Hiring an Au Pair is an adventure. As exciting as it is to find your ideal match, the process can also be full of overwhelm and uncertainty. However, if you have a solid contract of employment in place before your Au Pair arrives, you’ll feel much more certain.
Go Au Pair has a standard Host Family contract template for all of our families (or, as Go Au Pair calls it, a Child Care Service Agreement, or CCSA). This post will cover some of the basic elements that should go into an Au Pair contract (USA families) so that when you receive your agreement, you’ll know exactly what to expect.
Note: If you’re a Host Family in Massachusetts, your contract will still cover everything listed in this article. Go Au Pair provides an addendum to our standard contract, which helps families stay compliant with the MA Domestic Workers’ Labor Law requirements.
We also provide an inventory of resources to help our MA families navigate these changes. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact your Placement Coordinator.
Which Line Items Are Necessary for an Au Pair Contract?
Au Pairs come to the U.S. on a visa program regulated by the U.S. Department of State (DOS). Unlike a European Au Pair contract, U.S. Host Families must take into account the specific requirements set forth by the DOS.
Many countries do not regulate the Au Pair program through the government. Google “au pair contract Ireland” and you’ll see that some countries don’t even have standard guidelines for how Au Pairs should be housed or paid.
When it comes to learning what goes into an Au Pair contract, you might be tempted to use a free download for a live in nanny contract PDF, but these templates will not cover the intricacies of the Au Pair program.
But don’t worry, because Go Au Pair makes it easy for you. We lay everything out in a customized live in caregiver contract PDF, sent out by your Placement Coordinator once you match.
Your Au Pair contract will cover these basic DOS requirements.
First and foremost, your contract will cover the standard Au Pair program regulations. All participants should be well-versed with these requirements.
Housing & Accommodation Requirements
The Au Pair program was designed to meet the State Department’s foreign diplomacy goals. This program purposefully places exchange visitors with a Host Family so they can experience life in an American home. Thus, all Au Pairs live with their Host Families.
Families must provide a private bedroom with a door. The Au Pair’s bedroom should be 100% their own for the duration of their stay. This means it shouldn’t have a secondary function, such as storage for the family’s belongings.
In some cases, families want to host two Au Pairs, but ask the Au Pairs to share a room. This is alright, as long as it’s clearly communicated to both Au Pairs before the match is finalized.
Au Pairs must also have access to a bathroom that the Host Parents don’t use. If the bathroom is shared with the children, that’s okay. However, many people consider it ideal if the Au Pair has their own private bathroom.
Per §62.31 Au pairs. (e) (6)
Au Pair’s Weekly Stipend
According to the DOS regulations, “au pair participants are compensated at a weekly rate based upon 45 hours of child care services per week.”
In a letter to program sponsors dated June 14, 2007, the DOS provided direction on how to calculate the minimum Au Pair stipend, based on federal minimum wage and a 40% credit for room and board. (Au Pair pay is designed to be consistent in every state; thus, the DOS calculates the minimum stipend based on federal, not state, minimum wage).
Per the calculation provided by the DOS, the Host Families must pay at least the minimum weekly stipend of $195.75. Au Pairs and Host Families are free to agree to compensation higher than the legally applicable minimum.
The minimum weekly stipend must be paid regardless of the number of hours worked.
Go Au Pair’s agreement also covers things like tax withholding and education pay. Within the agreement, families and Au Pairs can define which expenses might be reimbursable during the placement, and which expenses the Au Pair will need to cover on their own.
See §62.31 Au pairs. (j) (1)
Childcare Services- Hours
According to DOS regulations, “au pair participants… Do not provide more than 10 hours of child care per day, or more than 45 hours of child care in any one week.”
Additionally, “au pair participants… [must] receive a minimum of one and one-half (1.5) days off per week in addition to one complete weekend off each month.”
Go Au Pair’s contracts allow families to define their ideal childcare schedule. Au Pairs can review the proposed schedule in advance & propose changes or ask questions before signing.
See §62.31 Au pairs. (j)(2 & 3)
Families can indicate on the contract what types of transportation they will provide to their Au Pair. Many families elect to allow access to a vehicle during free time, especially if they live in an area with poor access to public transit.
If you cannot offer your Au Pair access to a vehicle, you may consider a bus pass or subway pass instead. Host Families must provide transportation to and from university classes and cultural events.
Do you need infant care? A driver? An effective disciplinarian? Do you have a child with special needs?
It’s important to identify your childcare needs before you start interviewing. That way, you can find the candidate who best meets your family’s needs.
Au Pairs cannot be left alone to tend an infant under 3 months of age. Not all Au Pairs are infant-qualified, so if you need infant care, search for an infant-qualified candidate.
See §62.31 Au pairs. (e)(3)
Most Au Pairs have an international driver’s license. However, if you need a driver, you’ll want to follow Go Au Pair’s Driving Best Practices Guide to ensure you find someone who can meet your needs.
It is not required to allow the Au Pair to drive. This is entirely up to the family’s comfort and the Au Pair’s driving abilities.
According to DOS regulations, Au Pairs may not tend “a special needs child… unless the au pair has specifically identified his or her prior experience.” Many Au Pairs have special needs experience, and our online search allows you to filter by this requirement.
See §62.31 Au pairs. (e)(4)
Finding your ideal disciplinarian is something that must be done through interviews. Generally, Au Pairs are willing to follow the parents’ example when it comes to discipline.
However, if your child has very specific disciplinary needs, you’ll want to make this clear in many places: your Host Family profile, during interviews, and in your contract. Be clear about the extent and type of behavior issues you experience so you can find the best fit.
On your contract, you’ll be prompted to list activities the Au Pair will be responsible for during the day. The more detailed you are, the better. Then, if you want to dial things back later, it’ll be easier than adding more tasks down the road.
Mealtimes & Food for Children
If you want your Au Pair to prepare specific foods for your children, it’s important to indicate this in the interview (not all Au Pairs have experience cooking for themselves). You’ll also want to list this on the contract itself.
If your child has unique dietary needs, you will list them here, too. This gives your Au Pair an idea of what to expect. Once he/she arrives at your home, you can offer more detailed, one-on-one instruction.
Administering Medication to the Children
Even if your kids don’t need to take medicine daily, it’s a good idea to list this on your contract. After your Au Pair arrives, it’s best to walk him/ her through the appropriate dosages for any over-the-counter medicine your child might take (ibuprofen, Tylenol, allergy meds).
If your Au Pair will be asked to administer prescriptions or other medical care, it’s even more important to walk them through your child’s needs.
Please note that Au Pairs are not qualified, medical professionals. Many Au Pairs do have experience with these types of tasks, and you’ll want to confirm their comfort level at the interview stage.
Our contracts cover other aspects program, including:
Because Au Pairs receive at least the minimum weekly stipend, even if they do not work, they also receive vacation pay.
This is mandated by the DOS regulations, which say, “au pair participants… [must] receive two weeks of paid vacation.”
If you and your Au Pair agree to a weekly amount that’s higher than the minimum stipend, you can indicate on the contract whether vacation pay will be the higher amount or the minimum. Working this out with your Au Pair in advance can prevent misunderstandings later on.
See §62.31 Au pairs. (j)(3)
From locking the front door and turning off lights to asking your Au Pair to maintain a curfew, there are many considerations when it comes to house rules.
These things are entirely up to you and the Au Pair to work out together. List them on the contract so there are no surprises after the placement starts.
Insurance Needs & Recommendations
Go Au Pair provides accident and travel insurance for all of our Au Pairs. Families may choose to cover the cost of an insurance upgrade (highly recommended), but this is not a requirement. Au Pairs may also elect to do this at their own expense.
If your Au Pair will be driving, they’ll also need to be covered on your family auto insurance. As part of the live-in arrangement, Host Families are responsible for covering the Au Pair’s insurance premium. This may not be necessary right away; speak with your insurance provider to verify the requirements for your policy and state.
You may also need to provide worker’s compensation insurance if it’s required in your state.
Our agreements do not outline all the requirements for insurance, but we do make some basic recommendations. Families agree to do their own due diligence when it comes to insurance.
What to Provide for Your Au Pair
Go Au Pair recommends providing for your Au Pair as you would a visiting family member. Not only does this help your Au Pair feel at home, but it’s a nice way to welcome them as a new family member.
Items such as basic toiletries, a toothbrush and toothpaste, a razor, soap and shampoo, or personal hygiene items are some of the basic things most Host Families provide. You’ll also want to make sure you have bed sheets, towels, and blankets for your Au Pair. A bathrobe or winter coat is also a nice gesture.
These items don’t need to be specified in the contract. Consider them a nice surprise for your Au Pair after he/ she arrives.
Agreement to Go Au Pair’s Policies
Our contracts also include an agreement to Go Au Pair’s policies, such as completing orientation with a Go Au Pair representative; agreeing to our Mediation Policy; and consistent use of the Hours & Wage Log (also provided to all participants).
Termination and Rematch Clauses
Go Au Pair has policies for termination of contract, which families and Au Pairs are asked to agree to at the time of signing.
What Other Considerations Should Host Families Make When Selecting an Au Pair?
Each placement is just as unique as its participants. Thus, while there are standard best practices all families and Au Pairs should follow, individual considerations also play a huge role. It’s important to think about your unique lifestyle and needs before matching with an Au Pair.
Here are some other factors that can play a huge role in your placement with an Au Pair:
- Your family’s lifestyle and expectations of cleanliness;
- Your availability to take your Au Pair driving;
- Whether you want language immersion in the home;
- Whether you want to bring a particular culture into the home;
- Personality types you & your spouse have lived with successfully (or unsuccessfully) in the past.
Go Au Pair offers an advanced applicant search, which allows families to filter by:
- Native country or language
- Children’s ages
- Start date/ timeframe
- Driving experience
- Personality type
- … and more!
Our families agree… Au Pair child care is the best! Register for free today and start browsing Au Pair profiles.
“After years of stress and frustration, and many different nannies, we decided to look for an au pair. When Veronika arrived on January 2, 2016 our lives were forever changed. We had no idea that a real life Mary Poppins had just arrived!”
“I can honestly say that bringing her to live with us as our au pair has been the best decision we could possibly have made. She has afforded us so many priceless “intangibles” during her time here that I can’t begin to quantify her contributions to our family.”