Going to work as an au pair

Au Pair
Photo by ArcYang

Do you need to improve your English and want to work in a foreign country? Being an au pair (who takes care of children) is a good way to live abroad for a few months because there’s a lot of demand. The language isn’t a problem because families aren’t usually that worried about it and sometimes even help you. The pay isn’t very good (£80-£100 a week), but for a few months you’ll have a place to live, food, and free time when you can study English or travel around the United Kingdom.

I’ll show you some bits and pieces from blogs I’ve found with detailed information, links, and advice:

Requirements for working as an au pair in the United Kingdom

The requirements for working as an au pair in the United Kingdom are very basic:

  • If you’re from a member state of the EU or EFTA you’ll just need an ID card or a valid passport to enter the country and get a job (right to free circulation).
  • If you’re not from a member state of the EU or the EFTA, you need to get in touch with your embassy to find out about the requirements for working in this country.
  • It’s a good idea to get the Euopean health card (it’s free), although normally the au pair should be included in the family’s health insurance plan, so you should ask before your trip.
  • Be between 18 and 30 years old. (This may vary.)
  • A language level that allows you to communicate in a basic way with the family and children.
  • You’ll need a CBR Check (a criminal record check). To obtain the certificate, you can look here.
  • An au pair can work a maximum of two years.

Things to consider before going to work as an au pair with an English speaking family

This are the things you should keep in mind BEFORE leaving.

1) The family’s location

You should look for houses where it will be easy for you to reach a language school. If it’s a place very far from the city, it’ll probably be expensive and difficult to go out and this will make it hard for you to attend classes.

2) Terms of the stay

You should make a contract with the family – very clear and in writing (even if it’s by email) – about what the conditions of your stay will be.

For example

– Work schedule
– Meal times
– Specific tasks you’ll have to do: babysitting, making food, cleaning (what kind of cleaning, exactly?), ironing, etc. The idea is you won’t get so much work that you can achieve your goals. Note: Technically, the au pair should just lookafter the children and carry out a few domestic tasks, but sometimes s/he might end up doing a cleaner’s work.
– English class schedule
– English study schedule (so they won’t bother you at those times)
– Payment and form of payment. Usually, you agree on a price per week. You’ll have to see if it’s enough to cover the cost of the language school.
– Transport: They should specific how much it will cost you to get around and what method of transport you’ll have available: metro, bus, etc.

Everything you don’t make clear before could later become a problem since the family could impose conditions on you that prevent you from going to classes. This is what happened to Lorena. She says she works all day and doesn’t have time to go to a language school. If she didn’t make it clear at the beginning, now it’s difficult to change the circumstances. In this case, she needs to try and learn as much English as she can with the family

If the contract isn’t clear, don’t pick that family. Look for another. Explain clearly that it’s not that you don’t want to work, it’s that you want to know exactly how to plan your time so you can learn to speak English.

3) Changing families

It’s also possible that your family won’t suit you once you arrive. Who will you call? If you go through an agency, do they have a procedure for this situation? Look at reviews from other people to see how the agency solved this problem before. In addition, always keep some money saved so you can leave if it’s urgent

4) Children

It’s better for your English if you take care of children who are at least four or five years old, as you won’t be able to speak much English with them if they’re younger. Of course, if it’s a family with a baby and the family seems lovely, one thing might balance out the other.

Of course, it’s best if you like children. If you don’t like children, working as an au pair can end up being a nightmare. You should also keep in mind that many children won’t want to have anything to do with you at the beginning because you’re a total stranger. That’s why you need to be patient and win them over little by little.

5) Starting level of English

It’s best to have an intermediate level. The more English you know, the better it’ll be for you. But sometimes this isn’t possible, so you’ll just have to “dive in” with the level you have.

6) Length of stay

It’s best to agree at the beginning on a stay that lasts at least one year. Stay as long as you are legally allowed to, because just a few months won’t help you improve your English much.

Even so, if you don’t like the family, a year can be a long time, which is why you should try to be aware of how to change families if necessary.







UKisters working as au pairs, did I forget anything? Please leave a comment!





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