Au Pair contracts, for both the au pair and the family, exist so that both parties are absolutely clear about what they can expect from each other.
A Host Family pays an agency fee that they expect to cover 12 month of service. Indeed, knowing that you can amortize the cost of finding and training an au pair over a full 12 months is one of the things that makes the program ‘work’ for families.
And it’s not just the money — we Host Parents want our children to invest in a caring relationship with their au pair, and we ourselves want to invest in a relationship that (as we all know) takes a lot of energy.
When your au pair doesn’t stay around long enough for either you or him/her to reap the benefits of these emotional, time and financial investment, it’s a real drag. To put it mildly.
But to find out that your au pair intended to leave early from the very start?
That’s even worse. For Host Parents, it’s infuriating. How else would you react when you discover that an au pair has entered into a match and a contract with you – a contract that that formally specifies a year long commitment from both of you — when he or she has no intention of completing 12months as an au pair?
Falsely committing to a 12 month contract is a severe breach of ethics by an au pair.
If a host parent were to discover that their au pair had no intention whatsoever to spend a full year with them, this discovery would shake the entire foundation of their host family-au pair relationship.
That’s what’s happened to BrokenTrustHostMom:
I am currently hosting an AP from a non-European country for less than half a year. From our perspective, she is a fantastic AP. She’s fun to be around, she’s a kind and thoughtful person, she’s great with the kids, I trust her completely with her day to day care of them.
Recently, we were discussing our vacation plans for later in the year, and we gave her the option to join us (as a member of the family). The destination is to a location I think of as a “dream” AP trip, so I was very surprised when she said she needed to think about it and talk to her Mom first.
DH thought that it was because she wanted her Mom to come visit at some point and thought that might be a good time – i.e. while we were away. But later, after telling us that she would join us, she told DH that she had needed to talk to her Mom because her Mom expected her to be coming home (permanently) before the planned trip started.
Now this was very confusing to me, since this would be well before her year was up. The impression she gave him was that she was originally intending to return home about ¾ of the way through the AP year, but changed her mind because she loves it here and now wants to extend even, and the trip forced her to make her “decision” final.
She also seemed to be intending this news as a compliment to us – which my husband bought into completely!! – but I saw it very differently and was pretty upset to hear what sounds like she intended from the start not to complete her year (and her mother condoned this plan!) with us and only changed her mind later .
To me , this is extremely unethical and brings her entire character into question. DH seems to be less concerned. We have noticed in many ways that (especially compared to our previous German au pairs) “rules” are not something that she takes very seriously.
This I know sounds bad, but what I mean is that while she follows all of our house rules without issue , she has made clear that she thinks our constant juggling act to ensure we stay within the 45 hour rule is completely unnecessary (she would be happy to work more and has told us this many, many times), and she often makes suggestions that she would be happy to stay with the children overnight so DH and I can have some time to ourselves (we have no family around to help us). In fact, she almost seems to be OFFENDED that we won’t break these rules.
I guess my question is, how would others feel about this ?
Could this just be a cultural thing where rules and legal contracts are not taken that seriously?
I don’t have the feeling she’s a pathological liar or deceitful by nature, but I also feel uncomfortable with the fact that she essentially lied to us by not telling us she wasn’t actually initially committed to staying a full year. On the other hand, lots of APs stay for less than a year for various reasons, it’s obvious why she would keep that information to herself since that would basically have eliminated her chances of matching with anyone.
Am I overthinking it ?