Thank you for visiting this page. Before you decide to become an au pair here in Europe PLEASE read and understand what is an Au Pair.
Definition of Au Pair
The word “Au Pair” is a French term, which means “on par” or “equal to”, denoting living on an equal basis in a reciprocal, caring relationship between the host family and the children. An aupair will typically be a young woman and sometimes a young man from a foreign country who chooses to help look after the children of a host family and provide light housekeeping. The aupair is given room and board and is typically paid a weekly “pocket-money” salary. Aupairs generally stay with their host family for one year.
A Short Background of the Au pair scheme
The goal of the au pair scheme was a cultural exchange where mostly young women availed in order to learn the culture and language of another country. In exchange of the board and lodging au pairs do baby sitting and light household chores to the host families.
Through the years in became so popular especially in Europe where it became the melting pot of au pairs. So in the late 60’s, November 24 1969, the member states of Council of Europe which became the European Union later formulated an Au Pair Placement to regulate the hiring of Au pair. Since an au pair is neither a student or worker they tackled all important aspects like the age, allowance, scope of work, hours of work, the cultural aspect which is learning the language, contract between host and au pair, responsibilities of host and consequences if there’s violations of the signed contract.
The said treaty or agreement was signed by Denmark, Spain, Italy, France, Norway and Spain and was in forced May 30 1971. (Luxembourg denounced the Treaty but Seven other countries have signed, but not ratified the treaty: Belgium, Bulgaria, Finland, Germany, Greece, Moldova and Switzerland.).
In 1994, the “International Au Pair Association” (IAPA) was set up to “self-regulate” the ever-growing au pair industry. The association currently represents 146 organisations in 43 countries, with another 20 soon to join.
It has called for a greater regulation of the sector in Europe to avoid exploitation of au pairs, and warns against the growing practice of recruiting au pairs from the Internet. The United States of America has an extremely well-regulated au pair sector, with detailed security checks, references and interviews before placements – regulations the IAPA would like to see emulated in Europe. However, even the US programme has been plagued with problems – from au pairs crashing family cars to alleged child abuse (at least three children have died while in the care of au pairs in the USA since the start of the programme in 1986). In fact, in the USA, au pairs are expected to work up to 45 hours per week, and are thus at risk of being exploited as a “cheap childcare option”: emulating the USA in this sector might thus not be the answer. ( Source: http://assembly.coe.int )
Since the different states still have different view and guidelines regarding au pairs the European Committee on Au Pair Standards wanted the Au Pair Placement Treaty to be updated. They have agreed that indeed the au pair is a Cultural Exchange Program.
According to the ECAPS they set the more precise definitions for au pairs, host families and au pair agencies. The following are the definitions of au pair.
Criteria for Au Pairs:
- Between ages of 18 and 27 (the au pair may have not reach the age of 27 when they arrive in the host country)
- Male or Female
- Without defendants
Duration of Au Pair Programme
- the length of stay shall be limited to a maximum of 24 months
- a period of 12 months with a possibility(s) if extension(s)
Hours, Activities and Duties
- up to maximum of 30 hours a week including childcare and babysitting in the evenings; Note: By defination babysitting is an evening activity
- if an au pair has no options to undertake that task then that activity should be considered mandatory i.e not a voluntary action undertaken by the au pair. When the host parents leaves the au pair unsupervised ( and the au pir is expected tot ake care of the children ) then the au aupair is in duty and this time it should be included as a part in the 30hours / week maximum.
Leisure Time/ Holidays
- Base on a 12 month stay the au pair receives a minimum of 2 weeks holiday. If the au pair stay is less than 12 months in an individual host family, then this period should be determined pro rata.
- The length and duration of vacations are to be discussed and agreed in advance with the host family of any holiday taken.
The Role of the Au pair
- Help the family with light households chores*
- help with the routines;
- act and integrate as a family member
- Take part in activities;
- Share his/her own culture to the host family and vice versa
Au aupair accommodation : Room and Board
- The au pair receives full room and board from the family throughout the duration of the placement.
- The au pair should have their own heated and furnished room (which is not shared) with a window. The au pair is obligated to keep it clean and tidy.
- National Au pair associations will set the minimum and maximum level of pocket money according to the standard of living of each country; pocket money should be paid throughout the duration of the au pair agreement.
- The host family is responsible for the providing and paying for the adequate health, accident repatriation and liability insurance during the complete duration that the au apir and the host family are sharing the cultural exchange.
- The insurance is laways arranged in the host’s country not in the au pair’s home country.
- In the spirit of cultural exchange the au pair is expected to take the opportunity to study or participate in the cultural activities;
- the time the au pair attends courses and/or activities is during the free time of ten au pair. The au pair and the host family discuss which day(s) the au pair are able to attend;
- The motivation of the au aupair is based in enriching their knowledge of another culture and language, while he/ she has no financial reasons and/or reasons;
- Respecting the host family’s cultural background and activities;
- Submersing themselves in another culture in the widest sense of meaning, taking into acccount the house rules, expectations and local rules of the au pair programmes in the host country.
- Ensure the rules of the local au pair’s programme the house rules /host family’s expectations and other (visa and residence permit) requirements are known;
- In case the au pair requires a vis, all expenses in obtaining the visa(for example documents to be arranged in the home country of the au pair) are to be paid by the au pair.
Remember that the rules and regulations stills differs from country to country and it alo depends on your agency but it will be advisable to check the host country’s rules.