Definition Of An Au Pair
An au pair is defined in Wikipedia as;
An au pair (plural: au pairs) is a domestic assistant working for, and living as part of, a host family. Typically, au pairs take on a share of the family's responsibility for childcare as well as some housework chores, and receive a small monetary allowance for personal use. They are often foreign-nationals of the country in which they are working.
The title comes from the French term au pair, meaning "on a par" or "equal to", indicating that the relationship is intended to be one of equals: the au pair is intended to become a member of the family, albeit a temporary one, rather than a domestic servant.
Accordingly Au pairs Â should be treated as an equal part of the family and not as a servant, and shall not be required to wear a uniform. There is often a lot of Â misunderstandings on both sides about what this means. The usual practice is that au pairs eat with the family most of the time, and join in some of the usual family activities such as outings and trips. However, host families normally expect to have some private time to themselves, particularly in the evenings. During this time, an au pair might retire to his or her room to watch television, study, or go out with friends.
Quoted from Wikipedia
Normal duties undertaken by the Au pair
- taking children to and from school
- taking children to after-school activities
- cooking children meals while parents away
- light cleaning and Â ironing,
- baby sitting.
However the duties that an Au pair may be asked to perform will vary according to the host family. It should also be noted that many governments impose limits on how many hours an au pair is permitted toÂ Â work each week
The European Commitee for Au pair Standards
has made amazing strides in their attempt toÂ harmonies the working standards and conditions forÂ Au pairs.
The definition and guidelines that they have encapsulated are extremely helpful to all parties in determining the working conditions and practise in the host family.
The following excerpt is from the The European Commitee for Au pair Standards
- Between the ages of 18-27 (the au pair may not have reached their 27th birthday when they arrive in the host country)
- Male or Female;
- Without dependants.
Duration of Au Pair Programme:
- The length of stay shall be limited to a maximum of 24 months;
- Periods of 12 months with the possibility of extension(s) are also a possibility.
Hours, activities, & duties:
- Up to a maximum of 30 hours a week including child care and baby sitting. in the evenings;
Note: By definition “baby sitting.” is an evening activity;
- If an au pair has no option in undertaking a task then that activity must be considered mandatory i.e., not a voluntary action undertaken by the au pair. When host parents leave an au pair unsupervised (and the au pair is expected to care for the children), the au pair is officially on duty, and this time should be included as part of the 30 hours/week maximum.
- Based upon a 12 month stay the au pair receives a minimum of 2 weeks holiday. If an au pair stays less than 12 months with an individual host family, this period is to be determined pro rata;
- The length and duration of vacations are to be discussed and agreed with the host family in advance of any holiday taken.
The role of the au pair:
- Help the family with "light household duties"; *
- Help with routines;
- Act and integrate as a family member;
- Take part in family activities;
- Share his/her own culture with the host family and visa versa.
Au pair accommodation (room and board):
- The au pair receives full room and board from the family throughout the duration of the placement;
- The au pair must have their own heated and furnished room (which is not shared) with a window. The au pair is to keep the room clean and tidy;
- National Au Pair Associations will set minimum and maximum levels of pocket money according to the standard of living in each country; pocket money will be paid throughout the duration of the au pair agreement. Click here for salary guide
- The host family is responsible for providing and paying for adequate health, accident, repatriation and liability insurance during the complete duration that the au pair and host family are sharing the cultural exchange;
- The insurance is always arranged in the host country, not in the au pair’s home country.
- In the spirit of the cultural exchange the au pair is expected to take the opportunity to study and/or participate in local cultural activities;
- The time the au pair attends courses and/or activities is during the “free time” of the au pair. Host family and au pair discuss which day(s) the au pair is able to attend.
- The motivation of the au pair is based on enriching their knowledge of another culture and language, while he/she has no financial reasons and/or other reasons;
- Respecting and accepting the host family’s cultural backgrounds and activities;
- Submerging themselves into another culture in the widest sense of the meaning, taking into account the house rules, expectations and local rules of the au pair programme and host country;
- Ensure the rules and regulations of the local au pair programme, the house rules/host family expectations and other (visa and/or residence permit) legal requirements are known;
- In case the au pair requires a visa, all expenses involved in obtaining the visa (for example documents arranged in the home country of the au pair) are to be paid by the au pair.
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