Many families enjoy having an au pair in their home. Au pairs are part time workers that live with a family but are often considered more of a family member than an employee.
If you are considering hiring an au pair, make sure that you understand the role of an au pair in the home, what you will need to provide for an au pair in your home, how you can search for an au pair to hire and what it will be like to live with an au pair.
Considering an Au Pair
In the United Kingdom, au pairs are usually younger women from foreign countries. Many of these women decide to work in the UK in order to learn English, have a comfortable place to live, and make a little bit of money as well.
Though au pairs need no special certification or qualification to work in the UK, they must be able to work legally in the country.
You will also want to make sure that you are comfortable with an au pair’s command of the English language so that you don’t need to worry about miscommunication, and that you understand why (s)he is in the UK, what her other priorities are, and what his or her schedule will be so that you can work around it.
Au pairs generally watch the children for a few hours a week and may perform light chores or errands. However, you must remember that an au pair job is not a full time job and that an au pair may not work in the home for more than five hours per day.
Providing for an Au Pair
Au pairs do not make a large salary, generally under £100 per week based on part time childcare with possibly a few light side tasks, but they enjoy a host of other benefits provided for them by their host family/employer.
If you are considering hiring an au pair, be aware that you will need to provide this person with a private room, meals, local phone calls, mobile phone and car insurance (if it is desired that he or she drive the children in the family car).
Spending money for the children and daily activities should also be budgeted. Families should not worry about covering the cost of extra or special food, personal care items, entertainment, medical insurance or travel insurance.
An Au Pair Search
Once you have decided that an au pair is right for your family you can begin the au pair search. Some families hire au pairs from word of mouth, newspaper ads or even Internet postings, but many families find the ease and convenience of using an au pair agency to be the best choice.
An au pair agency or similar au pair service will have a running list of au pairs available in your area, and it is to be expected that such services have already vetted candidates and checked their references.
Unfortunately you can not always count on this, so before hiring someone formally take the time to check references as well. In exchange for their work on your behalf, you then pay the au pair agency a fee.
Living with an Au Pair
Having an au pair in the home is meant to be similar to adding on a family member so pay attention to how you treat them both on and off duty.
From the start, be clear about what you expect of the au pair in his or her work, and what you will and will not tolerate in his or her private life. If there is a problem, address it clearly and immediately.
Remember, the more comfortable you make your home for an au pair the better the experience for everyone involved.
Hiring an au pair is a big decision. Thinking through why you’d like an au pair, what you must provide for an au pair, how you will hire an au pair and what it will be like living with an au pair are all important steps towards starting a working relationship.