Monthly Archives: May 2012

Live-in Caregiver vs. Au Pair: What’s the Difference?

What’s the difference between a Live-in Caregiver compared to Au Pair?

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

The term “au pair” comes from the French word “en 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 a Working Holiday Visa and desire an opportunity to explore the world. Many of them are young (Between 18 to 35) having just recently completed high school or post-secondary education. Au Pairs are often new to the nanny scene, whereas live-in caregivers are required to have at least 1 year of full-time work experience as a nanny, or completion of a 6-month caregiving 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 one year, although there are some who may only wish to work for 6 months, therefore spending the remainder of their time traveling. Live-in 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, a live-in caregiver will often assume full responsibility of the household during the parents’ absence, which may include light housekeeping and meal preparation for the entire family.

An au pair’s working hours range between 25 – 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. Like live-in caregivers, au pairs are paid minimum wage and room and board is deducted from their earnings. These numbers vary depending on the province in which you reside.

Hiring an au pair is an easier process than hiring a live-in caregiver. When hiring a live-in caregiver, employers must satisfy requirements established by the Government of Canada; proof of income, submission of a labour market opinion, as well as payment for the caregiver’s flight into the country is all necessary. In contrast, when hiring an au pair, employers need only submit an application to International Nannies and Homecare, conduct interviews, and wait. The au pair is responsible for all costs incurred, which includes their Working Holiday Visa, airfare, and health insurance while in Canada.

Au Pairs and live-in 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’s needs.

If you would like to hire a nanny or caregiver, please contact International Nanny and Homecare Ltd. in Canada for qualified nannies.