Au Pairing in Ireland: A Guide for Au Pairs and Families

While there’s no exact figure for the number of au pairs working in Ireland currently, in 2018 the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland estimated that approximately 20,000 Irish households had employed an au pair. A number that we believe has risen sharply in the last number of years, as more and more families are turning to au pair arrangements as a way to provide affordable childcare. A bonus of which is the opportunity to participate in a cultural exchange.

What is an Au Pair?

An au pair is a young person from another country who comes to Ireland to live with a host family, helping with childcare and light household duties. In return, the au pair receives room, board, and a weekly payment. The arrangement also provides the au pair with the opportunity to learn about the host country’s culture and improve their language skills.  For families, the benefits of an au pair arrangement include flexible and affordable child care, as well as the opportunity to expose their children to another culture. An au pair can be especially helpful for working parents who are busy juggling work and home life, and who struggle to find the time to do everything they need to do. 

Overall, the au pair arrangement can be a win-win for both the host family and the au pair. As the demand for childcare continues to rise and more families look for alternatives to traditional day-care options, the popularity of au pair arrangements is likely to continue growing in Ireland and other countries. In this article, we touch on several topics to consider when au pairing and hosting in Ireland.

Requirements for Au Pairs and Host Families

The best way to know if becoming an au pair is the right choice for you is to do your research and weigh the pros and cons of the experience. For families interested in hosting, the process generally involves connecting with a reputable au pair agency or using a trusted online platform to find potential au pairs. They must provide a safe and comfortable living environment for the au pair, as well as clear expectations for the au pair’s responsibilities and compensation. Host families should be willing to provide guidance, support, and cultural exchange for the au pair while always respecting the au pair’s personal life and boundaries. Once a connection is made, it is important to have open and honest communication, as well as to establish clear expectations and boundaries to ensure a positive experience for all parties involved. For more on this, read our guide to Hiring an Au Pair in Ireland.

Rules and Regulations for Au Pairs and Host Families

As an au pair or host family, it’s important to understand the rights and laws that govern au pair employment. In 2016 several legal cases were taken with the outcome confirming that anyone employed as an au pair in Ireland is deemed an employee under the law, therefore entitled to the same rights and entitlement as any other employee. Protected under the National Minimum Wage Act, the Organization of Working Time Act, and the Terms of Employment (Information) Act, a host family must register as an employer and make the necessary contributions to the social security system. An au pair will need to register with the Garda National Immigration Bureau once they arrive in Ireland (depending on the visa), apply for a residence permit, and secure a Personal Public Service (PPS) number to obtain legal employment status. Au pairs are entitled to a minimum wage, must not be expected to work more than a 48-hour working week, or an average of 48 hours per week calculated over a four-month period, be given written evidence of employment, health, and travel insurance, and may be entitled to travel allowance. Students who work as part-time au pairs are also entitled to the same rights as full-time au pairs.  For more on this, see here.

Au Pair Contracts and Pay

An au pair will provide one-on-one time for children, making it a worthwhile investment for busy families. Finding an au pair includes connecting and interviewing potential candidates, participating in a cultural exchange, and agreeing to a legal contract outlining responsibilities and expectations. The contract helps to avoid misunderstandings and covers work time, salary, and duties for both the au pair and the host family.

The cost of hiring an au pair in Ireland can range between €175 to €400 per week and depends on their country of origin and qualifications. As of January 2023, the minimum wage for an au pair in Ireland is €11.30 per hour for those 20 years old and over. Lodging and board are typically provided by the host family and a charge of €0.90 per hour worked (for board only) and €23.86 a week or €3.24 per day (for lodging only) can be deducted from the wages paid to the au pair. For more on this, read our article on Au Pair Rights, Rules and Regulations in Ireland.

Working Hours and Holiday Pay

As mentioned, it’s so important to formalise the au pair arrangement in a contract. This contract should include details such as working hours and pay rate, payment schedule, duties and responsibilities, and holiday days. As well as not exceeding the 48-hour week, au pairs will receive a premium to work on a Sunday and must have breaks/rest periods (15 minutes rest period for every 4.5 hours worked, or 30 minutes for every 6 hours worked), and a safe and healthy work environment. 

Both the host family and the au pair should work to ensure clear communication and respect for each other’s boundaries and rights. The host family should not expect the au pair to perform tasks that are beyond the scope of their contracted agreement. At the same time, the au pair should be clear about their expectations for time off, such as when they will be available to work and when they will have free time. For more information on working hours and holiday pay, read our article on Au Pair Rights, Rules and Regulations in Ireland.

Au Pair Duties and Responsibilities

An au pair typically attends to the needs of the children during the day, such as preparing meals and helping with homework, and may also help with household tasks to lighten the load on their host family. However, it’s important to remember that an au pair is not a live-in babysitter or housekeeper, but rather a temporary member of the family participating in a cultural exchange program. The responsibilities of an au pair can vary depending on the host family’s schedule and needs, so it’s essential that both parties have a clear understanding of what is expected from the beginning to avoid misunderstandings. For more on this, read our post on Au Pair Duties and Responsibilities.

Entry and Visa Requirements for Au Pairs

Obtaining a visa to work as an au pair in Ireland can be confusing, particularly for non-EU citizens. There is no specific visa category for au pairs in Ireland and individuals typically travel to the country to work on a working holiday visa or via a general employment permit, rather than on a specific au pair visa. Some of the most commonly used visas for au pairs in Ireland include the Student Visa, the Youth Mobility Scheme, and the US-Ireland Working Holiday Agreement. These visas typically have specific requirements such as age, language proficiency, and education level, and some of them are only for citizens from certain countries. It is important to be aware that all non-EU nationals are required to have a valid work visa. For more on this, read our post on Entry and Visa Requirements for Au Pairs in Ireland.

Live In Au Pairs vs Live Out Au Pairs

The main difference between a live-in au pair and a live-out au pair is where they live during the duration of the au pair program. A live-in au pair lives in the host family’s home and has their own private bedroom and access to a bathroom while sharing living spaces with the host family. A live-out au pair, on the other hand, lives in their own separate rented room or apartment, while working for the host family.

The relationship between live-in au pairs and their host family is often much closer than for live-out au pairs because they are living in the same house and spending more time together. A live-out au pair may see the host family less frequently, which can make the relationship less personal. The choice of live-in or live-out depends on the needs and preferences of both the host family and au pair. Host families who do not have a spare room may opt for a live-out au pair due to necessity. We’ve written a separate blog post on Live In Au Pairs vs Live Out Au Pairs.

We hope you have found this article helpful. Please feel free to share it with any friends that might also find it useful. At Suresitter, we’re here to support your au pair journey.