Information of the Federal Employment Agency
for Au-Pairs at German families
I. The duties of an Au-pair
The daily duties of an Au-pair are varied. They depend on the way a host family lives.
The daily duties and tasks of an Au-Pair are as follows:
· To do easy house chores, in other words to help the family to keep the apartment clean, to wash and to iron
· To get the breakfast ready and to be able to cook simple meals
· To take care of younger children, in other words to keep an eye on them, to bring them to the kindergarten or school or to take them to certain activities, to go for a walk with them or to play
· To look after a house, to take care of animals
II. Rights and duties
The European Treaty about an Au-pair activity contains the regulations about the life and work conditions, the language course, the social insurance as well as rights and duties of a host family and an Au-pair.
The Federal Republic of Germany has not ratified this treaty, but it is usually acted upon its instructions.
There are certain rules and customs that have been developed over the years about the Au-pair program.
The length of an Au-pair stay
As a rule Au-pairs stay in a family 10-12 months. In some cases they can stay a shorter time, but a stay of less than 6 months is unusual. Au-pairs, who do not come from EC or EFTA countries, but from countries, which joined EC in May 2004* must sign a contract for at least 6 months. To be an Au-pair in Germany for the second time is impossible, even if the maximum stay of 12 months was not reached.
* Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Republic of Cyprus, Slovakia, Slovenia, Czech Republic and Hungary
Work- and free time
An Au-pair should work no more than 5 hours a day including babysitting. If longer working hours are required for some reason, they should be agreed upon in advance.
Over time should be made up for with free time. An Au-pair can be required to complete the given tasks in a reasonable time. The private matters such as the clean up of his/her room do not count as work time.
The work is arranged and distributed according to the needs of the family. But it is expected, that a family makes a certain daily plan. An Au-Pair is entitled to have at least one day-off a week (it must not be on weekend, but at least one Sunday of a month should be free). At least 4 evenings a week must be free.
If an Au-pair stays the whole year in the family, she/he is entitled to a 4 week paid vacation. Otherwise an Au-pair can take 2 days of vacation after each month of work in the family. If the family goes on vacation, it can take an Au-pair with them, which means that an Au-pair is supposed to take certain responsibilities upon itself (for example babysitting).
A family vacation can be seen only as vacation only in the case when the tasks are circumstantial, not compulsory. If an au-pair does not go on vacation together with the family, it is not allowed to work outside, e.g. in another family or in the neighbourhood.
The language course
Each Au-pair should be enabled to attend a German language course as well as to attend other cultural and intellectual motivating activities. The costs are to be paid by an Au-pair.
Board and lodging
Board and lodging are to be provided by a family for free. An Au-pair is entitled to her/his own room in the house/apartment of a family. Meals are shared with the family. Certain wishes or restrictions concerning food should be mentioned in the application.
Pocket money and travel expenses
The prior intention of an Au-pair program is to improve the knowledge of the language and get to know the customs and traditions of a host country. Therefore an Au-pair can not be considered as a usual employee, but it gets a so called pocket money. It is € 205 per month at the moment. Travel expenses are usually paid for by an Au-pair.
Illness, accident insurance, pregnancy
An Au-pair should be insured in Germany against illness, pregnancy and birth as well as against accidents. All the insurance costs are paid by a family.
Termination of an Au-pair relationship
An Au-pair relationship comes to an end after an agreed time. If no cancellation period was agreed upon, the Au-pair relationship can be ended prematurely only to the mutual agreement (dissolution contract). In many cases an Au-pair stays by a family till it finds a new one.
If there is however a serious reason, an Au-pair relationship can be ended immediately, without a previous notice. Except for such cases, it is obvious that an Au-pair relationship should not come to an end at the very beginning.
The initial “culture shock” ( it can happen due to a different life style or eating habits) can be overcome with time with a little bit of good will on both sides.
If a harmonious life together proves to be impossible, an Au-Pair agency should be informed about it as soon as possible. It will try to look at the situation objectively and to find a solution reasonable for both sides.
III. Application and placement
An Au-pair should be at least 17 year old. If they are under age, the written consent of their legal agents (parents or guardians) is required. Married Au-pairs can also take part on the program. The applicants are expected to have good command of the basics of every day German. The applicants are also expected to write the application papers carefully in German and to attach a pass photo to them. Many Au-pair agencies also require filling out an application form. All the information given there must be true. An Au-pair agency will consider the wishes of both an Au-pair and a family to the best of its ability. The number of German families interested in an Au-Pair program is very big.
Au-pairs from non EC/EFTA countries as well as from those countries, which joined EC in May 2004 must fulfil the following requirements:
· At least one adult member of the host family must be by birth German and have German as his/her mother tongue.
· It is also possible in the families that come from a German speaking country or part of a country and where German is spoken at home. In certain cases an Au-pair can also be placed in a foreign family, where German is spoken.
· An au-pair applicant must not be a relative of the host family
· An au-pair applicant must not come from the country of the host family
Au-pair agencies in Germany can charge Au-pairs up to 150 € placement fee (inclusive of sales tax). The fee can not be charged in advance. This placement fee can be charged after the Au-pair contract is valid. The placement fee from non EC/EFTA Au-pairs or au-pairs from the counties, which joined EC in May 2004 can be charged only after the visa has been issued.
IV. Immigration, residency and work permit
Au-pairs from non EC/EFTA countries
If au-pairs do not come from a member state of the EC or from a member state of the EFTA they need a residency permit and a work permit for the Federal Republic of Germany. The residency permit must be obtained from the German consular service in the country of origin (this could be the embassy or a regional consulate) in the form of an entry in the passport (a visa). This visa requires prior approval of the immigration authorities for the place of residence of the family. An applicant applying for a visa must not be yet 25. The visa application should be made in good time, so that the age limit is not exceeded before the visa has been issued.
The work permit is applied for and issued by the local employment service. The au-pair must have a valid residency permit or at least a confirmation that this will be given before the work permit can be issued. A work permit should be applied for and issued after the arrival of an Au-pair in Germany but before the start of work. An applicant needs a foreign passport issued by their country of origin valid for the arrival and the whole length of their stay in Germany.
Au-pairs from the countries, which joined EC in May 2004
Only a valid ID card is required. It is however advised to take a foreign pass in case an ID card is lost. An “EC residency permit” must be applied for after their arrival. In addition to it, one must get a work permit in the relevant employment agency after the arrival, but before the start of work.
Au-pairs from EC/EFTA countries
Only a valid ID card is required. It is however advised to take a foreign pass in case an ID card is lost. An “EC residency permit” must be applied for after their arrival. A work permit is not required.
In the end
It is advised to turn to an agency that will be responsible to help you with your problems and difficulties in the course of your stay in Germany. Otherwise under circumstances you will have to take care of yourself. If the agency does not observe the fee regulations mentioned in Point III, then all the complaints can be addressed to the appropriate Agency of Employment of Germany.
If you have decided to come to Germany as an au-pair, approach your family with an open mind, share their lives and customs impartially- that is why you are in Germany.
Try hard to improve your German, to gain though new and unusual, sometimes difficult but also valuable experiences and to profit from them. If you do it, you would have a successful stay in Germany.