Check out challenge: Our au pair is leaving, and …

by cv harquail on November 30, 2010

AuPairMoms–  I’m curious if anyone has been in this situation or how you would recommend handling this.

We are leaving the AP program and our LCC is now MIA. Our AP’s year is up Dec 27th but she asked to leave the program early to go home to her country. Her last day with us is Dec 3 (this Friday). She is traveling to CA on Saturday and returning on Dec 12 (the next Sunday). She flies home on Monday (Dec 13).

Here’s the challenge: She wants the car to go to her final class and then to the airport on Monday Dec 13th. She wants to take the cell phone and gps with her to California. We both work on Monday the 13th so no one will be home for a final checkout.

I am totally not okay with this as she’s only been with us 3 1/2 months AND she’s leaving the country. We don’t really know her at all and although I think she would do the right thing, I just don’t want to take any chances.

My thoughts are to tell her Dec 3 is it for using the car, the gps, and staying with us. She can stay Friday night. I will hold back vacation money until my items (phone and GPS) are returned on Sunday and she needs to find another place to stay December 12th and beyond. NO CAR. We can’t take her to the airport as I have final exams on Sunday and a state football championship for my son.
Does this seem reasonable?
Says SotaGal:

I think that seems very reasonable, especially given the short time she has been with you and that she isn’t even finishing out her program year. My guess is that she may not be agreeable to withholding her vaca pay until the end and if that is the case then I would make sure to have your phone and GPS in hand before she leaves. She entered the AP program as an adult therefore solving her own transportation problems when they don’t fit in to your family life is something she should be able to solve.

If you aren’t getting support from your LCC you could also call the main office to find out who is their back up (our LCC notifies us of an alternate contact when she is unavailable) or who her regional director is to help you if needed.

Best of luck!

And from MommyMia

I’m with SotaGal. She can purchase a calling card (or give her one as a goodbye gift) that she can use while travelling. Especially if she’s going with or staying with friends or other APs, she’ll be able to borrow a phone and GPS in an emergency.

We were almost faced with the same dilemma, although our AP has been here the entire year (extended after completing a year with another family, too) but then her 13th month travel plans changed. It’s so hard for them to “pull the plug” on their electronic link with the world, but they will NOT die if they can’t text/call/email every five minutes.


Au Pair in CO November 30, 2010 at 10:03 pm

I would say you are being totally reasonable. I would never expect my host family to provide me with a car and phone after I have finished working for them, no matter what the circumstances were. I like the suggestion of giving her a calling card as a good-bye present though, and I am sure she’d appreciate some help on finding alternative transportation to the airport (help her find a shuttle service or something like that).

I don’t think you’re “allowed” to hold back her vacation pay, but ask her if she’s okay with that deal (her keeping the phone & gps but you withholding her pay), or if she would rather get her money and leave your stuff behind. Put like that, I’m pretty sure she’d prefer her money..:)

Taking a Computer Lunch November 30, 2010 at 10:38 pm

My guess, from your tone, is that she hasn’t become a beloved AP in the 3 1/2 months she’s been living with you. And if not, then don’t extend any “extras” to her.

Personally, I would want to have a check-out with my AP and drive her to the airport. There has only been one AP I have not driven to the airport, and that is the one that stayed in the US (legally – she was on a student visa). And yes, I have always taken off time from work to do so – my way of respecting the time and energy they have given me.

If your AP hasn’t gone the extra mile, then you owe her nothing, and you should ask for your phone and GPS before she leaves you on Friday. If she cannot find a friend with whom to stay the night before she leaves, then, unless you’re parting on awful terms, if I were in your shoes I would offer to put her up (in something better than a youth hostel) near the airport, preferably in a hotel or motel that offers a shuttle.

HMinWI December 1, 2010 at 12:18 am

I think it sounds as if you’re being reasonable. If the AP is no longer working for you, you do not have to supply her with the phone and GPS. I have sent my APs off on their 13th month adventures without our AP cell phone, and they have never had a problem staying connected. None of them has ever put up a fuss about it. So, I have always presumed that they understand that since they are no longer working, the phone stays here.

As for having a place to stay, unless the terms of her departure are bad, I would probably allow the AP to stay at my home on that last night. Or, TACL’s recommendation of putting her up somewhere near the airport seems reasonable as well.

BLJ Host Mom December 1, 2010 at 3:23 am

My super GREAT AP took her cell phone with her for her travel time and she racked up a huge cell phone and texting bill. I felt weird calling her in Germany to get the money from her, I knew she was broke. So we just ate the cost. When you are traveling alone, apparently you talk and text A LOT more than usual, even to your home country. She mailed me the phone back from NYC so I wasn’t worried I wouldn’t get it back. It was inconvenient to have those extra charges though. Is it going to be a total pain to meet up with her on the 12th to get your stuff? That might be a reason not to let her take anything…

So I would add that you should check the cell bill on line and make sure that you aren’t stuck with a bunch of extra charges.

If it were me, I would probably let her take the cell phone for safety but not the GPS and DEFINITELY not the car. IF you let her take anything, definitely keep vaca pay.

I’m not sure you even owe her vaca pay. In our agency a good rematch AP had to pay the family back for the week of vaca she took, and she rematched after 6 months. So after 3.5 mths are you sure you owe it?

You are being MORE than fair and reasonable with her.

Should be working December 1, 2010 at 5:48 am

I agree that you owe her none of those things, although I have always let APs keep their phone (but then they have to buy their own minutes).

I have a question unrelated to the post: You took an AP that only had 4 months left in her year? I’m interested in that; she was apparently a rematch au pair after a full 8 months. As someone rematch-phobic I’d like to hear more. Were the problems that came up with you the same ones as were cited by the previous family?

Mom23 December 1, 2010 at 1:34 pm

We have hosted three fabulous au pairs who came from rematch. Just as there are au pairs who probably are not the best fit for the program there are families who should probably not host au pairs. Two of those three families refused to speak to potential rematch families, but we were able to meet all three young women. Our last au pair was also a rematch and was a horrible fit for our family. Kind of nightmarish actually. But, just because of that I would not discount au pairs who have come from rematch.

PA AP mom December 1, 2010 at 1:41 pm

Our current AP came to us as a rematch from a family in Texas. The family no longer wanted an AP due to “personal family issues”.

She is great. I was hesitant at first about taking a “transition” AP, but I’m glad I did. It’s just like any other candidate. You have to do your research and hope that you ask all the right questions.

AustinAPMom December 2, 2010 at 1:56 pm

We have our first au pair now, for about 2.5 months…she is a rematch because our first choice had her visa denied. Our current au pair is AWESOME! She was in a bad situation before with a family with 4 kids who expected more than the department of state allows. Both she and we are happy with the match.

Gianna December 1, 2010 at 9:12 am

I would take a late rematch candidate or anyone in rematch only if I totally trusted my LCC and had great faith in her ability to flesh out the truth from the agency. If the agency would not let me talk to the former family , I would want my LCC to talk to the other family or the other LCC ( but only if I trusted my LCC’s good judgement and contacts ). I once heard that the host parent of a rematch aupair had lost her job. Then, I learned that although the story was true, money was not a problem. The family had not been happy from the outset. A late rematch could mean that the family was AWFUL and the agency wants to support the aupair.

Deb Schwarz December 1, 2010 at 12:30 pm

It’s amazing that she would expect the cellphone and GPS on her vacation… are NOT being unreasonable. Offer to put her up on the last night before she flies out, but that’s about all I would do (if you like her and she’s been a decent au pair). Oh – and do the final checkout on Sunday night – bid her farewell and pay any vacation pay that is due to her. Sounds like you are leaving the au pair program early – but don’t feel guilty – she has decided to leave early, too. Good luck!

igelwelch December 1, 2010 at 12:52 pm

You’re not allowed to withhold pay for any reason, so you need to give her that. And I believe you are required to pay for her transportation to the airport (though if she’s not actually going home at the time, I’m not certain)–you can put her on a bus or make other arrangements. I think you are still required, as well, to provide transportation to her final class. I would not let her use your cell phone and GPS. Like you said, you don’t really know her. I like the suggestion of giving a calling card and wishing her well. Remain pleasant and positive, but tell her it’s not an option. Then don’t feel bad! Good luck!

Mom23 December 1, 2010 at 1:28 pm

I think I would make Dec. 3 the offical last day. Do check out then and drive her to the airport for her vacation. I think it would be nice to host her for her last night, but I don’t see that it is a requirement. If you are feeling generous, I might offer to pay for a shuttle to pick her and her luggage up from your house on the 13th, but it is certainly not required.

I think driving your car to her class and then to the airport (are you supposed to retrieve it later?) is a bit too much, as is the use of the cell phone and GPS.

Is she owed two weeks of vacation pay? If she ends the program early then that might be forfeited, but my guess is that varies by agency. Some agencies do allow a stipend to be withheld to settle bills, but I think that also varies by agency.

Jennifer December 1, 2010 at 2:13 pm

Okay, I told her last night that Dec 3 was the last day for the car. She wants it on Dec 13 to go to class becasue her friend can’t take her. She has to go to this class to get her certificate. Something with being in class so many days. I don’t really feel bad about that because she is missing all next week to travel to CA. I told her that there is no way for her to return the car because we won’t be home and she won’t have keys to the house (hint, hint). She’s very, very upset about this.

For the cell phone, she has 200 minutes after that I will turn it off. The phone isn’t working right anyways and I have an old one we can use. The GPS is new and not so sure about that.

Just to make things interesting I’ll expand on this story… She was a rematch (2 homes prior) but she is our 3rd AP this year too. So what they heck… we gave it a chance. I’ve been on here talking about her wanting to drive down to the clubs, bad performance etc. For this trip she’s traveling by herself. Flying in to San Francisco for 1 day. Taking a bus to LA. Going to Santa Barabara, Malibu and Hollywood. Taking a bus to the Grand Canyon and then taking a bus to Las Vegas. She’ll fly back to Atlanta on Dec 12. Her parents know about this and she’s an adult so I think it’s her choice. She doesn’t really share information with me except what I feel like I’ve had to pull our of her. I did ask her to text me everyday and let me know she’s okay. I feel that even though she’s not with us anymore and not in the program someone needs to make sure she’s okay. So, hope she doesn’t go over 200 minutes but not sure what else to do.

She’s very upset right now. And honestly, I just don’t have time to deal with this. It put us in a bind for her to leave early and if she’s not watching my kids or helping out I really can’t continue to provide for her but I’m sure I’ll be a sucker and do whatever. Thanks for your advice because when she starts crying I have a really hard time sticking to my plan.

We owe her 1 1/2 days of vaca pay and then the education money. Do you require to see a receipt for the education money?? Do they have to “finish” their class to get paid? She already had her education requirement for this year before she got to our house. This was not an approved class from her, just something she showed up for breakfast and informed me her class started that day.

Anna December 1, 2010 at 2:29 pm

If she already fulfilled her education requirement for the year, I don’t think you owe anything to her. Because that would mean she gets paid twice and gets to take twice as many classes in one year, when the program only specifies up to $500 reimbursement for her per year.
As to vacation pay, I don’t think paying it after she returns from vacation is “withholding”. I pay my au pairs on Friday for the week they just worked; it is not withholding, it is paying on time. You don’t have to advance her vacation money.

As for her class certificate etc, tell her to take a cab and give her a phone number for a cab company. If it is SO important to her, she should have no problem paying $40 or so for transportation.

Don’t be a sucker. Tell her outright that she put you in a bind. Crying would not make me suck up, it makes me mad.

NoVA Host Mom December 1, 2010 at 2:39 pm

For us, they are only reimbursed the education after completion of the class. FYI, if she has only been with you for 3.5 months, then you are only responsible for a portion of the education money. It’s prorated since she is leaving before the end of her contract with you. Not only that, but classes must be arranged so that they are agreed to by all. If she decided to take a class, she’s on the hook for it (except the money you will owe her pro-rated). Our first AP (lasted only 4 months, about 3.5 months too long) signed up for class almost immediately upon her arrival. Wasn’t she surprised she owed us money back since we had already given her the money in full for the school.

FYI, vacation pay (paid vacay days) works the same way. They don’t actually “earn” the 2 weeks off until the contract is completed. If you give her vacay time on your dime, she might owe you money back for that one too.

As she is no longer your AP after December 3rd, I would honestly drop her on the doorstep of the AWOL-LCC as their responsibility (or at least would want to). In no way would I allow the “AP cell phone” (which we keep on account separate from mine & HD’s) to leave the house, much less anything else. She wants a phone, she can by a TracPhone or a Cricket or whatever they call the drop phones these days. At close of business on last working day, all items due (phone & all accessories, house key, car keys, METRO pass card, etc) are turned in, we do the close-out sheet of monies due (either direction) and the prorated stuff, and it’s a done deal.

It might help to think of her as a visiting guest for the days after 12/3. She really is the responsibility of the agency and the LCC. I would contact them and make it very clear that she has made this decision to end even earlier than the original early date, and that you need the LCC support on this one. As for her being upset about the car, give her the number to the local cab company. It’s her dime.

NoVA Host Mom December 1, 2010 at 2:47 pm

Oh, and for the phone minutes, I know if you have Verizon you can manage a phone account by setting it so that there are only a limited number of paid minutes (I have it set to the same as the plan) and after that it can only call to the other phones on the account (that you indicate on the settings) using paid minutes. You can do the same for the texting (and downloads, etc) too. I have our AP phone set for only 1 text/month (the system won’t allow 0) since the AP is not paying for a texting plan. Otherwise she can only text HD or me.

Mom23 December 1, 2010 at 4:51 pm

Her leaving early and leaving you in a bind is even worse. As host parents we pay approx. $135-$150 a week in agency fees (depending on the agency). So, by her leaving early you are out that money AND you have to find childcare at the most difficult time of year to find it. If she gets weepy about having to pay for a taxi, I might point that out to her.

It might be worth a call to your agency’s headquarters to go over what you are obligated to pay her. Anything above that is a gift. I think it is nice to give gifts to departing au pairs, but she should recognize it as such.

Tahoe Mom 2 Twins December 1, 2010 at 7:52 pm

I think it’s unaninmous. No cell phone, no gps. I’d let her take the car to her class, but not to the airport. After Dec 2, she’s no longer working for you so, personally, I’d probably want to do the check out then. But at the very least, do it on Sunday, December 12, while you are home, and she can leave the house when you do in the morning. She can buy a pre-loaded cell phone at a Walmart with 750 minutes for $40. People actually survived before GPS’s and the same place she buys a phone can probalby sell her a map. Sounds like she’s pretty resourceful and will figure it all out, unlike mine who is on a plane back to her home country as I write this (3 months early). :)

Talliecat December 2, 2010 at 7:45 am

So i am confused… she is leaving the program early correct? I would think that she wouldn’t be entitled to her deposit from her agency anyway. IMHO she is no longer your employee as of December 2nd and will have to deal with the consequences of that.. and I feel a bit irritated that she is expecting to keep the GPS and phone while on vacation. I assumed that you gave her those items as part of her JOB and if she is no longer doing her job she should not expect anything except to deal with the consequences of her decisions. You may want to remind her that you are still paying the agency fees until December 27th ( I assume you are not getting any kind of refund for these two weeks).

Calif mom December 2, 2010 at 9:15 am

If she were driving in Calif, she could rent a GPS, but she’s not even doing that! No way; I don’t care if it’s broken, you will not see the GPS or the phone again if you give it to her. Let her use that old fashioned device, a MAP. (She’ll have plenty of time to study them during transit–sounds like a miserable trip to me, actually. More time traveling than doing fun things.) She can buy star maps all over BH. :-)As for her education costs, we’ve always paid the schools directly, to make sure they’re actually going.
Please don’t let your good heart and concern for her wellbeing make you act like a doormat. I wouldn’t worry about hearing from her every day while she’s on the road, actually. She thinks she can take care of herself (previous posts) so let her. Wish her well, and move on!

Jennifer December 2, 2010 at 10:01 am

Update – She has a friend picking her up Friday night and will take care of her from there and we will do our checkout then.

I did agree to let her take the gps and phone but I’m not giving her vaca $$ until she returns so if she doesn’t bring my stuff back then no $$. The phone will be turned off after her 200 minutes.

I have a call into the agency for the education $$ but I really like the idea of paying the school. I am really on the fence with this because she didn’t dicuss this with me to begin with and we’ve reworked our schedule to accomodate her. Plus, she would have to prove that she didn’t have the full amount payed for already since she’s already met her education requirement for the year before she got to our house.

You guys are great! Thank you for all the advice.

Anna December 2, 2010 at 11:01 am

Of course, I always pay the school directly. And if it is under $500 I pay for her books and college parking pass up to $500 total – but I don’t just hand her $500 at the beginning of the year (my new to hosting friend once did just that…. oooops – she does it no more)

JBLV December 2, 2010 at 4:58 pm

I offered to give my last AP a Go Phone for her travel time…

Jennifer December 2, 2010 at 5:20 pm

I just talked to the agency about her education $ and thought this was very interesting and informative. I’ll try to explain this –

If an AP takes a class and it fulfills her education requirement and the class costs $100 then you are not required to pay any additional $$.

She is a rematch so if she took the class and it cost $300 and the family she was with only owed her $200 then we would have to pay the prorated amount up to $300.

She cannot take another class with a new family that is above her education requirement and expect the new family to pay. It’s not a class per family or $500/family.

A Host Mom December 2, 2010 at 5:38 pm

This AP is trying to take advantage of your kindness. She has broken her contract and is not entitled to a phone/GPS. I don’t even think you have to drive her to the airport, if I remember correctly. When one of our APs left early, I was given a chart that set forth the “settling up” charges. Do the math, pay her for what she is entitled to and be done with her. She wasn’t very kind to you leaving you in a childcare bind, so no need to make her life easier.

calif mom December 3, 2010 at 1:17 pm

hear hear!

NOVA Former Host Mum December 3, 2010 at 11:21 am

Sounds like a similar situation we had with a rematch Au Pair in last 3 months of her year. (she was terrible and we decided not to extend although she wanted to..haha..:) ).
I would NOT give her your GPS or telephone.
As others have stated let her buy a MAP and a phone card. I would let her use the car for school but I do not see how you owe her anything for education. If she elected to do an extra class..she is responsible.
Good luck, I know this is a tough situation.
The main reason we dropped out of the Au Pair program was due to all the stress and drama tha came with it.
Good luck.

Lucy December 5, 2010 at 8:31 pm

My host mother let me use her GPS and Phone for one month after I finished my year. we used to hate each other.

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