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Au Pair Definition - Who is an Au Pair?

Au Pair is a young person living abroad with a Host Family and taking care of the children in exchange for accommodation and pocket money.
 
Besides Au Pair meaning, this article explains all the substantial aspects of the Au Pair experience. Here is a bunch of shortcuts to make your life easier:
Au Pair program
The Au Pair program is still brand new in many countries and its meaning doesn't always seem to be clear for everyone. To avoid misunderstandings, AuPair.com offers you the Au Pair dictionary, where the whole Au Pair idea is carefully explained (meaning, requirements, pocket money, etc.).

Before reading this, test what you already know about the Au pair program

Test your knowledge on the Au Pair program by doing our quiz! Let’s determine whether you are ready to embark on this adventure by seeing how much you know and rest assured that whatever surprises you will now be clarified in this article.
1 / 18 What is the literal meaning of the word “Au Pair”?
 
Live - in
Equal to
Helper
Nanny
 
The French term Au Pair means “equal to”, which implies that the Au Pair and the Host Family are considered on the same level, a relationship which is different from the one between employer and employee.
2 / 18 What is an Au Pair?
 
A person that cleans the house, looks after the Host Children and lives with the Host Family
A person that looks after the Host Children full-time and lives somewhere else
A young person that helps with childcare and light housework and lives with the Host Family
A young person that cleans the house and lives somewhere else
 
An Au Pair is generally a young person that provides flexible childcare and helps out with light housework, such as cleaning after the kids, tidying up their rooms, helping out with the children’s laundry.
3 / 18 What is the main difference between an Au Pair and a Nanny?
 
Nannies have at least a university degree
Au Pairs are younger and work less hours
Au Pairs are also in charge of housework
 
Nannies are considered employees and have to be paid minimum wage
 
Nannies do not take part in the Au Pair program. Instead they have to be employed under the labour law of the Host Country and have to be paid a minimum wage salary. Find out more about the differences between a Nanny and an Au Pair here.
4 / 18 What is the primary benefit that an Au Pair receives?
 
Full board and free room
Minimum wage of the Host Country
Free language course
A free working permit
 
As part of the Au Pair program, an Au pair has the right to get three meals per day provided by the Host Family and her/his own room.
5 / 18 Where does an Au Pair live?
 
With the Host Family, in her/his own room
 
In another flat/apartment/house paid by the Host Family
In another flat/apartment/house paid by the Au Pair
With the Host Family, in the kids’ room
 
 
One of the perks of becoming an Au Pair is to live with a Host Family without paying any rent. The Au Pair also needs to have her/his own room. There can be other agreements between the Au Pair and the Host Family, but it is important that the Au Pair has the opportunity to participate in the Host Family’s daily life and must not pay rent in any way.
6 / 18 What’s the main aim of the Au Pair experience?
 
Living abroad without paying rent
The cultural exchange
Learning a new language
Getting cheap childcare
 
The main purpose of taking part in the Au Pair program is the opportunity for the Au Pair to get in close touch with another culture by living with a Host Family and for the family to host somebody from a foreign country to get to know their culture. Read more about how to integrate the two cultures in the Host Family here. Read more about how to integrate different cultures in the Host family here.
7 / 18 What is an example of the Au Pair duties?
 
Cleaning the toilet
Cooking for everyone in the family
Hoovering the living room
Picking up the kids from school
 
Cleaning the house and cooking for everyone in the family are NOT part of the Au Pair’s duties. Read more about the Au Pair’s responsibilities here.
8 / 18 What are the age requirements to become an Au Pair?
 
Between 17 - 30, but it depends on the country
Between 18 - 35, but it depends on the country
Between 18 - 25, but it depends on the country
Between 20 - 40, but it depends on the country
 
Find out the specific age requirements for each country here.
9 / 18 What is another essential requirement to become an Au Pair?
 
The Au Pair must have a university degree
The Au Pair must not be married and have children
The Au Pair must obtain a working visa
The Au Pair must have a language certificate
 
Here you can read more about all the requirements in order to become an Au Pair.
10 / 18 What is one of the main requirements to become a Host Family?
 
The family needs to live in a big house
 
The family needs to have at least 2 children younger than 18 years old
The family needs to have at least one child younger than 18 years old
The family needs to pay for travel expenses
 
 
You can read more about the requirements to become a Host Family here.
11 / 18 Before starting to work together, what should the Au Pair and the Host Family do?
 
Book the language course
Decide who should cover the travel expenses
Buy an expensive gift for each other
Sign the Au Pair contract
 
Signing the Au Pair contract is crucial for the relationship between Host family and Au pair, as it is a guarantee to avoid misunderstandings in the future. You can find more information about the Au Pair contract here.
12 / 18 When and where does the Au Pair eat?
 
In her/his own room
Before the Host Family and the kids
With the Host Family and the kids
After the Host Family and the kids
 
The Au Pair is allowed and encouraged to join the Host Family during mealtime.
13 / 18 How much does the Au Pair work?
 
The Au Pair works part-time
The Au Pair works full-time
The Au Pair works overtime
 
The Au Pair’s working hours can be decided day-by-day
 
The Au Pair can work up to a certain amount of hours each week, depending on the Host Country, but it is generally considered a part-time job, which should also be planned weeks in advance. Read here to find out the maximum amount of hours allowed for each country.
14 / 18 What does the Au Pair always need time to do during the day?
 
To clean the house
To attend a language course
To cook meals for the Host Family
To do the Host Family’s laundry
 
The Au Pair is entitled to have the time to attend a language course as part of the Au Pair experience. This should be discussed with the Host Family and stated in the contract.
15 / 18 What else does the Au Pair NOT have to do?
 
Looking after other families’ children
Pick up the children from school
Help out with the kids’ laundry
Help the kids do their homework
 
Looking after other people’s children cannot be considered one of the Au Pair’s duties.
16 / 18 What happens if the Au Pair gets ill?
 
She/He will receive 1/3 of her/his pocket money
She/He will not receive her pocket money
She/He will still receive her full pocket money
She/He can get fired
 
Au Pairs do not earn a lot of money, so when they get ill they should still be entitled to receive their full pocket money. Make sure you state these conditions in the Au Pair contract.
17 / 18 Is babysitting included in the Au Pair duties?
 
No, it isn’t. The Host Family needs to hire somebody else
Yes if it is included in the contract, but it does not need to be paid extra
Yes, it is and does not need to be paid extra
 
Yes if it is included in the contract and needs to be paid extra
 
Babysitting can be one of the tasks performed by the Au Pair, but it is considered an extra task and should therefore be paid extra. Make sure you state in the contract how much the Au Pair should get paid for overtime.
18 / 18 Ideally, what will an Au Pair become?
 
A full-time employee of the Host Family
A substitute for the Host Parents
A full-time housekeeper
An additional member of the Host Family
 
Taking part in the Au Pair program means, in many cases, becoming part of the Host Family by taking part in their activities and spending time with them.
   


What is the Au Pair program?

The Au Pair program is an international cultural exchange that gives the possibility to young people to spend some time abroad, learn more about a different culture, improve their skills in a foreign language in exchange for help with duties related to childcare. The term “au pair” from French means “on equal terms”, signifying that Au Pair and Host Family treat each other as equals.   

While the Au Pair can live abroad in an economical way, the Host Family gets the benefit of flexible, affordable live-in child care. There are many countries that support the Au Pair program. 

Who is an Au Pair?

An Au Pair is a young person (female or male) between 17 and 30 years old who stays with a local Host Family, learns their language and culture in exchange for help with childcare responsibilities. An Au Pair gets accommodation, regular meals and pocket money for personal expenses. Read about the pros and cons of Au Pair experience to find out if it is the right program for you. 
 
Who is an Au Pair?
Childcare + cultural exchange: that's it! The Au Pair helps the Host Family by taking care of the children, enjoying the life abroad in exchange. Read more

Au Pair is neither a cleaning lady nor a full time nanny. If you are interested to live an Au Pair experience, register as an Au Pair at AuPair.com! 

 

What is a Host Family?

A Host Family is a family willing to host an Au Pair under the host country’s official program. Host Families must meet certain requirements in order to join the program. For instance, they must have a child under 18 years old, the ability to host an Au Pair in their home and respect the Host Family responsibilities during the program.

If you would like to host an Au Pair, register as a Host Family at AuPair.com!

How does the Au Pair program work?

The Au Pair program is primarily a cultural exchange, thus Host Family and Au Pair need to belong to different nationalities. Initially, Au Pairs and Host Families are looking for a perfect match. Once they find it, there are several organizational points to consider before moving abroad: visa, insurance, bank account, packing and so on.  To ensure a smooth cooperation between Au Pair and Host Family, they sign an Au Pair contract where they note down all the important details. 
 
Find out how to find a suitable Host Family faster or how to host an Au Pair in no time!

How long can an Au Pair stay last?

The duration of the stay depends on Au Pair, Host Family and the host country’s program regulations. Some countries have set a minimum and a maximum time for an Au Pair stay, which usually varies from 3 up to 12 or 24 months. The program duration is flexible for Au Pairs within the European Union since there are no visa requirements.

Au Pair Programs all over the world!
Au Pairing is known worldwide - many countries support the Au Pair cultural exchange program. What can you expect in various host countries? Find out

Nevertheless, you need to register at the local authorities in your welcoming country and get an official Au Pair status. If the Au Pair needs a visa, in some cases this visa needs to be extended after the Au Pair's arrival. This should be done with the Host Family's support. 

Can I cancel the contract?

The Au Pair contract is signed to avoid possible misunderstandings and problems during the stay abroad. You can download the sample Au Pair contract and sign it along with the Host Family before the stay begins.  Nevertheless, emergencies or situations where you will need to terminate the contract might occur. As a rule, there is an official two week notice period before the termination. Make sure this term is also written down in the contract before you sign it. 

What are the duties of an Au Pair?

The Au Pair’s main responsibility is to take care of the Host Family’s children as well as to perform tasks related to childcare. Au Pairs do not have to cook for the host parents, clean the rooms that are exclusively used by the host parents or take care of someone else’s children, among others. 

What are the working hours of an Au Pair?

Depending on the host country, the number of working hours of an Au Pair can vary. In most countries, Au Pairs should work maximum 30 hours per week. In USA, Au Pairs can work up to 45 hours per week. Both Au Pair and Host Family should agree on a schedule and the way those hours will be split. Host Families should not forget to check the maximum hours per day an Au Pair is entitled to work in their country.

How much pocket money will an Au Pair get?

The official Au Pair program of each country establishes the minimum pocket money amount an Au Pair should earn when working the maximum hours permitted. We recommend Host Families and Au Pairs to agree on the pocket money. Au Pairs will use their pocket money to cover their own expenses. An Au Pair is not in any case supposed to buy her own food or pay for rent. 

Are Au Pairs entitled to free time and holidays?

Au Pairs are usually entitled to 1-2 free days per week (in some countries at least one free day must be on Sunday) and in some cases they will also have the right to enjoy at least a free weekend per month. In most countries, Au Pairs have up to 4 weeks paid holidays for a 12-month stay. 
 
Time off and holidays
How does it work for an Au Pair? In different ways - depending on the host country. AuPair.com provides you with all the details. Learn more

During their free days and holidays, Au Pairs should be encouraged to join the Host Family in their activities. Also, during their holidays, Au Pairs are free to stay with the Host Family and get their usual amount of pocket money, accommodation and full board. That is how we define paid holidays. 

Who should pay for the travel expenses?

Au Pair program
Although we recommend Host Families to support Au Pairs with travel costs, there are only few countries that make this expense mandatory for a family. In Au Pair USA, the ticket is totally covered by the Host Family. Moreover, if the Au Pair completes the whole stay as stated in the contract, he/she can get a return ticket as well. In China, the Host Family also helps Au Pairs to cover partially or totally the cost of the ticket depending on the duration of the stay. 
 
In other countries, if the future Host Family would like to help their Au Pair financially, the transportation costs should still be initially covered by the participants. After the Au Pair arrival abroad, the prospective refund can be done in installments.  
 
Travel cost
Who should cover the travel cost? Should the Host Family support the Au Pair and pay for the ticket? If yes, how? All the answers right here

We recommend to discuss this question before the Au Pair stay begins and preferably note it down in the Au Pair contract. Learn more about other Au Pair costs for participating in the program or Host Family costs for hosting an Au Pair.

Who should apply and pay for the visa expenses?

The visa expenses must be paid by the Au Pair and the Host Family will not have the obligation to give the money back in any case.  Au Pairs need to apply for a visa at the host country’s embassy placed in their home country. Participants need to make sure they fulfill the visa requirements so that their application can be approved.   

Do Au Pairs have to attend a language course? 

Au Pairs usually attend a language course in the host country in order to improve their language skills and meet new people.

Au Pairs need to discuss the working schedule with their Host Families so they have the time to join a language course. Although in some countries Host Families have to pay for the costs of a language course, in most cases Au Pairs will pay for it.

Who needs to pay for public transport? 

Although this is not a must in most countries, we recommend Host Families to provide their Au Pair with a car or bear the ticket costs for public transport. This way an Au Pair can take the children to school or any other activities and attend a language course. In some countries, these costs can be subtracted from the family's yearly income tax later on.
 
Do you have further questions? Check out our FaQ!


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