Host Family How To: Au Pair Notebook

The most frustrating thing for a Host Family is to get an au pair just to find out that she doesn’t know what she’s doing. She wanders around the house aimlessly, follows the kids, and looks at you like now what do I do? She’s supposed to be a professional so why is this not working?!

When you start a new job the first thing your employer does in train you. One of the tools of training is often a manual.  

An employee manual, is a book given to employees by an employer. Usually, the employee handbook contains information about company policies and procedures. The employee handbook is an excellent place to bring together employment and job-related information which employees need to know, such as holiday arrangements, company rules and disciplinary and grievance procedures. It can also provide useful source of information to new staff as part of the induction process. A written employee handbook gives clear advice to employees and creates a culture where issues are dealt with fairly and consistently. – “Employee Handbook.” Wikipedia: The Online Encyclopedia. 5/17/2011 

The first thing in your Au Pair Notebook should be a welcome letter. Let your au pair know how happy you are to have her and what you are looking forward to during the year. Describe your family and tell her how she can contribute as the newest member. If you are one of those families with a mission statement, include that. Encourage your au pair to develope her personal mission statement to include.

Second, you should include information about the orientation process. As your Go Au Pair Local Area Representative (LAR), I will come within the first two weeks of the au pair’s arrival to do an in person orientation. (Please read Host Family How To: The Orientation.)

Third, is the section that talks about timekeeping proceedures and daily breaks. I encourage my Host Families to have their au pairs keep track of their hours worked in writing. Leave some blank pages for the au pair to do this daily.

Section number four should discuss information about the au pair’s salary and benefits (education, vacation, insurance).  If you plan on awarding your au pair a performance-based raise now would be the time to inform her of the expectations to meet in order to get it.

Next discuss expectations about conduct and discipline policies. Include the house rules here. (Please read Host Family How To: House Rules.) You’ll also want to explain your attendence policy, remember au pairs can get sick too. Plus, decide on and communicate the grounds for dismissal. Also, discuss problem resolutions steps.

I encourage all of my host families to have monthly or bi-monthly performance reviews with their au pairs. In the sixth section write the guidelines for these. Include how and when they will be conducted.

Seventh, inform your au pair of rules concerning mail, telephone, household equipment, Internet and e-mail, and use of the automobile.

In the eighth section, discuss procedures on handling accidents such as those involving herself, the children or the automobile. Include First Aid and CPR guides. Teach your au pair about 911 and include phone numbers for the police, amublance, doctors, hospitals, fire department, etc.

If you want your au pair to keep things about your family confidential you should include a section about this. If your the type of family that needs it, have a lawyer draw up a confidentiality agreement.

The most important section is the section about your children and their needs. This will help your au pair bond with them. I was reading an organization blog, JOYS, the other day. She wrote a post about a babysitter notebook that I thought would be a great help to my Host Families. Take a look at her PDFs and incorporate them into your Au Pair Notebook.

The last thing in the Au Pair Notebook should be an agreement that the au pair signs stating that she read the notebook and agrees to the terms you set forth.

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