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A guide for au pairs and host families

Coming to Norway as an au pair can be both exciting and educational. At the same time, au pairs are particularly at risk of winding up in difficult situations since they live with those they ‘work’ for and no-one has the responsibility of following up.

Host families assume an especial responsibility by having a young person living in their home. Many host families are insufficiently well prepared for what it means to have an au pair and how this will affect the family situation.

In situations of conflict, this handbook is a useful tool for achieving the best possible solutions. Knowledge and understanding of rights and what is expected is important. A better flow of information prevents exploitation of the au pair scheme and of the au pairs.

Discussions concerning the extent to which the au pair scheme is veiled work or cultural exchange have been going on for a long time. We do not take any particular view of this in this book. We are nevertheless aware that the legislation gives a certain amount of contradictory signals. The contract between an au pair and host family clearly states that it is cultural exchange. At the same time, some duties are defined as work by the Tax Office, and au pairs are obliged to pay tax. Au pairs are also subject to the Annual Holidays Act.

How au pairs and/or host families deal with these and other challenges is discussed in this handbook.

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