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Being fair to your au pair

The job of an au pair is to enjoy living with a family and experiencing their culture, and their language. Au pair is French for ‘equal to’ meaning they are considered equally part of the host family, like the role of an older sibling, who would also look after the children of host family on a flexible yet part-time basis.

They are not a nanny which is a full-time paid person whose role is to look after a family’s children. An au pair is normally expected to be treated as an equal part of the family, not a servant, do not wear a uniform, and usual practice means they would join the family with meals and activities..

If a family is looking for a full time caregiver for their children then having an au pair is not suitable. The role of an au pair is to share the responsibility of housework and childcare for a temporary basis, whereby both parties benefit from learning about the other’s culture.

The au pair and host family role should be mutually beneficial. Neither party should feel ‘exploited’ from this arrangement. If you are thinking of bringing an au pair into your home or intending on travelling to become an au pair, here is our advice on how to be fair to your au pair and vice versa:

Agree on the expected duties from the au pair

The term ‘light housework’ is notoriously ambiguous and can mean anything from turning on the dishwasher to re-tiling the bathroom. If you expect your au pair to do some washing-up and vacuuming or keep the kids room clean, agree on what is acceptable and set it out in writing . Asking your au pair to hand-wash sheets, mind your kids 24/7 or cook for the entire family everyday is exploitation.

Here are what is generally agreed ofthe duties of an au pair:

    • dropping the children off at school
    • picking them up from school or after-school activities
    • helping with homework
    • assisting in keeping the children’s rooms clean
    • cooking light meals for the children

Are Au Pairs employees?

Au Pairs are employees and are entitled to minimum wage currently between €7.64 and €9.55 per hour. The maximum deduction a host family can make for hosting the au pair, corresponds to €54.13 for full board and lodgings per week.

A determination by the Workplace Relations Commission in early 2016, held that a specific spanish au pair was an employee and should therefore receive all the rights and entitlements of an employee which would include a written statement of employment, minimum wage, payslips, tax, PRSI and USC must be deducted, annual leave and public holidays, redundancy entitlements, unfair dismissal rights, record keeping requirements, equal rights, maternity entitlements, the right not to be discriminated against, right to privacy, to be registered as an employee with Revenue, minimum notice, rest periods and maximum weekly working hours.

The decision by the WRC is not available for review, as all Adjudications are conducted in private, and it is not therefore possible to assess what relevant factors in that specific case influenced the Adjudication Officer’s decision. However, based on many cases brought to WRC, au pairs are now deemed as employees and families with au pairs should familiarise themselves with the legal entitlements of domestic workers here



(04-09-2016 14:26)

Not uniform but It should be OK to tell the girl to put on something better (like a blouse and a skirt or a blouse with some better slacks) for some special events like Christmas, birthdays or visiting restaurants.


(13-09-2016 11:44)

I'm currently looking for an Au Pair, how much will be a fair ammount to pay per week if I find one (considering the role on this page)

Kate O'Connell

(06-11-2016 22:00)

The information on this page is incorrect. A recent ruling by the Workplace Relations Commission found that Au Pairs are workers and as a result are protected by employment law. A simple google search will provide more information on this. A number of cases have been taken to date and Au Pairs are receiving awards for unpaid wages where employers (families) have failed to pay workers the national minimum wage of 9.15 per hour. More information is available on the Migrant Rights Centre website or on various other places online.


(07-11-2016 19:19)

Kate, the ruling apply where the aupair was abused and so the first aupair won her case. Any family following aupair guidelines in good faith is fine. Again our government is very much at fault.


(04/09/2019 22:51)

Hi anyone know of English classes in Mayo other than GMIT suitable for au pairs?


(17/04/2021 07:51)

Hello all! Can I ask for the childcare scheme to help out paying an au pair? The crèches /after school don't suit my working hours so I'm considering an au pair. Thanks.

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