The experience of a happy au pair year is its own reward. And extending this positive experience is a great way to turn this reward into a bonus.
When an au pair and a host family extend their contract with each other for an additional 6, 9, or 12 months, everybody gets a bonus.
The bonus for the au pair is that s/he gets to stay in a family, situation and community where s/he is already comfortable and (one presumes) happy.
The bonus for the host parents is that they get another year or so with an au pair they like. They don’t have to train a new au pair and use all that energy getting the new au pair up to speed. They don’t have to go through the anxiety of wondering whether their au pair will get along with kids, learn how to drive safely, or establish a happy social life.
For both au pair and host family, an extension should mean that you get to enjoy the fruits of all the work you put into establishing a good host family – au pair relationship.
These experienced-based bonuses, above, are the REAL value of extending with your au pair.
However, some people see only one part of that situation– the supposed financial bonus of an extension year. They see that the host family gets to pay a somewhat reduced fee to the agency for those additional 6-9-12 months.
[Note: Not every agency offers a reduced fee for administering the extension months. And, when they do, this reduction is often not very significant. The largest deduction I could find in my quick search was from $625 to $450 per month over 12 months, for about $40 per week.]
Some host families and some au pairs just see the extension period as a childcare bargain that saves host families money.
So, some au pairs expect and ask for a raise.
If you just look at the money involved, there’s an argument for giving the extension au pair a raise. If the host family has to pay less per week to an agency, there is some ‘extra’ money — money that had previously gone towards childcare expenses already. So why not just shift that payment from the agency to the au pair?
That sort of makes sense— except that it doesn’t.
An au pair should only get a raise in her/his stipend when s/he has earned it through outstanding job performance.
The reason to give an au pair a raise has nothing to do with whether the family is paying the same or less for the agency’s service during the extension months.
An au pair should only get a raise when the quality of her/his work with the children and within the family is exemplary.
We hope that an extenion au pair’s work with the children will be better, even exemplary, over the extension months because so much other stuff is ‘settled’. The au pair should have more time to focus on doing well by the kids. For example, if you already have a social life and some friends, an au pair can feel happier and more secure about her situation, and enjoy that positive energy during her/his on duty hours.
That said, no extension au pair should expect an automatic raise.
- If you are a host family going into an extension, you should talk directly with your au pair about whether or not s/he will get an increase in pocket money above the $196 of the current weekly stipend.
Specifically, you should discuss with your aupair the circumstances under which you’d consider giving him/her a raise, and what amount of raise you’d consider.
It’s an especially good idea to discuss the possibility your au pair a raise if/when s/he maintains a certain level of job performance if you are concerned that your au pair might ‘slack off‘ or take things for granted in her/his extension months. We know of au pairs who’ve taken advantage of their increased comfort inthe USA and host families’ increased flexibility & generousity with an au pair they’ve gotten to know and enjoy. It’s something to think about.
We have a really interesting request for advice from a host parent who’s facing this situation right now.
But before I post it (probably tomorrow…):
Let’s hear from you host parents who’ve had extension au pairs.
If you have a host parent friend or an au pair who’s considering an extension, help them anticipate this issue. Share this post with them, using the email, Facebook, or Twitter share buttons, below.
Au Pair Extension Fees: Why So High?
How can we tell our Au Pair we don’t want to extend?
Can Au Pairs shorten their Extension, once begun?
Deciding whether to extend: The Au Pair’s Point of View
She wants to extend, we’d rather not…
Extending with your current Au Pair: A Bad Idea?