The US State Department sets firm, legal parameters for scheduling an Au Pair. But the US State Department rules, and the contractual stipulations of each Au Pair Agency, form only the required, minimum guidelines for scheduling an Au Pair.
We know that the regulations stipulate:
- No more than 45 hours per week on duty
- No more than 10 hours per day on duty
- A required full day off each week
- A required half-day off each week
- One full weekend off per month
Some agencies (such as CCAP) also require that the full day and half-day off are consecutive. Other agencies do not have this additional requirement.
This basic framework leaves a lot of room for interpretation about how to schedule your Au Pair.
Here on AuPair mom we’ve had conversations about:
- When being “on duty” should actually start
- How to manage scheduling an au pair for work overnight
- Whether there should be a minimum amount of break time
- The Au Pair Scheduling Constraint That Might Surprise You (on the idea of an uninterrupted 8 hour break)
- That “Off Duty” has to be really OFF time
Perhaps the one specific thing we haven’t addressed is whether there should be a minimum amount of time that an au pair is scheduled to be on duty.
As ClairAuPair writes:
I’m wondering if there are also guidelines for a minimum shift time.
I am expected to be home between 8-8:30pm every Tuesday night while there is a gap and both parents are not home. They say this only counts as half an hour, but that seems unrealistic as it means I can’t really do anything that whole evening as far as things like dinner with friends or a movie is concerned.
Is there a minimum shift guideline of 1 hour or 2 hours or something?
When I wrote that au pair breaks should be ‘meaningful’, I aimed to address the larger challenge of balancing a schedule so that an au pair can have an independent full life while simultaneously making sure that we host parents get the childcare coverage we need.
You’d think that parents who are aware of the need to give au pairs meaningful chunks of time to be off-duty would also be aware not to take advantage of an au pair’s free time by tossing in a required half-hour that makes it impossible to have a full night off.
In ClairAuPair’s specific case, we might be tempted to avoid the bigger picture questions by asking “Just how hard is it to be on duty until 8:30 one weeknight a week?” and suggesting that her host parents schedule her for an entire hour to make it worthwhile (and for that matter, to cover for any imprecision in the times they depart or arrive back home).
Instead of that, let’s talk about whether we ought to consider:
A Minimum On Duty Shift?
Do any of the Au Pair Agencies have a specific scheduling rule that addresses the minimum ‘on duty’ shift?
Do any host parents follow your own rules about a minimum ‘on duty’ shift?
Start By Following the Rules: Au Pair Asks About Hours, Holidays and Discipline
Scheduling Your Au Pair: Naptime, Mealtime and Meaningful Breaks
Scheduling Your Au Pair: When does “On Duty” start and stop?
On Duty or Off Duty: There is no third choice. Or is there?
Au Pair Management Tip: Schedule Transition Time
Scheduling Your Au Pair: The Half Day
Overnight hours: Should we be able to schedule Au Pairs to work overnight?
Is it fair to schedule an Au Pair for Late Night baby feedings?
The Au Pair Scheduling Constraint That Might Surprise You