the 3 questions and 3 benefits of hosting an au pair.
Should we host an au pair? | AuPairWorld
It is important that you feel good about the general decision to host an au pair and also about any specific au pair that you select. An au pair stay is based on a special relationship of trust. You will be entrusted with a new family member coming from a different cultural background. And the au pair will be entrusted with the care of your children. In this context, mutual respect, good communication, clear rules and basic affinity are very important for a successful integration of the au pair into your family.
Please keep in mind: Au pairs are neither nannies, nor hired domestic help. In contrast to a regular employment relationship, au pairs live with their host families like fully integrated family members, albeit for a limited period of time.
Why do I need to register?
You register on AuPairWorld to find a matching au pair or host family. For this purpose, you create your individual profile free of charge. As soon as you have created your profile, your EasyFind search management tool will display matching profiles according to your personal search criteria. In addition, you can contact any au pair or host family within the secure area of the AuPairWorld messaging system. To let an au pair or a host family know that you are interested, you can simply send them a standard message. To exchange personal contact details, host families must become Premium members. Au pairs may use AuPairWorld services free of charge.
Au pair duties
What will my tasks as an au pair be?
As an au pair, you will be living with your host family like a regular family member and taking on daily tasks as a regular part of your stay with them. As a "big sister or brother" for the duration of your stay, your main responsibility is for childcare, which is a highly responsible role to have in the host family. Furthermore, you will help with light housework related to childcare.
As an au pair, you should not only be aware of your tasks but also be clear what your rights are. An au pair is not a nanny or a maid or a carer for the elderly, nor is an au pair a regular employee. An au pair is rather a fully entitled member of the host family for the duration of her or his stay.
What are working hours and what is free time?
The borderline between working hours and free time can sometimes be unclear for an au pair. In this connection it can be helpful, for example, when the host family states clearly in advance what the au pair's role is for a given activity such as family excursion. Is the au pair on the excursion to relax, as part of the cultural program of the au pair stay, or with the task of looking after the kids? Au pairs and host families should simply talk with each other in advance about such questions and make an arrangement with each other that everyone finds acceptable.
Is there extra pay for babysitting?
The stipulated working hours of an au pair are typically clearly defined in the au pair regulations of the various host countries. Generally, an au pair should not work more than a set number of hours. In most cases, hours spent babysitting are included in this amount.
Must the distribution of the au pair's weekly working hours be specified exactly in the contract or is it possible to be flexible?
Plan the main tasks and basic working hours with your au pair in advance. Of course, one can't plan everything exactly. Therefore, au pairs should also bring flexibility to the situation. As a host family, it is good to plan in advance what can be planned. Be careful that the au pair does not exceed the working hours specified in your country's au pair regulations and also that the au pair has sufficient time to take part in a language course. It works best if host families agree on a weekly or monthly schedule in advance and talk this through at the beginning of each week.
How are public holidays handled? Can the au pair help out on such days?
You should check on the au pair regulations of the respective host country. In some countries, there are no official regulations for whether au pairs should work on public holidays. We recommend that au pairs be given a day off on public holidays and in particular that they should not exceed the recommended total working hours. If you need the au pair on a public holiday, make sure that the extra working day does not result in excessive working hours or that the hours can be compensated for at another time. Talk with the au pair about these arrangements and make an individual arrangement for the public holiday. Finally every successful au pair-host family relationship depends on a flexible give and take between the parties.
Is babysitting working time for the au pair?
Yes, babysitting is working time. Even if the au pair is watching television, for example, and the children are sleeping, the au pair still needs to be present and be ready to take care of things if the children wake up. When au pair really isn't working, she or he can do whatever she wants , which is not possible in this case. In addition, in various countries the au pair regulations stipulate how many evenings an au pair can babysit for the host family. In most countries this is one or two evenings per week.
Holidays and free time
When the au pair accompanies the family on a holiday is this working time or holiday for the au pair?
When the borderline between the au pair's working hours and free time is somehow unclear, it helps to ask the question: "Why is the au pair joining the family group for the holiday?" Is the au pair there to take care of the kids or just for her own enjoyment with the possibility of spending time on her own? When that is clear for the host parents, then they should talk to their au pair and find an arrangement that is acceptable for everyone.
Read the following articles on this topic:
Our au pair has a visa for Germany. Can the au pair accompany us on a family holiday trip to Spain?
AuPairWorld checked directly with the German Federal Office for Migration in Nuremberg. Here is the answer from their press representative:
Most of the EU member states (including Spain) are part of the Schengen area in which border controls have been eliminated. For visitors from non-EU states, the same freedom to travel applies as for EU citizens, provided of course that the non-EU citizen is legally present in one of the EU states. A residence permit is required for a young person doing an au pair stay. As soon as this residence permit has been granted, the au pair can spend up to three months in other countries of the Schengen area..."
For details in specific cases, please consult the responsible immigration authorities.
Can we ask our au pair to take care of the children of my sister when she is visiting us?
You can certainly put the question to your au pair. However, you also need to expect and accept that your au pair might not be willing to take care of a larger number of children all at the same time. Maybe you could also ask another family member to also help you out in this case. You should also be sure that your au pair does not exceed his or her maximum working hours.
Can we expect that our au pair will help us over the Christmas holidays?
You cannot rely on the fact that your au pair will help you over the Christmas holidays, but you can certainly make the request. We recommend that you plan the Christmas season well in advance together with your au pair. If your au pair will be staying with you over the holidays, decide together when your au pair will be working and when not. As a possible compromise, you might propose to your au pair to stay with you at Christmas and take the Easter Holidays or the days between Christmas and the New Year's Day off.
Read the following article on this topic:
Christmas in a host family: a unique cultural exchange experience
It is one of our family traditions to take our children on a trip over the Christmas holidays. Should we invite our au pair to come with us?
Ask your au pair as early as possible what she or he is planning to do over Christmas. If your au pair would like to come with you, you can certainly try to make this possible. Should it not be feasible for financial or organisational reasons, you should provide your au pair with everything that will be needed during your absence. If you won't be able to take your au pair, explain the reasons why that is the case so that it's clearly understood that it wasn't a problem with the relationship that you have.
We are Muslims, our au pair is a Christian. She would like to celebrate Christmas. What can we do for her?
Christmas forms part of Christian culture, just as Ramadan forms part of Muslim culture. You can enhance cultural exchange by showing interest and respect towards her customs and traditions. For the practical arrangements, ask your au pair well in advance what she is planning to do over Christmas. Does she possibly wish to celebrate with friends, stay with you or travel back home? If she would like to return home to celebrate Christmas with her family, you should give her the opportunity to do so. Work out a plan together with you au pair regarding working hours and days off in connection with the holiday.
Should we give our au pair something for Christmas?
For the period of the au pair stay, your au pair is a member of the family. If you are exchanging gifts within the family, your au pair will certainly also be happy to receive something, too. It doesn't need to be anything big. In this situation, calendars with language tips, a personalised photo album, objects handcrafted by the children, etc., can make great presents. If your au pair is going home over Christmas, you could think about helping with the costs of the outward or return journey if you wish.
Every year, we take an official family photo at Christmastime. Should our au pair be included in the photo or not?
Different family members might have different opinions on this question. As your au pair is spending the Christmas holidays with you, we assume that you are all getting along well. If this is the case, there seems no reason not to include your au pair in the family Christmas photo. After all, this photo will be a great memory for all of you, reminding you of the time you spent together. Should other members of your family have a different point of view, you can always take two pictures, one with and one without the au pair. Asking the au pair to take this second photo would be a simple way to handle the situation