Well, it’s the 10th January already, I had hoped to get this posted before but what with recovering from Christmas and getting kids ready for school and getting back into routine and supporting my cousin through the end of her pregnancy and the start of her labour, time just slipped away!
Many aupairs start new positions at this time of year. Children are going back to school and parents realise that they need an extra set of hands and wheels to manage the busy social and educational lives of their ‘mini-me’s’. Many aupairs have never done this before. They might have baby sat or helped out with younger siblings, many are studying, but nothing can really prepare you for the reality of working with young children until you’re in the deep end.
Working as an aupair isn’t just about playing with children. As much as we don’t like to think about it as a job, it is one, and as such we are employees with right and responsibilities.
One of the most important things you should do when considering being an aupair is to make sure your reasons are good. Not for easy pay, not because you cannot get any other job, but because you truly do like working with children. You should also make a list of what is most important to you in a job, what age groups are you comfortable caring for, what hours are you happy to work, what type of income do you need?
Then there’s interviews. ALWAYS interview. You cannot start a position without knowing something about it and the family you will be working for. Ask to meet the children. Ask about the children! (you would be surprised how many people forget to speak about the children! No point in taking a job if all they want to do is play soccer and you prefer knitting.) Once you’ve accepted a position, get a contract or work agreement. This should protect both parties equally. Your contract should detail your hours, your pay (per hour or salary), your overtime, HOW and WHEN you will be paid, your duties (in detail, and little things like are you expected to answer the house phone? are you expected to sign for deliveries? are you supposed to hand wash or stack dishes in the dishwasher?), your leave (by law, you are allowed paid holiday leave, paid sick leave, paid family responsibility leave etc and don’t forget to have maternity leave written into your contract as you never know what will happen (you’re allowed 4 months unpaid time off and your job waiting for you), your re-imbursement for any job related driving that you do, discipline measures, notice periods, are you expected to use your personal cell-phone for work related calls? If so, how will you be re-imbursed, if you drive a lot for work, will they consider paying for your car to be valeted every few months, will they contribute to your AA memberhip?, if you use their car, what happens if you have an accident? Who pays the deductable?…anything you can think of.
Here is a link to the Basic Conditions of Employment Act. Your contract cannot over-ride these conditions. And once the formalities are all in place, relax and enjoy being paid to play 🙂 knowing that if an issue crops up, it should be covered by your contract and should be quickly and easily sorted out.