Definition | A foreign national working domestically for a family with a child-care orientation. In Canada, au pairing does not really exist in the same format that it does in the rest of the world. Each European nation has regulations that stipulate conditions such as pay maximums, health insurance, language requirements and working conditions.

Title origin | The term au pair translates from French to “on par” or “equal to.” This indicates that the relationship between employer (parents) and employee (au pair) is to be one of equality. The au pair is intended to become a member of the family, albeit a temporary one.

Responsibilities | According to Aupair World, an au pair takes care of children and assists with light housework (vacuuming, dusting, setting the table, emptying the dishwasher) and occasional babysitting. Under national regulation, au pairs are not required to work in excess of 30 hours per week. This can technically be spread over 6 days of a week with Sunday as a mandatory day off, but I haven’t personally experienced this. Also, au pairs are to receive 2 days a month of paid holiday.

What it Shouldn’t Be | A nanny, a babysitter, a house cleaner, family cook, an au-parent (the au pair should not be a replacement parent!). While duties certainly draw on these roles, they should not explicitly represent your job description. Point of clarification: nannies typically work more hours and are paid reflectively.


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