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Au Pair vs: In-home Caregiver?

Many people use the terms “Au Pair” and “in-home caregiver” interchangeably. While it may appear that both provide the same level of household assistance, this is a misnomer.

The term “Au Pair” comes from the French word “end pair” meaning “equal to”. Unlike a regular employer-employee relationship, an Au Pair is viewed as part of the family, or a big sister. Au Pairs come to Canada for a “cultural exchange” under an International Experience Class and desire an opportunity to explore Canada. Many of them are young women (majority is between 18 to 21 years) having just recently completed high school or post-secondary education. Au Pairs are often new to the nanny scene and usually have part-time babysitting experience, whereas in-home caregivers usually have at least 1 year of full-time work experience as a nanny, or completion of a 6-month care-giving course, along with the equivalent of Canadian high school education.

By working as an Au Pair, participants not only have the chance to experience Canadian culture by working very closely with a Canadian family, but are also able to earn money and travel, when time permits.

Most Au Pairs are willing to commit for 9-12 months, although there are some who may only wish to work for 6 months, therefore spending the remainder of their time traveling. In-home caregivers are interested in long-term employment and are often prepared to work for at least two years. An Au Pair’s main responsibility is childcare and child-related household duties. In contrast, an in-home caregiver will often assume full responsibility of the household during the parents’ absence, which may include housekeeping and meal preparation for the entire family.

An Au Pair’s working hours range between 20 – 44 hours per week depending on the family’s needs. For families who do not require full-time care but would like the benefits of having someone live in their home, an Au Pair could be a good solution. Au Pairs are paid minimum wage and room and board can be deducted from their earnings. In contrast, in-home caregivers are paid a median wage depending on the job description and location. Room and board are no longer deducted. These numbers vary depending on the province in which you reside.

Hiring an Au Pair is an easier process than hiring an in-home caregiver. When hiring an in-home caregiver, employers must satisfy requirements established by the Government of Canada; proof of income, submission of a Labour Market Impact Assessment, as well as payment for the caregiver’s flight into the country is all necessary. In contrast, when hiring an Au Pair, employers only submit a host family application, a reference and police clearances to International Nannies and Homecare, conduct interviews, and wait. The Au Pair is responsible for all costs incurred, which includes their Work Permit, airfare, and health insurance while in Canada. Hiring an in-home caregiver can take anywhere between 6 to 9 months, whereas an Au Pair is able to arrive within a couple of weeks.

Au Pairs and in-home caregivers are both interested in childcare opportunities, but differ slightly in terms of their work schedule, responsibilities, job experience, and entrance process into Canada. Regardless of the choice you make, of most importance is selecting the caregiver that will provide the best solution for your family.

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