What is an Au Pair?

The expression 'au pair' means at par or at the same level i.e. on equal terms. It describes the status someone has when living with another host family, not as an employee or servant but treated as if they are a member of the family.

An Au-Pair is a young person who wishes to improve their foreign language skills and experience a new cultural experience while living in another country. The Au-Pair lives with a host family for an agreed period of time, working a set amount of hours, usually a mixture of childcare and light housework. In exchange they receive room and board as well as weekly pocket money. The au pair programme is an internationally recognised Cultural Exchange Programme. The au pair may have some childcare experience and even qualifications, but an au pair is not a nanny and should also not be treated as a housekeeper.

Technically the words are an adjective and previously used as such i.e. "I lived au pair with a host family". In the last few decades the term is now more commonly used as a noun i.e. "I am an au pair in the UK". The expression seem flexible though as it is also used as a verb i.e. "I was au pairing for a family in Spain".

How old can an au pair be?

This depends on the nationality of the au pair.

  • Au Pairs from Australia, Canada, New Zealand or Japan can be aged 18 - 30 years old. This is the age limit of the Youth Mobility programme, part of tier 5 of the UK immigration system. The scheme allows young people to experience living in a foreign country, without undergoing the usual costly expenses of finding work sponsorship in advance, or going on expensive university exchange programmes. Participating countries offer a reciprocal scheme to young British nationals
  • Au Pairs from an EU country* can be any age, although a cross European working group is now establishing standard program conditions across different European countries that specify that au pairs will aged between 18-30
  • *Au Pairs from Romania and Bulgaria have conditions previously in place prior to the new points based immigration system being introduced. Candidates need to be aged 17-27, single and have no dependents. For candidates older than this or who are married, it is possible for them to work in the UK providing they are registered as students at a recognised college on a recognised educational course

Where does the au pair live?

An Au Pair lives with a host family and is treated as an extended member of the family. As a guideline, imagine you have old friends who emigrated a long time ago and you agree to provide this arrangement for their daughter (or son). Another way to picture the arrangement is how would you want another family in a foreign country to treat your own son or daughter if they were to go abroad for a year when they are older. An au pair is not an employee

What are the requirements for someone to be a 1st Choice AU Pair?

We keep very high standards in our vetting process. Au Pairs who we put forward to host families for consideration are: -

  • Are proficient in English to hold a simple conversation and make themselves understood
  • Have completed all 1st Choice registration forms
  • Have passed a criminal background check from their own countries police force
  • Have passed a psychometric test
  • Have passed motivational tests
  • Has some experience of responsibility of caring for children
  • Have provided two childcare references
  • Has been personally interviewed by a member of the UK staff team and questioned about their childcare experience
  • Meets all immigration and other legal requirements
  • Has provided a medical certificate stating they are in good health and able to travel overseas
  • Have provided copies of identification, education and work record

What are an au pair's duties and responsibilities?

  • Provide up 25 hours of childcare and light housework per week
  • Help children get ready for school
  • Take children to school
  • Assist with domestic child-related duties i.e. laundry, tidying the children's bedrooms and play areas
  • Preparing breakfast, afternoon dinner and other snacks for them
  • Driving the children to and from school and other activities such as after school clubs

What does the au pair receive

  • Their own bedroom - with either private bathroom or shared bathroom with the children/family
  • A minimum weekly pocket money of £70
  • Opportunity to attend local college to study English
  • All meals and household living costs provided with the exception of toiletries, make-up, clothes and other personal items
  • Two free days off each week
  • We recommend au pairs are given one weeks paid holiday for each 13 weeks they stay with a family plus any bank holidays in this period

I'm interested - What do I do next

If you are a family then call us on 01832 275100 if you want any questions answered and speak about next steps or complete our family registration form without obligation to proceed straight away

If you are an au pair then depending where you are living, call us on one of our overseas numbers, ot fill in our au pair registration form


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