“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?