Paying your Au Pair her or his weekly stipend, on time and at the right amount, is critically important for sustaining a good au pair-host parent relationship.
Your Au Pair is working hard at a real job, and s/he is earning that stipend. Plus, s/he probably has a lot of plans for using this money during their adventure.
Host Parents should should follow these 5 rules for paying their Au Pair’s stipends:
- Pay your Au Pair on a weekly basis. Not monthly, not ahead of time, not late.
- Have a regular day to pay your Au Pair. Make it easier for her or him to keep to a budget and not feel anxious about money.
- Have some form of receipt — either a note on a calendar, a memo in a bank statement, or an actual receipt. You NEVER want to have a disagreement over whether or not your au pair has been paid.
- Round up to the nearest $5, but don’t go over that.
(I know folks disagree. More on the issue of ’rounding up’ in the next post. Don’t hijack this thread!)
- Acknowledge your Au Pair’s hard work and say thank you when you give him/her the stipend.
Make paying the stipend easy for you, and do it in a way that reinforces your au pair-host parent relationship.
Because life is messy, and paying our au pairs requires us to acknowledge the ’employer’ part of our host parent role, it’s not always easy to pay your au pair regularly, enthusiastically, and without any awkwardness.
I personally found it uncomfortable to hand cash to my au pairs when it was time to give them their stipends. I went to all sorts of trouble doing things like having extra cash hidden in a drawer so I always had enough, to paying them early so I wouldn’t be late, to leaving cash with a note on the kitchen counter as I ran off to work because I was embarrassed, all to avoid the feeling that our relationship was ultimately about the job, and not also the caring.
Everybody has a way that they manage their family finances.
We’ve always used cash for daily and weekly family finances, even though handing people cash makes me feel like an ATM. Now that I have teens who get allowances, need lunch money, have to buy friends’ birthday presents, and whatnot, I find myself doing what I call the ‘suburban mom dip’, where my hand goes from my wallet to my child’s paw over and over.
Just this week we got the girls their own debit cards for their monthly allowances, so no more worries about whether I have a stack of $5’s in my sock drawer. Still, I’m a little concerned about how they’ll manage their budgets without the actual cash to remind them what they are spending.
Each method for paying your au pair has its benefits and drawbacks:
+ Easy to use, requires no electronic ‘set up’ or bank account
– HP has to have enough of it, in the right amount, at the right time, does not come with its own receipt
+ Checks are easy for HP, offer everyone a record that the stipend has been paid
– Checks are harder to cash (often requiring a bank account), sometimes get lost
3. Debit Card
+ Easy to transfer, offers a record, manageable with apps
– Goes straight to spending thus making it harder for your au pair to save
4. Electronic Transfer
+ Easy to automate, offers a record, goes into a bank account that can be managed by the Au Pair, manageable with apps
– Requires a bank account, must be exchanged into cash or payment mode
Note: I don’t think that Bitcoin is approved by the State Dept. as a medium for paying Au Pair stipends.
Whether you use envelopes stuffed with $5 bills or smartphone apps that slice and dice who gets what, your system should work for both you and your au pair.
Some au pairs want to be able to save their money in a bank account, or even transfer money back home electronically, so they may have a preference for hard cash or for e-cash. There may also be some concerns about bank fees, ATM access, and so on that you’ll need to consider.
The technologies of paying may vary, but one thing stay constant:
Paying the stipend on time and in full is the Host Parents’ responsibility.