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About Au Pairs & Nannies
This section covers the definition of au pairs and nannies, visa and registration requirements, UK Tax and National Insurance, holiday and minimum wage.

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The information on this page relates to UK law, rules and regulations

UPDATE: 24 August 2012. We have been contacted today by the ACAS press office. We have been informed that in many cases an au pair is neither a worker nor an employee, and we have been directed to https://www.gov.uk/au-pairs-employment-law. Please note we are unable to provide advice on an individual's status with regard to employment law, tax, or immigration. Please consult a professional advisor for more information.

About Au Pairs and Nannies

’Au Pair’ literally means ‘on a par’ or ‘equal to’, and in general usage denotes a young person travelling to live as a houseguest with a host family in a foreign country. There are rules and regulations regarding the rights of different nationalities to visit other countries. Please see here for more information.

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Au Pair Plus
This term is generally used to define an au pair who undertakes duties in addition to helping with light housework and childcare for 25 hours per week. EEA citizens are generally free to come to the UK. Please see Becoming An Au Pair for more information. Please note that if your ‘au pair’ is paid over £149 per week (this is the PAYE and national Insurance threshold for the 2013/14 tax year) then tax and National Insurance liabilities may be incurred (£153 for 2014/15). Please see www.hmrc.gov.uk, Helpsheet and www.hmrc.gov.uk/rates/nic.htm. If you are unsure please speak to the appropriate government department, or to a professional advisor. Universal Au Pairs is unable to give specific advice in relation to employment law, workers rights, or tax matters in individual cases.

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A Nanny is a person who through experience and/or qualification is able to take sole charge of children for an extended period of time; whilst the parents are out at work, for example. Nannies may live-in with the family, or live-out in their own accommodation commuting to the family residence in order to work.
Universal Au Pairs actively recruits au pairs, nannies, and housekeepers. It is possible that some of the au pair members have the required skills and experience to fulfil a nanny role. We recommend that families take great care in assessing the competence and reliability of any person they intend to engage who will take sole charge of children.

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Written Statement of Employment

Please note that all employees are entitled to receive a written statement from their employer within two months of starting work. Please see www.adviceguide.org.uk and www.gov.uk/employment-contracts-and-conditions. We contacted ACAS in March 2008 and asked whether an au pair is considered an employee for employment law purposes, or whether an au pair falls in to some 'cultural exchange' status. The answer was definitive - an au pair is an employee and is entitled to rights such as a written statement and holidays. ACAS then contacted us on 24 August 2012 in order to update this information as follows:

UPDATE: 24 August 2012. We have been contacted today by the ACAS press office. We have been informed that in many cases an au pair is neither a worker nor an employee, and we have been directed to https://www.gov.uk/au-pairs-employment-law.

A written statement must include by law:
- the names of the family (employer) and the au pair or nanny (employee)
- the date the au pair or nanny started work
- the amount of pay and how often the au pair or nanny will be paid, for example, weekly or monthly
- the hours of work
- the holiday entitlement, including how many days off the au pair or nanny is entitled to and what the holiday pay will be, if any
- how much warning (notice) the au pair or nanny is entitled to if they are dismissed and how much warning the au pair or nanny must give the family if they want to leave the job
- the title of the job
- where the job is based, for example, whether the au pair or nanny will have to work in more than one location
- what the disciplinary, dismissal and grievance procedures are
- what sick pay the au pair or nanny is entitled to

The above information does not have to be included in the written statement of terms and conditions. It can be given in, for example, a letter of invitation or separate contract.

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Visa & Registration Requirements for Working in the UK
The UK Home Office website has information regarding all aspects of visa, worker registration, accession worker card, etc. Families and au pairs/nannies please email us with any specific queries and we will try and point you to the right area of the Home Office site.

The Worker Registration Scheme closed on 30 April 2011, and nationals from the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia or Slovenia (known as the 'A8' countries) now have the right to work in the UK without needing Home Office permission. Please see Worker Registration for more details.

Please take care to ensure that your nanny or au pair is able to work legally in your country. In the UK the government is taking steps to enforce the prevention of the employment of those not entitled to work in the UK, and employers (including families where they are the employer) may be liable to significant fines.

As an employer it is your responsibility to ensure that the employee has the right to work in the UK. You should ask to see original documents (passport, visa, etc) and take and keep permanent copies of these (i.e. a photocopy or scanned image). If you employ an illegal worker you can be fined up to £10,000 per employee. You should take steps to satisfy yourself that all your employees are legally entitled to work in the UK, keeping copies of the documents will provide you with a statutory excuse should it transpire that the employee has been working illegally. We recommend you read the information here.

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UK Tax & National Insurance
The pocket money paid to an au pair normally falls under the threshold for tax and national insurance. However, as many nationalities are able to visit the UK and undertake roles which are not official au pair placements, it will be necessary to check requirements regarding living and working in the UK, and also tax and National Insurance liabilities where more money is earned. Please see PAYE and NICs rates and limits for more information. Please consult http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/ or your professional advisor for more information.

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UK National Minimum Wage (NMW)

Au pairs are exempt from the NMW providing certain conditions are met. Please see www.gov.uk for more information.

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Holiday Entitlement

To calculate statutory holiday entitlement we suggest that you visit www.businesslink.gov.uk. There is an interactive tool which will help you to calculate annual leave entitlement.

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Statutory Sick Pay

To be paid Statutory Sick Pay an employee must satisfy all of the following conditions:

- have notified you of their sickness within your own time limits or, if you haven't informed them in advance of any time limits, no later than seven days after the first day of sickness
- be employed by you and have done some work for you under their contract
- be sick for four or more days in a row, including weekends and bank holidays - this is known as the period of incapacity for work (PIW)
- have average weekly earnings equal to or more than the lower earnings limit for National Insurance contribution (NIC) purposes regardless of whether or not they are required to pay NICs.

In summary, an employee who earns less than the lower earnings limit per week is not entitled to Statutory Sick Pay. They may be entitled to Contractual Sick Pay depending upon what you have agreed with them in the contract or the Written Statement of Employment, which all employees must receive.

Please see Business Link - Statutory Sick Pay for more information.

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Employers' Liability Insurance

For domestic staff (au pairs, nannies, housekeepers, etc) this is sometimes included under standard buildings and contents insurance, so your au pair may be covered automatically.

Please check with your insurance broker for specific advice.

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Childcare Element of Working Tax Credit

The government has schemes that assist parents in paying for childcare. In order to benefit from these schemes parents need to utilise registered childcare facilities. If and when we can find out more about these schemes, and confirm that they can be applied to au pairs, we will publish details here.

To read about the Childcare Element of Working Tax Credit please click here

To read about Ofsted registration click here.

We have further links and general information available in the section Useful Information