6 Reasons why your Au Pair should NOT work a second job

by cv harquail on March 6, 2010

We’ve talked recently about the issues related to having an au pair work extra hours for the host family, and we’ve also talked about whether you should let your au pair babysit for your friends. But we haven”t talked about whether you should permit your au pair to work at another job.

“Why haven’t we talked about this before?” you might wonder.  The answer is simple:

201003051804.jpgHaving your au pair take a second job is a bad idea. A bad, bad idea. Never works out well for anyone. Ever.

Of course, now that I’ve written those words, we’ll hear from the two au pairs who were able to manage a second job because their host families only needed them for 20 hours a week, or something. But, having talked to so many host parents, I can tell you that I’ve never heard of a host parent for whom this has worked out.

It is against the rules for an au pair to work a second job. It is also illegal.

And, it is a horrible idea, for these 6 additional reasons:201003051801.jpg

  • She’ll be too tired to work when she’s on duty with your kids, because she’ll be working too many hours.
  • She’ll get attached to the extra money and start to devalue the non-cash compensation and the non-financial benefits she gets from you.
  • The job with the official paycheck, out in public, where when meets people, will begin to feel more important than your job, at home, with your kids, which becomes just babysitting.
  • She will schedule herself to work, and then not be available when you need her.
  • She’ll work all of those hours (like weekends, and Saturday nights) when you’d rather have her on duty, but which you’ve set as her free time so she can relax and socialize.
  • She may need your car to get there and back. If it’s your third care, she probably won’t compensate you for the mileage. If it’s your second car, you and/or your spouse will be stranded.

Here is a question from a host family who is trying to figure out how to respond to their au pair, who wants to get a second job.

Our au pair is considering taking a second job. My husband and I have set some strict ground rules and made it clear she will have to quit if it interferes with her au pair duties. She knows that it is against the terms of her visa and of the au pair program, although we have said that this is between her and the agency and state department. And, my DH and I are on the fence about the whole idea.

I’m curious about other host families have experienced with this issue. Here’s what I’d love to know:

Did you say no if your au pair asked to get a second job?

Have you allowed (or just turned a blind eye to) your au pair having a second job in retail or waitressing, for example?

201003051804.jpg

How did it impact her performance for you as your au pair?

Did you set ground rules?

Did you ever find out that your au pair had a second job, and then asked her to quit? Or reported her to your LCC/Area Director?

What are the implications for you if she is caught by the LCC/Area Director or the sponsoring agency?

Serve up your advice parents!

Photos from Flickr:

Hot waitress from sourjayne Team of Hooters from Dale Miller Kristi Serves from Buckshot Frank

{ 91 comments }

Darthastewart March 6, 2010 at 10:28 am

I think it’s a spectacularly bad idea too. I’m not entirely sure how I would approach this with an au-pair who wanted the second job.

What are your au-pair’s real reasons for wanting the job? Money? Not enough to do ?

PA au pair mom March 6, 2010 at 2:00 pm

I wouldn’t allow it! If she went against the rules and did it anyway, I would report it to the LCC.

aupair March 6, 2010 at 3:35 pm

I don’t agree this post.
All the reasons against AP having a second job are not fair. So what if she’ll be working on saturday night, when is her free time? If it is her free time, then she can do whatever she wants with it. Or would you preffer to know that even if it’s her free time, you still can have the option to call her when nedeed? If so, than it;s not really entirely free time- sounds more like being on stand-by.
Maybe she doesn;t need a car. But maybe she’ll need more money. As au pair, if I buy a shampoo and a jumper in a week, then that;s my wedge. I sometimes don’t go out in cafes because I can’t afford. So I understand why an AP wants a second job. And besides this, if she works just 20 hours a week, it’s nothing else to do. Because you need money for everything.
I agree with the fact that she may be tired, but if she’s responsable she will know how to shoot two birds with one stone.
If it weren’t ilegal, I would have worked part time somewhere else. You meet new people, you change the picture from home and you have extra money, for buying all the things you see in the shops windows.

AMOMmyMOUS March 6, 2010 at 7:52 pm

I can totally understand the need for extra money, but as everyone is reminding you, we all signed a contract and you knew what the wages were coming into this. I don’t know what kind of shampoo or jumpers (we call them sweaters in the US) you’re purchasing, or what area of the country you live in, but good shampoos are available for less than $10/bottle which ought to last for a month or more! If you are in the US, your stipend is supposed to be $195.75/week no matter how many hours you’re scheduled. And, if the AP is working only 20 hours a week, she has lots of time to meet new people at clubs, cultural events, coffee shops, colleges, or volunteering in her community (which is totally free, looks great as additional experience when applying for legal jobs later, and is a noble thing to do.

PA Au Pair Mom March 6, 2010 at 8:19 pm

I don’t expect my au pair to be on duty any more than 30-40 hours per week. Just like I don’t break the rules to have her work more than the 45 hours/week, I don’t expect her to break the rules by getting a second job.

And, like the other mom said, you knew the wage coming into the AP year. It’s not like it should have been a surprise to you.

EUROaupair August 27, 2010 at 8:51 am

Well if an au pair is on $200 a week, that seems okay to disallow them a second job.
However, my HF will not allow me a second job and my wages are $250PER MONTH. So I seriously need the extra money.

And I would certainly never expect my HF to re-schedule on account of my job, it would be completely within my rostered time off. I would never let it affect the way I interact with the kids. I guess it depends on your au pair, but I do not think it should be ruled out like this.

Gianna August 27, 2010 at 9:53 am

Perhaps you are working outside the US because in the US , it is illegal for an aupair to get a second job. The J1 visa prohibits it and even if host parents encourage or cooperate with the idea , it is the US government that forbids it.
It sounds like you are being taken advantage of in your present situation. Why get into another situation with an employer who is breaking the law from day one just by hiring you ? Who would be able to help you if your other employer did not treat you well ?

NJMom March 6, 2010 at 3:37 pm

My second (of three) AP asked me twice about this. The first time she asked to waitress in a pizza shop in our local town. I said absolutely not and I explained why. Illegal, would lead to burn out etc. The second time, several month later, when she asked if she could hostess at a Latin restaurant in a neighboring town, I really blew my stack. I actually had to leave the room for a moment to calm down. I couldn’t understand how she could approach me a second time on this topic after we had run through the reasons it was not possible. Ironically I had always told her it was OK if she wanted to earn a few extra buck babysitting for neighbors. The money was pretty much equivilent but she kept thinking she would get rich off tips in these other establishments. Who knows. Needless to say I think it’s an absolutely awful idea. Looking back she had terrible money management skills so I think her desire for a second job was actually just a symptom of her wild spending on clothes and going out. Our current AP is extremely responsible with money and has manage to save a bit with only a few extra babysitting jobs on the side on weekend evenings, which is fine with us.

AnnaAuPair March 6, 2010 at 4:54 pm

I get your point on the “it’s-my-money”-thing. But it’s still ILLEGAL!!!!!!! to have a second job!!!!!

Karla March 6, 2010 at 11:40 pm

It is totally illegal to have a second job as an au pair The host family pays for the au pair to come into the USA to be their au pair and all rules and regulations for the au pair program fall under the Department of Labor and they absolutely may not work a second job. Besides if all her energy is in the second job she is going to be very tired and not at her best with the kids.

MommyMia May 8, 2011 at 1:06 pm

Actually, Karla, it’s the Department of State that governs the au pair program, but yes, it is illegal for au pairs to work other jobs.

aupair March 6, 2010 at 5:14 pm

I know, maybe in America it is. In Europe it’s not illegal, if you get a part time job.

AnonHM-Europe March 8, 2010 at 3:54 am

This is not true – it’s illegal as well, except for Members of the EU working in other EU-Countries as Au-Pair. Then they don’t need a visa and can work, study or do whatever like in their home-countrys. If they start working a second job, they will have to pay taxes, though! But any AP needing a visa for Europe will not be allowed to work or even go to university. The visa is only for being an Au-Pair in one specific family (the name of the family and the address are even written in the passport!).

So no question – having a second job is illegal and will not be tolerated at all – we make this clear in the very beginning and never had any problems so far.

aria March 17, 2010 at 3:43 pm

I’ve switched host families, and nobody’s address is written in my passport. And in France, the visa for working as an au pair is actually a student visa, and if you just show it to someone in a tourist shop, you could get a job.

PA au pair mom March 17, 2010 at 4:22 pm

Here in the US, you get a visa to be an au pair for a specific host family who pays the agency fees. You also get a “non-working” visa and SS number, so you may not work other jobs.

Liz October 28, 2011 at 7:30 am

You could get a job in a tourist shop, yes. But it wouldn’t be legal!

Anonymous March 6, 2010 at 6:38 pm

Aupairs as well as host parents signed a contract ( at least with my agency ) stating that we all understand that working off the books”
restaurants, babysitting for neighbors , cleaning houses ‘and all the rest of it is illegal. There are good reasons for this rule but the bottom line is that if any of us have issues with it, we should not have agreed to the contract we signed. At least one agency contract states that working extra hours for extra money is a violation of the contract. My contract states that the no one may take another job. I understand that someone neighbors don’ t know that they shouldn’t ask someone else’s aupair to work for them, but I know it. And restaurant owners and people who arrange cleaning services and people who own clubs are very much aware of the rules. What happens if there is a problem – like the young woman does the work and one of these people doesn’t pay her as promised ? Then what ?
Or suppose she is sexually harassed ? Who is she going to complain to or seek for protection ? I know people do this all the time but
it is wrong – let people find their own babysitters and pay an agency fee. And as for business people, let them pay taxes and assume the proper responsibility for their employees.

Should be working March 6, 2010 at 8:31 pm

We once got a call from a retail store asking for a reference for our former au pair, who had applied to work there. Isn’t it illegal for au pairs to stay in the country and work? Wouldn’t the store have to check that she’s able legally to work?

Busy Mom March 6, 2010 at 11:59 pm

The store is suposed to. All employers are supposed to fill out and file an I-9 form where should verify identity and work eligibility. The potential employee has to show documents to the employer. Large & small companies do this. As an employer of a domestic employee, I even had to complete one for my American nannies.

T April 25, 2010 at 12:28 am

The employer is not able to ask for identification until after a job offer is made. Once accepted, the au pair would need to completethe I-9 so the store didn’t do anything wrong and seems to have done its due diligence by reference checking.

Host Mommy Dearest April 25, 2010 at 11:10 pm

The large retailer with which my AP wanted a job refused to even interview her for a job if she couldn’t give them her SSN, so I don’t think there are such restrictions for the employer.

Taking a computer lunch March 6, 2010 at 10:56 pm

We had one au pair who wanted to take in an infant to care for during the day. Our daughter was in preschool at the time and our son was at home with her. She had been a PICU nurse in her native Brazil, and I was fairly certain she could handle the additional work with aplomb. I also knew she was supporting her brother, who was attending college in Brazil, by sending half of her wages home every week. The other family came to talk about it, and rescinded their offer when I told them that from time to time we would need our AP to accompany one of us to the local children’s hospital where our daughter saw many doctors as an outpatient. She was upset, and thought I had undermined her, but I told her to look at it from the parent’s point of view – they didn’t want their little baby exposed to mulitple germs that we took for granted.

I agree with some of the other parents – occasional babysitting jobs are one thing (yes, still illegal), but taking on part-time work is another. While we don’t usually schedule the AP to work M-F from 8:30-3:00, occasionally one of the kids is home sick. It would upset us if the AP said, “I can’t stay home – I have to work,” because I consider myself her employer! The occasional babysitting jobs get scheduled on nights or weekends when we don’t need our AP to work (we do our best to fix the schedule by the 20th of the current month for the next month so our APs can plan their free time).

Soccer Mom March 6, 2010 at 10:58 pm

One of our 6 APs asked us if she could get a retail job – it was one of many huge red flags, but we struggled to keep her here even though she was a huge princess and being an AP was not glamorous enough for her. Since we (foolishly) wanted to avoid transition and we saw that she was emotionally fragile, we told her to call our LCC to ask about it. Now, I actually like our LCC, but I had hoped she would put an end to the AP’s quest to get a job, but instead she told her that she could do what she wanted in her free time, but could not get paid for it legally – but oh – other APs had gotten around that by accepting gift cards instead. Ugh, so we were trying not to have to be the ones to say no since our relationship was new and she was fragile. Since she had enough money to use 20 dollar bills as toilet paper, she didn’t care about getting paid (and didn’t care about being a good au pair either). She really wanted to work at this upscale(ish) overpriced retail store because, by policy, they only hired “beautiful people” and that was the
‘company’ she really wanted to keep. They actually would not even interview her without an SSN though (corporate machine) so she wanted us to help her get one (she didn’t need one for a bank account or driving) but we told her (and actually had to show her on the IRS site ) that the card she would get would say NOT FOR EMPLOYMENT on it and the employer wanted the SSN so they could give her a paycheck and tax her wages… She was not used to not getting what she wanted – she was ready to pay for the SSN/job that she saw as some kind of glamorous symbol.

She was overwhelmed by the role of AP and needed serious coaching on how to handle everything – she cried often, including when my 4y/o “said something mean to her” so I was sort of annoyed that she had extra energy for a 2nd job but had trouble performing in her role that she supposedly came here to do. On top of that, while we never ever go over 45 hours, both DH & I work FT and we schedule 45 and scrap for the other 5 we need to reach 50 for the work week accounting for the commute. If we are able to get more than 5hrs of coverage elsewhere, we may schedule our AP a few hours on the weekend. We do set the schedule in writing for the week ahead, and we always ask if she has plans we can work around, but the schedule is different every week, and it is no way fair for me to work around a job of hers! She was so in denial that she asked how she could get an SSN without the work restriction. I told her she could marry an American (joking). I think she just wanted to hear she had to pay lots – because she would have. A few months later she came to us to say she really cared about us and the kids so much, but she really needed to think about herself (indeed) and that she had gotten all she wanted out of her AP year in just a few months. She said the US AP program didn’t treat APs like mature adults. Ironically, I didn’t think she acted at all like a mature adult. We invest tons of time, energy and emotion into each AP, and she was our first to not make it through the year with us. I believed what she had written in her application essay – I bought it hook line and sinker – and her interview was so good – but all she thought of herself really wasn’t true. She was not concerned to pay her flight home, lose her deposit, pay her friends back for airfare for a vacation she would not take with them, and offered to pay us back for the approx $350 course we’d paid for and she didn’t take – in case we couldn’t get our $ back. While I recognize she did a few things the “right way” when she left us (she wanted to leave ASAP, but didn’t just take off and leave us high & dry), the bottom line is that she didn’t fulfill her commitment because she just didn’t feel like it and she thought something else would be more fun. After flying home she flew to another country to rent an apartment near where her friends were working/partying and she got a job at that SAME retail store there.

Sorry for the very long post – the question of your AP getting a job just brought this all out and although I have supressed my bitterness (I didn’t let my feelings show for my kids’ sake as they didn’t fully understand why she was leaving and still keep in touch with her), I guess it is still there :) I feel better now.

NannyKelly March 7, 2010 at 3:54 am

I don’t understand how this could even be debated, it’s illegal! Doesn’t that mean “No, No, No!”.
But if she wants to do some extra babysitting in her own time, then I see no problem with that.

hostmom March 7, 2010 at 8:32 am

We are not on our 5th AP. Our 2nd AP asked to work at a restaraurant on Sundays (her always day off). I didn’t really like the idea, but thought well we could try it. DON’T!!!!

it didn’t work out at all. she started working more, wanting more money, etc. all the things above, trying to get me to work her schedule around her other job… HORRIBLE!!!! When i told her she had to stop, there was a lot of resentment and it went downhill fast…..So it is not as easy as saying we’ll try it and if it doesn’t work we’ll change. once the cat is out of the bag so to speak……

We do not allow our AP to work a 2nd job AT ALL. and lucikly none since has asked to break that rule. And if you do get caught I understand that the AP can go home and the HF can be removed from the program.

Highly, highly recommend NO.

Jeana March 7, 2010 at 8:49 am

Absolutely not. I would not jeopardize my relationship with our agency, which has treated our family very well, by agreeing to something that is illegal.

PA Mom March 7, 2010 at 10:16 am

For APs who may be reading this post – if you’re short on cash a job outside of the house is not really a good idea. I’ve had an AP who wanted extra funds and it was around the same time my housekeeper switched areas and this worked for the AP. I could have found another AP but it’s what she wanted and for a few weeks it’s worked out if only because it helped her fund the laptop she really wanted. The problem can be that besides being against the terms of the HF and AP agreement – if it doesn’t work out the two AP and HF are close and it can cause hard feelings. Everyone needs down time and yes the stipend goes quickly but perhaps talking with your HF about where you as an AP are running into financial issues can help. 3 of our APs budgeted well enough – I helped by being a bank for bigger purchases like computers or vacations that would have taken to long to fully save for before being bought though could be amortized over a couple of months. Several of my APs liked paying for these purchases with 50 dollar reductions in their weekly stipend. It was well worth it for the rare opportunity to travel far in the US mid year and for the big computer purchase. It is however not for every AP because they have to then give up the cash they’d normally be spending on social activities like eating out with friends. Also, not something I’d offer to do until I know an AP well enough to know this is a full year committment and she’s mature enough to manage that cash flow change. It’s a learning year for a lot of young woman – as HFs one of our adds can be helping them learn to budget for the big and small things. Remember financial management is NOT taught to most young women (and men) and quite frankly should be a required course in most high schools as the world economy would greatly benefit from more responsible spending.

PA Mom March 7, 2010 at 10:18 am

My apologies – correction to my post – I could have found “another housekeeper” – I wouldn’t part with this AP for all the money or housecleaners in the world!!! She’s become a part of our family and I’m dreading our last days with her as it’s making me in particular rather mopey to have to part with her. I guess this is how moms feel when daughters go off to college – sorry mom, never realized what it was like ;)

Alma Schneider March 7, 2010 at 1:48 pm

I must tell you that we did allow our au pair to take a second job because she needed the money. It actually worked out pretty well, truth be told. She was hyper responsible, however, and always made a point to put us first.

cv March 7, 2010 at 11:02 pm

Not to suggest, by asking this question, that a second job is a good thing, but — how did you work it out so that your ap kept her work with you the more important thing?

Anonymous March 7, 2010 at 3:32 pm

I would be strongly against our AP taking a second job. An occasional babysitting job for a friend is one thing, I think, a regular part-time job is something completely different. We do not oppose our AP babysitting for our friends – she does so once or twice a month, and always clears it with us, first. Even though our AP often has weekends off, I would be upset if I could never use her on the weekend because she had a second job – really kills the whole idea of flexible childcare.

MommyMia March 7, 2010 at 5:14 pm

I’m curious as to how these APs are being hired for outside jobs, and by whom. They must be paying “off the books” or falsifying the I-9 form (or whatever they must check that they have verified legal right to work in the US) and required back-up copies of social security cards (which state right on them “Not Valid for Work” when obtained with AuPair visas).

Anonymous March 7, 2010 at 10:59 pm

Is it illegal? ABsolutely! Is it done- of course. The real issue is whether you want to give it your stamp of approval or risk having her resent you. If she will resent you for it, then she is not the right au pair for your family. The answer is simple- NO! All you need tell her is that you can face serious consequences if it is discovered. You as the host family will be violating US State Dept regulations. It is a slippery slope- heed the warnings of the btdt host families.

So, on the other front of extra babysitting, etc, yes, many au pairs do this, and the families generally don’t have an issue with it. Our au pairs have become the unofficial dogsitters for a neighbor. I don’t know if they are compensated for this, or not. The added benefit, is that my children get outside a little bit more often, as I appreciate when they want to help walk the neighbor’s dog! Good luck with the 2d job situation!

An afterthought- if she works a 2d job and is in an accident while going to or from work, or even while working and on a break- there may be other liability issues to consider.

Hula Gal March 8, 2010 at 5:55 pm

How is the host family violating State Department regulations if the au pair has a second job that she pursues and gets on her own time of her own volition?

Should be working March 8, 2010 at 6:28 pm

Au pairs are not allowed to work for money. Even the money we give every week is a stipend, not a salary.

Taking a computer lunch March 9, 2010 at 7:46 am

That’s not what the IRS code says. The word “salary” appears there.

Hula Gal March 9, 2010 at 2:22 pm

Well this doesn’t really answer my question. How is it my responsibility to prevent my au pair from getting a second job. She could get one secretly. She could get one despite me saying no. Or she could get one with me knowing about it. How under these scenarios is the host parent violating state department regulations?

HRHM March 9, 2010 at 7:41 pm

It is a violation of the state dept regulations for them to work on a J-1 Visa. It is not the HFs violation. However, it is a contract violation if the HF permits it. So, if you turn a blind eye or really don’t know about it, you aren’t breaking the law. But if you allow/condone it, you are violating your agency contract.

HRHM March 9, 2010 at 7:43 pm

There is no difference in getting a regular “job” or dog-walking or baby-sitting for cash. They are both equally illegal in the eyes of the state dept.

Taking a computer lunch March 8, 2010 at 8:03 am

I understand why APs might want a second job. It’s very expensive to live in the US, even if the family is paying your room and board. But I think some of the issues are the difference from “want” and “need.” (And I must say I was an adult and living on my own before I truly got the difference between “I want the latest gadget,” and “I need to have a winter jacket.”

I think one of the things we need to do, as HF, is emphasize the points of the AP program. Besides taking care of the kids and attending university classes, it is a cultural exchange. And that exchange cannot take place if the AP is working all the time. I always encourage my APs to get out, go to clubs, go to museums, see movies, take walks, meet friends. Their salary is the most expendable cash they are going to have in their lives, because when they truly start living on their own and working they will “need to pay the rent, the bills and for food.”

Our most money-savvy AP left the US with $800 after having paid for a 2-week trip to the national parks and cities in the American west (her chance to visit the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, San Francisco, etc.). Our least money-savvy AP left with nothing in her pocket once she paid for her luggage. Neither had a part-time job outside our home. Both had a lot of fun in their free time and traveled around the US. Both purchased gadgets and clothing they wanted.

Ann from NE March 8, 2010 at 8:31 am

Both of my APs regularly worked a full 45 hours, both due to my work schedule and because of bilingualism reasons (we didn’t send my daughter to a preschool while we had APs). During those hours, they did not drive, so they were always physically tired at the end of the day, from pushing my daughter around in a stroller and walking places. But they knew that this is what the job would be like up-front, I was quite clear in my letters to them. They did not have extra jobs, except for a little errand money for an elderly neighbor.

Financially, both were responsible to save up for the financial goals they had set there, as well as experience cultural exchange.
*The first AP sent money home to family and also saved up for a special language teaching course that she took in her last months here in her spare time to improve her professional certification as a teacher. She also found time in her 2nd year to volunteer as an ESL tutor at our local library and was an active participant in ESL classes in both of her years here.
*The second AP, a geography major, saved up enough not only to take a 3-week Trek America tour in the 13th month, but also an adventurous almost 2-week trip to rural Central America in the spring with an Australian tour troup, and several other U.S. trips. She also found time to volunteer in my daughter’s Saturday language school.

I tried to facilitate their time here by giving them information on free/low-cost cultural outings; showing them where used clothing stores were; and helping them as a “bank” when they had a larger purchase by deducting it from their paycheck. We also took each on a number of regional car trips and vacations to show them what we could of our U.S. region’s heritage.

I wouldn’t have felt comfortable with them taking an official 2nd job both for legal reasons, family dynamic/priority reasons, and the “once in a lifetime chance to experience the US” that these girls are suppose to have while in the U.S.

Janet March 8, 2010 at 8:09 pm

We had 1 au pair who helped another family during the evenings and on weekends with their triplets. No problems for us, and she was glad to get some extra money so she could finish up college when she returned home. She did run into problems when she worked as a house cleaner – the woman didn’t pay her for a month and then threatened to turn her into the State Dept.

Anonymous March 8, 2010 at 8:50 pm

I think it is a spectacularly BAD idea. My first au pair was in her extension year with us when we tried to help out a neighbor in need. My au pair and I both felt terrible when a neighbor with 2 young children lost her husband suddenly. People started trying to cobble together child care and other help for this woman and my au pair went over to her house a few evenings just to help with dinner time and bed time. Well, the woman then offered my au pair $20 per hour to come on a regular basis. I felt like I couldn’t object as she had just lost her husband and obviously valued the company. Then, she started asking my au pair to stay overnight. Then, gave her use of the husband’s car. Then, started going away on the weekends and leaving her kids with my au pair. Finally, the woman asked my au pair to move in with her. It was a huge disaster and a nightmare. Of course our au pair came to resent working 45 hours per week for us when she could earn the same amount of money in one day from the neighbor. Our formerly terrific relationship ended badly and I still feel terrible about the way the whole thing transpired as I loved this au pair. But, at the end of the day what started out as seemingly harmless altruism toward a neighbor lead to the demise of a perfectly good relationship with a great au pair.

hostmom March 9, 2010 at 2:55 pm

And i just have to add that i remember when i was in college and my first job and i was lucky to have $5 at the end of each month – after paying rent, utilities, food, insurance, taxes, gas, etc etc. although I certainly understand that $800 a month is not a lot – it is a lot more “extra”, “free to spend it on whatever” “no obligation” money than many families have. Maybe i’m in the minority, but i think APs have it pretty good from a financial perspective. and like some others have said, it is a good learning opportunity to save for things/trips. And to buy a laptop – they can do that with 2 paychecks these days!

CashPoor March 9, 2010 at 4:17 pm

I couldn’t agree more. While I always find money to buy what my children need, I can’t remember the last time I found $200 to spend on myself. Two hundred dollars to spend as I pleased every week would be incredible. When we had an AP who spent frivoulessly and still complained about the low stipend, I couldn’t help but feel resentful. I can’t help but think these girls will be in for a rude awakening when they go into the real world and must pay for their living expenses.

Should be working March 9, 2010 at 6:59 pm

Good point. I’d love to hear from au pairs regarding what they spend their $200/wk on.

I could imagine these would be hard to live without:
$10 on phone minutes (about $45/month)
$10 on personal gasoline (or toward a monthly public transportation pass, which probably costs more)
$20 set aside for emergencies (if she were prudent and really did this!)
$20 toward education costs, since those seem usually to exceed host family’s contribution

These would be more ‘discretionary’ but still part of living here and making friends:
$20 health club membership or fitness classes
$15 1 movie
$40 2-3 dinners/drinks/evenings out
$20 coffees, lunches out or day-meals on the go (e.g. on the way to classes)

That leaves $45 per week for anything else, including saving up for trips. This doesn’t seem like a lot to me.

Should be working March 9, 2010 at 7:01 pm

Let’s not forget the taxes that seem now to apply, adding about $20/wk to the au pair’s bill.

Please note that the comment following this one did not originally follow it–i.e. Melissa is not agreeing with me, but with the previous poster!

hostmom March 9, 2010 at 9:16 pm

i posted that i think they have a good deal…. and some of the things “should be working” listed – those are mostly/all discretionary to me and were even more so when i was living paycheck to paycheck.

eating out to me was a cheeseburger and a cup of water for i think 59 cents! i certainly could not afford a gym membership. i had to make choices of what was most important to me when i did have money left over. couldn’t do it all, not even close. so even in your example – having $45 left over each week to save or splurge is pretty darn good —- in my opinion.

so again guess depends on where you’ve come from and what expectations we have as “can’t live without”. I am quite certain even today I don’t spend $200/week on discretionary things for just myself.

Aria April 26, 2010 at 3:01 am

I think this would be a really good stand alone post!! Here’s my budget, living in a metropolitan European city:
weekly salary: 135 euros
monthly expenses
50 (+, because I usually go over my minutes)- iPhone bill
50- Internet
20- bus/subway pass
50- food (I live in my own small appt in the same building as my HF)
20- skype account
60- waxing (we all have our little luxuries!)
100- going out (dinner, clubs, movies, taxies, etc)
and the rest goes to plane tickets to visit my bf every other month or so :D

Anna October 22, 2010 at 2:14 pm

Ally, ok, so even with very limited experience that au pairs have let’s say for the sake of argument that she would be making $15/hour (maybe in expensive areas of the country, certainly not in most)
And it is 45 hours, not 48 a week.
So, $675 a week, $2700 a month.

Minus federal and state taxes that single american adult would pay – let’s say 20%
$2700 – $540 = $2160
Minus rent ($1200) – $960 left
Minus health insurance – let’s take a cheap one at $150/month – $810 left
Minus gas for the car ($20 a week, that’s modest) – $730 left
Minus the insurance for the car – again lowballing it – $100 a month – $630 left
Minus the car itself – lets say she buys a cheap one that still drives – at least $1500 in cost, plus tax, registration, inspection, oil changes – say it all very cheaply costs her $200 a year – so $1700 a year for the car, or about $142 a month
$630 – $142 = $488 left

Oh, and food – she has to eat, right, and for american girls working in families, they have to provide their own food usually – that’s at least another $200 a month, again very conservatively
so $488 – $200 = $288

And the cell phone plus internet – the benefits myself and other families pay for for the au pair – fast internet $40/month, phone – lets say she has a very cheap plan for another $40 a month
what’s left is $288-80 = $200

So our very thrifty young american girl, being paid $15 per hour, and enjoying the same benefits that an au pair does, is left with $200 spending money a MONTH!!!!
An au pair is paid $200 spending money A WEEK!
I’d say it is a great deal.

hOstCDmom October 22, 2010 at 3:23 pm

Nicely put Anna.

Jennifer October 23, 2010 at 7:16 am

You forgot utilities, toilet paper (and other room & board items), furnishings for her apartment, school costs…

Melissa March 9, 2010 at 6:52 pm

I tend to agree. I know $200 is not a lot of money, however, it seems like it should definitely be adequate if the AP has no other expenses. Only one of my APs has been a good money manager and was able to put a decent amount of money aside for travel and special purchases. For the others, it was clear that they were down to their last few dollars every time payday came around. I often wondered how they spent it. One of our APs chose to never eat dinner with us, so it was clear that the majority of her money was spent on food. But otherwise, even if you spend $50 on food, $50 on personal items (clothes, toiletries) and $50 on entertainment each week, that still leaves you with some money to save. Maybe I’m being naive, but I think with some effort and awareness of spending, that should be doable.

HRHM March 9, 2010 at 7:37 pm

My current AP doesn’t pay for her cell, rarely puts gas in the car, we paid the extra to cover her classes and is always welcome to ask for whatever food she wants to have here in the house. So how is it one week before her departure she has less than 300 dollars in her account? Bebe – jeans at 200 a pop, 6 pairs of high top sneakers, D&G baseball caps, coach wallet, oh the list goes on and on. So, if she needs extra money, I have a hard time sympathizing. She told me once that in her country, people pay for their nice clothes first, rent last. Awesome.

And yes, she did ask if she could get jobs – twice – and was told that if she did, she’d be sent back home immediately.

PA au pair mom March 9, 2010 at 9:36 pm

I asked our AP, just for discussion’s sake.

We pay her $200 each week (easier to round up). We also cover the majority of the gas for her car, all her food eaten in the house and toiletries.

Her money usage per average month:

$38 for a gym membership
$5-10 for gas for personal trips
$25-50 on meals outside the home with friends
$15 for “special” toiletries–hair color mostly

She saves the majority of the rest of her money. She is going on a cruise in 2 weeks with her sister and I know she is planning on doing lots of shore excursions and things. I asked if she needed an “advance” and she said she had more than enough to cover it.

Our last AP spent all her money on designer american clothes….abercrombie, hollister, coach, 200 dollar jeans, etc. She went home with about 25 dollars.

Tulai March 11, 2010 at 1:28 pm

I will start with a disclaimer: What follows below does not in any way suggest that I am in favour of au pairs taking on second jobs. First, what I am doing is making a connection between the issue of au pairs working overtime on a regular basis, for their host families and au pairs taking second jobs for themselves. Second, I am also questioning the double standards surrounding these two issues, which for me fall into the same basket.

Going through the two sets of posts (‘overtime and second jobs’) , I find it ‘funny’ how when it comes to au pairs working second jobs, a good number of au pair host parents emphasize the ‘against regulations’ and the ‘illegality’ of it, which is well captured in CV’s words: “It is against the rules for an au pair to work a second job. It is also illegal”. A second strong argument against au pairs working second jobs is that they would be too tired to adequately perform her main job: look after the children.

What I find ‘funny’ is that when it comes to au pairs working overtime on a regular basis for their host families, although the above (against the rules, illegal and au pair fatigue) all apply perfectly in such a situation, a large majority of parents were/are eager to overlook this.

Why does it seem from these posts that: 1. It is OK to ask the au pair to work overtime FOR HER HOST FAMILY but not OK for her to have a second job FOR HERSELF (?) 2. It is OK for the au pair to make extra money if it comes from working FOR her host family, but not OK for her to earn the extra the cash from a job she if doing FOR HERSELF (?) 3. It is OK for the already exhausted au pair to continue working overtime caring for the family’s children, but not OK for her to work a second job because she would be too exhausted to adequately care for the host family’s children (?)

Concerning the legal and regulations perspective: I think that when an au pair works a second job, the fact that she and her host parents are violating the law and other regulations is much more in the open; much more accessible to the public; to the authorities concerned. On the other hand, when the au pair has to work overtime for the host family on a regular basis, although it is illegal and against regulations, it remains a private ‘containable’ domestic affair, not open to the scrutiny of the public and the authorities concerned.

cv harquail March 11, 2010 at 3:36 pm

Tulai, you raise a great point!

There are a lot of comparisons going on in these posts, between:

1. Scheduling an aupair over 45 hrs vs. offering extra hours occasionally
2. Babysitting for friends vs extra hours with host family
3. working 45 hours for host family vs. ‘overtime’ hours at another paid job.

In all cases the au pair gets the money for ‘herself’.

In #1, we assume that the au pair gets paid. So she gets money and the family gets hours. [[The problem is whether this overtime is voluntary (it must be, I think), and whether it is too much.]] Here, the ap and hf both bear the brunt of violating the rules, and both get the ‘benefit’.

In #2, the au pair gets the $, and the host family may or may not benefit from extra hours. Usually, this is flexible and on an as-needed basis, so an au pair can decline if she is tired. Also, the extra babysitting often is (and should be) when kids are asleep, so that the au pair can actually be relaxing and not running around at full speed & energy.

In #3, the family gets no benefit whatsoever, and bears the brunt of the ‘costs’ of the 2nd job.

You have to make sure you’re comparing the right pieces.

That said, both host parents and au pairs have to consider the double standards that might be involved. People are more willing to break rules if they benefit in some way (obviously). Also, people are more willing to put up with the downsides of someone working 45+ hours if they benefit in some way. [Sheesh, I’d break some rules if I could get a Saturday night out with my DH more often. But I rarely, rarely, rarely do.]

The au pair working the 2nd job gets the money, but the host family gets a tired au pair with less energy, and an au pair with obligations to someone else who is paying her. Plus, there are few 2nd jobs where you can work 3 or 5 hours a week. Anyone working over 50 hours a week can’t do a good job anywhere. The demands of a second job outside the host family are way beyond some extra babysitting here and there…

cv

Anonymous March 11, 2010 at 4:43 pm

Thanks for writing such an articulate statement . Yes, there is a great deal of hyprocisy on the part of many posters on this blog.
Many people seem to feel that money talks and feel that since they pay the agencies, the agencies should look the other way when the paying customer breaks the rules. I suspect that this, too, is an explanation for all of the anger expressed to/about the representatives of the agencies. I hear all the complaints about LCCs who return calls but how many host parents return calls from those reps who do stay in touch ? And how about all of the people who have a fit if an aupair asks for a rematch or skips out but feel perfectly justified in advising other parents to rush to rematch at the slightest problem. I sometimes feel very sad reading this blog because so many of the posters sound like the Red Queen in Alice shouting ” off with her head “. It seems to me that there are very few happy stories on this blog. I know that is what motivates people to write but the atmosphere is often a downer.

Should be working March 11, 2010 at 5:03 pm

Tulai and CV, interesting exchange about hypocrisy, rule-breaking, and what makes those acceptable (i.e. who benefits, esp. with regard to host families who pay most of the bills for the AP system).

Anonymous here (Mar 11, just above) points out that the fact that HFs pay so much for APs leads to strong feelings, naturally enough.

I have been wondering about how much we pay the agencies. Does anyone know what kind of profits they make? I’m not at all savvy about business/accounting/finance, but–if the U.S. gov’t gives 12 agencies a monopoly on legally arranging au pairs, and this is a gov’t sanctioned program that uses visas meant for people who won’t work regular U.S. jobs (AP being that ambiguous work/exchange phenomenon), then it does seem somehow strange how much money changes hands. Somehow it seems like a nonprofit model would be more appropriate, as in student exchange programs.

How much DOES it really cost to recruit, ‘train’, and match au pairs?

HM in NV March 11, 2010 at 6:41 pm

Our APs year will be ending in a few months and I’ve started thinking about this as well. Although the AP program is somewhat less than daycare (depending on # of kids) or a FT nanny, the $7000+ program fee is A LOT and I also wonder if agency expenses justify it. And what about if you match with an extension AP – assumably the recruitment and training costs are not applicable, but families still have to pay the full (or close to it, I think) program fee. And the host family agreements are really written to benefit the agencies – the refund/credit amounts are only a portion of what you pay if you have to go into rematch. I feel strongly about going through an agency because I want the support and safety net it provides, and because it is the only legal way of having an AP, but it’s a shame that we really have very little say or choice.

Anna March 11, 2010 at 6:00 pm

Why Anonymous?
Are you an au pair?

As a host parent who occasionally reads an au pair message board, I feel the same way about hypocrisy on part of au pairs. It also made me very sad and disillusioned.

And having been in rematch, as a parent, I felt that the agency was interested in rematching an unfit au pair for a third time, because it would cost them more to send her home, which should’ve been done in my case.

I didn’t see here advice offered to rematch at the slightest problem. On the contrary, I’ve seen a lot of advice how to try making a hopeless situation work. You should know that rematch is a very difficult decision for families, that many are very reluctant to make. I haven’t “rushed” into rematch, I was trying to make something hopeless work for 8 months, which in retrospect was too much time and cost me and my children dearly. I am sure most host families are the same; sometimes better the devil you know that the devil you don’t (it is an idiom, I am not calling anybody a devil; since I am sure you are an au pair and might take it the wrong way).

PA au pair mom March 11, 2010 at 9:13 pm

Anonymous:

I posted the part about the LCC who doesn’t know my au pair’s name and never returns calls or emails. To answer your question….I have responded (within 24 hours) to every phone call or email she has ever sent me. There weren’t that many though.

I also said that I wouldn’t let my au pair work a second job AND I don’t work her over 10 hours/day or 45/week. Not everyone on this board uses their AP that way. My AP works only 27.5 hours each week (most was 34 in one week), gets every weekend off and has exclusive use of a car, but I still would not allow her to get a second job.

aria March 17, 2010 at 3:56 pm

Great point.

Previous au pair April 29, 2010 at 10:54 pm

A point I would like to make with anonymous is that although au pairs dont talk instantly with there host parents about rematchs they certainly chat away to there other AP friends/ family about it..which isnt it specifically what the host parents are doing? getting advice about a certain situation?

Katie PAP April 25, 2010 at 7:54 am

well when I was in the netherlands as an au pair i was working 30 hours a week already and my host parents suggested to get this ‘cheaper’ visa which would enable me to work instead of the au pair visa which contained all my rights. I thought working 30hours is already enough and wanted me au pair rights so when I told my host family I wanted the visa that i signed up for they wouldnt talk to me for days and thought that I was saying they were a bad host family somehow? Luckily I pursued through and got the visa I wanted even though they tried to bully me to get the other one. If you are working heaps of hours already why would you want a second job? It could also distance you from your host family.

biene May 7, 2011 at 9:26 pm

I was offered a second job as well, which I was really thrilled to do for these reasons: I have always enjoyed working in part time jobs as I got to know new people that mostly share the same age and interests – really hard to find that in college (at least for the noncredit courses that I take and my HF doesn’t have to pay for) and elsewhere if you’re underage.
Actually I didn’t want to provide more reasons why an extrajob does not seem like something an au pair can’t do – I am not that exhausted after 15 hours of work I do sometimes beyond the 45hr limit, and I guess hostparents do work a lot more than 45 hours a week and mine are still wonderful to their children. What in the end didn’t make me take the job offer was that it is obviously illegal. That’s what’s been said. I just wonder if anyone could provide me with a link that states and confirms that? A J-1 visa rule in an official paper or the extract of an au pair contract? I have been looking for ages now and still could not find any hint on a second job, besides pages that say it is legal but I guess that was concerning J-1 visa holders that are exchange students or interns.
A real extract would be lovely.

ap May 7, 2011 at 10:34 pm

“A J-1 visa is for applicants whose primary purpose of travel to the United States is to participate in the *Exchange Visitor Program*” Meaning you don’t go to the States to work, meaning *not* on a working-Visa, meaning, you can not “work” legally in something different from what is state on your DS-2019 form: i.e. Au Pair.
It’s not really that hard to understand.

biene May 8, 2011 at 4:31 am

no need to get offensive I’m not stupid. Thanks for the extract. I just couldn’t find it looking through my contract and google by typing in “second job”. However, it is a “primary purpose” which does not explicitly forbid a secondary purpose, does it? I mean is there really no such thing as a statement “Au pairs on a J-1 visa are not allowed to work for employers other than the ones who sponsor them”? I found unauthorized on another website, but this could still mean if authorized by the HF, go for it. I feel like a lawyer looking for a gap but I am somehow unsatisfied.

Dorsi May 8, 2011 at 6:12 am

Your SS card states that you can’t work without prior DSHS authorization — and no one can legally hire you without looking at your SS card. It is also in the paperwork that you signed during your first meeting with your LCC after you arrived.

Dorsi May 8, 2011 at 6:18 am

Also: (it’s not the goverment, but it is written by some immigration attorneys)

http://www.hooyou.com/j-1/j1_j2_visa_faq.html

biene May 8, 2011 at 1:42 pm

Ok thank you! Now this clarifies it a lot, thanks for your help. I do not know if there is any other thread on this topic, but the regulation is “A J-1 holder may work for institutions or companies within his/her specialty field, provided this work meets certain requirements and the J-1 program sponsor gives its written consent. ”
Is that correct? Then if the HF, obviously the sponsor, gives their written consent, an au pair can actually work for another employer?
And how did the DHS authorize me to wortk for my HF? Is there any paper they give out that maybe the HF has to sign? I am still confused :D

Dorsi May 8, 2011 at 6:59 pm

The host family is not your sponsor; your agency is (and all legal J-1 visa holders come through an agency). They will not authorize you to work for anyone else. The HF signs a contract with the agency; that is how you work for them. You can work for another HF, but you can’t work for another agency.

Andrea October 25, 2011 at 3:38 pm

Try living in Germany on 65 euro a week, it’s not easy!!! I think au pairs should be allowed a second job for their days off.

kat October 25, 2011 at 5:09 pm

aupairing in the us is totally different system to aupairing in germany. (when i aupaired in germany i had 200euro a month and it was a bit of a shock after 50 pounds a week in england, i can tell you.)
in the us it is illegal to have any kind of job outside the family. and i think the aupair pay gets you a lot further in the us than in germany. i believe germany has one of th elowest aupair rates, if not the lowest.

azmom October 25, 2011 at 5:51 pm

The biggest thing to remember here is that in the US it is meant to be a FAMILY exchange program. If you have your in-home meals paid for (You aren’t required to eat out), internet covered, etc. Around $800 in spending money a month is quite a lot – most host moms probably have much less of their own “free” money to spend on pedicures, cell phone plans (if your host family doesn’t provide it), nights out on the town, weekend trips, extra gas money, clothing, etc.

kat October 27, 2011 at 11:56 am

au pair pay should be spending money in whatever country. what varies, i find, is whether family pays for language classes/school , health insurance or /public/ transport. in some countries it is state regulated what the family is required to pay and in other cases /like uk/ its up to the family what they decide to cover in addition to pocket money.

GermanHM October 26, 2011 at 4:23 am

@Andrea: nitpick: You don’t _live_ on it. It’s your free spending money after your HF pays your room and board, your insurance, your transportation and possibly even your language course.

@Kat: I doubt that 50 pounds a week in the UK is more spending money than 50 EUR in Germany… I have lived in the UK and Germany, and in my experience the cost of living is higher in Britain, so in spending power 1 pound equals 1 Euro (it’s 260 per month in Germany now btw).

azmom October 26, 2011 at 2:03 pm

There’s the difference! In the US the pocket money may be more, but most Au pairs are scheduled for the 45 hours that are allowed under US programs

GermanHM October 27, 2011 at 2:28 am

True… and since in the US the APs have less free time to spend the money it seems even more vs Europe where they have more free time and less pocket money ;-)

kat October 27, 2011 at 12:07 pm

sorry, but i feel you are telling me i am lying. dont understand why you feel you know better than me what i could buy with the money. i am not talking about general living cost in the uk and germany. i said that in my experience i found i was able to do/buy more with my 50pounds a week as an aupair in the uk than with my nearly 50euros a week as an aupair in germany.
ps. i know that the pocket money in germany is now 260, but that is somehow not relevant to what i had back in 2002 i would have thought.

GermanHM November 2, 2011 at 9:36 am

kat,
I am not telling you you are lying. I have voiced a different opinion based on my own experience – which is, that _I_ wasn’t able to buy more with 50 pounds a week vs 50 Euros. But it may be that you buy different things than I do, which may be comparatively cheaper in the UK.

And I put in the current pocket money amount in Germany not because of the relevance to your experience but because while you may know the current rate, other readers may not, and might think that it is 200 EUR still – after all, you didn’t say in your first mail that your stay was 9 years ago.

Jenne January 12, 2012 at 3:46 pm

Let me begin by saying I am an American working as an AP in Istanbul, Turkey. My work visa provides me with legal residence and also allows me to obtain any other job in Turkey. That being said, it is not illegal for me to obtain a second job if I am inclined to do so and my family has approved me to if I would like to. I know this option is not legal for APs working in the US, but I feel the need to add my two cents. I stumbled across this blog and I am appalled by some of these comments. I would have to agree with the post saying some people sound the Queen of hearts. Those who choose to become APs are there for the cultural exchange and hopefully for their love of children….that is why I after all chose to become an AP as did some of my friends. It is an opportunity to travel in another culture, while being apart of a family unit and support system. It should be a mutually beneficial relationship. Furthermore, the definition to au pair means ‘equal to’ meaning it should be an equally beneficial relationship.

I can understand the it is illegal argument because the host families spend a lot of money to have the AP come to the US. The $5-7000 they spend is very different than becoming an au pair elsewhere. It seems in the US the State Department has allowed it to become a very profitable business because the costs of obtaining an au pair do not even come close to the expense that is charged to obtain one. I can understand why families would not want to lose their investment in their AP. I however, can not understand all of the other arguments. The AP is not there to become your domestic slave to answer to your every demand. The AP’s free time is exactly that. They are not obligated to work extra hours unless it was agreed by both parties in advance. Many of you seem to be very hypocritical when claiming she will be too tired. have none of you ever worked more than one job before???? I have worked as many as 3 jobs in the US and have never let my responsibilities suffer. Some people are motivated. Some people are hard workers. You should respect her ambition to work hard in her life. Clearly, some people are able to handle the extra work load and some are not, but thinking her life should entirely revolve around you is selfish and hypocritical. Just because you have invested so much money in your AP does not entitle you to oppress her in domestic slavery as you squeeze every last dollar you can out of her. Your AP is not a commodity to be bought and sold to the highest bidder…it sure does seem many of you think of them as an object that is in your home for you to exploit to the greatest extent. I am not surprised any of your APs left before her contract was up because she was there not to be your slave, but to be a part of your family and to enjoy her time in the US.

I am so thankful I am not an AP in the US where you over work them and for very little pay. Do the math, if they are making $200 a week and they work 45 hours a week, that is $4 and hour!!!! I can be certain that every AP is worth far more than $4 and hour to raise your children because you are too busy to raise them yourself. Try finding someone in the US to raise your children for $4 an hour! You won’t. You can’t. Why? Because it is illegal in the US to not pay a citizen less than minimum wage, which I believe in most states is around $8 an hour. You should have more appreciation for the role your AP has in your life and your home. Cut them some slack and let them enjoy their lives and make friends. I make $600 per month here in Turkey…I am more of a sister than an employee. My family treats me like a member of the family. If I want to go out with friends or do something they are flexible and allow me to have a life. I am here to assist them not cater to their every whim. We are both in this arrangement for the benefits it provides. I get to be a apart of a loving family and enjoy an amazing new country. They get to have someone to help them with looking after their two girls and playing games with them. The biggest perk, is I don’t have to do any housework like the APs in the US, the housekeeper does that. I don’t punch a clock with set hours, we work together as a family to meet both of our schedules. I am so lucky to have a family that wants me to be happy and enjoy my life here. They respect me and appreciate me….too bad the APs in the US don’t get to know what that feels like…some of you sound like slave drivers and I would not live with you if you paid double! I wouldn’t want to be treated like I am commodity. Just to be clear, I am not saying I condone the APs in the US from getting a second job because it is illegal…but I also don’t condone the other reasons you have besides that for not wanting your AP to have one…..disgusting self-centered Americans.

Taking a Computer Lunch January 12, 2012 at 4:03 pm

It is illegal because it is a violation of State Department regulations, not because American HF spend $6,000-8,000 in fees to bring an AP to their home. Your response is inappropriate. Think about what HP are saying. It is not too much to ask, having shelled out between $25,000 and $30,000 a year (not only for fees, but salary, the requisite $500 toward classes, the extra car insurance, cell phone, bedroom maintenace, food, etc. — and not counting gifts –all of which most of us pay willingly because having an AP is the best model of childcare for us), that a HF asks that the AP thinks about their needs first.

The minute an AP takes a second job and suddenly becomes unavailable to work a typically scheduled shift or her attitude toward AP work becomes negative because the other job pays “better” (because she’s not factoring all the other things the HF brings to the table), the HF suffers. I don’t think that is disgusting or self-centered. It is a privilege to be able to afford to host an AP, and one that for some of us means forgoing other luxuries. Not wanting an AP to work a second job doesn’t mean we don’t appreciate them. In fact, one could argue that we like the childcare that they provide so well, that we don’t want the young woman in our home to become exhausted by stretching herself too thin.

The AP year should be one of exploration – learning a new language, taking the requisite classes and touring – the luxury for the AP should be that of having free time — and time to figure out who she is and what she wants to do for the rest of her life (because as a HM, I’m well-aware that taking care of children is not a long-term goal). She won’t be able to do that if she is working all the time — and neither will you!

Should be working January 12, 2012 at 5:36 pm

Maybe this website needs a spot for FAQs or better yet, FMs (“frequent misunderstandings”), the first one being that APs’ stipend is an hourly wage.

The tone and insults in this post are inappropriate and as TACL points out, misunderstand the structure of the AP program in the US.

That said, I do know a few HFs who treat their APs like on-call servants. It is horrifying to me, and I have told the APs (friends of my AP) that they should speak up, schedule themselves for other events, and so on. But then again, we have had plenty of posts on this website from American APs in Europe who say that their HFs treat them like servants and expect inappropriate work and hours from them (e.g. scrubbing floors, doing HPs’ laundry).

cv harquail January 13, 2012 at 5:13 pm

SBW — that’s a neat idea, the “Frequent Misunderstandings” list… I’ll put that up as a separate post. cv

JJ Host Mom January 12, 2012 at 6:09 pm

I’ve advocated before for au pair participation on this site, but will be the first to admit that these types of posts get tiresome.
– American APs don’t do housework. By law, they’re not allowed to do anything that isn’t child-related. (That said, they are often expected to kick in their share of daily necessary household tasks, since they are roommates in a household.)
– The stipend is pocket change. APs income also includes room, board, and many perks, which far exceed the amount of the stipend.

Au pairs, I don’t mind if you post constructive advice and comments here, but please take the time to read the site and educate yourself on the point of view of host families before you go spouting off hate and judgement.

hOstCDmom January 12, 2012 at 9:17 pm

APs are actually paid AT MINIMUM the federally mandate minimum wage. Read the US Government regulations regarding au pair compensation — the stipend is pegged to and calculated based on [the current US federal minimum wage x 45hrs] – [a designated percentage of the total to cover room and board]. The resultant amount is the stipend. The stipend is not arbitrary, and it changes by law when the federal minimum wage goes up.

I say AT MINIMUM above because the US government regs calculation does not take into account the other (often substantial) “compensation” and au pair may receive.

To wit, inter alia:
– use of a car, sometimes sole use of a car
-car insurance
– educational contribution
-cell phone service
-internet service
-gym or club memberships
-trips or plane tickets

AFHostMom January 12, 2012 at 10:10 pm

I just have to echo what my fellow host moms have said–enough, enough, enough. Don’t paint all Americans with such a broad brush–you’d think, being American yourself, you would be smart and sensitive enough to realize that sort of stereotype is laughable. It’s great that you have a host family you connect with–maybe they can teach you some things(like that working outside the home is a lifestyle choice, and most HPs aren’t not doing it because we’re “too busy” to raise our children) and you can grow during your time there, so that you stop making such foolish statements. Best of luck.

Melissa January 13, 2012 at 12:29 am

Oh my gosh, this post is so immature and ridiculously misinformed that it can’t possibly be real. If it is, this poster obviously has other issues or hostilities which are influencing this post.

applehappy aupair January 13, 2012 at 12:22 am

Well I am a au pair I take care of 3 boys all from school ages, and I have 3 jobs here in USA Illegal or not!! I DON’T CARE because I need the money and my host family supports me. Actually they gave the idea of doing that.

I work as an au pair 4 days a week ( that’s the time my hf needs me)
I work fridays and saturdays nights in a bar
and I work on weekends taking care of my host mom’s baby and dog

and I am happy becuase I am saving to pay for college when I am back home. And as I said before I dont care if it illegal because I really need the money and the paymet as au pair sucks and everyone know it!!…plus in my case…THE ENDS JUSTIFIES THE MEANS!!!

NoVA Host Mom January 13, 2012 at 12:41 am

Actually, no, the end does not justify the means. That saying is used by people doing things they know to be wrong but are trying to paint themselves in a better light.

When it is figured out that you are working in a bar (not just additional, off-the-books hours for your HPs), not only can you and the HF be kicked out of the program (for placing the agency at risk of violating the State Department rules), but the bar as a corporation and the owners as individuals can be fined by the IRS and could also be subject to criminal and civil proceedings for hiring an illegal worker, which you are by working in a bar on a J-1 Visa without written Agency aproval.

But, hey, since you are earning more money even though you were fully aware of the exact terms of your AP employment at the time you agreed to become this (or any) family’s AP, then “the ends justify the means”, right? Make sure you attend their trial, or at least kick in for their fines. It would be polite, at the very least.

Next time, don’t agree to be an AP in the US and instead take a job with proper documentation more in keeping with the style which you prefer to become accustomed. The rules were in B&W before you ever set foot on US soil. Don’t cry crocodile tears over circumstances you walked into with your full consent. Find another board for that.

(sorry, guys, but I’ve about had it on this topic).

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