How much should I pay my au pair..??
The are a number of factors that influence the recommended pocket money an au pair is paid. The following tries to summarise those variables, as well as describing changes in legislation or other historical conditions that have led to the current recommended levels.
Variations in pocket money due to the job itself
An au pair who works longer hours should be paid at a higher rate. The recommended rates are shown below. It is worth reading through other possible variables below to see if your au pair should be paid anything extra
Demands of the role
If you are a family that has specific needs requiring a more experienced au pair, or a job that would be seen to be more demanding than normal, then you should consider paying more than the recommended minimum rate. This may cover such requirements such as: -
a family requiring teaching experience to offer home tuition
nursing skills if a child has a disability or condition that requires careful care and attention
if you have 4 or more children who are all of an age requiring supervision
It is common also for drivers to be paid a slightly higher rate than those who don't drive sue to market forces.. In countries where most au pairs candidates are coming from, possibly only 25% of the candidates hold a driving licemce. Conswquently they are in demand.
Location of the family
Slight regional differences do occur and generally agencies in London and the South East will recommend a higher figure than agencies that serve the north of England and Scotland. Even here though agencies will not be 100% consistaet - some au pair agencies outside London recognise that many au pairs want to be placed in or close to the capital, so may encourage familes to pay a higher than average rate otherwise they will not be able to attract sufficient candidates.
If the family lives a long way from the nearest town or city, then the family should pay extra money to cover the additional travel costs. This can be done by providing use of a car and to provide sufficient fuel allowance for them to attend college and have say one eveing out per week. If the au pair is not able to drive then a bus pass is another solution - this will depend on bus times as to whether it is workable.
Families who do not live on a bus route have no real alternative but to provide the use of a car or to taxi the au pair to and from English classes etc.
Attendance at language school is expected as a fundamental part of their reason for being here, and it is also natural for au pairs to want to spend some of their free time socialising with friends they make, so consideration should be made to ensure they can afford to do this. If an au pair is unable to visit places where she can meet friends etc then this is one of the biggest reasons why a placement may come to a premature end. Families in remote locations need to build a strategy for this in order to retain their au pairs.
What others are advising
There is no shortage of different web sites advising a range of salaries for your au pair (conducting a search in June 2009 gave from £50 to £80 per week for 25 hours). It should be remembered that some web pages may have been written and published some years ago without having been updated recently. Some agencies recommend a minimum amount, while others suggest a range between two figures.
Au Pairs and the National Minimum Wage
Au Pairs and nannies are not eligible for the national minimum wage if they are living in the family home and being treated as part of the family i.e. sharing meals, chores and leisure activities, and not being charged for their accommodation or meals. Further information on the NMW..
In the last 10 years since it was introduced, the national minimum wage has increased by 59%. When it was introduced it was set at £3.60 per hour. It now stands at £5.73 per hour. Even if they are not aware of this when they arrive in the UK, most au pairs become aware of pay rates in other jobs.
Recent 'market changes' influencing au pair pocket money
With the expansion of the European Union in 2004 to include 10 new member states, many young people who previously would only have been able to come and work as au pairs, were now able to work in the UK without restrictions and receive the national minimum wage. This has reduced the number of potential candidates available to host families.
Reduction in the number of countries eligible to au pair in the UK
In November 2009, the UK government further reduced the potential pool of au pair candidates by closing the au pair program, along with a number of other work/travel and study schemes for young people, replacing them all with the Youth Mobility Scheme. This is part of the new points based immigration system. The result is that this scheme is only open to young people from Australia, Canada, Japan and New Zealand, and for 2009 the schemme is already closed to Japanese nationals as their quota has already been filled.
It means that au pairs from Turkey are now excluded, as well as other countries previously eligible such as Croatia, Macedonia, Bosnia Herzegovina and Switzerland
The pound's recent demise
A further effect that has been experienced is the dramatic fall in the value of sterling. This means that au pairs from countries in the Eurozone, or countries whose currencies seem to track the Euro, have seen the pound fall by about 35%. In relative terms, people from these countries are choosing to stay and work at home.
Taking all the above into account, 1st Choice Au Pairs recommend paying your au pair a minimum of £65 per week if she is working up to 25 hours
If a family only requires 20 hours per week then an au pair should not be paid below the minimum recommended level.
Better candidates can attraxt more than this. Factors would be those people whose English is very good. Driving skills are also in demand and since driving licences may be held by only 25% of young women from central and eastern European countries.
Factors that may influence higher rates of pay
There are a number of factors that may give cause to review how much an au pair should be paid
If the family lives a long way from the nearest town or city, then the family should pay extra money to cover the additional travel costs. Attendance at language school is expected as a fundamental part of their reason for being here, and it is also natural for au pairs to also want to spend some of their free time socialising with friends they may make, so consideration should be made to ensure they can afford this. If an au pair is unable to visit places where she can meet friends etc then this is one of the biggest reasons why a placement may come to a premature end. Families in remote locations need to build a strategy around this for retaining their au pairs.
Driving skills Required
Minimum Wage - Historical Rates
The table below shows the history of the hourly rates for the national minimum wage, including the present rate.
Period 16 to 17 18 to 21 22 and over
1.10.08 to Present £3.53 £4.77 £5.73
1.10.07 to 30.09.08 £3.40 £4.60 £5.52
1.10.06 to 30.09.07 £3.30 £4.45 £5.35
1.10.05 to 30.09.06 £3.00 £4.25 £5.05
1.10.04 to 30.09.05 £3.00 £4.10 £4.85
1.10.03 to 30.09.04 N/A £3.80 £4.50
1.10.02 to 30.09.03 N/A £3.60 £4.20
1.10.01 to 30.09.02 N/A £3.50 £4.10
1.10.00 to 30.09.01 N/A £3.20 £3.70
1.4.99 to 30.09.00 N/A £3.00 £3.60
The wage for an au pair is a very grey area and one which needs careful thought but if your follow our advice, you shouldn’t go far wrong.
Au Pairs Are Not ‘Employed’
The first thing to realise is that au pairs do not fall within the auspices of employment law. In other words, an au pair is not your ‘employee’. Rather, the UK government has set up a scheme whereby young people can visit the country to learn the language and earn a bit of spending money without having to pay tax.
This means that instead of referring to au pairs earning a ‘wage’ or ‘salary’ (as a nanny would, for instance), they are given ‘pocket money’ - a weekly allowance in exchange for helping a family with childcare and jobs around the house.
Problems of Exploitation
However, paying an au pair pocket money also throws up some difficulties. Because au pairs don’t have to declare their earnings, they also don’t enjoy the protection that employment law can offer and can be left vulnerable to unscrupulous persons who do not pay them properly or use them as ‘maids’ or ‘servants’. (These are the horror stories you hear about in the media and which can be rife amongst au pairs themselves).
Nevertheless, most families are decent, honest people who genuinely need an extra pair of hands to help ease their busy lives and who are grateful for the work an au pair offers and are willing to reward them accordingly!
So – How Much should Families Pay?
The Home Office has set out guidelines which families should follow when considering how much to pay their au pair but within these guidelines, the arrangement is a private agreement between the family, agent (if one is being used) and au pair. The current guide prices are as follows:
* For up to 25 hours per week – £60 - £80
* For up to 30 hours per week - £75 - £95
* For up to 40 hours per week - £85 - £150
* More than 40 hours - £120 - £200
The Influence of Market Forces
Of course, as with any business, the market place plays a big part in the question of how much an au pair may receive. While there is a set minimum rate, under which it must not fall (currently £60 for 25 hours), if there are less au pairs applying for positions, than families looking, they will naturally be attracted to those able to offer slightly more money.
The Credit Crunch
World economics will also play a natural part in both the amount of money families’ offer and the number of au pairs willing to come.
For instance during these times of the Credit Crunch, families may be wanting to tighten their belts a little and not increase the amount going to their au pair – but they would also be wise to consider monetary values further a field.
For example, while the UK experiences the beginning of a possible recession, the Euro is strong against the pound. Most Western European au pairs will be used to a very high standard of living (particularly in countries such as Germany) and will find it more difficult to accept a role where they might be paid effectively half of what they could achieve in another country.
Eastern Bloc Economics
Another consideration will be that whilst in the past we may have been guilty of viewing applicants from Eastern Europe as being ‘grateful’ to receive the kind of amounts that would be unthinkable for them at home, things are changing with great rapidity. No longer are these countries quite so impoverished, and as new countries enter the EU or qualify as Accession Members, prices are climbing to a level comparative with the West.
As we know, London exists as an economic microcosm within the UK. As with other jobs, girls who go to London will expect to receive a weighting in their pay which reflects the higher cost of living there.
Similarly, if you have a family which is ‘busier’ than usual or perceived as offering a more ‘difficult’ job for an au pair, you may wish to consider offering more pocket money to try to attract the right au pair. For instance, most applicants don’t want to help look after more than a maximum of 3 children, so if you have 4 or more, you will probably find it harder to find an au pair who is willing to join your family.
The Golden Rule is really to decide what you can afford in conjunction with what is a fair price!