Should I Tell the Other Host Family Their Au Pair Is Leaving Early? (Poll)

by cv harquail on July 7, 2016

Dear AuPairMom —  My au pair’s good friend here is an au pair as well. According to my AP, the friend is scheduled to work for her host family for a year but will be leaving a few weeks early.

6824864579_d0480c3166_mThe problem? The Au Pair hasn’t told her Host Family that she’s leaving, even though she has purchased the tickets to go home!

It’s not clear when or if the Au Pair is planning on telling her Host Family.   As she gets closer to leaving and still hasn’t told, I’m wondering…should I say anything?

I’ve told our AP that her friend will really leave her HF in the lurch if she doesn’t say something soon. But beyond that, I don’t have an opportunity to talk to the AP, not sure I should say something if I did.

I could tell our counselor, but then if it worked back around to the HF and their AP, it’d obviously come back to me (assuming the AP hasn’t told other APs who have told their HFs).

What I keep thinking is – if it were me, I’d want to know.

Any suggestions?

OOF! If it were me, I’d like to know because who wants to be left in the lurch?  But I understand your concern– how can you tell the Host Family without betraying your own Au Pair’s confidence?

Tell the Other Host Family?

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{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

MarHostMom July 7, 2016 at 2:36 pm

We were recently in a very similar situation. We told our au pair how important it was for the au pair to let the HF know, but we did not tell the HF directly. We didn’t know them at all. If I knew them, I would would have told them before it was too late. If I didn’t know them, I still might have told them before it was too late.

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massmom July 7, 2016 at 4:22 pm

I agree, if I was acquainted with the other host family, I would tell them. If I didn’t have a relationship with the HF, part of me says the LCC should be notified, but that would really be a breach of our au pair’s trust. My current au pair would also be horrified if a friend was thinking of doing this, so I know she would do her best to convince her otherwise. It’s not clear how close the au pair is to leaving…did she come into the year knowing that she wasn’t going to live up to the commitment? Or has something happened recently that has made her decide to leave early? The closer to the date, the more likely I would probably be to say something. Does the other family have another au pair lined up? If so, would the agency provide an au pair in rematch to help cover the time in between? Or perhaps see if the new au pair could come earlier? I’m not sure how that works, but would assume the agency would need to help in this situation.

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Mimi July 7, 2016 at 4:46 pm

I was twice in the position of being the HM left in the lurch with our rematch APs. Both had told other APs in our group that they were leaving and two of the families were casual acquaintances of ours. No one said anything to the LCC or me until after the fact and the fall out from both situations was awful. In hindsight, I realize we rushed the match with the second AP because we were caught so off guard by the first one. The worst part was the effect it had on my kids, but finding out that people knew and never told us was a very close second.

If you don’t want to come out and tell the other HM, tell someone who will.

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Jennc July 8, 2016 at 8:21 am

I would try to fish out more information from your Aupair , like ” is she still planning on leaving early ? What is her reasoning and how early is she leaving the host family . I think I would be honest with my own aupair and say ” look this is in formation that can’t be kept a secret , this is something I feel obligated to report to the lcc ” think this way …. If Aupair screws them with a few months left usually there is no financial recourse for the family , the agency may screw the family financially . If she leaves before 6 months in usually agency will give credit for all unused payments towards new Aupair . I will admit that this happened locally but the family treated the Aupair like a live in housekeeper , they treated her awful , made her wash windows , they would leave all food dishes , meal preparation out even if she wasn’t there and leave note for her to clean dishes , she had no transportation and were we live youbdontvuse public transportation, they made her take taxi to her classes and they didn’t pay . When I found out she was going to leave ivdidntvfeel bad and I didn’t say anything , but I knew the whys and I knew who the family was so I knew it to be true . Financially they could pay for multiple aupairs and culturally they had come from
A country where there is this hierarchy of help and wealthy families and they treated her like they weren’t in the U.S. Under the aupairs program . I have to assess each situation And determine my actions . If I knew it was thexaupair just shirking her responsibilities then yes I would tell the lcc. If the girl is going to leave there won’t be lasting friendships and your Aupair could tell her that if she doesn’t tell the host parents they are going to be told . It may force her to own up to her decision .

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exaupair July 9, 2016 at 10:02 am

If you tell the HF you’ll put the relationship with your own AP at risk. Do you want to host someone who knows for a fact they can’t trust you fully?
If I was the family who’s about to get dumped I’d like to know. But I live by double standards, and if my own AP told me her friend is leaving and didn’t tell her HF I wouldn’t like to get involved. Minding your own business in really the best you can do…

Another thing that comes to my mind is the AP who told her HM isn’t really that trustworthy…she should have kept the info to herself in the first place!

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German Au-Pair July 10, 2016 at 1:38 pm

I think “trust” depends on the relationships involved. If the relationship between the HM and the AP is closer than between the APs, of course she would tell her. Sometimes APs blabber stories to other APs without thinking too much about it. I would only call about 4 or 5 of all the AP I met during my stay actual friends whose secrets I would have kept. If you tell someone you barely know your secrets, you must be aware it might backfire.
Also, I can see the other AP being a close friend and the AP being torn about it and asking her HF for advice.(Given that the Op said “good friend” I think it might the case.)

I would also not urge the AP to tell her friend to talk to the HF or talk to the LCC herself but not gamble my AP’s trust on this. Unless of course, you are close to the other HF in question.

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WestMom July 9, 2016 at 7:16 pm

If she already has her ticket, how come the family doesn’t know? Regardless, I imagine the host parents will soon ask: ‘When are you leaving BTW? We need to plan when/how to get you to the airport’. Perhaps this is an inexperienced family…? I know to expect the email from the agency about 10 weeks before the end of our term, and AP has to select 3 dates for departure. I expect AP to ask me what would work best for us.

Anyway, sounds like AP just went ahead and did this by herself, whatever. I would think that the parents will ask very soon and will find out. And not knowing the motivation for AP not telling, I don’t think it for me to tell. Maybe she is afraid to tell. It’s only a few weeks anyway. Not like someone finding a new family behind the family’s back!

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Taking a Computer Lunch July 11, 2016 at 9:01 pm

The bottom line – the return ticket home is part of the fees HF pay up front for the AP year. For APs who complete their year – even if they stay for the travel month – the agency purchases the return ticket. Unless agreed by the HF, does not happen before the end of the12th month (I had to sign a form for the one AP who left early). An AP who buys her own ticket does not intend to complete her 12th month with the HF. I always encourage my APs, whom I willingly drive to the airport, to talk to me before selecting their return date to insure the free trip.

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Kathy in Boston July 10, 2016 at 1:45 pm

Ideally the agency should email the host family the au pair’s travel information, that would solve the whole problem. I’m fairly certain that APIA does this. You could always tell the host mom, and ask that host mom to tell the au pair that she found out her travel dates by talking to the agency’s home office. The au pair would never know, and something like this could really happen if the host mom was trying to arrange for the next au pair. However you do it, the host family should absolutely know. It’s not fair to keep this kind of information to yourself. Bad things happen when good people remain silent.

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momo4 July 10, 2016 at 2:00 pm

I have had several of APs leave a few weeks early, and each time I have had to sign a form stating that I was giving them permission to do so. If I did not sign, the AP would be considered not to have completed her year as agreed, and I think she would not get her deposit back, and maybe the agency would even make her pay her own way home. (I’m not sure about this last bit, but it wouldn’t surprise me.)

In this case it sounds like the AP bought her own ticket, so maybe the agency doesn’t even know she’s planning to leave? Obviously this could really make things hard for the family if they are counting on her for childcare. Maybe the AP thinks that ‘a few weeks early” isn’t really a big deal, this sort of self centered thinking is pretty common, but I imagine she may also know that the family will be unhappy with it and so she is simply trying to avoid the unpleasantness of having to tell them.

In any case, if I were in the OP’s position I would really encourage my AP to convince her friend to tell her HF ASAP. Who knows, maybe the family will be happy she’s leaving early! If I didn’t know the HF (or anything about what their relationship with their AP is like) I would be reluctant to get involved, but if I had a good relationship with the LCC and trusted her discretion I might well give her a heads up. It’s hard to say what the right thing to do is without knowing more about the circumstances.

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HMof2 July 11, 2016 at 11:43 am

Which agencies hold a deposit? I asked my APs in the past whether money is held back, to be returned after they go back to their home country. and none of them said money is held back. I like the idea of holding a deposit because it is an incentive for APs to fully honor their contract and think more before deciding to leave early, if APs have something to loose. As HF, we always loose (financially and otherwise) when AP leaves prematurely. I am told that if the AP decides to go home and ends the contract early, when there are no reasons other than AP changed her mind and don’t want to do it anymore, the AP has to pay for her own flight home.

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HRHM July 11, 2016 at 12:40 pm

It’s not which agency but which countries. In my experience, if an AP comes from a nation which has a history of APs not returning, the agency is more likely to require money up front that they then return on the APs arrival back home. My first AP was from Bosnia and this was the case with her. APs from Germany on the other hand, never have a deposit, regardless the agency.

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Taking a Computer Lunch July 11, 2016 at 9:04 pm

In the old days APs put up a surety that they would complete their year, which would come back to them as a cash bonus. I think the State Department must have ruled it illegal, because that hasn’t been the case for at least 8 years. In the old days my APs would get a check – later a Visa Bucks card.

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Schnitzelpizza July 20, 2016 at 2:42 am

The deposit for Germany used to be $500 (at least for Euraupair). I would need to check my folder on when this was done away with but 8 years sounds about correct. I started screening late in 2005 I think and they still had it but not for too long after that.

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Dorsi July 20, 2016 at 3:47 pm

My AP from Germany that completed her year in 2010 had a deposit. None of the following did (including from South America).

A Host Mom July 11, 2016 at 10:45 am

I would hate to be put in that situation by an au pair. If you know the family, you may want to drop a hint along the lines of “You may want to ask your au pair when she is planning on leaving?” and ask them to be discreet about it when they speak with their au pair. If the au pair does plan on bailing, then they will have sufficient time to make alternate plans and speak with the agency. It is always possible that their next au pair (if they have already matched) may be able to arrive early.

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NJ Mom July 13, 2016 at 11:22 am

I voted to to have our AP tell the other AP to tell her host family. It would also depend on the timeframe. If it is many months before the other AP is departing, this is what I would do.

If the other AP’s early departure is within 1 month, I would go with the option to notify the LCC (if I don’t know the HF personally). This would give the departing AP a chance to do the right thing, but if the AP is clearly not going to, the HF has enough time to find a replacement AP.

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HappyHM July 15, 2016 at 12:39 pm

I’m feeling a bit bold today, so I’m going to voice this opinion. Be warned! ;)

If the OP’s AP thinks that this ISN’T a big deal for that other host family, I would be very concerned about whether she would do the same thing to the OP’s family. At the very least, if she doesn’t get how much the HFs depend on their APs, then again, I’d really wonder about her relationship with your family.

Granted, I think open communication is the right choice here, and at the very least the OP should have a frank conversation with her AP and let her know how much it would hurt her family if her AP did that to them (which I’m presuming it would) and hopefully leverage that empathy to convince her AP friend to have a conversation with her own HF.

I say this largely because the OP makes it sounds like the APs were friends before they became APs. This makes me think the OP’s AP would have more leverage with her friend and also that she’s more likely to share views with her friend (as opposed to someone she just happened to become friends with while they were both APs).

If talking to the AP didn’t work, I would probably bring it up to my AD/LCC. How to go about this depends on the relationship with the AD/LCC (and whether it’s the same person for both the OP and the HF with the departing AP), but I feel like the other HF’s AD/LCC could initiate a conversation with AP and the HF regarding departure dates without directly spilling the beans that she had heard the AP is planning to leave early (thereby confronting the issue nearly head-on and giving the AP the opportunity to say she was leaving early.)

A lot of “depends” in this situation, but again, I would really question my own AP if she were so ambivalent about a close friend shirking her responsibility so blatantly…

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Old China Hand July 15, 2016 at 6:45 pm

I think I would feel horrible not telling the other family, but wouldn’t know how to do so if I didn’t know them. Maybe I would tell my ap that this seems serious and a violation of trust so I feel I must tell lcc unless my ap convinces her friend to tell the family first. We make a very big deal of honesty, so this wouldn’t surprise my aps. They also know that I have called the agency before when I hear about very illegal things their friends’ host families do. So it goes both ways.

I will say that our aps know tons of other Chinese aps, but none in this area. So usually by contacting the agency, I go straight to the agency itself, not to the lcc. Maybe our new lcc will be better, but I didn’t find our old one to be reliable and helpful.

On a side note, I hear from our current ap (ap3) that ap1 (married and living here) has been hired as our new lcc. I’m excited but a bit nervous. At least she lives in our town so activities may be more accessible for our ap. At a minimum she should be able to get a ride to them.

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AlwaysHopeful HM July 16, 2016 at 4:35 pm

Wow, OCH, that’s got to feel a little strange for both you and AP 1!

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German Au-Pair July 16, 2016 at 7:47 pm

Wow! That’s somehwat weird. Especially for her when it comes to navigating loyalties and doing her job… thankfully you’re on here so you’re probably not going to be a rule-breaking, terrible HF :D

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Old China Hand July 17, 2016 at 9:52 am

A little weird, but we are used to not relying on our lcc for anything… At least ap1 doesn’t have kids or a full time job, so she will maybe schedule more things and take her job more seriously than previous lcc. We don’t break rules. :)

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Original poster July 18, 2016 at 2:54 pm

OP here to give an update. The AP finally told her HF!

If she hadn’t I was going to push my AP to push her friend to tell her HF. I had discussed it with my AP previously and brought it up at least once a week to see if she had told, mentioning how the HF would be scrambling if they didn’t know soon.

The AP had planned to leave early for a previous commitment and purchased the return ticket on her own, the agency was not involved. I don’t know if she entered the program planning to leave early or made the decision mid-program (maybe HF rule-breaking influenced her?). My AP and her friend met here and became fast friends.

My AP knew what her friend was doing wasn’t great, and has acknowledged her friend’s flaky behavior in the past (including towards my AP). My AP and I also discussed how I would never want her to do that to us, and she understood. We love our AP and don’t think she’d put us in a similar situation.

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A Smith July 27, 2016 at 4:01 pm

On a somewhat related note, I just saw a social media post from our former au pair, who’s rematched with another family, that’s basically a video of her talking into the camera while driving. Is this something others would try to let the new host family know about? Or just let sleeping dogs lie?

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