There are many au pair agencies in South Africa which you can choose from to assist you.
Firstly, having been in the au pair industry, owning an au pair agency for 15 years, and having heard all the scary stories, I would highly recommend going through an au pair agency and not doing this privately.
The success rate of using good au pair agencies versus going it solo, or using a bad one, is very much in favour of using reputable au pair agencies.
Tips on Finding Good Au Pair Agencies:
- Ensure the agency has been in business for at least 10 years – anything less and you simply will not get the support you need
- The agency should have a good online reputation
- The agency should have testimonials from clients they have assisted
- The agency should conduct face-to-face interviews with their candidates
- Ensure the agency has a predominantly good reputation in the industry
- Ask your child’s school if they know of one to recommend
- Ask the parents in your child’s class if they know of one to recommend
- Ensure the agency carries out criminal checks and reference checks
- Generally the good agencies charge registration fees – they know their worth and they aren’t trying to reign you in with “freebies”
- Ensure the agency has a 90 day OR MORE replacement guarantee – anything less and you should question the faith they have in their candidates
- They should have her own children over the age of 8 so that they can relate to babies, toddlers, children, homework, siblings etc.
- They should have employed au pairs in their personal capacity for their own children – otherwise how do they know what it is like to employ an au pair?
- They should have been an actual au pair at some point in their life
- They should have sound knowledge of South African labour law to assist you post placement with various queries etc.
If You Can’t Afford an Au Pair Agency and Need to Minimise the Risk:
- Advertise your position on Gumtree and Indeed – you will get a lot of rubbish but you may find a gem
- Do reference checks
- Employ someone who has a MINIMUM of 2 years au pair or teaching experience
- Have an interview that is at least an hour long
- Arrange a trial after the initial interview (if you like her) which lasts about 3 to 4 hours where the children are present and you can watch them
- If your children say no, or they are unsure, or they don’t have a good feeling… RUN! Children have very good instincts so follow them
- Check their Facebook profile out – this is VERY indicative of who they are
- Look at the layout of their CV and the spelling etc.
If you decided to use an au pair agency then once employment is confirmed they should issue you with a Contract of Employment which details the basic conditinos of employment as per the South African Law Relations Act.
Upon commencement, you need to give them their au pair job functions, again good au pair agencies will supply this.
It will take about a week for an au pair to get to know their way around your home, routine etc. Please remember it takes about 6 to 8 weeks for the au pair to settle down and for the children to really get to know them. If there are any issues during employment it is VITAL that you sit down together (without the children around) and go through the issues. Communication is key!
An au pair generally stays with a family for about 1 to 2 years. It is very rare that an au pair commits for longer though there have been wonderful stories where au pairs stay for years and years!
We wish you all the best with using au pair agencies and we recommend that you start with ours – Little Sunshines Au Pair Agency!