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An au pair is an adult from abroad who is normally interested in a foreign language and culture and helps families looking after their school aged children or accompanying the elderly, housekeeping or other agreed chores between the family and au pair for an exchange for a free and safe accommodation with food and weekly pocket money. An au pair is not an employee and they are treated as a member of the family.

An au pair is considered a temporary family member and can help up to 25 or 35 however, as a parent's helper up to 50 hours per week. They usually do one or two babysitting sessions per week. The au pair also has to have two consecutive days per week free. They also get 28 days holiday per 12 month period, including Public Holidays. Pocket money has to be paid during this time.

 

Au pairs can be European Union citizens or have Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Swiss citizenship and can be of any age and gender and they don't have to apply for a Visa or work permit.

Citizens of following countries may also apply for being an au pair but have to apply for a visa under Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme, have to be unmarried and 18-30 years old: Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Japan, Monaco, Taiwan, Republic of Korea and Hong Kong.

Families usually host au pairs because of their work obligations or because they would like to get some additional time for themselves to breath and relax after a long day at work or simply to have more of a social life or time for holidays. Therefore, they leave a trusted au pair to help with school runs, homework, after school clubs and play dates or accompanying the elderly and making sure they are well.

On the other hand, most people often become an au pair in order to help a family, children and the elderly which they love, but also to get an opportunity to improve or perfect the language of the country where they came, and learn about its culture through sightseeing, traveling or meeting new people in their free time.

An au pair’s work can represent a wide range of work duties such as:
– school runs
– afternoon supervision of children
– taking children to clubs or play dates
– accompanying the elderly
– preparing meals
– tidying and cleaning after their own cooking
– light housekeeping
– walking a dog and clearing up
– light shopping
– collecting packages from post or receiving deliveries
– babysitting up to twice per week
– looking after the house while the owners are on holidays etc.
– assisting a parent if a parent's helper
– also tutoring if an au pair tutor

An au pair is not required to do any heavy tasks and chores such as:

– duties of a professional carer if an au pair looks after the elderly
– window and spring cleaning, polishing
– washing carpets
– outdoor duties: washing the car and gardening, including mowing
– weekly shopping
– pet training
– duties for parents: cleaning rooms and making beds, unless it is light duty and previously agreed with the au pair
– cooking the family meal, unless the au pair wishes for it and was previously agreed with the family

It is also important to be aware of that au pairs do not have childcare qualifications and that they cannot take care for children under two years old on their own, unless the au pair takes care of them while the parents are at home or the parents give thorough training to the au pair and have convinced themselves about the au pair's ability to take solo charge.

As a companion for the elderly, it also has to be emphasized that au pairs do not have to have qualifications in care, however they have to have proven experiences in working with the elderly.