Do Host Families Take Advantage of Au Pairs


You’re a young girl (or boy), and you have just arrived at your host family’s house to fulfil your dream of living in a different country. You get up in the mornings, get the kids ready for school and, after dropping them off, you get some time for yourself before it’s time to pick them up again. But then, a few weeks in, your host mum asks you to clean the bathroom. Which you agree to do. You can spare an hour to do some chores. Soon, however, the list of tasks starts to get longer and longer until you hardly have any time left for yourself. The host parents still pay you the same amount of money and expect you to work over 40 hours per week for less than £100.

Is this normal?

Unfortunately, this is something that happens quite often. There are no set rules that come with being an au pair. There’s no official contract, and this makes it very easy for host families to take advantage of their au pair. Au pairs are supposed to be a part of the family, and it’s only normal for them to do some household chores. But that doesn’t mean they are responsible for doing work in the garden, cleaning the host family’s car or doing all of their laundry (kids’ laundry is fine!).

What do they expect?

Some host families expect their au pair to clean the entire house (including bathrooms) and do their laundry. And this is not including the childcare. When they come home in the evenings, they sometimes even criticise the au pair for not making the house look the way they want it to look.

I even heard about a host mum who didn’t want to pay her au pair. Her argument was that the girl was living in her house and eating her food. She actually expected the girl to pay her money for being allowed to live there and look after her children.

Stick to the rules!

Au pairing comes with certain rules that both the au pair and the host family should stick to. Make sure you draw up and sign a contract containing every single thing that you have agreed on before the stay. If it’s not in the contract, you don’t have to do it.

Being an au pair can be a great experience, but some host families use their au pairs and don’t even think about making sure that they have a good experience. And those are the stories everyone always hears about. It’s what scares people off from becoming an au pair. They don’t want to be in that situation. 

If you are (or know someone) who is in a situation where their host family is taking advantage of them, talk to them. Let them know that it’s not normal for them to work that many hours. Talk to the host family as well. Explain to them that this is not what being an au pair is about. If you’re lucky, they will realise the same and things will get better. If not, time to look for a different family!



  1. Danielle
    12 October 2018 / 7:24 pm

    This is great to know, I wish that when I was younger that I would have done something like this for the opportunity t travel overseas.

  2. Lakesha
    10 October 2018 / 7:20 pm

    Wow! I never thought this was actually happening. I’ve heard of host parents for foreign exchange students but not for people who just want to live in another country. My grandmother was a host mom and she never expected her exchange student to be responsible for the whole house. This is a nightmare for parents.

  3. Megan
    10 October 2018 / 3:16 pm

    Interesting, I’m learning so much from your blog about the life of au pairs. I’d have never known!

  4. Joanna
    10 October 2018 / 2:39 pm

    You should definitely sign a contract before going au pair, this way the host family won’t take advantage of you. I can’t believe that there are families who think the au pairs don’t deserve pay because they live in house.

  5. Geraline Batarra
    10 October 2018 / 1:43 pm

    Setting rules and signing a contract between the au pairs and the host parents should always be done.

  6. Danielle
    10 October 2018 / 1:12 pm

    My daughter wants to travel overseas and sometimes you think of this as an option, but then it doesn’t seem so viable. We want her to learn and enjoy her surroundings, not be a maid.

  7. Ellie Plummer
    10 October 2018 / 12:30 pm

    This is a really interesting point, I have never thought of this before. I suppose it depends on the family you are with.

  8. 10 October 2018 / 9:03 am

    Thanks for all this information, I’ve considered being an au-pair so being aware of this really helps

  9. 10 October 2018 / 4:36 am

    It’s really advised that there’s already a set agreement between you and the host. A contract could be helpful, and stick on what’s indicated there.

  10. 10 October 2018 / 3:36 am

    Rules are great for both the host families and au pairs because they are there to protect both parties. Hopefully this doesn’t happen too much.

  11. 10 October 2018 / 3:11 am

    very useful information. it is always wise to have a contract and to stick to it. some people are really unfair and it is sad.

  12. 10 October 2018 / 2:03 am

    People should be ashamed of themselves for treating someone like that. They are taking care of your most precious gifts (their children). That should come with some gratitude and gratefulness. I agree they should have a contract in place, to ensure they will not be taken advantage of. Great post.

  13. 10 October 2018 / 12:52 am

    Good to know. I didn’t really know anything about au pair’s until I found your blog. Thanks for such great information!

  14. 9 October 2018 / 4:21 pm

    Actually I never thought from this angle. This is a great point of view. And I am saving it to review on it later.

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