Do I have to pay a stipend to my au pair is s/he isn’t needed for childcare? I will be out of the country with my son for three weeks and am not taking the au pair with me since i am visiting my parents.
Our au pair already took one week off of her two-week vacation and will take one week off during my trip. But what about the remaining two weeks? She will not be needed to work — in fact she’ll have what amounts to extra vacation time. Do I still need to pay her a stipend? I couldn’t find any rules regarding this issue.
Any advice will great. Thank you so much for your blog. –TravelingMom
Yes, you need to pay your au pair for the two weeks you are away, even if she is not technically providing childcare.
The way it works is that you have (already) contracted with her for 50 weeks of childcare and two weeks of paid vacation time…. It isn’t her choice not to work, so she should not bear the brunt of being without a stipend/pocket money during these two weeks.
This may seem a little unfair to you — why should you pay if you don’t get childcare? Well, it’s just like if you schedule a massage but can’t make it– you still have to pay, because you have reserved her time and she can’t ‘sell it’ to someone else. She’s counting on that pocket money.
That said, take a step back and see if you can reframe this.
Since you do have to pay her, think about how to let go of any resentment you might feel over this. As Granddad always says, “It is what it is, so find a way to make it a good thing.”
You might want to encourage your au pair to travel during this time, since she does indeed have free time. You could encourage her to stay in your house but explore your area and find new things to do (maybe even new ideas for kid activities). She should take all the day trips she imagines. She could sleep in, give herself a 10-day workout/vacation at the local Y, or watch the entire Seinfeld oeuvre on dvds she checks out from the library. Or, she could watch Minority Report over and over like my husband does when he’s home alone for a weekend.
Alternatively (or maybe combined with this) your au pair might do some of those kid-related things you rarely have time for. Maybe she could reorganize your child’s drawers and wash all the stuffed animals. Take the car to the carwash and get all the Cheerios vacuumed out. Upgrade the stuff in the diaper bag. Try learning to cook three new things — who knows?
She might also keep an eye on your house, plants and pets for you.
Keep in mind, too, that you are also responsible for her ‘room & board’ during this time. That means– you need to leave groceries & grocery money for her. It doesn’t have to be a large sum, but you need to make sure she can continue to eat what you all normally eat, not dine out every day at Ronny Mac’s or indulge herself with Frappucinos for breakfast. Again, it’s not her fault that you won’t be there– she still needs to eat.
Reframe this to be an act of caring, understanding, and a ‘you’re welcome’ for your au pair.
I’m not denying that it can feel like a drag to pay for things you don’t use– but I am suggesting that you step outside the ‘stipend in exchange for childcare’ box. It’s too narrow a framing of the au pair -host family relationship in situations like these. Even if your au pair is not particularly appreciative, you can always take comfort in doing the right thing.
It’s your choice not to use her services these two weeks, and it’s the rule that you must pay her stipend and make sure she has food to eat and a warm house to sleep in. While you can’t take extra credit for being generous by following the rules (when that’s expected), you can step up as a good person and good host parent not only by letting it cease to bother you, but also for helping your au pair (and you) use this as an opportunity to relax, rejuvenate, and re-embrace the adventure. — cvh
Moms, am I nuts or what? Have your say, below….