Au pairs are young people from either the European Union (EU) or one of a limited number of other countries who have come to the UK on an au pair scheme. They usually come to learn English and can help look after the children of their host family as well as undertake other related duties such as light housework or babysitting. Although they may have some childcare experience an au pair is not a nanny and should also not be treated as a housekeeper.
As au pairs are usually not trained childcarers they must not have sole charge of children under the age of two for long periods. Because of this they are generally not considered as being suitable to look after pre school aged children while you're at work. However, they can be a good option for providing after school childcare.
They will usually work between 25 to 30 hours per week spread out over five days.
If you use an au pair you must ensure they:
- are treated as part of the family rather than an employee
- have their own private room with a window
- are provided with meals
- receive two free days off each week and should be offered one full weekend off per month
- are paid a minimum of £75 per week pocket money for 25 hours or £90 for 30 hours, regardless of whether the hours are worked. Many agencies recommend slightly higher pocket money
How to find an au pair
It is advisable to find an au pair through an agency. Details of these are available on the British Au Pair Agencies Association website.
You can find further information about finding and paying for childcare in our Choosing childcare booklet.
Files available to download
Helping you choose childcare booklet (PDF)
Information for families about choosing, finding and paying for childcare