Friday, January 11, 2013

The Double Standard: American Nannies Can Be Married and Have Children While Au Pairs Cannot

Is it Harder for Mothers of Young Children to Find Nanny and Au Pair Jobs?

Au pairs are caregivers between the ages of 18- and 26-years-old that come to America in a government regulated cultural exchange program. The au pair lives with a host family. The au pair helps with childcare for up to 45-hours per week and receives a small monetary allowance for personal use.

On the AuPairMom blog this week, CV Harquail discussed that American parents are not interested in hiring au pairs that are married or have children. Her arguments are convincing. The author explains that it wouldn't make sense for someone to leave their children and partner behind in another country while working in America for a year or two.

Not only don't parents want to hire au pairs that have their own children, they also don't want to hire married au pairs. CV Harquail says that au pair positions in the United States are for one person at a time.

The author explains, "Even host families that need two au pairs at the same time don’t look for married or partnered ‘couples’, since the family has two au pairs usually to cover a work week that is more than 45 hours long. A couple working for a family who needs two au pairs would not be able to spend much if any of their off duty time together."

But does marital status or having young children affect United States citizens that work as nannies?

I have friends that are single mothers that say it is very hard to find nanny jobs. I even know a few that have actually lied during nanny job interviews saying that they don't have young children because they have been told by parents that they prefer to hire a single nanny that doesn't have young children. Parents have admitted to a few friends that they worry that the single parent might not be reliable if their own young child were to get sick or their child care plans didn't pan out.

Although many nannies are married, most au pairs are not. I don't see how being married would make a difference in care provided by a live-out nanny. But being married could be an issue for a live-in nanny (or au pair) because families don't typically have the space, or aren't willing, to house a couple.

CV Harquail made a convincing argument as to why American parents don't want to hire married parents as their au pairs. But I don't think being married or having kids is as big an issue for nannies.

Do you think it's harder for American married parents to find nanny jobs than single, unmarried caregivers?


Farrah said...

Yes it is harder for single mothers with infants to find nanny jobs because the employers are scared that the nanny won't be as reliable.

cvharquail/aupairmom said...

Hey there BestNannyNewsletter-

Thanks so much for picking up on this topic, about when it matters that childcare givers are married / single, have kids/don't have kids.
The au pair program is really set up for young people in a particular life stage-- unmarried, childless, out to explore the USA. So, within the structure of the au pair program, considering room & board, pay, and family expectations, being married or having kids doesn't fit the structure.

That's NOT to say that married people can't be good caregivers (live in or live out) or that people with kids can't be good caregivers (live in or live out).

I wouldn't be concerned with the marital or parenting status of a potential nanny candidate, because I don't think that this status would influence a person's ability to be a great employee or great childcare giver.

As with any employee, we want to pay them a fair wage and we want them to be able to do the job (esp the specific hours) that we're advertising. While having a child might mean a few conflicts when that child is ill or when school is cancelled, employees and employers have those concerns for all jobs, not just childcaregiver jobs.

That said, those of us who hire a caregiver with children should talk with him or her about back up plans when their child is ill or there is a school or childcare-related emergency that affects their work ability. Just as we have to have back-up care options for our caregiver's emergencies, s/he should have backup options for her own child's care emergencies.

And, I think that any parent who hires another parent needs to be flexible when things happen that their employee-parent needs to attend to. I'd be okay having my nanny bring her child to work on a snow day, for example.