According to Wikipedia (not the most reliable source)the concept of the Aupair originated in Europe after World War II. Before the war, an abundant supply of domestic servants had been available to look after the children of middle and upper class families, but changes in social attitudes, and increases in wages and taxes after the war, made the old system inaccessible to most middle class parents. At the same time, social change increased the number of middle class girls who needed to earn their own living, and rising educational aspirations for girls made experiencing foreign cultures and learning foreign languages more common aspirations. However, due to the stigma attached to being a "servant", an essentially working class status which even working class people were repudiating, this potential supply for domestic labour could only be utilised if a new non-servant role was created. Thus the Aupair, who was supposed to be treated as a member of the family rather than a servant, and was not required to wear a uniform.
Until 26th November 2008 Aupair programs were guided by the Home Office (please see http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/workingintheuk/tier5/aupairs).
From that day there are no longer guidelines as to the Aupair program, their free time, allowed working hours, pocket money etc. Instead they introduced Youth Mobility Scheme which allowes young people from certain Non EU countrysides to come and experience life in the UK. The countries participating in this scheme are Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zeland and Monaco. However there are certain requirements that must be satisfied (please see http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/workingintheuk/tier5/youthmobilityscheme/eligibility/whocanapply). Requirements such as being a national of the country participating in the program, have £1, 600 in available maintenance, etc.
There are organisation which try to regulate the Aupair programs such as the British Aupair Agencies Association (please see http://www.bapaa.org.uk/displaypage.asp?page=1) or the International Aupair Association (please see http://www.iapa.org/portal/page/portal/MenuSecSiteIAPA).
Are Aupairs now considered as Employees?? Before the November 2008 Aupairs were not classed as employees, so the host family did not have to NI, Tax and Aupairs were not subject to employment laws. The concept of Aupair exists for over 60 years, and so far the government has not established whether Aupairs are employees or not.
If the Government decides that Aupairs are employees and subject to employment laws, not much is going to change in the Aupair program.
Firstly, as Aupairs are members of the employer’s family, live in their home and help run a family business or help with household chores, they are not entitled to the National Minimum Wage.
If Aupair is not a member of the employer’s family but live in their home and share in the household’s work and leisure activities, Aupair is not entitled to the National Minimum Wage (please seehttp://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Employment/Employees/TheNationalMinimumWage/DG_175114)
To finalise it all, even though it is one day decided that Aupairs are employees and subject to employment laws in the UK, not much is going to change.
Secondly, Aupairs weekly pocket money varies from £70-100 a week and as the tax free allowance for 2011-2012 is £7, 475, Aupairs and their employer/host family will not have to pay any tax as the Aupair's pay is very low and within the tax free allowance (please see http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/incometax/basics.htm#2).
Thirdly, Aupairs and their employer/host family will have to pay National Insurance if Aupair earns more than £139 a week. As Aupairs are normally earning between £70-100 a week, the host family will not have to pay their National Insurance (please seehttp://www.hmrc.gov.uk/ni/intro/basics.htm#1).
To finalise it all, If the Government decides that Aupairs are employees and subject to employment laws, not much is going to change for the host family and their Aupairs.