Over the last 10 years, I noticed a strong increase of Au-Pair coming from the Philippines in Europe. Having myself a kid of 9 years now, I was exploring at that time (when he was a toddler) with my partner the possibility to enroll to an Au Pair program but at the end we just found another way. The Au-Pair program provides an excellent way for families to have a nanny at home that can help them by taking care the kids and take part to the house-chores and who speak most of the time a decent English ..the Au Pair program is also by far a cheaper alternative for families living in The Netherland than putting your baby or kids at the crèche (you need to pay 1000 to 1300 euro a month 5 days a week and the quality is not always there). Au-Pair candidates are coming from various country (Philippines, Brazil, Russia, Poland …).
Being based in Amsterdam and traveling often I was surprised to see more and more Filipina in the Netherlands but I got totally surprised when few years ago I went to Copenhagen for a couple of days and had the strong feeling to be in Manila ..Filipina were everywhere …I found it totally unreal 🙂 …Later on I read a few articles mentioning that 75% of the Au-Pair in Denmark and Norway are from The Philippines.
So I began to question myself about this trend such as: how lucrative is this line of business and who are the beneficiary, is it well-regulated ? My little finger was telling me that I will come across some blur areas ..
Overall, like everyone else, I’m used to see Filipino workers on boat (cruise or cargo) or in several airports from Arabian countries such as Dubai or Abu Dhabi (on duty-free shops) or working in constructions or in hospital (The Philippines has certainly provided the best quality nurses around the world) but I was not aware about the Au Pair program was a popular gateway for Filipina until recently.
Why Au Pair job is popular in Philippines ?
From Filipina standpoint :
From the European family standpoint :
- Filipina au pair are reliable and most of the time well-trained
- Speak good level of English
An interesting paradox is the fact that the Filipino Government put a ban on Au Pair workers (the ban was put in place in 1998 after report of abuse of Filipino au pairs) and this ban is still active (at least for the Netherlands but it was lifted in 2010 for Denmark,Norway and Switzerland). So, how is it possible then that, despite that ban, there was and is still a strong demand of Filipina Au Pair in The Netherlands and that demand manage to be satisfied despite the Filipino ban ? The answer is rather simple : every agencies based in The Philippines providing Au Pair workers are by-passing the interdiction via some backshish (we are talking about 150 to 200 euros per candidate) paid to the authority of the airport of Manila. So my question is: Where does this money goes ?
Let’s talk about numbers for a while:
Price to join an AU PAIR program (in short, how much a Filipina need to pay to enroll to the Au-Pair Program):
- Before you are matched Au-Pair candidates pay the following:
* 40,000 pesos for the TESDA accredited Household Services NC II/YES au pair certified training, by Cultural Assistance Training Center Inc. in Makati.
* 1,500 pesos for a medical examination
* 500 pesos for a passport
Total : 42.000 Pesos (+/- 750 euro)
- When you are matched you pay the following:
* 3,000 for legalisation of papers
* 60,000 Cash bond – totally refundable after you finish your year as an au pair
Total: 63.000 Pesos (+/- 1120 euro) but 1060 euro will be refund
* This is an example I took from a reliable Au Pair Agency based in the Netherlands.
Backshish to pay at Airport : 150/200 Euros (to be paid by the Au Pair candidate)
How much a family in Europe need to pay to join the Au-Pair program (what does it include..): the host family need to pay some administration fee to the agency (it can vary from one to another …we are talking here about a few hundreds Euro)
How much an Au Pair/nanny earn:
In Denmark, an au pair is earning +/- 2500 kroner with free board and lodging (equivalent of 20k pesos)
In the Netherlands, they are earning on average : 300 euro with free board and lodging (they earn more if they stay illegally, their salary tend to be around 600 euro a month but of course it implies all risks of being caught by authorities …)
In Belgium, they will earn +/-450 euro again with free board and lodging.
In order to augment their monthly “salary”, many nannies are willing to work a couple of extra hours “un declared” by cleaning houses for instances. For instance, it’s very common in Denmark for nannies to clean a few houses a month in the neighborhood where they live and consequently earn some extra kroner (how much per hour) …It can become quickly an interesting and lucrative business (it’s a deviation of the Au Pair program but difficult to regulate).
Limitation of being au-pair : TIME, their stay are limited so therefore it’s very important for nannies to earn as much as they can while they have the Au Pair status.
I had a discussion with a Filipina who stay in the Netherlands and in Denmark as Au Pair and she was sharing her experience with me (see below):
What are the advantages for a Filipina to enroll for an au pair program ?
To participate in an Au Pair program is an advantage and i think the program is now compulsory under 2010 new regulation. Check http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/global-filipino/10/29/10/filipino-au-pairs-can-now-work-3-european-nations for more information.
Au pair program helps avoid all Au Pair candidates from having culture shock. Being in this kind of program will make oneself ready and aware about a lot of things in the country of destination. For example, from the fact that the weather are totally different, cold, etc. Not just mind preparation, but also, for an au pair to get an idea what kind of clothes to pack. In the program they will be taught as well how to deal with the local people. What local people’s expectation and a lot more. They will be given a language lesson as well (if they will be destined in a non-english country). This will be very useful if an Au Pair would like to go out, meet other friends, or go visit another city. You will be able to find your way on train stations, bus stations, city center, etc.
How long is the training program last ?
The program last depends of the agency (Yes Au Pair batch 2006 is one month, this includes History, Language, and other activities such as cooking, swimming, cycling, fitness, or something that your host family requires).
My training was about 1 month.
How much as au pair do you need to pay to the agency to be registered ?
Again, this all depends on an agency. There are different au pair agencies existing today. You can check some reliable agencies under NAPO organization here : http://www.napoweb.nl/en/index.html
and see member agencies.
Is there a selection to join the program or it’s open to anyone ?
Under the POEA guidelines, a Filipino Au Pair should be between 18 and 30 years of age, unmarried and without any children, placed under a cultural exchange agreement with the host family for a maximum stay of 2 years for the purpose of immersion in cultural and language training.
During the employment, the au pair should be enrolled in a school to learn the language of the host country. They should live with the host family and treated on an equal basis with the members of the family.
The Filipino Au Pair should be given pocket-money and share in child care or light household chores and other responsibilities before agreed upon in a contract between the au pair and the host family.
Check : http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/global-filipino/10/29/10/filipino-au-pairs-can-now-work-3-european-nations
Why did you choose to enroll to an au pair program
I chose to be part of the program as it was compulsory by my agency and that it was for me the easiest way as I don’t have to worry what will be the next step of the process. Agency will help you with the step by step procedure.
Is there any obstacle for leaving the country (The Philippines) because Au Pair are banned in The Philippines ?
Yes, cause The Philippines NAIA employee (not all of course but a lot) will try to give you problems just to get some money. This happens whether you are an Au Pair or just another kind of traveller.
How much was your salary once you reach your family in Europe ?
Salary is supposed to be 300 euro for au pair who didn’t have experience with kids, and 340 euro for those who has experience. A caregiver, a nurse, or a teacher for example has extra points.
Some nice host families will offer higher and will give other benefits, but this is not always the case. So make sure you know your rights at least.
How was your accommodation and conditions of work ?
Accommodation and condition were generally good. Of course host families are different from each other.
Is there a possibility to extend your stay in one family or move to another country ?
By the time I was an au pair, it isn’t possible to extend. If ever this will be allowed by the immigration, host families will need to pay A LOT which is not worth for a week or 2 weeks extension.
Can you explain your experience in Denmark ? How did you find a family ?
My Denmark experience is quite good. I found my host family thru connection while I was in The Netherlands
Did you sometime had the opportunity to increase your income by cleaning houses for example?
Yes, there is plenty of opportunity thru friends or even directly from your own host family.
Is it easy to find houses to clean in Denmark ?
Most of the time, it isn’t that difficult.
Is it the same in The Netherlands ?
Yes, about the same. You can even try to find part time job thru advertisement online.
Is there regular control in Denmark ? (checking black job ….) ?
There is. And it is normal that a neighbor might call the police if they will see someone unknown right next door. Or even your own co-aupair might put u in trouble.
What part of your salary do you send to your family ?
I was sending at least 80 % of my salary when i was an au pair. I guess this is Filipino culture. Take note: it is always important to save and keep too for yourself.
Is there possibility to get extra income aside of your salary you get from your family ? is it a popular option ? explain ?
It is normal for an au pair to have a part-time job such as few hours cleaning or ironing to another family. But this is illegal and could send you home unexpectedly.
Overall, as you can see there are still some blurry areas in the Au Pair Program such as :
- Money paid to Airport authorities (where the money goes ? …it would be interesting to see how much under table money Airport authorities are receiving from Au-Pair but also regular traveler ….I heard several shocking stories of corruption in that Airport) .
- The fee received by the Au Pair agencies by each Au pair candidates (750 euro ++++), I would be very keen to see the cost breakdown and their profit margin
- Deviation of the Au Pair program that bring some alternatives for the Au pair to work in black (but at the end, I can’t say it’s a bad thing because when you are thinking for a minute, how much a Filipina need to pay to join an Au pair program and also the fact they might be the only source of income for their family, I don’t blame them).
Some interesting links: