What’s the difference between a nanny and an au pair?

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Juggle Street at 14/8/2020

Nannies and au pairs both work in childcare, taking care of your little ones in your home and carrying out tasks such as taking them to school or getting them their meals. The work they carry out might be similar, but there are some major differences between hiring a nanny and taking on an au pair. So what are those differences, and what should you consider when you make your choice?

1. Nannies vs. au pairs

Each country has its own age limit for defining au pairs, usually between the ages of 18 and 30, while nannies can be of any age upwards of 18. This is because au pairs are young people working abroad in order to learn or improve their language skills, immerse themselves in another culture and expand their horizons through a formative experience.

When they live with a host family, au pairs are generally seen as temporary family members, while nannies are usually perceived through a more formal lens as an employee. While nannies’ working hours will be agreed with the family, au pairs have a maximum number of hours they are permitted to work a week and the host family has to respect those rules.

Au pairs generally see their childcare work as part of a ‘cultural exchange’, but nannies, whether they are born in the country or not, see their nannying as a profession. Most au pairs will need a visa or permit to work in another country. While nannies will receive an official salary, au pairs are usually provided with an allowance from their hosts and receive their accommodation and meals for free.

2. What you need to consider

Before you make your decision as to whether you find a nanny or take on an au pair, there are a number of things you need to consider. For starters, professional nannies are trained and often highly experienced, whereas au pairs may be young and not overly familiar with all aspects of childcare. That’s not to say they won’t be as good at looking after little ones, but they may lack certain skills you will need to teach them.

Au pairs duties are regulated and confined to childcare and light domestic chores, while you can negotiate with a nanny and potentially ask them to carry out more than just the childcare. When you invite an au pair to stay in your home, you have the same level of responsibility towards them as you would another family member. While it can be nice to temporarily share your home with a young person, not everyone is comfortable with that level of familiarity. A nanny, on the other hand, can be considered an employee and more formal working arrangements might be preferable to some.

Juggle Street can match you to your ideal au pair or nanny. That means you get the widest possible choice when it comes to choosing your childcare, whether you want the friendship and cultural experience of an au pair or the experience of a professional nanny.

If you have any questions, you can also contact our customer service team using the chat button on our website in the bottom right corner.