An Au pair is a domestic assistant working for, and living as part of, a host family. Typically, Au pairs take on a share of the family’s responsibility for childcare as well as some housework, and receive a small monetary allowance for personal use. They are often foreign-nationals of the country in which they are working.
The title comes from the French term Au pair, meaning “on a par” or “equal to”, indicating that the relationship is intended to be one of equals: the Au pair is intended to become a member of the family, albeit a temporary one, rather than a domestic servant. An Au pair placement is an arrangement where a young woman or man lives for up to two years in a foreign country as a member of a local family, helping in the home for a set number of hours a day, often with at least two full days off per week. In return, they receive an allowance, experience in another culture, and a private room. There are specific regulations that are governed by the U.S. Department of State regarding Au pair employment.