Au pair agencies have no official authorisation for their operations and activities andare not monitored by the government. For this reason, it’s important that both the host family and au pair are well informed about the programme’s legal conditions.
Wil je gebruik maken van een au pair bureau?
If you intend to use the services of an au pair agency, you should be aware of the following:
- Agencies are not authorities in the au pair programme. Agencies are private companies with no official powers for dealing with complaints.
- They are not allowed to impose extra-legal duties or additional conditions in the context of an au pair placement.
- Some are sole proprietorships without the suitable infrastructure with which to offer quality services.
- They are companies motivated by profit. Host families pay for their services and that can affect their neutrality in the event of a dispute between the au pair and the host family.
- Foreign agencies are often ordinary travel agents who arrange au pair placement, and who have no particular knowledge of Belgian law.
Our helpdesk has determined malpractice on the part of some au pair agencies. Here are the most commonly occurring:
- Au pairs are given incomplete or misleading information about the legal conditions of the au pair placement.
- Au pairs are fined if they stop working prematurely.
- Au pairs are forced to repay medical insurance costs.
- The use of private contracts and other unauthorised documents (addenda, ‘family guidelines‘. ‘codes of conduct’, ‘termination agreements’ etc.) in order to impose extra-legal (and illegal) provisions and conditions.
- Having au pairs travel to Belgium as tourists and applying for an employment card once here. Although this is possible, it entails potential risks for the au pair.
- Illegal imposition of extra-legal conditions when becoming an au pair:
- Being unmarried
- Holding a valid European driver’s licence
- Being obliged to look for a rematch through the au pair agency, etc.