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The Work as Au-pair
The day to day work of an au-pair is very variable. It depends on the nature and lifestyle of the family, which has accepted the au-pair. "Au-pair" means" on equal terms" (living and working with each other). A young firl or a young man, who wants to come to Germany under this arrangement should imagine her/himself as the daughter or son of a German family.... what would be required of them in the house/appartment and family?
Everyday life of an au-pair involves
· carrying out light housework, helping to keep the apartment clean and tidy as well as helping with washing and ironing;
· preparing breakfast and simple meals;
· looking after the younger children, which may involve supervising them and accompanying them to kindergarden or school or certain events, going for walks with them or playing;
· looking after the house/apartment, helping in the garden and tending to pets.
The following account of an au-pair might be typical:
"The morning begings with me waking, washing and dressing the children and eating breakfast with them so that they can be taken to school round 8 am. As soon as the parents leave home - the mother works half days, I begin to tidy up the room, then I prepare a simple meal and eat with the children.
In the early afternoon they mostly go out of the house and I travel by bus to town to attend a language course and following that I do my homework. Then I have to bathe the little ones before supper and get them ready for bed. Naturally I read them stories. When the parents stay at home I have the evening off, otherwise I stay with children till they go to sleep. I spend the rest of the evening together with the parents in the living room or in my room. I read, sew or watch TV. It`s at least 10 kms to the town centre and the bus connections are very good."
Rights and Obligations
A European decree of the European Council relating to the occupation of Au pair contains guidelines for living and work conditions, language instruction, social protection as well as the rights and obligations of the host family and the placed au-pair. In addition certain procedures prevail as people have been familiar with the role of au-pair in Germany for many years.
Duration of the Stay
Au-pairs are mostly accepted by the family for a period of 12 months.
Work and Leisure Time
The daily working time should basically not exceed 5-6 hours a day and 30 hours a week. The family can ask au-pair of 2-3 babysittings in the evening a week (should always be agreed upon well in advance). If, for a special reason, more hours are required, then there must be prior consultation. The overtime must be compensated for by time off.
The division of working time is organised according to the conditions and needs of the family; however, a certain regularity can be expected in the daily routine. The au-pair has at least one and a half full days off a week. If the au-pair is accepted by the family for a full year a paid holiday of 4 weeks is due to her. When the family goes on holidays often the au-pair accompanies them and then must undertake certain tasks and obligations eg. looking after the children.
Every au-pair should be given the possibility of participating in a German course in her time off, as well as attending cultural and other events. The family will pay a monthly ticket for public transport to the Language Course. Au-Pair will bear the costs of the German language cource and other events.
Board and Lodging
Board and lodging are naturally provided by the family free of charge. In principle an au-pair has at her disposal her own room. She eats together with the family and receives the same food as the members of the family.
Pocket money and Travelling Expenses
An au-pair is not a household employee. The main thing is to develop language proficiency and broaden genergal understanding through a better knowledge of the host country. An au-pair receives therefore no salary in the usual sense but as it were merely pocket money. Usually it amounts to about 400 DM a month. The travel costs are not as a rule paid by the family.
Medical and Accident Insurance
An au-pair must be insured in every case against sickness and accident. The costs are borne by the family.
Cancellation of the Work Arrangement
The au-pair arrangement is restricted to a set length of time. Consequently it finishes on the expiry of the agreed upon time. Before the expiry of this time the contract arrangement can be in principle cancelled only by mutual consent (cancellation of the contract). Yet it should be understood that there is to be no separation during the early days of living together; from experience after a while the au-pair will get over the initial "culture shock" (eg. because of different customs and food) with a positive attitude. Should it however not be possible to live together harmoniously then the au-pair agent should be informed as soon as possible. The agent will try to assess the situation as objectively as possible and find a satisfactory solution for both parties.
Application and Placement
Au-pairs must be at least 18 years old. Au-pairs not from the EU/EEC countries should in applying for their visas be and under the age of 25.
The participants of the programm should have a basic knowledge of German language and experience with child-care and house-keeping.Those interested should complete their application carefully and precisely in German language and include a suitable photos. In selecting an au-pair the agent will take onto consideration as much as possible what the family and the au-pair have said about themselves.
Entry and Residence Requirements
Foreign au-pairs if they are not citizens of a country belonging to the European Union (EU) or the European Economic Community (EEC) need a residence permit and a work permit for the Federal Republic of Germany. The residence permit must be applied for before departure from the appropriate German representative (that is the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany or an appropriate regional consulate) in the form of a visa. The entry visa requires the prior consent of the appropriate foreign authority of the host family`s region. The work permit is issued on application to the appropriate regional employment office. It requires the existence of a valid residence permit or confirmation. Those belonging to non EU/EEC countries need for the entry and duration of the anticipated residence a valid passport from their country of origin.
Last of All
The au-pair agent can answer further questions. The agent in Germany will stand by the au-pair during the stay in case of possible difficulties.
When you have decided to come as an au-pair to Germany go to your family with an open mind and talk to them candidly about the customs and habits - which you would really like to get to know in Germany. Make an earnest and worthwhile effort to improve your knowledge of German and resolve to have a vlauable life experience from the many fresh and different impressions, which are sometimes difficult but also fine. Nothing then can stand in the way of a successful stay in Germany.
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