There is often confusion about the difference between a nanny and an au pair. Often au pairs don't meet the minimum salary to need to be declared to HMRC, but what are the other differences?
What is the difference between a Nanny and an Au Pair?
In most cases, a nanny is a childcare professional who looks after children and may or may not live with the family. They are usually classed as an employee and are paid a salary which, unless the nanny lives in as part of the family household, must be at least the National Minimum Wage.
An Au Pair is usually a foreign national who lives with the family and is treated as part of the family for the duration of their stay whilst learning about British culture and attending language courses. They will look after the children for around 2-3 days a week and sometimes babysit for an evening or two. They have meals provided, a private room, and outings with the family. An Au Pair may also help out with elements of housework.
Au Pairs are traditionally paid up to £100 a week ‘pocket money’ to spend as they wish and are not usually subject to the National Minimum Wage.
If the Au Pair is earning over the tax and National Insurance thresholds their employer must register with HMRC and pay.
Irrespective of the employment status of an Au Pair, it is essential that the family and Au Pair work alongside a contract that protects both parties. It needs to include the guidelines for the living arrangements and agreement to the ‘pocket money’ that will be given as well as accommodating the au pairs study/cultural learning schedule.
In the UK an Au Pair from any of the 28 EU countries, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland has freedom of movement and can reside in the UK without any restrictions. Furthermore there is a Youth Mobility Scheme to encourage young people from other parts of the globe to have a cultural exchange in the UK and work as an au pair for up to 2 years. The countries that participate in this scheme are; Australia, Canada, Monaco and New Zealand.