What is an Au Pair?
Guidelines for Au Pairs and Host Families participating in the BAPAA Au Pair Programme in Britain. Other countries have similar programmes - see "Go Abroad as an Au Pair".
Individual families or agencies may wish to improve on these benefits, but these should be offered as a minimum.
Nature of the Programme: The au pair programme is a cultural exchange programme. Au pairs must be welcomed as a member of the family.
Age: Traditionally, an au pair is aged 17 – 27, however an au pair without visa requirements (from EU) can be older.
Hours on duty: Au pairs can be on duty from 25 – 35 hours per week if they are from an EU country. This is limited to 25 hours per week and 2 evenings per week if the au pair is from Bulgaria or Romania. These hours can be spread out over 5 days per week. Longer hours are usually referred to as ‘au pair plus’. Many au pair agencies also offer ‘Mother’s help’ positions; this is not part of the traditional cultural exchange programme, as it usually involves longer hours and schedules can conflict with language classes.
Pocket Money: Pocket money must be minimum £70 per week for 25 hours, regardless of whether the minimum hours are worked. Many agencies recommend slightly higher pocket money. For 30 hours the minimum is £85.
Babysitting: Two evenings babysitting per week are included as part of the programme. Additional pocket money should be paid for any additional evenings.
Leisure time: The au pair’s schedule must provide sufficient time to attend language school, and the au pair shall receive two free days each week and should be offered one full weekend off per month.
Holidays: As from September 2010, BAPAA recommends 28 days holiday per 12 month period, including Public Holidays. Pocket money will be paid during this time. To calculate the holiday entitlement for less than a year, or for someone helping less than 5 days a week, click this useful link. The au pair should not be forced to take holiday to coincide with the family holiday. Holidays should be mutually agreed between host family and au pair.
UK Public Holidays: These are included in the recommended holiday and au pairs can either be given the day off or have a day off in lieu as part of their holiday allowance.
Light Housework: A list of suggested light housework tasks can be found below these guidelines.
Childcare: An au pair is not permitted to have continuous sole charge of children under the age of two.
Room and board: The au pair receives full room and board from the family throughout the stay. The au pair must have her own private room with a window and not be required to share with children, and she should be given facilities to study.
Travelling Costs: The au pair is required to pay their own travelling cost to and from the UK, unless the family chooses to fund this.
Insurance: EU au pairs visiting the UK do not need additional health insurance as they are entitled to use the National Health Service. The au pair may also wish to take out additional travel insurance to cover loss of belongings, repatriation in case of accident, death etc.
Language School and Costs: Au pairs must be given enough time to attend language school. There are many courses in the UK for EU members, which are more affordable due to government funding. These are usually ESOL classes. If an au pair chooses to go to a private school, they must bear their own cost, unless the family offers to fund this.
Written Offer: Each agency shall ensure that the au pair receives a written offer from the family covering pocket money, holidays and what help would be expected.
The host family: Each agency shall ensure that the family is suitable to host an au pair and understands the nature of the au pair programme, and that the au pair is there to help the family and is not in charge of the house.
List of housework tasks accepted as light housework:
- Washing dishes, including loading and unloading dishwasher
- Preparing simple meals for children
- Keeping kitchen tidy and clean, including sweeping and mopping floors
- Loading and unloading laundry into washing machine
- Ironing for children
- Putting washed clothes away
- Making and changing children’s beds
- Cleaning children’s bathroom
- Everything to do with keeping their own room/bathroom clean and tidy
- Light shopping (not the entire household shopping)
- Walking and feeding pets
- Emptying bins
List of tasks considered unsuitable for an au pair – Please remember, it is a cultural exchange programme, giving a young person the opportunity to learn about British culture and improve language skills through interaction with children.
- Window cleaning
- Spring cleaning
- Cleaning the oven, other than simple wiping out
- Washing carpets
- Washing the car
- Weekly shopping
- Pet training
- Clearing up after untrained pets
- Making parents bed*
- Ironing for parents *
- Cleaning parents’ en-suite bathroom*
- Polishing silver and brassware*
- Cooking the family meal, unless the au pair enjoys cooking and has chosen to do this for the family
*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.
Au pairs should not be required to do housework such as ironing, when looking after children of primary school age or toddlers, due to safety reasons.