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Au pairing after the au pair scheme…Research finds widespread exploitation of au pairs and a system open to abuse

by on October 16, 2014

Our two-year ESRC-funded research project collected data from au pairs and host families and the findings are published today (16 October 2014). We found that the average au pair in the UK works over 38 hours a week, although some are expected to work for up to 70 hours, with expected duties sometimes including caring for elderly relatives, or helping out in family businesses. Average pay is £108 per week, but 14% of au pairs do not receive the £85 a week recommended by the British Au Pairs Agencies Association.

Au pairing was traditionally supposed to offer young people the opportunity for adventure and cultural exchange, but most hosts interviewed conceded that meeting their childcare needs was their motivation for employing an au pair and many au pairs felt that their hosts were not interested in providing opportunities for cultural exchange. 44% of those advertising for au pairs expected prior experience, and 26% were only considering applicants who are already in the UK, showing that the increasing reliance on au pairs is leading to a decreasing differentiation between au pair and nanny roles. Many au pairs are significantly older than the typical image of someone in their late teens or early 20s, with the economic situation in southern Europe spurring those in their mid-late 20s on to improve their English and ‘wait out the crisis’ or use au pairing as a first step to more permanent migration.

The key findings from the project are officially ‘launched’ on the Birkbeck website today.There is also a pdf document that can be downloaded from here.

  • The research was carried out by Dr Rosie Cox and Dr Nicky Busch
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