The Difference Between an Au Pair and a Nanny

nanny interview preparation

Published on April 3, 2017

Childcare is a complex area.  You may hear the phrases such as ‘au pair’, ‘nanny’ and ‘mother’s help’ are often used. With all this terminology, Sometimes families can get confused!  There are many different types of child care staff, and it’s important before starting your search that you understand the difference between them, so you can clearly establish what you and your family need. Here is our guide to the difference between an au pair and a nanny.

Au Pair

An au pair is not classed as a worker or employee. Typically they are a foreign national who lives within the family home, and is treated as part of the family. Provided accommodation with the family and all meals will be provided.

It is seen as a cultural exchange program. It will allow the au pair to improve the language spoken at your home, and they may also study.  It’s not recommended that an au pair be allowed to have sole charge of a child under the age of 2. This is because the au pair will often be young and inexperienced at childcare, and not used to caring for babies or toddlers.

Do you have a contract with your au pair? A simple one may be a good idea! Click To Tweet

The hours the au pair works are typically limited to 25-30 hours a week.  They should also be given pocket money of between £70-100 a week.  If an au pair earns over £112 per week, then they would have to be put on a payroll.

Always have a simple contract with your au pair, because outlining the living arrangement, hours, study or college time and payment terms is important.  For more advice on au pairs, or employing an au pair you can read about it here.

Au Pair Plus

An au pair plus is considered more desirable. They maybe older and have additional skills such as driving, a better standard of English, or already have some childcare experience.  The same rules as above apply, only this time weekly payments will go up to around £250.

An au pair plus is employed by the family and put on the payroll.  In some instances, the family may allow the au pair plus to have sole charge of the children.  They may also work more hours every week.

Mother’s Help

A mother’s help straddles the line between an au pair plus and a junior nanny.  Typically this is a candidate who is keen to progress their career into being a nanny, but might not yet have the skills or experience to do so.

Also common is that the mother’s help maybe a foreign candidate, but will have a higher standard of English than an au pair or au pair plus.  They will also be trusted with sole charge of children under the age of 2.  In some instances, a mother’s help might live out of the family home.  Expect to pay between £250 and £350 a week for a mother’s help.

Junior Nanny

A junior nanny is a professional child carer.  They will have at least 2 or 3 years experience, and may well have childcare qualifications. Junior nannies may be live in or live out, with additional skills such as driving.  They would be on a salary of £350 – £450 a week, although this depends on the package being offered. They can work long hours- up to 50 hours or more a week.  A junior nanny should be ideally employed and on the payroll.


A nanny is the next level up from a junior nanny.  Again a professional child carer, they should have experience of five years or more, and may well specialise in a certain age range of children.  Highly experienced and qualified and can live in or live out of the family home. Salary for a nanny will be upwards of £500 a week, depending on the skills and package being offered.

Super Nanny

A super nanny is the ultimate career nanny.  Professional, with at least 8 years of experienced, highly qualified, and with additional skills such as a second language or horse riding experience, a super nanny is the highest level of a nanny. Sought after by those who recognise what this type of nanny really offers to their family. Depending on their skills and the package being offered, the salary will be upwards of £800 a week,


We hope this guide helps to break down and clarify the difference between an au pair and a nanny. If you need help finding your next nanny, or have any other questions – why not drop us a line at Polo & Tweed today?

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