We are currently getting lots of questions from families considering an au pair for the first time. Families are looking for alternative childcare options for their children’s education, after school care costs or nursery placements. It is without a doubt that having an au pair is the cheapest option with many additional benefits.Here are some of the questions we are asked the most frequently.
What is an au pair?
What is a mini mothers help?
What is mother’s helper/Parent help?
What is Elderly Companion?
What is an Au Pair, A mini mothers help and Mother’s Help/Parent Help?
What are the benefits of having an au pair as opposed to a childminder or nursery?
How much will it cost?
Why do I have to use an agency? Can I not just pick a family/au pair from an internet site?
How can my au pair become Ofsted registered under the voluntary registration scheme?
How long does it take to interview and organise?
How do I start the process?
We often get lots of questions from families considering an Au Pair for the first time. Families are looking for alternative childcare options for their children’s education, after school care costs or nursery placements. It is without a doubt that having an au pair is the cheapest option with many additional benefits.
Here are some of the questions we are asked the most frequently.
A/ An Au Pair provides cultural live-in childcare. Mostly, Au Pairs are young people (aged 17-27) however BAPAA recommends that Au Pairs placed in the UK are aged 18 years and over, who will stay with a host family as a temporary additional member of the family. The Au Pair will help look after your children and do light housework in exchange for a comfortable room, pocket money, food & drink, the chance to learn English and to get a taste of the host family’s cultural and social life. Many au pairs already have reasonably good English skills and can help with homework, listen to children read and play games. Learning can therefore be fun and educational for all. An Au Pair can be expected to work from 25-30 hours per week. A mini mothers help provides all of the above but can be expected to work up to 35 hours per week. A Mothers Help/Parent Help provides all of the above, can be expected to work plus 35 hours per week, often has had at least 1 years childcare experience either in nursery, schools or summer camps, siblings and/or have a qualification. Mother’s Help/Parent Help are not officially part of the Au Pair Cultural Exchange Scheme.
A/ A childminder will care for a number of children at her home which would add additional time onto your daily schedule and your child care will be shared amongst other children. You would be expected to pay at least £5.00 per hour for 25-35 hours this could cost as much as £175 per week for 1 child. You would not be able to benefit from light housework, laundry and babysitting as she would not be in your home. An Au Pair on the other hand will be living in your home and enjoy helping with childcare and house chores. Most have childcare or babysitting experience and can work between 25-35 hours per week from as little as £80 per week for up to 4 children. An Au Pair should be involved with family activities and many of them remain in contact with the families for a long time.
A/ Placement fees are dependant on length of stay, driver or non driver, Au Pair, Au Pair Plus or Mothers Help but be expected to pay fees of £349 upwards. This would be a one off payment. Weekly pocket money of a minimum of £80 is a recommended amount for up to 25 hours per week and £95 for 30 hours. Please refer to fees and payment on our website.
A/ You should never look for, or accept a family/Au Pair that you have found on the internet. It’s not a safe way to make your childcare arrangements or travel and work as an Au Pair. Always use a reputable agency. An agency assists with the careful matching of an au pair to vetted families in Britain and Au Pairs overseas. Many agencies look after the same host families year after year; they know the families well and this ensures successful and safe placements. Once in the UK, you will be supported by the agency you choose to use.
A/ Use the following link to view more detailed information from the Ofsted website.
See below for general guidance on the process:
•The au pair should call Ofsted and tell them that they want to become registered under the voluntary Ofsted registration scheme for home-based childcare.
•Ofsted will send out a form in the post to be filled in.
•The form must be returned with a valid First Aid Certificate.
•Ofsted will carry out a police check (even if he / she already has a CRB).
•If the person has lived in the UK for less than 5 years, then he / she will have to get a ‘good conduct letter/ certificate’ from his/her embassy which needs to be written in English or translated into English by an authorised translator. This depends on the country of origin of the au pair or nanny, so check with Ofsted first. Ofsted confirm that it is also acceptable for the au pair or nanny to get a police check from their country of origin and send it to Ofsted, but it must be an official document, on letter-headed paper, stamped and translated into English by an authorised translator.
•Ofsted will then send through another form (called a verify form) that must be taken to the post office, together with a form of ID (e.g. passport) so that their identity can be checked. There is an application fee which must be paid annually. There is an application fee which must be paid annually.
•Annually, on the anniversary of the registration with Ofsted, the fee becomes payable again, as long as the au pair / nanny wants to remain Ofsted-registered.
•The Au Pair / Nanny also needs a childcare (or similar) qualification from their home country, or from the UK, which has to be equivalent to level 2, or the au pair / nanny must enrol on a Common Core Skills and Knowledge course, by contacting their local authority. Information about the eligibility of your qualification is available by contacting Children Work Force Development Council
•The Au Pair or Nanny also needs to take out personal public liability insurance – most households have insurance, but this will not necessarily cover the Au Pair or Nanny if he / she has an accident.
•The time taken for registration is usually between 12 and 14 weeks; it often takes 6-8 weeks for the CRB to come back.
A/ Tax contributions are payable for Elderly Companion and Parent Help. For more information on tax and NI please see: HMRC Thresholds The host family who pays their Au Pair less than £107/week will not have to declare their pay – as long as this is the au pair’s only position. If the Au Pair has more than 1 role and/or Is earning more than £107/week, the family must declare their salary through HMRC. Source: Nanny tax, http://www.nannytax.co.uk.
During the (summer) holidays you may ask your au pair to do extra hours. Pocket money should reflect the extra hours. Most language schools are CLOSED during July/August.
A/ Many families can start interviewing same day or next day after their initial telephone consultation with a member of our team. Sometimes it may take up to a couple of days as we may need to contact our agencies overseas to suit your families needs.
For our first time host families we recommend that you arrange your Au Pair as much in advance as possible. However, we often receive requests to find an au pair quickly due to a change in the family situation. In such a circumstance we would recommend to allow at least 2 weeks between accepting the Au Pair and required arrival date due to high costs in travel expense. This would also give your au pair a chance to say all her goodbyes to friends and family. Our shortest placement to date has been completed in 48 hours.
A/ We suggest all prospective host families read as much information about “What is an Au Pair? Please visit the website of the British Au Pair Agencies Association on www.bapaa.org.uk. If you require any further information then please do not hesitate to contact our office where we will be delighted to assist you. Alternatively, you can start by registering here.
Light housework tasks accepted as light housework;
• washing dishes, including loading and unloading dishwasher preparing simple meals for children
• keeping kitchen tidy and clean, 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 entire household shopping)
• walking and feeding pets
• emptying bins
List of tasks considered unsuitable for an Au Pair
• gardening (unless au pair requests)
• window cleaning
• spring cleaning
• cleaning the oven, other than simple wiping out
• washing carpets
• washing the car
• weekly shopping
• pet training
• cleaning up after untrained pets
• making parents bed
• ironing for parents
• cleaning parents en-suite bathroom/shower
• polishing silver and brassware
• cooking the family meal, unless the au pair enjoys cooking and has chosen to do this
• Provide au pair with as much information as possible, have written guidelines with clear written instructions of your expectations and communicate extensively(use google translate if required)
• Explain the house rules and your family/children’s particulars. It is vital to start as you mean to go on.
• Take a few days off work to show your au pair the school run, sorting the laundry, where everything is kept etc. Taking time together at the beginning helps your au pairs confidence and will assure you everything’s taken care of.
• If a driver is required organise some lessons to build confidence for both parties.
• Try and organise a few evenings a week where you can all enjoy dinner together. This is a time that many au pairs value as a great opportunity to speak English with adults,
especially in mediterranean countries dinner is a real family event.
• Talk through emergency contact no.s/people etc and what to do in an emergency.
• Most importantly treat your au pair as you would like to be treated. Remember she is a
long way away from her family and friends and all her natural surroundings.
Even with the best planning and support, occasionally things do not work out and someone is unhappy.
We will always first try to assist to find a solution between the two parties. We can mediate and often an open and honest discussion results in a positive outcome. However, there are situations where this is not the case. Each situation is different and we will do what we can to support both parties. If appropriate, we find a replacement. At all times we ask both parties to remain courteous.
The hosting contract states 14 days notice, giving au pair and host family a chance to make alternative arrangements.
Unique AuPairs Limited, 1 New Local Centre, Gull Coppice, Whiteley, Hampshire PO15 7LA
For further assistance please do not hesitate to call us on Tel no. 01489 557 884 or 07971 219 316.