As au pairs normally live with the family that they are working for and receive pocket money instead of a contracted wage they are not usually definable as employees or workers under the normal government guidelines.
As this is a semi informal arrangement between the host family and their au pair the benefits of the National Minimum Wage and paid holidays are not treated as statutory entitlements.
An au pair is not an employee or worker if the majority of the below points apply:
- The au pair is participating in a cultural exchange programme so they may learn about the culture of their host family as they inform the host family about their home country.
- They are a foreign national living with a family in the U.K.
- The au pair is an EU citizen or has a Youth Mobility Visa or a Student Visa which they have used to enter the U.K.
- They can attend English language classes at a local college in their spare time and can study and practice the language with the family that they are staying with.
- Au pairs have the freedom to return to their home country for a break to see their own family during their time with their host family.
- They have a signed letter of invitation from the host family that includes the details of their stay. This covers areas like working hours, free time, pocket money allowances and accommodation information.
- Pocket money, not a wage, is given to the au pair.
- Au pairs have their own room in the house – and this is provided at no charge to them.
- They eat their main meals with the host family as if they were part of the family.
- Au pairs will assist around the house for around thirty hours per week, so childcare, light housework and babysitting for two evenings are deemed reasonable.
- They will accompany the host family on holidays and help to look after the children.
- Karina is staying with a U.K. host family and she has come from Germany. She receives pocket money of £75 per week.
- She lives and participates in mealtimes and activities with the host family and for around six hours a weekday she will look after the children in the family and carry out some housework. For two evenings a week she babysits.
- This leaves Karina two full days off per week and she takes advantage of this to study English at the nearest college.
- She accompanied her host family on their summer beach holiday, and helped to look after the children.
- She also spent a couple of weeks in Germany visiting her own family.
In Karina’s situation the U.K. government don’t need income tax and National Insurance to be paid but if the pocket money was a greater weekly sum this could make her liable for taxation so this needs to be investigated so that all parties are certain there will be no unwelcome surprises.