Responsibilities of an employment agency to an au pair

Employment agencies and employment businesses have a number of general responsibilities to their workers and candidates. In relation to the supply or introduction of au pairs, however, they have a number of additional responsibilities.  

The responsibilities of employment agencies and employment businesses are set out in the Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Businesses Regulations 2003. 

For the purpose of the regulations an “employment agency” ordinarily puts forward candidates for permanent vacancies and an “employment business” ordinarily supplies temporary workers. Where a company provides both services they will fall within both definitions.  

For the purpose of the regulations an “au pair” is a person who is received or is to be received into a private household under an arrangement whereby that person is to assist in the domestic work of the household in return for receiving hospitality and pocket money or hospitality only.

What are the specific requirements as to au pairs?

Travel to and from the place of work

Agencies and employment businesses are prohibited from entering into any arrangement under which an au pair is to be required to repay the agency, employment business or the hirer for the cost of the au pair travelling to and from their place of work out of money payable to the au pair by the hirer, agency or employment business.  

There is nothing in the regulations which would, however, prevent an agency or employment business from requiring an au pair to pay his own travel costs.  

Where an au pair is under the age of eighteen and the agency, employment business or hirer has arranged free travel or payment of fares for the au pair’s journey to the place of work, if the work does not start or upon it ending, the agency or employment business is required to either arrange free travel for the au pair’s return journey or pay his return fare, or obtain an undertaking from the hirer that he will arrange free travel or pay the return fare. The agency or employment business is required to give notice to the au pair setting out the details of the free travel or payment of fares including any conditions on which they are offered. 

Where an agency or employment business obtains an undertaking from the hirer that he will arrange free travel or pay the return fare and the hirer fails to honour that undertaking, it is the responsibility of the agency or employment business to either arrange free travel for the return journey of the au pair or pay his fare.

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For more information on:

  • Accommodation
  • Other information to be provided to au pairs
  • The requirement for parental or guardian consent in relation to au pairs under the age of eighteen
  • Loans to au pairs