Frequently asked questions
+ What is an au pair?
An au pair lives and works with your family, primarily to help with childcare, as well as helping with some light childcare-related household work. They are required to work for 35-40 hours a week – but exactly when this work is conducted is based on your individual family’s requirements.
Au Pair directly translates to ‘equal to’, in French. This means that an au pair is welcomed into a family home, and are treated as part of the family (as opposed to a domestic helper). Au pairs look forward to living with their host family and taking an active part in the family’s regular life. While they may not speak English as their first language, or still have to learn the language you speak at home, this experience will help them improve on their foreign language skills and ability to communicate with you.
+ How do au pairs differ from nannies?
A nanny is a professional childcare giver, while an au pair is not. A nanny is expected to be able to speak fluently in English, while an au pair may only have conversational English skills. A nanny charges around $30-$40 per hour, and usually has her own home to go to after she is done with caregiving.
An au pair usually has a weekly stipend of $200-400 per week and lives in the family home for the duration of their placement. Au pairs are also are not considered employed – the program is by invitation of the host family to live with them for a period of up to 12 months. What kind of childcare experience do au pairs have?
Au Pairs Partners requires their au pairs to have at least 200 hours of childcare experience. Their experience must be proven with verifiable references. This experience can take many forms – they may have held internships at kindergartens, spent time babysitting, worked as children’s nurses, tutors or coaches. What is the age range of most au pairs?
Au pairs are generally aged between 18-30, but most are between 18-25. They must all have at least 200 hours of verified childcare experience and will be interviewed to make sure they are mature, responsible and possess all of the required qualities needed to cope with the role. Why should I use your services when we can look for our own au pair for much less online?
We understand how important your family is to you, and we have been through the same experience of trying to juggle work and family life. And we know firsthand the ups and downs of searching for the right au pair who will give you the balance you require while also making you feel confident and secure in their capability to look after your children.
As a working parent, we know you are time-poor, and finding an au pair online yourself can be incredibly time-consuming. We strive to find the perfect balance for you – where you feel as though you are always part of the process, but we reduce the amount of time you need to invest where possible. Our matching service means you simply tell us what you want, and we’ll spend the time searching for the most suitable au pairs to meet your needs.
Trying to manage the process yourself can also be highly stressful. Particularly when it comes to background checks and feeling absolutely confident in your choice when the time comes to welcome them into your home and leave them with your children. You can rely on us to go through a stringent process of checks to ensure your au pair meets all of the relevant requirements. We only work with the best international agencies, we verify references, medical checks and police checks as well as carrying out a one-on-one interview to ensure the au pair is suitable for the program. On top of this, we offer you the opportunity to enrol your au pair in a defensive driving course and child protection and safeguarding screening course, for extra peace of mind.
You and your au pair will also then receive our support throughout your placement, so you can rest assured that you can always talk to us should any issues arise, or if you have any questions you need answered.
+ How long will it take you to find a suitable au pair for my family?
We usually require at least two months to be able to find an au pair that we think is suitable for your family. However, shorter placements are possible. Not only do we need to take the time to get to know your requirements and search through our candidates for the perfect fit, the au pair is also most likely residing in their home country, which means it takes time to process all of the necessary legal paperwork for work permits, visas and flight bookings.
+ Do you do a background check on your au pairs?
Yes. All our au pairs go through a very rigid, and comprehensive application process to ensure that we provide only high-quality people to you. We check for, but do not limit the list to:
- Background check on the person, for police and medical records
- An audit of childcare experience, from babysitting, to coaching, and tutoring. We require that all au pairs have had at least 200 verified hours of experience in childcare as part of the minimum requirements
- Character references
- Evidence of childcare education, professional trainings for first aid, coaching, tutoring, and a driver’s licence
- English aptitude test
- One-on-one interview with our agency to assess the potential au pair’s suitability to the program, as well as a basic assessment of the kind of family the au pair may be suitable for.
- How much does an au pair cost? Do we have to make allowances for extra costs?
An au pair is paid about $200-400 a week. Meals are to be provided by your family, but you are not obligated to buy their personal favorite goods. When you eat out, you should expect that the au pair will be another seat at the table. Family days on weekends and holidays will also include another head count, should your au pair wish to join you.
The au pair is also provided her own room, so there may be additional costs for utilities, bed linen and towels. Car insurance is one other potential cost, if you will be expecting your au pair to drive. Will the au pair be insured?
It is the au pair’s responsibility to cover themselves for health and travel insurance for the duration of their stay. However, if you require them to drive, then you are responsible for insuring them, as well as the potential extra premium for having another driver to your car. It is also the host family’s responsibility to ensure your au pair is covered as part of your home and contents insurance. Can the au pair drive in Australia?
Yes, most au pairs hold an International Drivers’ License so they can assist with school runs as well as taking children to the park, playdates or extra curricular activities. It is entirely up to you to assess the ability of the au pair before granting permission to drive.
Au Pair Partners does offer the opportunity for you to enrol your au pair in a defensive driving course so you can feel an extra level of reassurance when allowing them to transport your children.
If you do wish the au pair to drive, you will need to arrange vehicle insurance for the au pair and have the au pair listed as a driver on the insurance policy of all vehicles they will use. All excess is to be covered by the host family.
+ What are the expected skills and duties of an au pair?
The primary responsibility of an au pair is to care for your children. This includes doing the school runs (bringing them to school, and picking them up again); arranging and attending playdates with other children; setting up age-appropriate games and activities for children; helping older children with homework; preparing food for the children; bathing and dressing the children. They can also help by being available to babysit when parents wish to have a ‘date night’.
+ Can the au pairs help with housework too?
All Au Pair Partners au pairs are happy to help with light housework so long as they are related to childcare. Such duties include tidying children’s rooms and making their beds, doing the children’s laundry, preparing meals for the children and cleaning up afterwards, and tidying away toys at the end of the day. Always be clear about your expectations each day, so the au pair understands what needs to be done.
However, the au pairs should not be treated as cleaners and they are not expected or obligated to do other chores related to the parents – such as ironing work clothes, cleaning bathrooms and gardening. Their primary function is looking after the children. Some au pairs may be happy to do a few additional chores, but this needs to be discussed during your initial Skype interview and included in the family agreement.
+ Can we engage an au pair for longer than 6 months?
Most au pairs prefer to start out with an initial placement of 6 months, but due to recent changes to the Holiday Working Visa, au pairs can now be placed with one family up to 12 months. Regardless of whether you choose 6 months or 12 months, it can be a good idea to choose your next au pair before the current au pair’s placement ends. This allows for a smoother transition as your new au pair has the benefit of a ‘handover’ from the previous au pair.
+ What happens if an au pair is sick and unable to work?
Au pairs are fit and healthy, and have successfully completed a medical check-up to ensure they do not carry any disease that is contagious and detrimental to their work. They are also covered by health and liability on their own travel insurance, which the au pair provides. However, if they are unable to work for a few days due to illness, you will need to make allowances for this, and will still need to pay them their normal wage. Should they become incapable of working for a longer period of time (weeks), Au Pair Partners will look for a replacement for you.
+ Will my au pair be able to speak the language we speak in our home?
The language that all au pairs are expected to speak is English. Some may not be fluent but will be able to communicate enough to understand and be understood. Should you speak another language at home, you may look for informal language classes in your area, at the library or community centre. If you require your au pair to be fluent in English this is not a problem and part of the service provided in the Diamond level.
+ May I change my au pair if I am not comfortable with them?
We try to match the au pairs to your family as closely as possible. If you are unhappy with your match because they don’t fulfil the stipulated working agreement, we will try to replace your au pair as soon as we are able to. It is important to note that, as with your first au pair, the processing time can take up to 2 months.
+ Do I need to sign a contract with the au pair?
You will need to sign a contract with our agency, and this is one of the advantages of using our service. We want to make sure both your family and the au pair are treated with fairness, equality and respect at all times, and that is what the contract is designed to do. The document outlines the major agreements between you and your au pair, which helps make sure you both have the same understanding about what is expected from each other throughout the placement.
The coverage of the contract usually includes the following formal agreements:
- The start date and duration of stay
- Expected end date (this can be amended to the wishes of both parties)
- Expectations and inclusions of the the au pair’s duties and responsibilities for the child/children under their care
- Detail around holidays, including unscheduled time-off periods, scheduled paid vacations
- Expected hours to be worked, as well as details covering agreed overtime conditions and payments
- Language expectations, and list of accessible language centres, should the au pair need some training
- Coverage of health insurance, and termination conditions if they are deemed not fit to work due to sickness for a stated extended period of time
- Contact information of the family and au pair (phone number, address, and emergency contacts)
- Clear grounds for termination and/or acceptance of permanent leave for the au pair.
+ Once we have confirmed our au pair what should I do to plan for their arrival?
You will need to collect your au pair from the airport. We recommend that you take 3-5 working days off to help settle your au pair into your home and new environment. Over this period, share with them the things to see and do around your home and neighbourhood, including favourite local parks, shops and your children’s school or kindy. This is also the chance to take them through a regular day in your house and help settle them into their daily routine.
It is also advised to provide them with a weekly planner to help them map out their weeks and ensure they are able to help manage the children’s weekly timetable.
+ How many children can one au pair take care of?
An au pair can usually take care of up to three children, of varying ages. Please note that the au pair is not to replace complete parenthood, but to help take some time off your hands. Very young children will need a lot more attention given to each child, whereas older children (10 and above) may need slightly less. Do take this into consideration when working out how many au pairs to hire for your children.
+ Can I get more than one au pair?
As long as it is financially feasible for you, then yes, it is possible to have more than one au pair at a time. Just let us know, and we will be able to sort things out for you.
+ Can the au pair work more than 30 hours per week, and if so, what will it cost?
Our au pairs may work up to 40 hours per week for their negotiated weekly stipend. If you require your au pair to work more than 40 hours per week from time to time then this should be arranged directly in agreement with your au pair, including how much you will pay them. My work can sometimes be unpredictable – how flexible are au pairs with their schedule?
You will need to complete a sample schedule for your au pair to follow, which will set clear guidelines about what is expected each day. However, we make sure all of our au pairs understand that flexibility is also vital to a successful placement, and will be willing to accommodate changes to your schedule when needed. They will, however, still need time to plan their own personal activities.
+ How often should we invite the au pair to join in our social engagements?
The au pair should be considered part of your family for the duration of their placement. Remember, part of the purpose of their placement is a cultural exchange. It is expected that your au pair will be invited to join your family activities and outings whenever possible. Not only will these experiences help make your au pair closer to you and your children, it will also help them to learn more about Australian customs and lifestyle.
+ Child Protection Policy
To be completed
+ What happens if we want to take a family holiday?
If you choose to take a family holiday then you should invite your au pair to join you, and they will continue to be paid as normal. If the au pair instead chooses to take this time as their own personal holiday, you aren’t required to pay them for this time. Au pairs are entitled to two weeks’ paid holidays per six-month placement and 4 weeks’ paid holidays for 12-month placements.