Host Parent Tip: Pay Your Au Pair On Time

by cv harquail on February 13, 2011

“Doing something” and “not doing something” do not always have opposite effects.

When something that is supposed to be done is done correctly and in a timely way, no one even notices. When the very same thing isn’t done, or is done incorrectly, it shakes the very foundations of a relationship.

Case in point: paying your au pair.

Every host family must pay their au pair the full amount of his or her stipend, each week, regularly and without fail.

When it comes to paying your au pair, here is what you must do.

  • Set a payday — the same day each week — and pay you au pair on that day.
  • Pay your au pair the full amount of her or his contractually established pocket money (in the USA, that would be $195.75).
  • Create a written record of that payment. (Consider a note on the calendar, a receipt, a check stub, or even an email that says “we paid you today”.)


  • If your au pair owes you money for some expenses, have her or him hand you back that money, once you have handed her or him the full stipend. Then, give them a receipt. Do not  ‘dock’ their money or subtracting it from their cash payment before handing them the case. (Why do this? Because the very act of paying you (back) for an expense reinforces for you and the au pair your au pair’s responsibility for the cost and your au pair’s taking charge of his/her responsibility by paying you back.)
  • Never, ever, ever put your au pair in the situation where she or he has to ask you for the pocket money you own them, because you have missed the agreed-upon pay day.

Other Tips for Paying Your Au Pair

  • Make it easier to remember to pay your au pair, with an email reminder, or even an automatic deposit into his or her checking account on the established day.
  • Consider having a week’s pocket money tucked away in your T-shirt drawer, so that if you forget to get the cash from the back, or don’t have enough in your checking account, you have that hidden, backup amount to use.
  • Consider planning to pay your au pair a day or two before payday– say, on Thurs rather than Friday. That way, of you forget, you still have a day to get organized before you are late in paying her/him.
  • If you have two host parents or two households (e.g., divorced parents sharing an au pair) choose one parent who is responsible for getting the payment to the au pair. Do not miss a payment to your au pair because you and your partner can’t coordinate.
  • Write a little thank you note on a post-it, and attach it to your au pair’s cash payment, or write a little “thank you!” on the memo line of the check you write.

Never put your au pair in a situation where s/he has to ask you for the pocket money you owe her. To do that is irresponsible on your part, and unkind to your au pair.

Consider this situation, from Amy:

I am an au pair who has recently moved to my host parents home. I have a great family and the children have taken to me quite easily. It seems like I could be happy here.

However, I do have an issue that I would like to get your advice on. My first two pay checks came on time but when my third did not arrive, I thought to give it a few days before I said something. After two days I mentioned to my host mom that I did not receive my pay check at the end of the week and she was apologetic saying I should not have to find myself asking for it, so I expected that she would write it out. But it is now the end of the second week and I still have not received last week’s pay check or this week’s for that matter.

I find this to be inconsiderate and a disregard of our agreement. It also makes me quite uncomfortable to have to raise this issue again, as I believe it should not be an issue at all.

How do I raise this issue with my host parents without causing tension? And how do I make sure that does not become a trend in our relationship?

I anticipate your feedback. Thank you.

How might an au pair address this situation if her Host Parent hasn’t paid her?


Calif Mom February 13, 2011 at 8:18 pm

Ooh! Another great post!

I think the au pair *has* to raise the issue again, and it will cause tension, and she needs to realize that and be okay with it. I don’t think she can avoid that unpleasantness, because it’s very clear that this issue *is* important to her, it feels very demeaning (which is NOT okay) and that she does not want to be established as the norm. Each of those are all good reasons for the raising the issue, and when you add them all together they are compelling.

My advice would be to write down what you want to say and practice saying it. Mentioning that it is “embarrassing” to ask for her paycheck might be a good thing to say, because I’m sure the host parent doesn’t realize that the au pair feels insulted by it. My bet is that they are crazy busy and forgetful as a result, not meaning harm.

Is this family new to hosting? Another idea would then be for the au pair to call her counselor and ask her to remind the parents to establish pay days and stick with them. The counselor could make this part of a “check in” phone call and handle it subtly, with no embarrassment to the au pair.

I have an opposite problem, where my au pair will wave me off when I get out the checkbook (she saved a lot of money before coming here and sees this as an extended vacation) and say “Oh, it’s okay, you can pay me later”.

I see now that I can’t let this continue, because it is yet another way she is trying to make her role even less employee-ish; she really wants me to act “in loco parentis”, but I am NOT her mother, I made it clear that that isn’t my job when we matched and in our guidebook, and frankly, I hate it each time I realize some odd behavior is due to her pushing to be “one of the family” and hence (in her mind) not responsible for much of anything. It may not be conscious on her part, but it is another way she is trying to be treated as a child. Kicking myself now for stepping right into that trap! She’ll get her paychecks on schedule whether she wants them or not now!

hostmuminaus February 13, 2011 at 9:27 pm

I’ve been guilty of completely forgetting to pay our aupair on time, but she just reminded me and I paid her, no problems :) I have told our aupairs, that should this ever happen they should just remind me! Life gets crazy busy sometimes, and we all need reminders :)
Amy, I think you need to raise the issue again. As hard as it is, you should get what you’re entitled to!

honeywhite February 13, 2011 at 10:52 pm

One week might be an accident; two weeks may not be; one of the host families in my original cluster was kicked out due to chronic “forgetting” to pay. Definitely do remind your host parents, and do not feel at all guilty for doing so – you are entitled and they are obligated. Calif Mom had a good suggestions to reach out to the coordinator if you feel uncomfortable doing it yourself, and if this does happen again, try not to let a few days go by, but remind your host parents no later than the next day. Good luck!

Taking a Computer Lunch February 13, 2011 at 11:48 pm

Our handbook tells APs that it’s okay to ask for their salary if we’ve forgotten to give it to them. DH works from home two days of week and the second has become “payday.” He does occasionally walk around for a couple of days with the money in his wallet, because after heading to the bank, he forgets.

We pay our APs in cash, and usually before the weekend. They can decide how much to put into the bank.

I can understand that it is embarrassing to ask for your stipend repeatedly. If the HF doesn’t pony up after two requests, then do call your LCC. Asking her to do it as part of the check-in call is a good idea for the first reminder. If it occurs repeatedly, then have her check in to make sure everything is okay and remind the HF to set up a payday and a schedule for consistent payment.

JJ host mom February 14, 2011 at 12:47 am

We have our au pair set up as a payee in BillPay and have our bank send her a check every week. Yes, it’s silly to have them send a check to our house, when we could just write it, but this way we never have to think about it. Plus it just comes in the mail while we’re at work and there’s never any awkward “handing off the funds.” Perhaps the au pair in this post could suggest this solution to her host parents.

HRHM February 24, 2011 at 1:28 pm

We did this with AP1 and then had direct deposit with APs 2&3. Never a forgotten pay day and everyone is happy! There really is no reason/excuse with these modern payment methods for an AP to be paid late or forgotten.

AnonHM Europe February 14, 2011 at 3:56 am

I believe handing over the money is a good way to show the AP how much her work is appreciated. We were advised by our agency to hand out the money in small bills, because it looks much more :)
As I understand many of the families in the US have written schedules – why not add the paycheck-due-date to it – so everybody is reminded. This can work for the APs as well – maybe you could ask the HF to add the date in the weekly schedule in order to avoid unpleasant situations (if the HF tends to forget it). After all, it’s (a major) part of the HF duties within the contract, so if the HF schedules the APs duties this could be legitimate for the AP (as the other party) as well?

MI former AP February 14, 2011 at 6:02 am

Thanks for this post.
Back in times when I was an AP this happend to me a few times. I knew my hostmom was (and still is) quite a busy person and I most definitely knew that she wasn’t doing it on purpose! But just coming up to her asking for my salary was a “big step” for me. Not that I was feeling somewhat guilty….I’d rather call it ashamed.
A weird feeling after all. I’d recommend setting up a payday or JJ host moms idea of having the bank sending in a check!
You’d expect a salary on time from your employer as well, right?! :-)

Gianna February 14, 2011 at 9:28 am

Another delicate situation – it is so easy to ask a wonderful aupair to pick up a carton of milk or a can of tomato sauce or a bag of coffee because she is going to Starbuck’s anyway and then to forget to reimburse her. It is hard for an ap to ask for the money back and it is very hard for her to say ” I don’t have the money “

a February 14, 2011 at 12:16 pm

My parents always taught me never to lend anyone (even a best friend) money- and I never did during my year. If my HM asked, I would simply tell her I didn’t have any money on myself at the time, or I didn’t have enough in my account, etc. I know it seems like a sort of mean thing, but my HM had a reputation of “forgetting” to pay employees back, AND I’m painfully non confrontational, so I just knew it would turn into a bad situation. :/

Case in point- I’m friends with their current (now former) au pair, who just quit last week. On the AP’s final day, the HM owed her over 2 weeks pay, plus reimbursements, and the AP was *stressed* out about getting what was due. She DID get paid in full, but I would hate to have that kind of stress.

MommyMia February 14, 2011 at 4:48 pm

And I think I saw suggested on here previously a “petty cash envelope” which we just started doing and it works very well, especially if the AP is shy or embarrassed to ask for reimbursement. We put in a small amount to use for incidentals (grocery items, treats for the kids, etc.) and expect a receipt or a note saying what was spent, when and on what. So far it’s working out great – I just have to remember to check on paydays to see if the fund is running low.

HRHM February 24, 2011 at 1:32 pm

We have a daily journal/notebook for notes etc and AP just leaves the receipt on top. I replace it with cash when I write the days’ notes.
As an aside, I would be pretty irritated if my AP wouldn’t get milk or gas while she was out because she didn’t want to have to “lend” me money. I can understand if there was a pattern of not getting paid back, but part of her job is to keep things rnning smoothly and that includes getting milk for the kids and topping off the gas so she doesn’t run out on the way to pick them up.

NE Host Mom February 14, 2011 at 9:53 am

At the beginning of each au pair year, I take our au pair to the bank to open her account and at the same time I set up a weekly direct deposit from my account into hers. Every Thursday, like clock-work, her paycheck is deposited into her account. At the end of the year, I have to give the bank a call to cancel the direct deposit, but that is the extent of the work that I have to put into it.

MI former AP February 14, 2011 at 10:13 am

Great thing!

momto2 February 14, 2011 at 10:32 am

That’s what we did. And our au pair never needs to “borrow” money for anything she needs. She uses her debit card like a credit card. Plus, I got her a credit card (with a low limit and that we pay for) so that she could do things like pick up milk, buy the kids lunch, put gas in the car, etc. I get a text each time the credit card is used. She never abuses it.

CA Mom to Twins February 14, 2011 at 7:56 pm

That’s what we did as well, open up a bank account at our bank and have our account transfer money every Friday. We tend to be a little forgetful and this eliminates any issues.

CAmom22 February 15, 2011 at 8:31 pm

This is what we do as well (have her set up a bank account at my bank and I have an automatic weekly deposit into her account from mine). I missed a couple of payments early on and AP was embarassed to ask and I was embarassed about forgetting so now everyone is happy. Also do the credit card with a low limit thing so AP can do grocery shopping (because I would also be guilty of forgetting to reimburse).

AZ HM February 18, 2011 at 4:45 am

We always did this with our nannies, but for some reason our bank (BofA) has prevented us in doing this with our aupairs, even though their accounts have been at the same bank. Explanation – something “legal” about not being able to transfer money to someone who is not a US citizen. It does not make sense to me and it drives me crazy. I even called the bank and they will not allow it. Has anyone else had this same problem?

anon mom for this February 18, 2011 at 2:27 pm

Yes, we had that exact issue with B of A, and literally spent hours trying to get it to work. In the end, we went to a branch where some wonderous employee made my AP a US citizen in their system for a moment, updated something so we could do electronic transfers, then changed her back. All I know is it works now.

3grtkidz February 14, 2011 at 10:40 am

I also do auto-pay directly into the au pairs bank account that we set up when she arrived. I round up to $200 as it just makes it easier to keep track of everything. Also, I don’t want her keeping large amounts of cash in our home or with her for safety reasons. She is a hard worker, great with our kids, flexible with last minute requests to change hours and a joy to have as part of our family. My husband or I occasionally give her a extra $20 here or there or buy her movie tickets. We all like to feel appreciated. Happy Valentine’s Day to all. WE LOVE AUPAIRMOM!

3grtkidz February 14, 2011 at 10:51 am

P.S. To the au pair that wrote this post. I would start a conversation with your host family and ask them what works best for them when you need to communicate important issues…. do they prefer talking, getting a email or you leaving a note. Hopefully, they will respond with what and ask you why you are asking. Then you can say it is important that you receive your paycheck as you need it to cover your expenses and you are saving money for travel, school, etc. You need to be assertive and your own advocate. Do not let this matter go on for another week. Contact your LLC for help. Use email if needed as it is helpful to have a written record of your request(s). Hopefully your host family is only busy/forgetful and not having financial problems.

Hula Gal February 14, 2011 at 10:53 am

I don’t care how busy a host family is. It is never ok to forget to pay your au pair. You should never put it on your au pair to have to ask you to get paid. Put yourself in her shoes – if your employer forgot to pay you and you had to ask your employer for your paycheck you would be very upset. If you forget more than once, please do the right thing and set up a direct deposit. My husband and I have a direct deposit set up to our au pair’s account. Along with her paycheck which we promptly deposit every friday like clockwork, we also promptly reimburse her at the end of the day when she posts receipts for childcare related expenses on our memo board. I’m sorry to be so harsh about this but it is really a point of irritation for me. An au pair in my cluster has trouble with her host parents paying her timely and I feel sorry for her.

AuPairBrazil February 14, 2011 at 3:43 pm

I’m in the process to be an Au Pair, my application is done, I’m just waiting the APC (Au Pair Care) call me to get all the things ready to start to do my interviews with the families.
I think is very important to pay the AP on time, its was an agremeent between the parties, so I think its nice from both parties to fulfill it, because for example the AP may be expecting the payment to pay something, or to buy something she needs or send money home.
And I would like to take the opportunity to ask about overtime. It comes with the payment? Or its according to the day of the overtime? And the family always takes note when the AP does overtime? How its work?

I would appreciate if someone could answer me, I’m in the process to be an AP and all the information helps.

Thank you very much.

Mom23 February 14, 2011 at 3:55 pm

Hi AuPair Brazil,

There is a whole thread on this issue from last year.

Technically an au pair is not supposed to work more than 10 hours/day, 45 hours/week. The reality is that some host families need just a bit more coverage at times.

Personally, I think the fair thing to do is to offer the au pair the extra hours at the going babysitting rate, with the understanding that there are no hard feelings if the au pair says no. If the au pair is not able to work, then the host family needs to find an alternative.

Good luck

AuPairBrazil February 14, 2011 at 4:33 pm

Thanks very much for your answer Mom23.


AnnaAuPair February 14, 2011 at 4:43 pm

My hostmom was very busy and during my year she forgot to pay me on “pay-day” quiet a few times – but I didn’t mind, because she had made it clear to me, that asking for it was ok. I was supposed to be paid on Friday – so when she hadn’t given it to me by Sunday, I would just ask her like “hey, uhm, did you get to go to the bank yesterday?” or something like that. Most of the times she then was like “ah, darn, I wanted to go and I forgot” and would pay me the next day =)

Whenever I “lend” her money by going grocery shopping or something like that, we agreed that I would just pin the receipt to the fridge and when she paid me, she added the bills to it =)

Former Au Pair February 15, 2011 at 7:27 am

I have not got any amazing advice to give on this matter but I have got a query. Do Americans not use internet banking very much? The reason for asking this is, would it not be easier transferring money from the host parents bank account to the APs bank account (if she has got one).
When I was an AP in America I thought it was strange how no one I talked to used internet banking.

Emmiejane February 15, 2011 at 10:44 am

I think it is common. I do exactly that, electronically transfer the money to my au pair’s account. I believe some of the other posters mention that they do the same. I personally find it easier, and the idea of having to run around and get cash every Friday sounds like a hassle for me. My au pair prefers the electronic transfer to a check that she would then have to go down to the bank to cash.

jj host mom February 15, 2011 at 11:22 am

Electronic transfers in America don’t quite work the way they do in Europe. EFTs are free within the same bank, but between two banks, you often have to pay for them (maybe $15 per transaction? Just guessing, but it’s significant.) In Europe almost all bills are paid via EFT. Here, they’re mostly paid by check, or by BillPay, where the bank generates and sends a check on your behalf. The bank that will let au pairs open accounts with minimal paperwork is not the bank that my family uses, so electronic transfers would cost us. That’s why we use BillPay instead.

AFHostmom February 15, 2011 at 1:11 pm

Yeah, it’s very different. In Europe it was quite common for us to transfer money from our account to someone else’s, even a small amount. Here in the US it’s more difficult and though my bank allows free bank to bank transfers, there is a setup process (which would be worth it in the case of an AP but isn’t usally worth it for a one-off type transfer).

Emmiejane February 15, 2011 at 1:48 pm

True, I did have to set it up the first time and go through the set-up process, but it is free from my bank to do it. I would only bother for recurring types of things like an au pair payment.

PhillyMom February 15, 2011 at 3:47 pm

Yes, it can be a difficult process here to set up EFT. I was told by our bank that I could not do it without certain charges. My husband found a way around that. He set up automatic bill pay with the check sent to the bank where our au pair has her account. Then it gets automatically deposited into her account. So, in effect it is like EFT. I don’t know why they have to make it so complicated!

forme au pair February 15, 2011 at 8:04 pm

Thank you for the reply. It all seems to be too complicated to even bother! Shame though, it would be easier for everyone, the AP, HP and the bank.

Anon for this February 15, 2011 at 11:51 am

ING Direct is our bank and we use it to send money to our AP. It is a bit unique in how you set things up. However, they will electronically transfer money to any bank account without a charge. It makes our life easier (though I haven’t figured out how to make it a recurring event, I do set up a month at a time of weekly transfers.) They also will generate and mail out paper checks free. It makes it easy for small reimbursements too, and I can tell when the AP picks up her money, too.

Jennifer February 15, 2011 at 5:58 pm

We always paid our AP on Friday mornings without fail. One time I forgot to leave the check running out the door and she sent me a text immediately asking for her money. I was quite offended by this. It was not a day late – she got her check as soon as I got home so I felt it was rather rude of her.

an ap February 15, 2011 at 9:06 pm

maybe she really really needed the money that day? I don´t know…to send it to her country or something?…or maybe not, if it wasn´t for something important I would also think its rude.

HRHM February 24, 2011 at 1:40 pm

I guess if I didn’t get my paycheck when I was expecting it, I wouldn’t wait to figure out why either. I would ask right away, regardless of what I intended to do with the money or how bad I needed it at that very moment. Most of my APs have lived paycheck to paycheck, buying clothes or traveling a lot and of course by payday they ar broke. So while you may have expected more leeway, she probably didn’t intend to be rude, she was probably just worried about how she was going to make it through without money.

Sandra February 18, 2011 at 5:56 pm

This is a great article!
About the topic, it happend to me many times. But I’ve realised that if I don’t ask for it, I don’t get it. And even with the risk of sounding offensive, there had been times when I needed to send money at home or buy some important things.
At the beginning I felt very angry on the whole situation: I do my duties without you having to remind me every week what I have to do, so why the hell you can’t remember to do your part?
And the truth matter if the au pair needs the money on that day or she is saving up, or whatever, for god’s sake, pay her! it’s nothing more disrespectful than this!

I remember when once I was in my last week with the family before going home and they had to pay me for a few weeks behind. I kissed goodbye with the father ( he was the one who was paying me) and when he handed me the money I realised there were less than I deserved, so I told him that he had to give me more. I felt like very uneasy and he had to look in all his pockets to give me the specific amount. How embarassing!

Former Aupair February 23, 2011 at 6:12 pm

My Host Family used to pay me once a month. HD would usually write a check good for 4 Fridays. It worked pretty good for me, but it was still his responsability to remember when was time to right the next check. We also kept a jar with extra cash for the week in case I needed to run an errand, buy icecream for the kids, etc.. That way I didnt need to spend my own money or get reeimbursed.

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