au pair

Why is it important to sign an Au Pair contract?

⏱ Reading time: 3 min.
Signing an au pair contract is important for both the Au Pair and the Host Family as it helps establish clear terms of the arrangement and builds trust between the candidate and the family. In this article we listed 5 reasons why it's important to sign a contract before embarking on an Au Pair journey:

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importance of Au Pair contract
Embarking on an Au Pair journey or hosting an Au Pair is a decision that brings both excitement and responsibility. The prospect of cultural exchange, language learning, and shared experiences holds immense appeal for Host Families and Au Pairs alike. However, to ensure a harmonious and trouble-free coexistence for both parties, it is crucial to establish a solid legal foundation and sign a contract. This document outlines expectations, responsibilities, and terms of arrangement for your Au Pair stay including the financial side. In this article, we want to explain the significance of signing an Au Pair contract, by giving you five reasons why both Host Families and Au Pairs should not disregard this important document.
Note: When speaking about signing an Au Pair contract, we would like to stress that it’s important to sign it before the Au Pair arrives in the host country. This way the rights of both parties are protected from the moment they agree to participate in the Au Pair program. By signing the contract beforehand both the Host Family and the Au Pair show that they take the Au Pair program seriously right from the start and are ready to commit to creating a safe and trustworthy environment for both parties. We recommend having at least 3 video calls before you meet in person and it will be a great idea to dedicate one of these calls to discussing your mutual expectations and compiling the draft of the Au Pair contract that can be signed before the Au Pair’s departure. 

1. Legal Protection

Legal protection through an Au Pair contract is crucial as it establishes a formal agreement between the Host Family and the Au Pair. This written document clarifies expectations, working hours, compensation, responsibilities, and more. In case of disputes, it provides a structured process for resolution or serves as proof of misconduct of either party, which potentially helps to avoid big misunderstandings between the Host Family and Au Pairs.
Furthermore, the contract ensures compliance with local regulations, safeguarding both parties' rights. This means it’s important to keep in mind the host country’s regulations for the Au Pair program and include them.

2. Clear Expectations

One of the primary reasons for both parties to sign an Au Pair contract is to establish well-defined expectations for both the Host Family and the Au Pair. This aspect plays a crucial role in ensuring a successful and harmonious living arrangement.
By detailing the roles, responsibilities, and daily tasks in the contract, the Host Family and the Au Pair can avoid misunderstandings and conflicts that might arise due to different interpretations of their respective duties. The contract can outline the specific childcare responsibilities, including the number of hours the Au Pair is expected to work, the children's routines, and any specific needs or requirements.
Also, the contract can address household chores and any additional duties expected of the Au Pair, such as light housekeeping or meal preparation. Clarity regarding these things will help the Au Pair and the Host Family to structure their daily routine more successfully and efficiently.
Many Host Families include the Au Pair’s weekly or daily schedule in the contract. This way Au Pairs not only have a clear guideline on what tasks they need to cover at certain times, but also allow them to plan their individual activities ahead of time and have a clear understanding of their daily routine even before they start their Au Pair journey.
In essence, a well-structured Au Pair contract is a great tool that defines the boundaries, obligations, and shared goals of the Host Family and the Au Pair. It serves as a reference point that both parties can go back to when there’s a need to ensure that they are on the same page in their understanding of the Au Pair program. This clarity will ultimately contribute to a positive and fulfilling experience for both.

3. Terms and Compensation

The Au Pair contract also outlines the compensation and benefits offered to the Au Pair. It specifies the pocket money amount, the deadlines for payments and their frequency, as well as any additional details, such as the Au pair room arrangement or transportation reimbursement. The transparency of financial arrangements helps build trust and demonstrates the Host Family's commitment to providing a fair and supportive environment.
It is also important to specify in the contract how the Host Family will contribute to the Au Pair's travel expenses. We recommend that families who wish to contribute by paying all or part of the cost of the ticket to get to the host country do so by reimbursing the cost. The family can reimburse the cost of the ticket in one or more installments after the Au Pair arrives in the host country by adding an amount to the monthly pocket money. 
Besides, the contract provides details regarding the Au Pair's paid time off, holidays, or vacation days. By establishing structured time-off arrangements, both parties can plan and manage their schedules effectively, ensuring a healthy work-life balance for the Au Pair.
The contract also includes information about insurance coverage, particularly health insurance, to ensure the Au Pair's well-being and access to medical care during their stay. 

4. Emergency Plan

An emergency plan in the Au Pair contract serves as a safety guide that helps both the Host Family and the Au Pair know what to do if something unexpected happens. By including guidelines for emergency situations, the contract provides a clear roadmap for both parties to follow, helping to minimize stress and confusion during challenging times.
The contract can outline specific procedures for different types of emergencies, such as medical crises or unforeseen changes in the Au Pair's circumstances. It might include details on how to seek medical care, whom to contact in case of an emergency, and the steps to take if the Au Pair needs to return to their home country ahead of his/her planned departure.
The contract can also include guidelines for communication between the Host Family and the Au Pair. This can include regular check-ins, feedback sessions, and mechanisms for addressing concerns or issues as they arise. 

5. Cultural Exchange

One of the compelling reasons for both the Host Family and their Au Pair to sign an Au Pair contract is the opportunity for a rich and meaningful cultural exchange. Beyond the practical aspects of childcare, the contract can help to facilitate the intercultural experience as well.
By including such points in the contract, the Host Family and the Au Pair can engage in activities that promote mutual understanding, language practice, and exposure to a new culture. The contract can regulate the information regarding Au Pair’s language lessons, or include information on what is done by both parties to ensure a successful cultural exchange. For example, you can include cultural exchange evenings or other similar pastimes with the Host Family into your schedule to be sure you do not skip out on this important part of the Au Pair experience.

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