Aupair.com recently published a blog post titled "What to do if the host family doesn't Pay". Most of the advice cited there is super relevant for au pairs: Communicate (is it an oversight? a one-time thing? a recurring problem?) and, if all else fails, enforce the Consequences (that's what the agreement is for - please, please, always sign an agreement!)
The post got us thinking, however, about the topic of $$, and how important it is to take it seriously. Some rules of thumb to improve the experience for both parties:
For the host family:
- Always pay on time. Establish a mechanism whereby the allowance is automatically transferred to the au pair's bank account on a particular day of the week or, if the au pair doesn't have a bank account and you pay them in cash, leave the cash in the same place every week so the au pair has it on time.
- Don't make the au pair ask you to get their allowance. It's as if you had to go and ask your boss about your salary every month. You expect to be paid for your work, so does the au pair. It shows that you take their work seriously, and that you value them.
- Think about keeping a bit of cash somewhere that the au pair can use if he/she does things with your kids - e.g. if they go to a museum, or buy a book together, or a snack (the au pair can leave receipts for these expenses in the same location, so you know exactly what the money was spent on)
For the au pair
- If the host family is late with payment at any time, because they're busy with work, or were travelling at the time, or it just slipped their minds, give them a gentle reminder. They won't be offended and will be grateful you did!
- Before you agree to join a host family, be clear on the exact terms of your engagement, and make sure they're clearly spelled out in the agreement you sign. Not just the weekly amount you'll be paid, but also, does it include any extras (e.g. transportation card, or gym membership, etc.), what are the paid holidays, are there any unpaid holidays and, if so, what will you do during that time? Everything is much easier if you can agree about it together and upfront!