Almost-done Au Pair Refuses to Work Weekends!

by cv harquail on June 8, 2009

I heard this one ‘thru the grapevine’ over the picnic table tonight– and just so you know, I got irked on the host mom’s behalf, even though I don’t know her!!

girl argue.jpg Here’s the situation:

This family’s au pair has a little bit more than a month left before she leaves (for home or for a 13th month, I don’t know).

The au pair announced to the host mom that, as of yesterday, she (the au pair) will no longer work on weekends. “I have too much to do,” the au pair claims. The host mom has her own plans for the next five weekends, and these included having the au pair be ‘on duty’… the au pair only works 25-30 hours during the week.

So, now the host mom has gotten a back up babysitter (at $11-$12 an hour!) to watch the kids for the event she is attending next Saturday night.

What would you do if you were in this host mom’s situation? In addition to sitting down with the au pair and telling her that this is not acceptable, AND in addition to calling in the LCC ….

If you were the Host Mom, would you...

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Calif Mom June 8, 2009 at 10:26 am

AP is hardly overworked. She can do “getting ready to leave” errands during the week when she’s off duty. The “too much to do” she is talking about is hanging out with her friends before she goes. While I’m sympathetic–my last AP had the misfortune of falling in love just as she was getting ready to go back home, after a year of the single life–but this is unreasonable.

Sadly, it’s also not surprising. It’s actually part of her starting to detach, those last lame-duck weeks when hosts can really start to feel used because they have lost all leverage.

Pay, however, is the last vestige of leverage that hosts have, and it’s a powerful lever because pay is also usually quite important to APs who are thinking about their imminent return home. That docking of pay for an equivalent of the time she’s not working is a creative solution; it makes the point that she’s not done with you yet and can’t just walk all over you because you need her, and it will also help offset the host’s babysitter costs if she doesn’t suck it up and get reasonable.

I have paid for babysitters during AP years, but only when I had double-booked, my AP was over her hours, or we needed a sitter with special skills (like math, swimming or piano).

I should think a call to LCC might help set her straight, too. The counselors often have this “we’re into the home stretch now, don’t screw it up” conversations with APs who are getting ready to head home.

But still, what a disappointment/annoyance for the host.

Anne June 8, 2009 at 10:37 am

I am sympathetic to both the host mom and the au pair here. I think leaving is a difficult situation for the au pair–she is probably both excited and sad, and may be responding to her mixed feelings with an unwillingness to work. It may seem pointless to her to do certain things, when she’s going to leave regardless of what she does.
But, obviously, the host mom is not getting what she needs, either. And that is not OK, because the host mom is paying!
I’m interested in seeing advice for experienced host parents. We’re halfway though our first year hosting an au pair, and I’m worried about how the end of the year will go for all of us!

Mary June 8, 2009 at 11:12 am

Our contract indicates that you can not dock pay for any reason. What happens if you do?Our au pair did just about nothing in the last month except go out with her friends. We gave her a list of tasks to do each day and would come home and find them not done. She would say that she would get to it tomorrow. Tomorrow never came. We talked to her several times, but it didn’t make a difference. She even offered to leave early and stay with her friend. This is what I think she wanted to do. She already had her ticket home booked through the agency after her 13 month. This would give her more time off. We made her stay until the end because we didn’t have any other childcare and we had already selected the next au pair. What can you do?

Kate June 8, 2009 at 11:32 am

It really doesn’t seem fair. My au pair is also finishing her year and is doing the same thing. She wasn’t home in time for the school bus two days last week. She no longer follows the curfrew or any of our house rules. She doesn’t complete her work. I did the kids laundry this weekend. She says that she will leave if we don’t like it!!! I have three weeks left to go and need childcare. She already has a flight back after the 13th month. The agency says “hang in there” I paid a lot of money for this program and have no leverage. She can leave and then I will have a huge childcare bill if I can find anyone for a short period of time. Then I have to train the substitute and the new au pair!! The kids are a mess and this is a bad situation. I wake up in the morning and don’t know if she will even be there. I took the car keys away in the evening, but she needs to drive the kids during the day and has been putting on hundreds of miles per day without filling the car with gas. I just don’t know what I can do. Suggestions please!!!!

Franzi June 8, 2009 at 1:13 pm

ok, even if the current APs might hate me know, i suggest the following. i would clearly state to the AP that if she does not do her work that she has been doing all year long and signed the contract for she is out of your house. THAT means she is not in good standing in the program and needs to leave the country within 48 hours. no friends anymore, no 13th travel month, no plane ticket paid by the agency. with 3 or 4 weeks left she has no chance of rematching.
your APs seem not to be aware that they signed up for 12 full months!

of course the last month is tricky – the AP wants to work as little as possible and see as much as she can, meet people she might not see for a long time etc. i’m not saying that this was any different with me. and i did stretch the curfew from time to time in that month. but i did my work! i can’t believe they would just flat out refuse or say the’ll do it later knowing that they will never do it anyways.
they signed up for something and the 13th month is to be used for the goodbyes! i cannot believe someone would flat out refuse to work weekends. last month or not.

Anonymous June 8, 2009 at 1:20 pm

I have been having similiar issues with my au pair who is leaving in two weeks. I contacted by LCC and she suggested taking away personal car priviledges if the work wasn’t done or if she didn’t want to work a weekend, etc. It sounds fair and so I tried it.

My au pair went away for the weekend and called me at 10 p.m. last night to let me know that she didn’t have a ride home. I needed to come and pick her up. She was almost 2 hours away. She had no good reason why she didn’t have a ride back. Her curfew on work nights is 11 p.m. so she was already calling too late. I was getting ready for bed. I had been with the kids all day and was very tired. I had no choice but to drive to another state to pick her up and drive her home. I got back at 2:30 a.m. and had to leave for work at 6 a.m. I am furious. She said it was my fault because I didn’t let her use the car. All along she has only been permitted to do local driving to surrounding towns. Is there anyway I can tell her that she can’t go out on her days off? My husband said to tell her to take a cab, but that was not reasonable due to the distance and of course she never has any money. Any ideas?

AuPairInHolland June 30, 2011 at 7:55 am

Your au pair is supposed to be a young adult, whom you trust to take care of you children. Therefore this person should have good judgement and NOT have a curfew, knowing that if she gets home trashed and wasted at 5 in the morning, she’ll still have to be up at 7, looking fresh and smiling and willing to do her job just like on any normal day.
Your au pair is not your daughter, setting curfews is just wrong.

AuPairInHolland June 30, 2011 at 7:59 am

*I’m not defending the au pair in any ways, I’m just saying that the relationship is not healthy when she feels free to call you in the middle of the night asking for this huge favor.

Taking a Computer Lunch June 30, 2011 at 8:48 am

Obviously your relationship with your AP has disintegrated. She’s ready to go, you’re ready for her to go, and you’re both angry with each other. It’s natural for her to pull away and want to say goodbye to everyone. However, it’s extremely immature to end up stranded in another state and expect you to solve the problem. She’s probably gone by now (based on the date of your post).

In general, I find it useful to have a talk with my APs when they’re in the two-month countdown mode. I know they’re trying to squeeze in a lot of goodbyes, last minute trips, and to finish their bucket lists, but I remind them why they’re here – they’re APs. I still have a job to do and I need to rely on them. I tell them I will be as flexible as I can if I can rely on them when I need them. All have risen to the occasion.

I once had an AP who miscalculated the time it would take her to return from an out-of-state trip (she had a car). We charged her a vacation day for making us take a vacation day and told her that it couldn’t happen again.

I think what I would have done if I had been in your situation, would be to tell the AP she had two choices a) figure out how she was going to get home by the time you needed to leave for work or b) pay for your time and gas to pick her up – and give her the sum in advance.

And AuPairInHolland, it’s exactly behavior like this that makes American HPs’ assign curfews. This AP did not behave like an adult — she had to have known well before 10 pm that she couldn’t possibly get home by 11.

Clara June 8, 2009 at 1:26 pm

First, you might want to check your contract. Ours, with AuPair In America, says the au pair has to be given one weekend off a month.
Second, assuming you have a decent relationship with her already (otherwise she shouldn’t be there after almost a year, right?), I’d suggest a sitdown in which you remind her of what she agreed to when she came, show her the schedule you had to write in your application and that you presumably have adhered to all year, remind her of the many times you’ve cut her some slack in other situations, and even talk about the relationship and how she wants to leave it and whether she hopes to be friends still. (Five of our 9 au pairs have come back to visit us … they really wanted a continued relationship.) And if that all fails, I’d call the agency counselor in to help negotiate.

Franzi June 8, 2009 at 1:53 pm

@ anonymous, tell your AP that this was the last time you did this for her! she doesn’t have any money for a cab? well, go save some!
she’s out of state? how did she get there in the first place? if she can’t make sure she has a ride home on time, she should not be that far away from your home. you would not let this slide if it was her 6th or 7th month, so why now?

Darthastewart June 8, 2009 at 2:10 pm

I wouldn’t be putting up with the driving all over the place, and other nonsense. I’d let her know she either shapes up or ships out.
FYI, a lot of employers offer backup care through various daycares- mine is through Bright Horizons. It may be that you call them and see what they can do for you.

Anonymous June 8, 2009 at 2:54 pm

This is like holding you hostage. Tell her to get her own ride to the airport when she leaves too!

Momof boys June 8, 2009 at 2:58 pm

I think in this case I would “charge” her for the gas out of her week’s pay.

CV June 8, 2009 at 5:14 pm

Anon– At that point- 2 weeks away with a clear more-than-passive aggressive attitude of making her behavior your problem, I’d have told her to find her own way home. Yes, that would really have stuck you the next day (or maybe the remaining two weeks) with a childcare problem, but I’d rather have the childcare problem than have to deal with a 4 hr trip steeped in disrespect. ALso, I do think that she should have been held responsible for her own choices (even if it screwed things up for you). As it was/is, she got what she wanted and things were still screwed up for you. At the very least, I think you should charge her the appropriate fare (e.g., midway between taxi cost and bus cost). I would *not* give her a “free” ride.
But of course, it wasn’t me picking up the phone already sleep deprived, having to make a choice among only bad or worse options.
So, that said, how did you manage not to be furious? And now what’s happening?

Anna June 8, 2009 at 7:31 pm

For the host mother whose au pair puts hundreds of miles on the car a day, I would calculate the miles she needs to drive your kids, and subtract from her weekly pay for the rest. This is within your rights; they have to pay for their own gas when they do personal driving.

Mom of 2 Girls June 8, 2009 at 8:22 pm

I like Franzi’s ideas, and while I would love to withhold or dock her pay, it isn’t allowed in our contract, and I try to go by the rules, even when the AuPairs and agency don’t always seem to. I agree that it’s probably part of the separation process, but she’s being rather too extreme. Talk with her and see if you can’t come up with a more mutually reasonable solution, if she’s been otherwise OK up to now. Otherwise, I think I’d talk to the LCC and make sure she understands your situation, and if necessary, tell her to go ahead and leave. And I think that Anna’s suggestion is also against our contract, as we can’t withhold from their pay, but it’s tricky if you only fill the car with enough gas for the kids’ driving and AP uses the car for personal use, as she may run out on “your time” rather than hers! (Or, like me, you’ll have to refill the tank every time YOU need to drive somewhere, without being warned to leave extra time for that.)

Anonymous June 8, 2009 at 9:13 pm

Thanks Everyone. So I guess I have #@$% it up and tried to get by. I spoke to my new au pair today and that gave me faith. She sounds so perfect. I revised my handbook, etc. but I have also tried to comply with the rules. The au pair can not fill the tank, drive more miles, not perform, etc, etc, and we can only ask for a rematch. We can not withhold $$$ and restricting the car didn’t work. I have had a rematch. Slightly better – she stayed, but that was about it. The more I spoke to her, the less she did. It is not fair to the kids to keep switching au pairs. I had to bring my son to a behavior therapist because he thought it was his fault that the first au pair left. He cried for days. He really like her. It was so said. She wouldn’t even get him a hug when she left. Rematching is very time consuming and may not work out better. I have tried to make the current situation work, but this time I may think differently. Backup daycare is not an option for school age kids. The backup daycare doesn’t work with my commute and hours, that is why I chose the au pair option. Being a Mom isn’t easy. I have to think of everyone before I think of myself.

SF Mom June 9, 2009 at 12:44 am

Personally, I have come to believe that the au pair companies do not give the families the consideration or rights that they need. I think that families, who are paying the bill I might add, need to put pressure on these agencies for more rights in the contract, more time if an au pair decides to leave, more leverage, etc. The agencies are set up to attract and protect au pairs, not families, who can be left in a serious lurch. I’m getting bitter! I have a new au pair coming on Wednesday and I sure hope I can breathe a breath of fresh air when she arrives…

Hula Gal June 9, 2009 at 12:56 am

I think each host mom will have a different answer to this depending on their own situation. My husband works from home, is self employed and both of our parents are retired. So we are in a position where we do not have to be at the mercy of our childcare provider. If we were in the exact situation as described by CV we’d tell the au pair that we could no longer host her in our home since she is not providing us childcare per the requirements of her visa agreement. If she is asked to work 45 hours a week and is given one weekend off a month and she is getting paid her full stipend than she cannot say no. I’m grateful for this topic because it never occurred to me that this could be an issue at the end of the au pair’s year. But I could see how it could happen. There needs to be consequences or an irresponsible au pair will leverage her position against you in her favor. I do want to emphasize that you cannot take any money from the au pair if she is providing you any childcare. If she looks after your children she gets paid the full amount. If she owes you money than she needs to pay you but you cannot dock it from her paycheck. Honestly, there is so much gray area in hosting an au pair and operating within the law that I am not sure how the programs keep it all straight. This is why I am glad I have a very good LCC who tells us a definitive answer that we have respected when we have encountered a gray area and she has been very supportive of us from the beginning.

Jeana June 9, 2009 at 8:12 am

In my experience, our aupairs have developed more relationships as their year progresses, which means more opportunities for socialization, which can also affect our schedule. For our awesome aupairs, I bend over backwards to be flexible with our weekend schedule. I’ve told our aupairs that I can “work magic” with a schedule, with advance notice, but can’t do a lot without notice. I’ve tried to provide extra flexibility toward the end of the year, as I understand that they’re trying to bring closure to some relationships that will continue via e-mail, not in-person time. I remind our aupairs that their friends are welcome in our home, and communicate that to their friends, as well, as I want them to feel free to socialize nearby.

I haven’t had any aupairs who stopped being who they were from the first days. My aupairs who have been a joy were delightful and considerate of our needs from the very beginning. The two aupairs we had that were not a joy and delightful from the beginning were immature and inconsiderate from early on.

I have learned that if it doesn’t “feel right” to me, I need to address it, sooner, rather than later. This has been a challenge to me, as it isn’t my nature to do this. It is also something that I learned from our cluster leader. I suspect that in each of the situations we’ve been reading about, the girls showed inconsiderate, selfish, immature behavior, which escalated as the year went on, when the girls felt they had nothing to lose. They had succeeded with their behaviors throughout their year…why change now?

For those of us with a few months to go, I would suggest a conversation about how our aupairs might want a little more flexibility during the very end of their time with us, what we’re able to provide, and setting the stage for that time in a proactive way, not a reactive to their demands way. I’ve learned so much through my well intentioned errors, as a host mom. Thankfully, our experiences have most often been with delightful young women who knew the needs of our family didn’t cease as their year came to a close.

PA Mom June 9, 2009 at 9:04 am

I have found it helpful to talk to our au pairs about how the last 4 months can be difficult. The AP starts to detach and focus on her next exciting stage (going home, college, new job, whatever). I can remember those feelings when I was her age – and many of us have experienced it when moving to a new job. Tough to focus on the “junk” stuff and not want to leave it for the next guy. My suggestion is to speak with the AP around the last 4 months and just emphasize that it’s really tough on the kids and you if she pulls away before the end. Remind her that the kids are going to really miss her and you’d appreciate that she stay emotionally invested in the family until the end. I also think it’s important to give the AP a little extra weekend time at the end as she needs to say her good byes to friends, pack, ship things home, shop for gifts, etc. – and while she can do these alone during the week – the reality is that she wants and needs to do it with the company of her AP friends. So perhaps try and balance – if she’s been a good AP, think of how your daughter would be feeling in this stage, and then try to help her balance her responsibility to you with her focus on the future. I think it’s too much to ask to have her work 5 weekends when she’s leaving. But not to much to ask to have her work part of those weekends so you can get a little out time yourself before the new (and untested) AP comes in for the next year. Docking pay is creative – but after a good year – maybe you need a little mediation and you really both want to end on a good note.

Calif Mom June 9, 2009 at 9:35 am

Jeana– you nailed it! The end of a stay can be seen as just an intensification of who they are to start with. The lovely ones are even more lovely; the selfish can become intolerable.

I’m not sure you would actually need to dock pay; but a conversation about possible consequences that includes that as an option might be motivating.

Jeana, I totally agree that a bad match needs to be addressed quickly, rather than trying to patch together the relationship and limp along. Much better to fly ahead with someone who ‘gets’ your family. If it isn’t working in the beginning when things are generally rosy and optimistic, it is NOT going to get better later on unless there is some sort of gestalt taking place inside the mind of the girl. Which could happen, I s’pose…

Mel June 9, 2009 at 11:08 am

I am four months from the end of our year with our current au pair and last month she asked for time off her regular schedule for appointments (not medical). The first time this happened I bent over backwards for her, but the second time it really put me in a bind. So I asked my LCC if it was ok to ask her to pay for the alternative childcare, or at least be reimbursed by taking it out of her stipend. My LCC said that she is not allowed to ask for time off her regular schedule for not-medically-necessary reasons – it is against her contract. Period.

Thank you for this discussion because I am very nervous that this situation is in our future. Unfortunately we are not in a position to ask family to help in a pinch and our employers don’t offer alternative childcare. If she made the request again, I am just going to have to remind her of her contract. I don’t know what else I could do.

I hope my anecdote helps.

Kalebarkab June 9, 2009 at 1:47 pm

I want to find good pop music. Help me please.

Jennifer June 9, 2009 at 6:58 pm

I would most likely give the AP three choices. 1) she can “buy” time off by paying the $11-12 per hour needed to pay for alternate care. 2) She can choose to violate her contract by refusing to work, which would necessitate her packing her bags now and getting dropped at the LCC. Of course, doing so means she will not be able to earn money and would not be afforded the same driving or other privileges she currently enjoys. 3) Continue to work the hours she is assigned and be grateful for what little time she has left in the US.

The second choice would be hardest on the HF, but preferable to dealing with an AP who is breaking her contract and causing upheaval in the home.
If I were that HF, I would be preparing for alternate care right away. If the situation continues to escalate, you won’t want the AP around anyway.

Choice 1 may or may not be technically legal in the eyes of the State Department, but it is the option that gives everyone what they want- AP gets extra time off, HF gets alternate childcare without incurring extra expense. That isn’t docking her pay; it is allowing the AP to provide fill-in care so she can do what she wants. If she doesn’t agree, then she can either work, or leave.

The unavoidable fact is that the vast majority of these girls are in full blown adolescence in their development. HFs are forced to work effectively with a teen who has cultural and linguistic differences. When facing a transition, the adolescent part can become more pronounced, which necessitates some tough-love parenting. In this, as well as with every situation, each choice has a consequence. Let her know her choices and the consequences, and then detach from the outcome as much as possible.

That means get back up child care ASAP just in case!

Good luck, and let us know how it comes out.

Jillian June 9, 2009 at 7:06 pm

I’m not sure what the “best” solution would be, but I think the easiest would be to try to negotiate the next couple of weekends and just make it through till the new AP arrives. That’s such an inconvenience but it would be even worse is she leaves and you don’t get any childcare time.

Jillian June 9, 2009 at 7:08 pm

Oh and I would definitely ask my Area Director to get involved in talking to the AP about her responsibilities.

NoVA HostMom June 10, 2009 at 12:43 am

The more I read, the happier I am that my husband and I gave the first AP the ole’ heave-ho. Every day I am reminded how nice it is to have a really great AP in the house. I must say, a lot of what I watch for now and pay attention to is because of the lessons learned from this blog.

For the family that CV described, I would suggest notifying the LLC certainly, but I would most definately go the “contract violation” route and end the contract early before I would allow my family to be held hostage by a selfish and lazy AP. Now, to be frank, this is likely not the answer I would have given in January, but live & learn. In the past, I probably would have tried to make it work and tolerate poor work ethics and responsibility. Heck, in the past I did just that. And I made myself tired and stressed trying to accomodate everyone, and it felt like it was usually just the AP being accomodated. It is so not worth it.

Now, however, I sing a different tune. Now I shout that I would rather call a sitting service for a few weeks and pay them the money that would have gone to the AP, rather than become someone’s welcome (or “see ya”) mat. If the LLC does not have the “finish your contract or else” conversation, or said conversation does not have a positive effect, then I would most definately be helping her to pack her bags, ensure that the last 2 weeks pay is provided only after all outstanding bills due are paid (including whatever vacation & education pay had not been earned and the house and cell phone bills have been handled), and tell the LLC to pick her up from the front stoop.

Calif Mom June 10, 2009 at 11:43 am

Mel– I think you CAN head off some uncomfortable events that might be ahead of you. Listen to that uneasy feeling you have. Can I humbly suggest that you proactively have a conversation with your AP in the next couple of weeks? This can be super-friendly at this point, because nothing egregious has happened. This is a check-in…”How are you feeling as you start to think about getting ready to go home?” type of conversation, rather than waiting for her to ask you for time off during work hours again. Maybe there is something she needs that you can easily provide, which puts some emotional capital in your bank account, too.

No criticism from me, here, because I’m a big pushover myself, but because you accommodated her already once (she pushed the boundary and you realize that you allowed it to move a little further out than you are comfortable with) that’s where she thinks the boundary is now. Just do a little friendly, proactive reminding about expectations, and emphasize that you are all really relying on her and appreciate how smooth things are going. Then you won’t feel quite so powerless or walking on eggshells. If you aren’t doing them, the beginning of summer might be a good excuse to establish weekly check-in meetings with her, because “the kids’ schedules change, and they have different needs” etc. It will be harder for her to detach quite so soon if you are meeting one-on-one weekly. Detachment makes possibly taking advantage of you much easier.

I hope this helps. I have historically tended to wait too long to engage in conversations, and this is something that is working so well for me that I’m becoming a big proselytizer! :-)

Darthastewart June 10, 2009 at 11:55 am

I totally would rather call a backup sitter or backup care service. A number of our nanny agencies locally have nannies who are looking for short term assignments or who are willing to do short term while they look for a longer term assignment. I live near Raleigh, NC, and there is a babysitter service that I’ve used before, that will do short term placements as well. I actually will use the babysitter in conjunction with the AP at times to make sure we don’t have to go over our hours. I also have a friend who can watch my little guy in a pinch, and the older ones too, just so we have coverage. For instance, when my ap goes on vacation, I have my friend watch the 2 yo, and use afterschool care for the older ones. If it’s during track-out, my friend might watch them, we might use a different babysitter, or drop in care. See, I’ve got four kids ranging in age from almost 11 yo to 2 yo, so we have to be creative.
But we’ve gotten a lot more relaxed about things in general since I found out what my backup childcare options are.

AnnaAuPair June 10, 2009 at 6:07 pm

I can definitely understand, that the AuPair would like to spend her last weekends with her friends, but she DOES have at least 1 1/2 day off to do that so/and she is in NO way in the position to claim she should get more time off.
Personally I can’t understand how the AuPairs get lazy with their work during the last month – I myself realized, that I now spent more time with my HF than I did before, because in about a month I’ll be gone =(
As a lot of other people already said before: we AuPairs signed up for 12 month!!!!! that means working until the last day! And just because I leave soon doesn’t mean, that my hostparents have more time and need me less ^^
Although it might sound hard, because it’s the AuPairs last month, but consequences are consequences. And they shouldn’t be different in the last month. Think about what you would have done, if it would have been e.g. her 5th month.
As an AuPair I can say, that it’s nice, when certain rules, that CAN be bend (like curefew on NON-work days e.g.) are eased a little during the last days – the stress is on A LITTLE and on ONCE or TWICE!

Anonymous June 11, 2009 at 12:33 pm

I don’t think that anyone has mentioned that aupairs get a thirteenth month on their visa to travel, hang out , etc. if they choose.
Some of us adults must have worked with ” contractors ‘ in the business world. What experience do people have with colleagues and vendors who work on a time limited contract ?

Darthastewart June 11, 2009 at 1:48 pm

One thing I thought of with the agencies whose policies it is that you cannot withhold money- You can pay the au-pair in cash- get a signed receipt, and stand there and immediately insist that she pay you back for gas or other expenses. That way you have not broken the rules, but you do have your money back.

AnnaAuPair June 11, 2009 at 6:32 pm

I like Darthastewart’s idea!!!

Calif Mom June 11, 2009 at 7:15 pm

I’ve never had an AP take that 13th month. They don’t usually have enough cash for it after they have bought laptops and MP3 players for everyone back home!

IJC June 18, 2009 at 9:40 am

From the way this is written, I get the impression that the host mum was making the au pair work every weekend prior to this. If this is the case, I’m not surprised the au pair doesn’t want to work weekends any more.

cv June 18, 2009 at 10:31 am

Readers, just to clarify belatedly– this host mom was giving her AP at least one if not two weekends off, completely within the guidelines. Also, she was not expecting to schedule her AP for all 5 remaining weekends… the issue is/was that the AP refused to work ANY weekend, regardless of the guidelines or the host family’s needs. cvh

Anonymous August 8, 2009 at 11:19 am

As a former au pair in Europe (I’m American) I can understand where the au pair is coming from. I was also a graduate student at the time and doing research on my own time and I agreed to work only 20 hours a week. The family was always insisting I work more than I agreed to doing intense cleaning that had nothing to do with childcare and was not on my contract. I ended up working 40 hours a week and being paid for 20! I felt used, like I was a slave.

Au pairs have rights too and there may be another side to the story. Perhaps she has been overworked and not compensated or perhaps she was guaranteed a certain amount of paid vacation and she is using it – most au pairs are guaranteed a certain amount of vacation. It is frightening to move in with an entire family you don’t know and absolutely depressing when they all take advantage of you. It’s an awful situation to be in.

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