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What is an Au Pair?

An au pair is a young person aged between 17 and 27 who provides childcare in exchange for living with a family abroad. Au pairs usually come to England to gain a greater understanding of English, and to experience a new culture. As an au pair you’ll be treated as part of the family; you’ll eat with the family and have your own bedroom. You are not a trained nanny, and not a domestic servant or housekeeper but your duties can vary depending on what the family requires. Most au pairs do light housekeeping such as vacuuming floors and keeping the house tidy, as well as cooking and washing up.

Au pairs’ duties

An au pair’s duties vary but your main job is helping with the children. This includes taking them to and from school, babysitting, preparing breakfast, snacks and dinner as well as playing and organising activities and play dates. You’re also required to do light housework such as ironing, dusting, vaccuming, washing up etc. You will be treated as part of the family and will be expected to help with everyday chores like emptying the washing machine and hanging up laundry, just like you would in your own house.

Working hours and pocket money

As an au pair you can work up to 35 hours a week, as well as 1-2 (max 3) evenings babysitting. Pocket money starts from around £100 per week, which includes payment for babysitting. You are considered to be working if you are required to be available and are not free to leave the house, even if you are not actively working, for example if the children are in bed asleep. All live-in au pairs get their own bedroom and free food.

Live-out au pairs get paid by the hour, usually £9-10 per hour.

Holiday and time off

You will get 2 full days off per week. On weekdays most au pairs do a morning shift and then have some hours free before the afternoon shift. You are entitled to 4 weeks’ paid holiday for every 12 months’ with the family, obviously with their agreement. You should also have all public holidays off. If your host family goes away and leaves you in the house, you must be left an adequate food allowance or enough food, and be paid as usual.

Au Pair meeting