AU Pair

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Au-pair [ oˈpɛʁ ] (short for “au pair boy” or “au pair girl”) is the name given to young adults or, in some countries, also young people who, for food, accommodation and pocket money, stay with a host family at home or in Working abroad in order to get to know the language and culture of the host country or region in return.

The adjective for this is au pair ( French “for consideration”). It is also used as a noun to denote the abstract concept and, according to Duden , remains in the French form in German texts.


The origins of the au pair program go back to the 18th century and come from Switzerland. There wealthy families sent their daughters to families abroad or to parts of the country that spoke other languages (later also known as Welschlandjahr ) so that they could learn another language and receive some education there.


A stay as an au pair enables young people to get to know another language and cultural area with little money. Traditionally, the majority of au pairs are female, although the proportion of male au pairs has increased in recent years.

The stay as an au pair supports the

  • Expansion of your own horizon of experience
  • Improvement of foreign language skills
  • Preparation for a longer stay abroad
  • Experience in dealing with children and housekeeping


The main task for the au pair is childcare . In addition, light housework is often expected. The share of the assigned chores should not exceed 50% of the total working time. An au pair is not primarily a host family cleaner. It seems sensible to regulate the proportion of childcare and housework in the au pair contract in order to avoid discrepancies.

The Federal Employment Agency describes the tasks of au pairs as follows:

“The daily tasks of an au pair are very different. They depend entirely on the nature and lifestyle of the family that the au pair has taken in. The everyday life of an au pair generally includes:

  • To do light housework, that is, to help keep the apartment clean and tidy and to wash and iron the laundry;
  • prepare breakfast and simple meals;
  • to look after the younger children, that is to say to supervise them and to accompany them on their way to kindergarten or school or to certain events, to take them for walks or to play;
  • to look after the house or apartment and to look after the pets.

Nursing and elderly care (looking after family members in need of care) are not part of the duties of an au pair. "

- Federal Employment Agency

There are no fixed guidelines with regard to the specific activities of au pairs.

Nevertheless, some typical tasks of an au pair should be listed here:

  • Food for children prepare
  • Dressing and undressing children
  • Bathe children
  • playing with the children
  • read or read to each other
  • help with homework
  • Bring and pick up children to kindergarten, school, playgroups or hobbies
  • Wash and iron children's laundry
  • cook or warm up food for the children
  • Clean and tidy up children's rooms and their own rooms

The au pair duties do not include:

  • independently manage the entire household
  • Cleaning the host parents' bedroom
  • Do gardening
  • Elderly care

Usually, in addition to child-related tasks, host parents also assign other light housework to the au pair, such as:

  • rinse pans used for cooking after meals, wipe the table and clean the dining area,
  • emptying the dishwasher.

Au pairs should not incur any additional work for the host parents or become an additional burden in any other way. Au pairs naturally keep their own room clean, and that does not count towards an au pair's working hours.

Integration into the family

On the part of the family and the au pair, there may be different expectations about living together in the family. Au pair agencies usually try in advance to use questionnaires to record what au pair candidates and families want, what circumstances and wishes exist with regard to smoking and possible pets, whether the au pair has their own bathroom, a stereo system or a television will be available in the room and whether the au pair will be allowed to invite friends home.

Many au pair agencies include additional regulations in their au pair contracts in order to bring about clear agreements between the host family, the au pair and the agency. The coincidence of place of work and place of living can become a particular problem for au pairs, as well as for live-in household help, if there is a disagreement with the host family. Generally, consideration, mutual benevolence , patience , tact , warm-heartedness and mediating communication behavior are required. But character traits and unspoken expectations can also significantly influence the relationship.

A host family and their au pair do not always agree on which aids and resources are needed and which can be provided. For many au pairs, for example, internet telephony , whether from home or an internet café, is an important way of maintaining contact with family and friends in their home country. Host parents can feel overwhelmed when the au pair demands frequent access to the family computer, the installation of certain software, the rental or maintenance of a functional bicycle and other utensils. On the other hand, it may seem natural to host families that an au pair uses electrical appliances in the kitchen (stove, refrigerator, kettle, microwave, etc.) and the washing machine in addition to the devices provided in their room, but not the family's own stereo system, for example. The au pair, on the other hand, may have different ideas and expectations and may not know how to use certain devices, so that special arrangements and explanations are necessary. The au pair finds himself in the difficult situation of not knowing in advance which of his or her expectations are a burden for the family. Conversely, au pairs can perceive the host family's demands as exploitation , especially if excessive use of housework is expected and there is a lack of time autonomy . In addition to language difficulties, there are also misunderstandings caused by cultural differences . Au pairs do not always want to express their displeasure within the host family, as they fear that the atmosphere will deteriorate and the resulting dissatisfaction will turn their stay with the family into an unpleasant experience. Au pair agencies should generally be able to provide help, but they do not necessarily prepare those involved for real life together:

  • Some au pairs will not be aware that it is important to immediately communicate any problem that occurs when the parents are absent. If an au pair seems to be hiding a damage or problem, this can undermine the trust between the family and the au pair.
  • In some cases, conflicts arise over minor issues, such as different eating and cooking preferences, the use of perfume or deodorant sprays, or the type and frequency of phone calls.
  • Ideally, it should be clarified before the contract is concluded whether the family would prefer the au pair to travel back to their country of origin over Christmas or the summer holidays and to what extent the family might contribute to the travel costs. If the family expects to spend Christmas in close family circles, the au pair is faced with the dilemma of either having to travel home and finance it or having to spend Christmas alone. For a host family, however, it is difficult to know before the start of the au pair relationship whether such a relaxed family situation will arise with the au pair that a joint celebration of family celebrations or a joint vacation would be conceivable.

The formation of networks in which au pairs exchange ideas offers them an opportunity to put their own situation in perspective.

Abuse and Countermeasures

The au pair is sometimes mistakenly referred to as domestic help. It is also only an employment relationship to a limited extent, even if, for example, a number of relevant labor and social law regulations are applicable in Germany. Often one speaks of a “special kind of supervision relationship”.

Sometimes the limit for maximum work is extended, in some cases up to exploitation and abuse, which then also creates an illegal employment relationship.

The report of the federal government on the situation and development of the au pair placement of January 27, 2005 describes, among other things, the implementation of the demands of the German Bundestag to prevent abuse.

In order to prevent illegal working relationships and abuse of those employed as au pairs in Germany, a RAL quality mark for au pairs was developed with the support of the Federal Ministry for Family, Seniors, Women and Youth , which was passed on to 51 au pair agencies for the first time on March 16, 2006 was awarded. Agents who wear this undertake to monitor compliance with all au pair standards for families and au pairs. This in turn is neutrally monitored by a third party.

Participation in the quality mark is voluntary. The licensing requirement, which existed until 2002, was lifted in the course of the liberalization of the EU labor market. Due to this deregulation , the conditions for au pairs and the agency's actions towards au pairs and host families are no longer checked by the state.

Legal regulations in host countries



An au pair can be granted a residence permit under the following conditions :

  • The au pair has a basic knowledge of the German language and is under 27 years old.
  • In the family, German is spoken as a mother tongue or as a family language. In the latter case, the au pair must not come from the host parents' home country.

There are no other legal bases for being an au pair. The “European Agreement on Au Pair Employment” of 1969 has no legal force due to lack of ratification, but “generally it is followed.” German agencies are usually members of the Gütegemeinschaft Au pair e. V. and thus obliged to ensure compliance with the rules of the quality association. These are closely based on the "European Convention".

Au pairs and host parents are not obliged to use an agency. Some agencies also offer to look after an au pair on site that they have not placed themselves (for example because the host parents have chosen a person themselves through private contacts or via internet forums).

An au pair is not a domestic worker in Germany either. The help of an au pair is legally limited in Germany to 30 hours per week, this includes babysitting. The Association of Working Mothers emphasizes that an au pair cannot be seen as a substitute for qualified daily care in a day-care center or with a childminder , as the au pair lacks the necessary experience and legal regulations strictly limit the daily working hours.

An au pair may be between 18 and 27 years old at the time of applying for a visa and stay in Germany for a maximum of 1 year. Basic knowledge of the German language is required today. The au pair bears the travel costs to the host family and back.

An au pair receives EUR 260 pocket money per month, health and accident insurance, free accommodation in their own room and all meals. The au pair sits at the family table while eating and receives the same meal as the host family; an au pair has full family ties at meals.

Every au pair has the opportunity to take part in a German language course in their free time and to attend cultural and mentally stimulating events. The host families contribute 50 euros per month to the costs of the language course.

The au pair is entitled to a free afternoon and a whole day off per week (but is entitled to all meals on free days) as well as to vacation, which is 4 weeks for a full year or is calculated on a pro-rata basis.

Tax consideration

Tax-paying host parents can at least partially claim expenses for an au pair (pocket money, health, accident and liability insurance, costs for public transport, food, ancillary costs for electricity and water) ( household-related employment , childcare costs ) if they have the Prove costs. In particular, an au pair contract must be available. The tax office does not recognize cash payments, only transfers.

United States

The maximum help of an au pair in the USA is set at 45 hours per week and 10 hours per day.

The tasks of an au pair in the USA are childcare and related work such as B. Prepare meals for the children, tidy up toys, wash the children’s laundry, drive children to and from activities. The au pair is not responsible for general housework (e.g. cooking, cleaning, washing for the host parents), but only for activities that have to do with the children.

Other US Government Terms

  • 1½ days off per week and at least one free weekend per month (from Friday evening to Monday morning)
  • two weeks of paid vacation or 4 days for summer au pairs
  • $ 195.75 pocket money per week or $ 225 for a qualified au pair
  • Accommodation and meals are free
  • own room
  • Health insurance
  • Participation in advanced training courses at adult education centers or colleges is compulsory - 6 credits (plus a grant of up to $ 500 / year from the host family)
  • Support in the USA by the organization
  • possibly accommodation in another host family (rematch)
  • 13th month or 4th month for summer au pairs at leisure (e.g. for travel)

Conditions of participation:

  • 18–26 years old
  • Experience in dealing with children
  • Enjoy dealing with children
  • Willingness to get to know a new culture
  • criminal record certificate
  • Driving license

The au pair program in the USA must last at least one year (with the exception of the summer au pair). To participate in an au pair program, the so-called J-1 visa must be applied for. This visa can only be obtained in Germany through an au pair organization (see web links). The visa can be extended by 6, 9 or 12 months.


China does not issue au pair visas. There are agencies that place foreign au pairs in China, but they all make do with a visitor visa ("F visa"), which is actually intended for other purposes. Officially, the au pair is not visiting the family, but a company or institution.

However, the demand for an au pair with (preferably: native) English skills is very high and the number of foreign applicants is relatively low.

Age limits

Reservations by sending countries

In 1998 the government of the Philippines forbade its citizens to leave the country for the purpose of au pair work in Europe. The background to this was questions relating to abuse of Filipinos working in private households. In 2010, this ban was lifted as far as Switzerland, Norway and Denmark were concerned on the basis of bilateral agreements. On the basis of agreements with other European countries, which u. a. regulate the procedure in the event of suspected abuse, in 2012 the Philippine government again allowed childless, unmarried 18 to 30-year-old Filipinos to leave the country to take up au pair work for a maximum of two years. A compulsory preparatory seminar must be completed prior to departure.

Au pair convention of the Council of Europe

The "European Agreement on Au Pair Employment" was adopted on November 24, 1969 by the Council of Europe. It was ratified by three states (Denmark, France and Norway) in 1971 and came into force on May 30, 1971. Ratifications by Italy (1973), Spain (1988) and Luxembourg (1990) followed. The agreement was signed by Germany on October 2, 1976, but is still awaiting ratification. Belgium, Bulgaria, Finland, Greece, the Republic of Moldova and Switzerland have also signed the agreement, but not yet ratified it (as of September 2018).

Social context (Germany)

In Germany, the number of au pair applications and the number of au pair visas granted fell sharply from 2003 onwards, whereas demand remained high or increased. In particular, fewer applications have come from the newer EU states Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary since they joined the EU.

In this context, the Gütegemeinschaft Au pair eV demanded more attractive framework conditions for au pairs as well as easing the process of issuing visas in 2007, on the grounds that the au pair program was recognized by the BMFSFJ as a facet in the range of childcare services to reconcile family and work and at the same time it serves the international understanding. The Au-Pair Society eV also criticized the German visa policy towards au-pair applicants in 2009: the criteria for issuing a visa had been made considerably more difficult in previous years and, in particular, the language requirements were too high. In June 2008, the FDP submitted an application to the German Bundestag which, among other things, provided for easier conditions and, in some cases, faster processing of au pair applications. This request was rejected on July 2, 2009.


  • Georg Beckmann: As an au pair in the USA - children, culture, adventure , Freiburg 2010, ISBN 978-3-86040-123-1 .
  • Georg Beckmann, Hanna Markones: The Aupair Handbook . Europe and overseas [au pairs, host families, agencies; Addresses, experience reports and 1000 tips], In: Series Jobs and Internships Volume 2, 7th, revised edition, Interconnections, Freiburg im Breisgau, 2009, ISBN 978-3-86040-026-5 .
  • Daniela Bergdolt, Katharina Högel, Ira Dumpe: child minders, domestic help , au pairs. Legal advice and practical tips. In: Beck-Rechtsberater im dtv , dtv 5673 / Beck, Munich 2000, ISBN 3-423-05673-8 (dtv) / ISBN 3-406-46581-1 (Beck).
  • Susanne Caudera-Preil: Going abroad as an au pair. Falken, Niedernhausen im Taunus 2001, ISBN 3-8068-2827-X .
  • Sabine Hess: Globalized housework. Au pair as a migration strategy for women from Eastern Europe . VS , Wiesbaden 2005, ISBN 978-3-531-14507-5 (At the same time dissertation at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University Frankfurt am Main 2004 under the title: Au pairs as postmodern maids ).
  • Silja Linnemann, Mareike Lanbacher: Au pair in the USA. Preparation, choice of an organization, application, rights and duties, au pair for men, experience reports , addresses, TIA, Bonn 2000, ISBN 3-933155-07-X .
  • Simone Müller: "Every year in spring our young girls rave to England" - The forgotten Swiss émigrés. 11 portraits. With photographs by Mara Truog, 256 pages, Limmat Verlag, Zurich 2017. ISBN 978-3-85791-845-2 .
  • Caterina Rohde: Au-Pair Migration , Dissertation, January 2013.

Web links

Wiktionary: Au-pair  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Frauke Lüpke-Narberhaus: Guys as nannies - Help me, Super-Manny , Spiegel-Online, July 26, 2010; In:
  2. Au Pair is not a cleaning lady. The main task of the au pair. (No longer available online.) Archived from the original on April 22, 2014 ; accessed on May 27, 2014 .
  3. [1]
  4. Au Pair is not a cleaning lady. The main task of the au pair. (No longer available online.) Archived from the original on April 22, 2014 ; accessed on May 27, 2014 .
  5. Au Pair is not a cleaning lady. The main task of the au pair. (No longer available online.) Archived from the original on April 22, 2014 ; accessed on May 27, 2014 .
  6. a b c d Sabine Hess: Economization of housework. Transnational migration and the new division of labor between women. Lecture, 10th working conference of the Commission for Women and Gender Studies of the DGV. In: Michaela Fenske, Tatjana Eggeling (Ed.): Gender and Economy. Contributions to the 10th working conference of the Commission for Women and Gender Studies of the German Society for Folklore, Göttingen 2004 (=  contributions to Folklore in Lower Saxony 20 ). Verlag Volker Schmerse, Göttingen 2005, ISBN 3-926920-38-6 ( online: Reviewed for H-Soz-u-Kult by: Christine Schönebeck, Bottrop - 193 pages).
  7. Sabri Deniz Martin: 50 cents an hour . In: Jungle World . No. 2019/23 , January 2, 2020 ( ).
  8. Tobias Krone: "There wasn't enough food for me" . In: BR pulse . February 13, 2018 ( ).
  9. ^ Federal government report on the situation and development of au pair placement. Printed matter 15/4791. (PDF; 335 kB) January 27, 2005, accessed on July 18, 2009 .
  10. 51 placement agencies receive RAL quality marks. In: March 16, 2006, accessed September 23, 2018 .
  11. Deregulation of au pair agencies in Germany through EU law. In: 2017: Top 5, Intelligence initiative , accessed February 20, 2018 .
  12. § 12 Employment Ordinance
  13. a b Council of Europe Contract Office: European Agreement on Au Pair Employment
  14. Employment Agency: Au pair with German families
  15. Gütegemeinschaft Au pair e. V.
  16. Employment agency, information for host families. August 31, 2015, accessed September 29, 2018 .
  17. Legal provisions. August 31, 2015, accessed September 29, 2018 .
  18. Household and childcare costs (PDF; 71 kB) Archived from the original on January 25, 2011. Retrieved January 1, 2011.
  19. Household- related services: Complex bonus . January 30, 2008. Retrieved January 1, 2011.
  20. US Department of State regulations of the American government on the au pair program in the USA (English)
  21. ^ Abused domestic workers in Europe: The case of au pairs. European Parliament, 2011, accessed September 19, 2018 . Pp. 8., 34-42.
  22. ^ Ban on au pairs bound for Europe lifted. February 22, 2012, accessed September 19, 2018 .
  23. Guidelines on the Departure of Filipino Au pairs to Europe. Embassy of The Philippines, The Hague, February 20, 2012, accessed September 19, 2018 .
  24. Signatures and status of ratification of Treaty 068. Council of Europe, September 19, 2018, accessed on September 19, 2018 .
  25. a b Au pair program in Germany during the crisis (July 2007). Press release of the Gütegemeinschaft Au pair eV from July 4, 2007. Archived from the original on January 24, 2010 ; Retrieved July 18, 2009 . (Web archive)
  26. a b No improvements in the German au pair area. openPR, July 6, 2009, accessed July 18, 2009 .
  27. a b Fewer and fewer au pairs want to go to Germany. Business survey 2006 on German au pairs., May 26, 2006, accessed on July 18, 2009 .
  28. Au-Pair-Society eV criticizes German visa policy for au pairs. openPR, May 6, 2009, accessed July 18, 2009 .