What is an Au Pair?

by John Philip Green

An au pair is a domestic assistant from a foreign country that lives as a member of a host family. In general, au pairs are hired as a replacement for nannies.

Au pairs typically assist the family by alleviating them of various childcare and housekeeping responsibilities in return for a small allowance and the provided hospitality.

The french words au pair can be translated as ‘equal to,’ referring to the fact that au pairs should be considered as a member of the family, not merely as a childcare worker.

Legal requirements for becoming an au pair

The government has set up various basic requirements in order for one to become an au pair. The first requirement is that the individual has a clear criminal record. Your criminal record may be checked through a background check.

Individuals often enlist as an au pair in order to make studying abroad a more comfortable and affordable endeavour, and thus are often required by the government to be actively registered in a post secondary school.

In addition to the having no criminal record and being enrolled in a college or university, you are also required to speak fluent English.

The final requirement is to be aged between 18 and 26.

Legal requirements for hiring an au pair

When hiring an au pair, keep in mind that you must follow a different set of rules than when hiring a live in housekeeper or nanny. The government has placed restrictions upon the maximum amount of work expected of au pairs as well as the amount of time off work that they get. This is set as most au pairs are students.

An au pair must not work more than 45 hours a week. This amount is in place to provide the au pair enough time to study and relax, while still providing the assistance you need.

In addition to limiting the number of hours an au pair can work, the government has also placed laws that jurisdict the amount of off time au pairs have. In the United States, au pairs must be provided at least 1.5 days off every week for personal time. In addition to this, au pairs must also receive at least one weekend off every month.

The minimum wages and assistance for au pairs is also regulated by the government. While the exact amount varies state to state, the minimum wage is often between $130 to $200 per week, along with a $500 yearly contribution towards the au pair’s tuition.