Poll: How long, exactly, is “two weeks vacation”?

by cv harquail on March 11, 2009

The question has been posed: How do you count "two weeks vacation"?

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I’m not sure of the "official" rule, so I hope a Local Community Counselor can chime in, but in the meantime, let’s see how we host moms interpret that guideline.

What Counts as "Two Weeks' Vacation"?

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And, when you and your Au Pair arrange her vacation, how do you usually distribute those vacation days?

How do you usually apportion your Au Pair's vacation time?

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In my house, we’ve had vacations be 14 days, Mon-Sun, and we’ve had our au pairs take them a week at a time. I’ve sometimes lengthened the time off-duty when they have arranged their vacations so that they stay away on days they could have been off duty anyway.

(For example, our au pairs have left on Friday night and counted Sat & Sun as regular off-duty days, then taken an additional Mon-Sun as vacation. They come back tired, and usually sun-burned, despite the sunscreen I always force them to take with them from our at-home stash. I try to do the "mom" part of host mom….).

How about at your house?

{ 17 comments }

Franzi March 11, 2009 at 3:14 am

I didn’t vote because I’m not a host family/host mom.

My vacation time was considered 5.5 days PLUS the regular 1.5 days off thus leading to a full week off.

While my first family wanted me to split the vacation times into two separate weeks, my second family did not care as long as I had them involved in my plans so that child care was secured. Likewise, they talked with me about their vacation plans.

Franzi

Dawn March 11, 2009 at 5:11 pm

I voted “the usual work schedule times two,” which for us is “on duty” M-F and “off duty” Sa-Sun. So if the AP takes the time in bits and pieces, it’s 10 work days plus whatever weekends fall in the time period.

In terms of apportioning the days, we’re more along the lines of Franzi’s second host family — we don’t have any real restrictions on how to use the time, as long as we have adequate notice to arrange other childcare. Our handbook specifies that we need at least a month’s notice — if some great opportunity comes up last minute, we’ll see if we can work it out to give the AP that time off, but we need at least a month to “guarantee” that she’ll be able to take the time. In the poll, I voted for “one full week plus bits and pieces,” because that seems to be what most of our APs end up doing. But we’re lucky enough to have a lot of family in the area who can help with the kids, so we’re able to be pretty flexible. (The only thing that might be a bit difficult is if the AP wanted to take two full weeks at once, but we’ve never had that happen.)

Jen March 11, 2009 at 11:07 pm

I’m an LCC and what I tell families is that it is based on the work schedule. If the ap takes a week at a time it doesn’t make it that hard BUT I have had many au pairs who prefer to add a day or 2 to their weekend off to get a lot of mini vacations. In that case if they work M-F normally the ap gets 10 days but if she normally works M-TH she only would get 8 days. I find that many families end up allowing their AP more vacation and in the end feeling a bit taken advantage of. I also make sure both family and ap know that if the family picks when one week of vacation should happen the ap should get to pick the other week- the family always has the right to say that time doesn’t work for them and suggest other times in the month that would be more convenient. In the end the HF and AP have to work together to make the scheduling work.

SeaMom March 12, 2009 at 12:23 am

We have a M-F work week for our AP and thus follow the M-F vacation schedule with S/S off. As as we also get all legal holidays off we also give our AP these off also – Always. In the end our AP always get more vacation then 2 wks especially because I get off more than that. I ultimately go by the rule, I am the Mom not the AP and if I am not working then my choice is to be with my child. Thus if I am off work on vacation, I am in charge. All that being said, I only have one child and she is school age, and relatively easy. Thus our AP doesn’t even work a full 40 hr week. I have to admit I do get a little miffed when the AP comes to us wanting to leave early on a Friday etc. and they just expect us to accomadate them. New Years Eve is always a great example, as I always work that day and the AP always wants the day off.

Tex March 12, 2009 at 12:49 am

I thought this was in the State Dept guidelines, but maybe it is agency specific. With my agency (Au Pair Care), au pairs accrue one day of vacation for each month worked starting with the third month after they arrive (so it comes to 10 days per year).

Our personal family guidelines are that she may take her vacation either one day at a time or one week at a time. Given our schedule requirements, she can squeeze more days in — get longer vacations if she takes multiple days at a time, on both sides of a weekend (since her normal schedule doesn’t include weekends on a regular basis and we wouldn’t count weekend days against her time).

T

Calif mom March 13, 2009 at 2:30 am

We try to accommodate whatever the AP wants, if she has a special trip either in country here, or wants to take her time at the same time as AP friends (i wouldn’t really want to take a vacation by myself, though 3 days at a spa would probably do a world of good, come to think of it!)

We had one AP use her entire (two-week plus the weekends) vacation in one chunk, and use it to fly back home to see her family. Usually, girls want a week at a time. If we can make it work out to coincide with one of ours, so much the better, but it doesn’t always work out.

Lori March 14, 2009 at 7:05 am

I am an LCC for Cultural Care Au Pair. I always tell host families and au pairs that they get 2 calendar weeks of paid vacation for the year. In other words Sun-Sat x 2! The vacations must be mutually agreed upon by both parties and the host family must be able to secure childcare for the time the au pair is away or the au pair must choose a different week. If the host family and au pair agree upon taking the vacation in days instead of weeks, then it would basically boil down to 10 weekdays and 4 weekend days off. I know that many au pairs don’t want to count their “off” days as part of the vacation time, but those days are definitely part of the week, so they absolutely count! Most host famileis are very accommodating and try to work with the au pair whenver possible! After all, a happy au pair = a happy host family and vice-versa, right?

M in NY January 7, 2010 at 3:20 pm

Thank you Lori! I’m with Cultural Care and I was just wondering how much vacation I should have left. I took six vacation days (five weekdays and one weekend-day) when I went with my host family on their vacation and I was wondering how many days I should have left.
So thank you, I think this cleared it up for me! I have one week left, which will be anough for a weekend-trip to Florida and a couple of days in Washington! Yey!

Having a Computer Lunch May 29, 2010 at 11:00 pm

We have let the AP choose her vacation time, some decided to take it in dribs and drabs, as they could find friends to camp on the beach, head to another city, or tootle around. When they take 5 weekdays off, then we generally let them have the 2 weekend days at either end as well (although sometimes we need to claim use of the “AP car” for some of that time, depending on the season.

We’re fairly generous with leave, depending on whether or not The Camel has been in hospital for an extended period of time and we’ve used up all our good will at work, or not. The year The Camel spend five-weeks in hospital, HD burst his appendix trying to work through the pain, and I got pneumonia, there were no “bonus” holidays.

In general, we try to give as many of the federal holidays as we can, because HD and I are both feds, and well, we like to spend time with our kids (I always tell pregnant friends that giving birth is the easy part, raising them to be decent human beings with whom you want to spend time is the hard part). We usually end up giving 8 or 9 of them, although we always encourage our APs to spend Thanksgiving and Christmas with us.

When friends and family come to visit, when it is possible, we generally give bonus holidays, to permit our AP to show her family a part of the country she has come to enjoy, or to explore other parts.

If an AP chooses not to join us for a family holiday (for example, Passover, which is usually during our kids’ spring break, but never the AP’s college spring break) because of classes, sometimes I will charge her for a day or two, but never on the days she has class. If the AP choses not to join us for a holiday that includes an airplane flight, I will generally charge her the days of the flights, because flying with The Camel generally requires all hands on deck.

One thing we are very firm about is no holidays in the summer, unless they choose not to join us in the family vacation but not work. My son goes to day camps that require a chaffeur, and if I have to play that role, I might as well not bother going to work. The Camel has half-days of school in the summer. I’m happy to figure out the logistics of moving kids from place to place, but I’d rather spend my summer holidays with them. (When they take their holidays during the school year, HD and I can manage close to a full day at work.)

Az. May 30, 2010 at 6:16 am

What do you mean by ‘charge her those days?’

HRHM May 30, 2010 at 10:05 pm

She means they count as her vacation days and are subtracted from whatever days off she may still have coming

Deb Schwarz May 30, 2010 at 1:09 am

I HATE this question – yet it comes up all the time. It’s so up to interpretation and I’ve heard at least a dozen or so. It’s so much easier to interpret if the au pair takes the 2 weeks in week chunks…..so then it’s Monday to Sunday (or a full week). I always tell au pairs and host families that if the host family chooses a week (with plenty of notice), then the au pair gets to choose the 2nd week (again, with plenty of notice). Now – if the au pair’s two week vacation is taken in day increments, that’s when it gets sticky – is it 10 days or 14 days? I always tell my host family that it’s whatever they usually work in a typical week – which usually ends up being 5.5 days x 2 or 11 days. The last host family that asked me this question rounded to 12 days – which was nice of them.

I think the bigger issue is that in the U.S. we get much less vacation time than other countries in the world – and au pairs are surprised that we are such workaholics with meager vacation. I wish this was gone over in more detail with the au pairs prior to their arrival so there aren’t disappointed au pairs. Au pairs are also surprised that they do not necessarily get public holidays off – which I always mention in my two week orientations – geezzzzz, what a can of worms, but an important topic to discuss as we all know it’s all about expectations.

Deb

Taking a Computer Lunch May 30, 2010 at 10:36 pm

In one of my Union meetings we discussed explicitly why Americans work more than most citizens of other developed countries, and the bottom line is that we fund college education, pension, medical care and retirement with our income. (I think the first time APs have to pay for a doctor’s visit they’re probably just as shocked as how few days off they have.)

At this point in my career I have plenty of vacation time. Unfortunately, there are so few people left at work (between retirement and attrition), that I’m now attached to two colleagues – one of us always has to be in the office! (You should see the scramble at Christmas – when no one wants to draw the short straw!) On the other hand, in this economy, I have a well-paying job that permits me to afford an AP, so I shouldn’t complain!

HRHM May 30, 2010 at 6:27 am

We give our AP a total of 10 days, since she works full-time M-F. If she chooses to take this in 2 full week increments, she more than likely will also be able to take the associated weekends on either end as well, leaving her with 2 9-day vacation periods. In addition, we often give her federal holidays off since we are off (both military) and we also will try to come home early on a Friday when we know she is planning a weekend trip so that she can make an early train or flight to get out of town. I discourage the dribs & drabs vacation method because it’s inconvenient for us and makes book-keeping difficult. In our HF Handbook this year, I pointedly state that she MUST take her vacation while we are taking ours. I think it’s ridiculous to expect us to pay for 2 weeks of childcare so she can vacation on her own schedule and then give her 2 extra weeks off while we are on vacation. We don’t need her to work while we are on vacation (we actually can/do/enjoy taking care of our kids) and I also don’t really want the extra expense of another plane ticket/hotel room/bigger car rental/extra cruise cabin/you name it – to bring her along. Our curent AP insisted on taking time off when it wouldn’t work for us and the comprmise (because she KNEW the vacation rules before she took the job) was that she could but then when we are on vacation, she will be having that week without pay. I’m still mildly irritated about having to deal with juggling childcare that week, but que sera, sera.

PA AP mom May 30, 2010 at 1:53 pm

HRHM:

We tried the “week without pay” and our LCC and our agency got involved and said “under no circumstances are you allowed to withhold your AP’s stipend for any reason”. I was surprised. I guess if your AP doesn’t complain or tell anyone then you are ok. Ours was pissed off so she reported it to the LCC. She had already had 16 days of vacation (not including weekends, which she wasn’t scheduled for at all). She wanted another 4 work days (Tues-Friday) and we said “no” unless she would take it without pay. She said she would and she went but when she came back, she went to the LCC and the agency and demanded to be paid “under contract”. They said we had to pay or we were “out of the program” for violating the rules.

DarthaStewart May 30, 2010 at 2:55 pm

What a lousy au-pair. Seriously. She had gotten extra time off, then demanded more? _wow_ I’m guessing that since she’s had so much time that she’s on her way out, but this will suck for future au-pairs… kwim?

Host Mommy Dearest May 30, 2010 at 4:08 pm

I guess next time the deal will be – I’ll give you a check for your weekly stipend before you leave, and you will give me back cash in the amount of your stipend to cover the cost of some extra childcare I need to hire….if she didn’t like that deal she should have said something before she took the vacation. AP was slimey for doing that.

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