This article is written from my personal experience over the last 3 years. So I am not an agency, but a Mother working of 2 amazing little children. The links provided will give you full regulatory information. My intention is to support other mothers working like myself who need that little bit of help, at home to have quality time for themselves, and their families. Here are my insider tips for hiring an Au Pair in Switzerland.
My Personal Decision
I recognize that we are blessed enough to be able to afford help. However, money is not the only factor. Initially it was hard for me to accept that it was okay to not do everything like my mother did. It is okay to have another pair of hands in the house and to have another person living with us. For me I grew up in a guesthouse so there were always multiple people around. I understand for others it might be strange having other people living with you. It is a personal decision. However, after a long day or week …when I get a date night every Friday, and in the evenings and at the weekend I have nothing to do but spend quality time with my kids; it is worth everything!
1. We have no family support near by because we are both outside our native countries.
2. We both work full time.
3. We want to spend quality time with each other and the kids when we are home in the evenings and the weekend.
Once I over came the ‘Mummy Guilt’ then there was the mind field of rules in regulations. In reality anyone who lives in Switzerland knows they make it hard for working Mums to …work!
I made this decision almost 3 years ago and since life is supercharged. We have had so many wonderful additions to our family.
The Rules Decoded
1. You need to be able speak a Swiss Language it is a language exchange. So German, French, Italian or Romansh. Luckily I studied German until C1.
2. You cannot have an au pair from a country with your language, so I could not have one from an English speaking country, and my husband none from Denmark.
3. You must be at home 50%, so like me you are probably thinking why would I need an au-pair if I am home. I work from home 2 days a week and my husband works from home 100%.
4. You must send them to language school, pay for their food and board, which is taxed circa 950 CHF but this can, vary per canton and pay their insurance. They should get a minimum pocket money (after deductions), which varies per canton; in our canton it is 700 CHF.
5. You tax at source. The contributions amount to 12.5% of your gross income no matter how much pocket money you receive in total.
6. Compensation should be provided when the au pair does not have access to all board and lodgings. For example, if you go on holiday there is a daily allowance circa 21 CHF.
7. They must work no more than 30 hours a week, up to 5 hours a day and have at least 2 Sundays off. There are templates on line if you want to do a contract yourself, again I recommend and agency.
8. Certain cantons have restrictions on where your au pairs can come from. For example, in our canton you can have Filipino au pairs, but this has not been the case in Zurich since 2014.
9. Non-EU nationals can only get a visa of 1 year, and EU nationals can have a visa for up to 24 months. You contact your canton to make the application.
Go it Alone versus Agency
When we first got an au pair it went terribly wrong and we learnt a lot.
– Self searches can be done on: www.aupairworld.com, www.greataupair.com and www.thebestaupair.com and contracts set up.
– Go via an agency. Going via an agency cost more but it meant all the paperwork was supported, and certificates, criminal record and background checks. We use www.duranACTS.ch
How Do You Find A Fit?
It’s weird interviewing the person who would care for your children over Skype, but believe me if you ask the right type of questions you can sort out who really will have the right attitude for this job and who has the right motivation.
– Interview with real life situations. In the interview we asked what would you do when you wake up the kids in the morning to go to school, and they do not want to go? One hits you because they still do not want to go. This seems extreme and our kids are actually well behaved but it happened once. It surprising the amount of people that said I will be able to make them come, but could not explain how, all to often people under estimate toddlers. It shows their lack of experience.
– What would you do if you had the kids for an afternoon? Again this shows their experience. One girl told us she would play basketball with them. Our kids were 1 and 3, I explored this with her and she had no experience with younger children. The most important thing for me was to have someone who loved being with younger children, as the happiness of my kids was paramount.
– Check the motivation and flexibility of the person, but be open and transparent on expectations. Why do you want to be an au pair, babysitter or nanny? We gave an overview of a typical week, and what our expectations were. We could see the attitude and motivation of the person, for many people it was just the money and we knew that would not work out. Being and au-pair is not easy and the money is not high.
– Check the experience you want. What experience do you have that is applicable? The agency that we use employ qualified nurses and teachers form the Philippines. Next to the happiness of my kids is their safety and our kids benefit from having a qualified nurse which puts my mind at ease. When my daughter started Kindergarten, which finishes at twelve she needed something more, since then we have had two amazing teachers and she is thriving.
– Let your kids interview them. Let your kids interview them and ask questions. You can see how they interact with the kids. Kids are a very good judge of character!
When The Au Pairs Here
One simple rule: treat your au pair like you would want to be treated.
– Look after your au pair and they will look after you. Our au pair is part of our family and as such she looks after us as a family.
– You can of course set expectations.
– No TV for the kids, until treat time.
– No mobile phones whilst playing with the kids
– Type of food to be prepared.
– Activities expected during the time they are working: play, board games, painting and park.
Author whatifihadapa: I’m a wife, mother working, founder and yogi. My doctorate makes a difference to parents and children. I researched what makes adults successful (happy) and found statistical correlations to ‘sense making’ play and ‘parental attachment’. However, the biggest barrier for parents was – TIME. So my research developed tools and AUTOMATION to save 1Mn mothers time by 2017. My website: www.whatifihadapa.com