Hiring an Au Pair

Hiring an Au Pair

What is an Au Pair?


An au pair is a young foreign person who works for and lives as part of a host family. She is coming to Ireland to improve her English and to experience a different culture. She is aged between 17 and 27 years.

An au pair takes on a share of the day-to-day duties of the family in exchange for board and pocket money. An au pair will help with childcare and some light housework (helping in the kitchen, doing the laundry, tidying children’s toys etc.).

Very often an au pair becomes a ‘big sister’ within a host family and will usually eat meals with the family and join in many of the family activities and outings.


What are the Au Pair working hours and free time?



The au pair can work up to 30 hours and do two evenings of babysitting per week (with a maximum of one of these to be at the weekend).

  • She must have one full day off per week and one full weekend off per month.
  • She is also entitled to one week paid holiday per 6 months.
  • As an au pair usually travels to Ireland to gain a cultural experience and to improve her English, she must be allowed time off to attend English classes if she wishes to do so.

An au pair will usually pay her own travel expenses and for her English classes herself. An au pair will usually receive pocket money of €80-€120 per week.


What can I expect from an Au Pair?

Duties and responsibilities of an au pair will vary from family to family. A family with very young children will have very different needs to a family with school-going children or a family in which either the mother or the father is at home will have very different needs to a family in which both parents work full-time.

The most important thing when deciding what your au pair’s duties and responsibilities are is that you discuss and agree these with the au pair from the very beginning. The more the au pair knows about what is expected of her, the better the au pair stay is likely to be.


Some duties may include:

  • Getting the children ready for the day, washing and dressing them.
  • Bringing the children to and from school.
  • Bringing the children to after-school activities.
  • Helping them with their homework.
  • Playing games and doing activities such as painting, baking etc with your children.
  • Bringing your children on outings such as to the park, playground, going for picnics, baby and toddler groups etc.
  • Doing some grocery shopping.
  • Preparing the children's meals and feeding them.
  • Light housework such as tidying, cleaning, hoovering, emptying the dishwasher etc.An au pair should not be expected to do heavy housework such as mowing the lawn.


How can I improve the chances of the au pair placement working well?


When it comes to having an au pair to stay with you it is often the small things that make the difference. Remember, an au pair can be very young and this experience can be very daunting for her at the beginning so the more welcome you make her feel, the better. Small acts of kindness really do go along way.

Things like:

  • Buying her favourite food occasionally, when you are going grocery shopping or giving her a map of the local area with facilities and things to do marked out.
  • Showing her how to use public transport and introducing her to other au pairs and families in your area.
  • Cooking her favourite meal, bringing her to a local festival or tourist attraction.

It's not necessary to do all of these things but when it comes to having an au pair, its little things that can really pay off in the long run.

How long can an au pair stay?

The length of time an au pair stays with a family should be agreed from the beginning. This can be as short as 2 months for a summer au pair and in this case a college student on summer break, may be a suitable option.

In general an au pair will stay with a family for between 6 and 12 months but can stay for as long as 2 years.

What documentation do I need to get from my Au Pair?

Au pairs from the EU/EEA do not need a visa or a work permit to work as an au pair in any other EU member state. The only legal document that an EU/EEA citizen must present on arrival in another member state is a doctor's letter confirming that they are in good health and this must be dated within 3 months preceding their start date as an au pair.

What should I do before offering an au pair position?



The most important thing is to get to know the au pair as well as possible before agreeing to the au pair stay.

If the au pair is already in your country, invite her around to your home to meet her. This way she can get to meet your children and get an idea of how your home works.

The more you know about each other and what is expected from both parties, the better the whole au pair experience is likely to be.


For an au pair who is coming from abroad, talk on the phone or Skype the au pair as many times as possible to iron out any potential problems when she arrives. For example if you need an au pair to drive make sure to confirm that the au pair has a full driver's licence and that she is willing to drive when she comes to live with you.


Ask the au pair for any relevant references in particular from any past childcare experiences. It is recommended that you get a childcare reference from your au pair before you make her an offer. Again au pair duties and responsibilities should be outlined and agreed from the very beginning to ensure that the au pair stay works out as well as possible.




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This website was created by Jill Holtz and Michelle Davitt, both of whom are mothers of young children. Jill and Michelle decided to create this resource themselves, and launched in 2007.