This is probably the most common question we get from families who are interested hiring a caregiver for their children through our agency.
While there may be a general consensus (at least in Canada, where we are based) of what a nanny is and what her job entails, the notion of what an au pair is and should be is significantly less understood, which is why we tried to address that in one of our recent posts.
Unfortunately for some au pairs or other types of caregivers, a misunderstanding or miscommunication of exactly what their job entails can lead to a feeling of sourness or negativity for a large part of their placement. In fact, just as the question of the difference between nannies and au pairs is the most frequently asked question here at International Nannies, so too is the confusion between these two positions the most common cause of discord in these types of caregiver placements.
That’s why it is our goal in this post to clear up this confusion in the hopes that it doesn’t occur in your placement.
Whether you are an interested host family or a prospective caregiver candidate, all we want here at International Nannies is for you to have a successful placement. There are such valuable experiences to be gained from cultural exchanges like these, which is why we will do our utmost to ensure that this can happen for you in the most positive and stress-free way possible.
This is one of the first questions we ask interested host families when it comes to determining whether a nanny or an au pair is right for them.
In Canada, in general, while both nannies and au pairs can work full-time (which is 40-44 hours depending on the province), nannies tend to work almost exclusively full-time while au pairs are flexible to work either part-time (approximately 20-25 hours) or full-time.
2. How much does it cost to hire a nanny versus an au pair?
To hire a nanny in Canada, the host family must effectively sponsor their nanny’s trip to and life in Canada, from their visa paperwork and travel expenses to their healthcare and room and board.
The process of hiring an au pair is much cheaper; the host family only pays for the matching process that our agency undertakes. The au pair pays for their own flight and the Working Holiday Visa they must obtain to be an au pair requires them to undergo a medical exam, obtain a police clearance, and demonstrate proof of healthcare coverage.
In addition, host families who are looking to hire an au pair have the option of deducting a small sum for room and board from their au pair’s minimum wage pay; to find out more about room and board deductions and au pair pay stubs, you can refer to our Au Pair Brochure which is available for download on our website.
3. How long does the hiring and matching process take?
For nannies, the process is a lot longer, due mostly to the extensive paperwork involved. Daunting as it might seem at first, another service we provide is the completion of the Labour Market Impact Assessment required to hire a nanny in Canada, which can save you loads of time!
The process of hiring an au pair, on the other hand, usually takes only between 5-16 weeks.
During our high season, we can receive up to several au pair applications per day, which is part of the reason why it is much easier and much faster to hire an au pair. That being said, we always recommend that our host families start the application process as soon as possible in order to ensure that they are able to hire an au pair to start on their desired start date.
4. Do nannies and au pairs provide housekeeping?
This is the factor that people tend to be most confused about. As mentioned above, nannies almost exclusively work full-time, and a large part of that full-time work involves general housekeeping.
An au pair, on the other hand, as is common practice in the international au pair industry, is only expected to perform housekeeping duties that are directly related to the care of the children. This includes cleaning up after the children, preparing their meals, and helping with their laundry and general upkeep of their rooms and play areas.
If your family requires any more housekeeping than that, an au pair is probably not the best option for you, and a nanny might be a better option (or, as an alternative, an au pair or part-time babysitter in conjunction with another person in a general housekeeping role).
At International Nannies, we do our best to make this particular distinction as clear as we can for both our au pair applicants and our interested host families.
However, at the end of the day, if there is any confusion between a host family and their au pair, we always encourage that both parties establish clear and open lines of communication from the beginning of the placement in order to avoid further conflict in the future.