When your au pair gets sick for more than a few days, questions about substitute childcare, sick days, and additional costs can put pressure on the balancing act between “part of the family” and “employee”.
Every family needs a backup plan for the occasional day or two (or three) when an Au Pair is laid low with a bad cold, poison ivy, or a debilitating hangover.
A few paid sick days over the course of an entire au pair year is not too much for a host parent to bear. (heh heh heh. You got the joke, right?) Even when the physical ailment has a predictable end time — like 6 weeks for a broken arm to heal, or the (real) flu that takes a week to ten days — host families, LCCs and the Au Pair can hack together some kind of plan. What causes the most confusion are the illnesses that you think will be short but that become protracted.
Take the situation of HostMomNightingale:
Our au pair, who’d only been with us for 3 months, got sick and was laid up at home for 3 days. Then, she went to the hospital for a full week, and when she came home she needed IV antibiotics via PICC line for 10 additional days. She was ill and ‘off duty’ for three weeks.
Of course, we took care of her during this period ( she did not work). Her bills were covered by her insurance.
We were told by the LCC that we did not need to pay her stipend for 2 of the 3 weeks she was out. But, after last week’s monthly Au Pair meeting, where our Au Pair complained to the LCC that she hadn’t been paid, the LCC called me to say that she (the LCC) was wrong– we needed to pay our Au Pair for the full three 3 weeks that she was sick.
The problem is, of course, that we had to pay for back-up childcare for all three of these weeks, since my spouse and I both work outside the house and could not take days off ourselves. This was a significant extra expense for us — an additional $1500. Not to mention, managing new babysitters and making sure our Au Pair was comfortable added a lot to our plate.
It definitely feels like ‘no good deed goes unpunished’. Should we have been expected to pay our au pair’s stipend for all three weeks? What’s the official policy? We want to do the ‘right thing’ and also to be kind, but we feel overburdened by this all.
Thank you in advance for your input.
Host Parents– what’s your sense of what’s fair? How many sick days can you imagine giving an au pair, before you felt tapped out?
LCs/LARs — is there an official sick day policy, or an unofficial one? How do you advise parents?