Hiring an Au Pair in Ireland | A Guide for Host Families

Hosting an au pair can be a great way for your family to share cultural experiences and make new friends from other countries. However, there are some things to consider before deciding on whether to enlist the services of an au pair and become a host family. In this article, we talk about what it’s like to be a host family, the requirements for hosting, as well as some of the benefits of being one.

Is hosting an au pair the right choice for me and my family?

Whether prompted by the opportunity to participate in a cultural exchange, or the added flexibility of having live-in childcare, it’s important to also assess your own suitability for hosting. Let’s look at some of the pros:

  • Flexibility – you have help in your home and can assign tasks as needed, however always respecting the agreed working hours and the schedule of the au pair.
  • Affordability – this can be a much more affordable option than childcare.
  • Opportunities to learn – you will be participating in a cultural exchange. This can be enjoyable for everyone as the host family teaches about the culture and traditions of Ireland, and vice versa. 

And now some of the possible cons:

  • Less privacy – you are welcoming another person into your home. This shouldn’t be an issue if you have sufficient space.
  • Added cost – though more cost-effective than traditional childcare, you will, for example, be providing meals for an extra person every day.
  • Varying levels of experience – an au pair may not hold any qualifications or previous experience in childcare as this is primarily a cultural exchange. However, you will have ample opportunities to communicate with a prospective Au Pair in advance of any agreement. 

The au pair–host family relationship is a two-way exchange where the au pair provides childcare services, and the host family welcomes and supports them to experience Ireland, improve their language skills and enjoy the culture. It is up to the host family to ensure that all documentation is in order, for example, visa and registration with local authorities, insurance, and the securing of a Personal Public Service (PPS) number. 

Rules and Regulations for Hiring an Au Pair in Ireland

To become a host, there are several rules and regulations that you need to qualify under. Your family must: 

  • Have at least one child under 18 years
  • Have a suitable private room for your Au Pair
  • Be able to afford the costs associated with being a host (being able to cover pocket money, the provision of three meals a day, an increase in associated household energy use, etc.)

Regarding accommodation, the au pair must be accommodated in the same house or apartment as the family lives in. The room must be suitably furnished, comfortable and private, and have access to a bathroom. 

When it comes to visa requirements, it’s important to be aware of the options here. For example, depending on the nationality of an au pair, a working visa may or may not be required. If from an EU or EFTA country (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland), then there are no visa requirements. However, from outside of these areas there are a few visa options to explore:

  • The Youth mobility scheme allows citizens from Argentina, Australia, Canada, Monaco, New Zealand, South Korea, Taiwan, and Japan to apply to be Au Pairs in the Republic of Ireland. 
  • The US-Ireland Working Holiday Agreement enables Irish and US citizens to work and travel in each other’s countries for up to 12 months.
  • If the above are not applicable, then you can opt for a student visa. A student visa requires an Au Pair to be enrolled in a course and permits a person to work for up to 25 hours per week. 

It may be possible to extend a visa in the future and on behalf of your au pair. To explore this, it’s best to contact the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Looking For an Au Pair in Ireland

Once confident of your ability to meet the rules and regulations, then you can register and secure the services of an au pair. As part of the registration process, you will create your own family profile. You will then be able to advertise a vacancy as well as search for au pairs that are already registered and looking for work in Ireland. SureSitter allows you to initiate contact by messaging an au pair who you feel is suitable for the position with your family. From there you can exchange contact details and arrange an interview(s). An Au Pair can also respond to your job posting and initiate contact. We recommend that you arrange more than one interview before proceeding – this way you have given yourself and your prospective au pair the opportunity to get to know each other. 

How to hire an au pair Ireland

When you find the au pair for your family, it’s now time to discuss terms and formalise an agreement in a contract. A typical contract will include (though not limited to):

  • Working hours and free time
  • Pay rate for standard hours and extra hours
  • Payment schedule (it can be beneficial to automate this payment directly into a bank account)
  • Duties and responsibilities
  • Holiday days

The contract is the opportunity to succinctly outline your expectations as a host family, and for the au pair to equally outline the expectations of a host family. The contract, apart from agreeing on the formalities, can be useful in avoiding any misunderstandings and can support a host and au pair to have a positive experience. 

For more information and to register as a host family, get started with SureSitter. Founded by Irish parents, for Irish parents, we’re there to help.