Au pair

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Au pair is an anglicization of the French term "au pair," which means "on par" or "equal to" and describes a young person living on an equal basis with a host family in a foreign country. The au pair helps the family with childcare, housework, or both while staying as a guest of the family and generally receiving a small allowance (or pocket money). An au pair will typically be a young woman, or sometimes a young man, who is accepted into the host family as an extended family member. Both the family and au pair are expected to respect cultural differences and display tolerance towards one another.


[edit] Arrangement

An au pair placement is an arrangement where an unmarried person between 17 and 30 years old lives for up to two years in a foreign country as a member of a local family, helping in the home for a set number of hours a day, often with at least two full days off per week. In return, they receive a reasonable allowance and a private room. In the United Kingdom, the current recommended amount for the weekly allowance is £55.

The Council of Europe recommends that every au pair be issued a standard contract with their family.

[edit] Treatment

An au pair shall be treated as an equal part of the family, not as a servant, and shall not be required to wear a uniform. There can be 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 TV or study, or go out with friends from language school.

There are also responsibilities on the shoulders of the au pair. They are expected to work willingly for the hours contracted, undertaking the tasks agreed upon in advance.

[edit] Specific countries

[edit] Finland

An au pair’s responsibilities also include light housework, totalling six hours a day, five days a week. The au pair has her own room, is provided with food, and is paid a weekly allowance amounting to at least 252 euros per month (minimum set by Finnish law). Additionally, the host family will arrange a Finnish language course to help the au pair communicate better with the children and get more out of her stay in Finland. It is expected that an au pair is also flexible, and if extra hours are required that pay is set at 5 euros per hour. An au pair in Finland will also get a one week paid vacation every six months. Au pairs can stay with their host family for up to one year or choose a shorter stay.

[edit] United Kingdom

In the UK, an au pair must be a national of one of the following countries: Andorra, Faroe Islands, Romania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Greenland, San Marino, Bulgaria, Republic of Macedonia, Turkey, Croatia or Monaco. Although European Economic Area nationals are not included in the au pair scheme, they are free to take au pair placements in the UK.

Nationals of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Republic of Croatia, Macedonia, Romania and Turkey need a visa from their British Embassy or Consulate.

Au-pair permits are limited to candidates who are unmarried, have no dependants, do not plan to stay in the UK for more than two years as an au pair, and can support and accommodate themselves without help from public funds. They are also required to leave the UK after completing the au pair period. Au pairs may move to another family as long as the new arrangements continue to meet the requirements of the Immigration Rules.

[edit] United States

The Au Pair Program in United States was established in 1986 as an educational and cultural exchange with a strong child care component. Program participants enter the United States for up to 12 months to care for the children of the American family in whose home they will live. At the same time, the au pairs are required to complete an educational component of six semester hours of academic credit or its equivalent. At the end of one year, au pairs generally return to their home country, unless they and their host families choose to extend their stay for 6, 9, or 12 months.

The rules of Au Pair Program in the US are clear: au pairs are provided a private bedroom, meals, remuneration tied to the minimum wage (presently $139.05), one and one-half days off weekly plus a full weekend off each month, two weeks' paid vacation, and the first $500 toward the costs of required course work to be completed at an accredited institution of higher education in order to satisfy the requirements of the educational component of the program. Au pairs are not to work more than 10 hours a day/45 hours a week. They are not to serve as general housekeepers or assume responsibility for household management.

The US EduCare Au Pair Program is also available for families with school-age children. In this program, the au pair works a lower number of hours (not more than 10 hours a day and not more than 30 hours a week) for a weekly minimum wage of $105. The family pays $1000 in educational expenses, and the au pair is required to complete 12 hours of academic credit.

Au pairs placed with families who have children under 2 years old must have at least 200 hours of child care experience with infants under 2. Au pairs may only be placed in a family with an infant under 3 months old if a parent or other adult caregiver is also home.

For the au pair program in the USA, au pairs can be from any nationality except North Korea.

The Au Pair Program is administered by the US Department of State. Participating families and au pairs must work with one of the currently 11 approved agencies. Au pairs enter the United States on a J-1 Visa.

Basic Application Criteria:

  1. Must be aged 18-26.
  2. Have professional or practical childcare experience for at least six months or 200 hours.
  3. Hold a full driving license.
  4. Agree to commit to a full year’s stay in the USA. and be prepared to provide up to 45 hours’ childcare a week
  5. Have completed their secondary school education.
  6. Speak English to a good standard.
  7. Have no criminal record.
  8. Have not previously been an au pair in America.

[edit] See also

nl:Au pair no:Au pair nn:Au pair ro:Au pair fi:Au pair sv:Au pair

Au pair

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