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How Much Notice To Give An Au Pair

By: Helena Stratford - Updated: 5 Oct 2010 | comments*Discuss
How Much Notice To Give An Au Pair

Whether your au pair has had a welcome stay, or outstayed her welcome, there will come a time when you are contemplating giving her notice.

This is a tricky area an au pair is not an ‘employee’ as such, but rather a house guest - so there is no legal obligation to provide a specific period of written notice.

Official Guidelines

There are official guidelines, however, laid down by the Home Office as an acceptable code of conduct, to which all reputable au pair agencies adhere and which are often included in their Terms of Business for clients.

Consequently, if an au pair wishes to leave, or a family wish an au pair to leave their home, it is deemed good practise to give at least 2 weeks notice either way.

Nevertheless, for many placements, there are occasions when either a family wish their au pair to leave before her allotted time, or the au pair herself announces her departure unexpectedly.

If Your Au Pair is Not Suitable

If your au pair has arrived but you do not find her to be suitable, then it is your duty to sit down and explain this to her in as kind and calm a way as possible. If you have used an agency, you must also inform them of your decision and discuss when you would like your au pair to leave.

If she has done nothing ‘wrong’ as such, but you merely think she is not compatible with your families’ needs, then you must give her due notice and give her the choice as to whether she would like to stay in the UK and look for another au pairing role, or return home.

After coming to a decision and may either choose to leave your home immediately or use the two weeks to find another host family. If you are happy for her to work during this time, you should continue to pay her, but if you prefer her not to work, you must still pay her for the two weeks and provide her bed and board.

If she wishes to stay in the country, then your local agency (whether or not you used them to find the au pair in the first place), will very likely help to re-locate her within the two week period and try to move her as soon as possible.

A Breach in Conduct

If your au pair has behaved in a way that is unredeemable in your eyes or has abused your trust in such a way that you wish her to leave immediately, then he/she will be in breach of ‘contract’ and you are within your rights to ask her to depart forthwith.

In these cases, it is best to call your agent, if you have used one, and ask for their help in resolving the situation. If a meeting can be convened to end the placement amicably, then this is obviously the best way forward and will allow a chance for the views of all parties to be heard and as little upset as possible to the family.

Even in such cases, the family, as the hosts responsible for the au pair, should ascertain if they can, that the au pair has somewhere safe to go and has the wherewithal to return home (arriving with enough finance for a return ticket is a pre-requisite of being an au pair). They should also ask the agency to contact their parents to explain that they need to expect the au pair home, and also to prevent her being placed with another family, if appropriate.

Emergency Departures

We cannot possibly predict what will happen in life, and sometimes your au pair may need to return home in a hurry due to bad news - or your own family situation may change dramatically due to unforeseen circumstances.

In these cases, most people do understand that a personal crises may exceed the ability to provide much notice and don’t wish to make things worse. Once again an agency can help smooth the waters for a family by perhaps providing a short-term temporary au pair to help tide them over, until another longer-term replacement can be found.

All in all, if all parties treat each other in the way that they would like to be treated, all au pair departures should be smooth ones!

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