Do you employ an au pair?

There are special rules that need to be taken into account if you employ an au pair in your home. This is because au pairs are not usually considered as workers or employees and are not entitled to the National Minimum Wage or paid holidays.

An au pair is effectively treated as a member of the family they live with and receive 'pocket money' instead of salary. The au pair may be liable to Income Tax and National Insurance if the amount of ‘pocket money’ they receive is high enough.

HMRC’s guidance states that an au pair isn’t classed as a worker or an employee if most of the following apply:

  • they’re an EU citizen or have entered the UK on a Youth Mobility visa or student visa
  • they’re here on a cultural exchange programme
  • they’ve got a signed letter of invitation from the host family that includes details of their stay, for example accommodation, living conditions, approximate working hours, free time, pocket money
  • they learn about British culture from the host family and share their own culture with them
  • they have their own private room in the house, provided free of charge
  • they eat their main meals with the host family, free of charge
  • they help with light housework and childcare for around 30 hours a week, including a couple of evenings babysitting
  • they get reasonable pocket money
  • they can attend English language classes at a local college in their spare time
  • they’re allowed time to study and can practise their English with the host family
  • they sometimes go on holiday with the host family and help look after the children
  • they can travel home to see their family during the year

If you employ someone else to work in your home, you need to ensure that you provide them with their employee rights and deduct the correct amount of tax from their salary. The type of employees you may have in your home could for example be a nanny, housekeeper, gardener or carer. The rules are different if the person working in your home is self-employed or paid through an agency.

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