The Legal And Cultural Variances Between Nannies and Au Pairs


You have many options if you’re considering hiring a live-in childcare provider. For example, you can hire an au pair to bring a cultural exchange element to your household.

Au pairs are young people from abroad who work under a special visa to live with their host families and care for their children in exchange for room and board and pocket money.


Whether your family wants to hire a nanny or au pair, the childcare candidate must meet your expectations. You’ll want to find out how much childcare experience they have and ensure their past work is available for review. When interviewing candidates, look for examples of their ability to stay calm during difficult situations and their understanding of child safety protocols and procedures.

Nannies typically have extensive childcare experience and often have additional qualifications like a degree or certifications. They’re also usually licensed or bonded and insured, meaning they meet state requirements for childcare professionals. When looking for a nanny, you may also be required to conduct background checks, verify references, and interview candidates.

What is the difference between a nanny and an au pair? Au pairs are typically younger, have limited childcare experience, and come from other countries in exchange for cultural and language immersion. They must also adhere to a set number of working hours to maintain their visa status and be eligible for financial compensation. When searching for an au pair, it’s essential to use a Go Au Pair certified au pair agency that is accredited and works with the US Department of State to vet all au pairs through a multi-tiered screening process. This includes a medical exam, background check, and personality evaluation.

Working Hours

A nanny is a professional who takes care of children full-time in exchange for room, board, and a salary. An au pair, on the other hand, is generally a student from a foreign country who watches your kids in exchange for room and board and a small stipend. The government regulates au pairs and is expected to participate in a cultural exchange program with their host families. Au pairs are usually limited to a certain number of on-duty hours per week and must be allowed to attend language courses.

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Nannies are typically paid a salary that is at least equal to the minimum wage in their country, and they can negotiate with their employers on their weekly working hours. They can work a schedule that may change weekly or provide flexible coverage by taking on additional hours on short notice.

When interviewing an au pair or nanny, it’s essential to determine their reasons for seeking the position. If their first reason is to make enough money to buy a car or go to college, they are likely not passionate about childcare and will resent their jobs. On the other hand, if their first reason is to travel and experience another culture, they are more likely to love working with kids and be an excellent fit for your family.


Many families seek to hire a foreign au pair for both language and cultural immersion. They pay a weekly amount to their au pair for “pocket money,” plus room and board, in exchange for childcare services. Families can utilize au pairs for all or part of the day if they stay within a regulated daily and weekly time limit.

As au pairs are on a visa, they are only legally permitted to work so many hours per week and are not allowed to work more than a certain number of hours during the holidays. They must also be given 1.5 days off a week and one weekend off every month and access to a community of other au pairs with whom they can interact socially.

Nannies are paid a wage that varies based on experience and location. They don’t undergo formal training and have a broader range of skills they can offer their employers, including household chores, babysitting, and driving children to extracurricular activities.

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Another difference between an au pair and a nanny is that au pairs are part of a program, so they are more likely to view their host family as an extended family than a typical nanny. This can make it easier for them to adapt to new situations and help the relationship go more smoothly.

Cultural Exchange

While nannies can also provide cultural experiences for your children, au pairs can bring a broader range of international opportunities. Traditionally, au pairs are young foreign people who participate in a cultural exchange program where they are cared for by host families and provided with the opportunity to learn about American culture. Au pairs are often multilingual, and they may be able to introduce your children to the language of their native country.

Families choose au pairs that speak languages that they want their children to be exposed to. They may also invite au pairs to share meals and traditions that are part of their cultures, including holidays and other important events. It is a great way to create a multicultural environment that exposes your children to the world.

On the other hand, a nanny does not typically have to be part of a formal cultural exchange program and can be hired from the same country as the family or another country. Because nannies are considered employees, they must be covered by the same labor laws as any other employee and be paid at least the minimum wage in their country of employment. Nanny interviewers may conduct background checks, personality evaluations, and reference checks. This makes it difficult for a family to run as extensive of a background check as they would with an au pair candidate.