FAQ by Families
Who is the Au pair?
Au Pair comes from French and means “at par” or “as equal to.” The au pair is a single, young woman or man with the chance to study a foreign language and culture while living as part of a family. Host family will welcome them not as an employee but as a big sister for their children. They will assist them with their assimilation into life in a new country. The au pair is considered as a full member of the family during the entire stay. As such, he or she helps the family with childcare and can be asked to do some light household tasks. In return, the host family provides free board and lodging, as well as pocket money.
Who can be an au pair?
- Be 18 to 30 years old (but there is no age limit for EU citizens in the UK)
- Participate in a careful screening process (including a criminal background check, submission of health certificate, personality check)
- Participate in a 1day orientation and training program before travelling to their host family’s home
- Basic English language skills (to be able to communicate in everyday situations)
- Enjoy children and have previous childcare experience
- Express a sincere interest in living with an English family for a year
- Prepared to do light housework
- Be a confident driver (it is optional)
What important questions should I ask of the au pair?
- Why do you want to be an au pair?
- Will this be your first time away from home?
- What do you think will be the most difficult part about spending a year as an au pair?
- What do you like to do in your free time?
- Do you have any plans for when you finish your year and return home?
- What were the ages of the children for whom you cared?
- What were the specific responsibilities?
- What was the most difficult part of that job?
- What did you like most about that job?
- What do you like most about taking care of children?
- How long have you been driving? How often? Where do you drive?
- Would you be comfortable driving the children to and from school every day?
- What do you think children most need from an au pair?
- Speak slowly and clearly. Choose your words carefully. Remember, the au pair might not be used to speaking English on the phone.
- Ask all the questions you need to make an informed decision.
- Ask open-ended questions to assess English speaking-ability. Avoid questions that can be answered with “yes” or “no.”
- Remember that the au pair does not know everything about your family. Give the au pair a brief description of your family and the community in which you live.
- Allow the au pair an opportunity to ask questions.
Is our au pair entitled to Medical treatment / insurance?
The majority of Au Pairs (all from within EU countries) will be entitled to free medical treatment from the NHS if needed. It is advisable to get the au pair registered with the doctor of the family soon after she/he arrives just as a precaution in case you may fall ill with flu or an infection or at any time your family may be ill.
What is the Invitation letter? / Au pair contract
"Dear au pair letter", write about the daily activities, which the au-pair will also take part in. Specify the duties of your future au-pair (e.g. bring the children to school, pick them up, do some shopping, help with the household) as detailed as possible so that your au-pair makes a full impression of her/his stay with you. We offer a sample as part of our Family Handbook.
Invitation letter is a kind of contract between au pair and host family. It must be signed by both parties prior to the au pair’s arrival.
Will my au pair be able to drive in the UK?
If your au pair has a full, clean driving license from another EU country, they are permitted to drive in Britain. Although, the au pair has a driving license it does not guarantee her / his suitability to drive in Britain. As driving in Britain is quite different from the continent (driving on the left, roundabouts, levels of traffic) To familiarise them with driving in Britain, you should give them the ‘highway code’, book a few lessons with a qualified driving instructor and give them time to practise before driving your vehicle on their own and transporting your children.
If you need them to drive your vehicle, you will need to arrange appropriate insurance for the car they will be driving. Most insurance companies will insure EU drivers. You cannot expect an au pair to pay for any damage. Petrol must be provided for use on duty, but the au pair may be asked to contribute towards petrol for personal use whilst off duty.
How is an au pair schedule helpful?
It is very helpful to create a precise timetable, which regulates the work hours, tasks, but also leisure time. Write in detail what you expect from your au-pair (tasks, duties), but also what your au-pair can expect from your family (e.g. time for language courses, monthly bus ticket, vacation with you).
What if something goes wrong?
The first step is to sit down and discuss the problem with your au pair. If you talk to her/him and the situation doesn't improve, you are welcome to contact us at the Agency for advice. If you wish, we can contact the au pair directly and speak to her/him on your behalf. If you reach a point where you feel you can no longer tolerate the situation, it would be fair if you could give the au pair at least 2 weeks notice so that they have time to arrange another solution. In these circumstances we will be happy to assist you in finding a new au pair.
Is the Information I give confidential?
Yes. Files on both Au Pairs and families are confidential. Please check our data protection policy.
Links we like
We are dedicated about giving you useful information and advice during your au pairing. Time to time we are providing you with practical links from many areas of your life including children entertaining, tourist attractions, language website. You can read a short recommendation about these links in my blog.