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Au pairs: The lowdown

Au pairs are paid on the basis of the number of hours they work.

Julie Kelly, the managing director of the Au Pair Study Centre (APSC) in Dun Laoghaire says: "Some families require help while both parents are working, and some families require an extra pair of hands around the house.

"All au pairs receive a timetable at the start of their working week or month, so families will usually discuss if there will be changes in their schedule," says Julie.

The APSC is one of the largest agencies in Ireland, providing placements all over the country, but its biggest base is in Dun Laoghaire where the au pairs take English classes and have a full social programme.

"This is a really important part of the au pair and family experience. It means that au pairs already have a social network before they arrive and rarely get homesick," says Julie.

"When the au pair arrives, a representative from the agency, the family and the au pair will sit and go through all her duties and responsibilities. All three will sign an agreement form which provides the families and au pairs with rules and guidelines," she says.

According to the APSC rates, an au pair companion will get €90 per week for 30 hours per week and two nights of babysitting; an au pair minder will get €100 per week for 35 hours per week and two nights of babysitting; and an au pair plus will be paid €115 per week for 40 hours per week and one night of babysitting.