How to become a UK au pair in 2022
Last Updated on April 26, 2022
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If you’re a wanderlust soul who is ready for any type of adventure, specifically the backpackers and those who love traveling through volunteering programs then being an au pair in the UK might be a great option for you!
Even if you don’t plan on volunteering somewhere in the remote parts of the world, there is one such job that will allow you to fulfill your travelling dreams, make some extra cash, all while engaging in a broad cultural exchange – being an au pair.
In this article, you would be given specific guidelines on how to become an au pair in the UK.
And this is a rather personal one as all the insights and info in this article is based on my experience as an au pair in the UK.
Though the word au pair may seem daunting and kinda fancy, the job itself is far from “fancy” and is pretty fun – especially for those who love interacting with children, learning a new language, engaging with new cultures, and travelling.
If the above description fits your personality, then this is the right place for you Particularly if you have been planning to visit the UK, but are low on funds to support that dream.
Plus, getting to au pair in Europe is an extremely rewarding experience!
What’s an au pair
An au pair, as fancy as it may sound, is the job description of a young person who volunteers to look after a family in a foreign country, by getting involved in childcare, and mild housework.
In exchange, the au pair doesn’t need to worry about the hassle of finding a place to live, utilities and food.
The family that the au pair works for is responsible for paying the au pair some pocket money as a token of appreciation for their service, throughout their stay.
If you want to work and travel long term and love looking after kids, being an au pair is a fantastic option.
Being an au pair, or hiring one, has a set of rules and regulations that differ according to the country that the au pair is supposed to work in.
Although the responsibilities of this job are roughly the same, no matter which country the au pair is working in.
Apart from the tasks of childcare and housework, the au pair is expected to engage in some form of cultural exchange in the foreign country they are working in.
This could be in the form of learning the local language or engaging in other cultural activities. This is why the job of a nanny differs from an au pair.
Difference between a nanny and an au pair
The role of an au pair may seem analogous to that of a live-in nanny, and some might even consider the term “au pair” as the fancier non-American version of the same job.
But these two roles, though seemingly overlap, slightly differ.
Firstly, the responsibilities of a live-in nanny stretch from childcare and housework to any tasks that the employer might expect of them.
An au pair, on the other hand, is only supposed to look after the children while the parents are away.
Once the parents are home, the work hours of an au pair are over, and the children become the responsibility of their parents.
Secondly, a live-in nanny is considered as an employee of the household they are working in and are protected under the National Minimum Wage law of the UK.
This is, however, not the case for an au pair. Even the monetary compensation of au pairs is considered “pocket money” and not a salary or wage, unlike that of a nanny’s.
Moreover, an au pair normally Has the weekend free, which is when they are supposed to engage in a cultural exchange of some sort.
This is not the case for a nanny. A nanny in the UK is expected to work for 10-12 hours per day, with only one day off in a week.
Rules slightly differ for a live-in nanny as they might get paid extra for working on the weekends. No such rules or compensation exist for an au pair in the UK.
Lastly, accommodation and living facilities provided for the au pairs are different from those provided for a live-in nanny.
A live-in nanny is expected to provide at least two nights per week in the UK, whereas, on other days they must prepare their accommodation on their own.
The most important distinction between an au pair and a nanny is that of citizenship. An au pair is merely a traveller in a foreign land, volunteering to assist a family with childcare.
A nanny, on the other hand, is a citizen of the same country and is working as an employee, therefore, not entitled to the benefits of an au pair like travelling the UK and its neighbouring European countries.
To sum it all up, a live-in-nanny is an employee for the family.
However, an au pair is more like a guest who came for a visit and is now taking care of the host family’s children and sometimes helps them around the house.
This “guest” also gets some pocket money for personal expenses.
Apart from taking care of children or looking after the house, they can learn a new language, visit some landmarks in the city that bear cultural or historical importance or just meet new people and have fun, as any traveller would.
How to become a UK au pair
Now that we have got the differences aside, let’s see just how to be an au pair in the UK.
One thing for sure is that becoming an au pair in the UK is easier than backpacking across the UK on your own.
What better opportunity will spare you from the hassle of finding a place to live, food to eat, and handling the finances in the UK while you are travelling? None.
What are the qualifications
The foremost aspect when considering to apply to be an au pair is the age bracket.
The job of an au pair requires the applicant to be within 18 to 30 years of age, and though men and women both are eligible for this job, women are more likely to take up the role of childcare.
That being said, there are no academic qualifications to be met strictly for this job, but it is expected of the au pair to have completed high school education, if not a university degree.
Some au pairs do go the extra mile and get certified in childcare and teaching – both skills are necessary for the job.
Most importantly, to work in the UK as an au pair, your criminal record must be free from any convictions in the last five years before applying as an au pair in the UK.
The applicant must also not smoke and have not suffered from psychological or psychiatric disorders in the four years before applying.
The UK government also requires applicants to also be fully vaccinated.
What are the requirements
Though there are no strict qualifications for becoming an au pair in the UK, there are certain requirements.
As mentioned before, an au pair must be within the age bracket of 18 to 30 years, and eligible to apply for a UK visa. They must also be single, without any children or dependents.
An au pair working in the UK is also expected to have substantial knowledge of the English language and is adamant to improve their language skills where necessary.
The au pair must also be able to afford travelling expenses like the airfare and visa application – around 244-516 GBP.
It is expected that the au pair intending to work in the UK has an emergency fund of at least 1800 GBP to support themselves.
In terms of the visa requirements, the au pair must not be on a visitor visa or have a UK visa that expires within 6 months or less.
Lastly, the au pair must be willing to work in the UK for a maximum of 24 months.
How much do Au pairs get paid in the UK?
Now we arrive at one of the most sought-after aspects of this job, apart from the travelling perks – how much do au pairs in the UK get paid.
Since au pairs are living with their host family, they don’t have to bear the living costs like accommodation, food, and utilities.
On top of that, they get a personal allowance from the host family every week. This pocket money has a minimum limit of £90 a week.
It must be noted that an au pair working in the UK is expected to do some, if not most, housework and childcare for not more than 30 hours a week.
Of course, this varies according to the needs of the host family.
Although the au pairs are not entitled to the National Minimum Wage or have any paid holidays, they might have to pay the income tax and insurance in the UK, depending on how much personal allowance they receive.
How to find au pair jobs?
Now that we have dealt with the nitty-gritty of this job, let’s see how a simple backpacker like you can find an au pair job in the UK.
For this part, we recommend checking out our trustee companion, Global Work and Travel.
They help you find the perfect host and make arrangements before you set foot in the UK. So that when you arrive and everything is arranged, it is such a relief.
The process of navigating through the site is fairly simple.
First, it is recommended you go through the various styles of trips offered, choose your destination and pay a small deposit to Global Work and Travel to begin your process.
Once you have paid the deposit and your gWorld account is functional, you will move on to the next crucial step of finding a host family and starting the process.
Every applicant is assigned a personal Trip Coordinator who will guide you regarding the pros and cons and dos and don’ts of your au pair journey in the UK.
Once the application is drafted and you have had a meeting with your host family, the most exciting part of this trip begins – packing up!
Finally, when you land in the UK, your host family will receive you and take you to your new abode, and that’s where the fun begins.
Where Can You Au Pair in the UK
With Global Work and Travel there are many opportunities for being an au pair in the UK, from major cities to smaller villages and towns.
And don’t forget, the UK is a country made up of smaller territories: England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.
If you want to be in a major city while being an au pair, London is the perfect option.
You will never run out of things to do with the kids and have easy access to most of Europe when you get some time off.
Plus as one of the most popular cities in the world, there are usually at least a few London-based families looking for an au pair.
Just keep in mind that while there are many unique things to do in London for free, it is an incredibly expensive city and might not leave you much of your salary after being an au pair.
England in general, however, is cheaper and still an appealing option if you are a native English-speaker due to there being no language barriers.
This can make the transition to a new culture a little easier.
Alternatively, if you want somewhere more unique in the UK to au pair, Scotland is a fantastic choice. Full of it’s own rich culture and stunning landscapes, Scotland will easily win over your heart.
Perks of applying with Global Work and Travel
Another perk of applying as an au pair with Global Work and Travel is that once you have ended the au pair contract in the UK, they can rematch you with a new host family in the Netherlands.
Of course, that’s only if you wish to extend your journey as an au pair.
This 2-in-1 trip extension will allow you to spend at least 8 months in the Netherlands while getting an allowance of €340 per month.
Not only that, the host family in the Netherlands would cover your health insurance and language lessons.
Does Being a Uk Au Pair Sound Right for You?
Living in the UK as an au pair for 24 months can be a life-changing experience!
From taking care of children to visiting landmarks in the UK and learning more about the British culture and history than you could ever from skimming a history book.
You will also have the rest of Europe at your doorstep.
If you are tired of living frugally and still being able to only save pennies every month for your travel fund, then you need to check out the opportunity of working as an au pair in the UK.
Truly a remarkable experience for anyone who plans on backpacking across the UK without having to worry about where to live, eat or earn money from.
Check out Global Work and Travel now to start your journey as an au pair in the UK.
Frequently Asked Questions
Most au pair arrangements last between 6 to 12 months, but some appointments might be longer, shorter or may be extended depending on how well you’re getting on.
In addition to free accommodation, food and utilities, au pairs in the UK usually receive a minimum of £90 per week as an allowance, possibly more depending on your appointment.
This depends on how much money you’re given as an allowance while working as an au pair. If you’re given more than the minimum £90 per week you may have to pay UK taxes on it.
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