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Au Pair Etiquette

2012 February 8
by nannyjob

An au pair is different from other childcare providers, and as such they should be treated so.  In this article we will go over some of the rules and etiquette you should keep in mind if you choose to utilise the services of an au pair.


The au pair is part of your family

She is living in your home and you are paying her a wage, so you are her employer. However, the au pair should be viewed as part of your family rather than a separate employee.  Au pairs are not paid especially well, and part of their payment is the chance to be integrated into family life and the opportunity to be exposed to the English life and language.  Involve them in family life and treat them as a member of your own family.  Don’t bark orders at her, or shout at her if you are upset with something she has done – sit down with her and discuss any issues you’re having instead just as you would any other person. Au pairs are just as deserving of respect as anyone else.


The au pair is not your skivvy

As previously mentioned, au pairs are only paid a pocket money wage on top of their board, and as such they should not have unreasonable demands made upon them.  The responsibilities of your au pair should be clearly laid out at the start so she knows what is expected of her, and you should respect the boundaries that you have both laid in place – for example, if she has the weekends off, she should not be expected to watch the children or help around the house.  She may offer if she sees you need help, but it should never be requested.  Additionally, be sure not to treat her like a ‘cinderella’ – only light housework duties and childcare for children over the age of two should be expected, and again, these responsibilities should be clearly laid out and agreed upon.  If you find extra duties come up, discuss them with her and see if she would be happy to take them on in return for a pay rise.


The au pair has other responsibilities

Au pairs are primarily in the country to learn about the culture and the language.  The au pair will be attending some kind of language school and will need time to study alone.  Au pairs can legally work up to 35 hours a week, unless they are from Romania or Bulgaria in which case they may only be on duty for 25 hours each week.  They must have two days off each week, and at least one full weekend off every month.


Respect is a two-way street

It is not unreasonable to expect a good work ethic and a cheerful disposition from your au pair.  If you treat her with the respect she deserves, she will likely be very happy in your home and happy to carry out her duties.  Remember, clear communication at all times is key.  This can be difficult if the au pair only has a limited understanding of English, but it’s possible – and it will become easier as time goes on, and the au pair becomes more fluent.

3 Responses Post a comment
  1. Diane Tunstall permalink
    March 13, 2012

    In your au pair advice you say that employers should not bark orders or shout at the au pair. This infers that it is ok to do this to a nanny or MN. It is not acceptable to bark orders or shout at ANYONE, even more so when we are trying to teach children to have respect for each other. Maybe your article needs a bit of tweaking to reflect this if it is to be offered as advice to prospective employees of any kind of child care.

    • nannyjob permalink*
      December 31, 2012

      Thanks for your comment. What you say is very true and we’ve edited our post to hopefully make that clear.

    • January 31, 2013

      When I tell people I am going to be an au pair (as an American going to Asia) I alywas get weird looks. Its alywas been a hassle to explain and there has been alot of people who still dont get it’.

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