Monthly Archives: February 2014

Live-out au pair wanted…

This is another post about an ad that we’ve found for an au pair on Gumtree.  I do sometimes think and rant about other things but ads for au pairs on Gumtree are a pretty rich source of rage for me.

This ad says:

Live- Out Afternoon Au Pair in Finchley N3- start immediately!

Finchley, London

Live-Out afternoon Au Pair in North London (N3)
We are looking for a well orgenised, warm, energetic and responsible person to help us with our children (girl 6 and boy 10) and daily housework in the afternoon Mon- Fri. It will include one evening babysitting a week. Core hours would be 15:00pm – 19:00pm but there is some flexibility about the hours worked.

This is a position for a Live-Out Au Pair available for interview in London UK with good English. We are looking for a person who wants to stay a year or more. We are a happy family of four, living in Finchley, North London close to a lovely park, shops and 8-10 min walk from Finchley Central Tube Station.

Duties will include (around 60% childcare, 40% house work):

– Childcare: prepare healthy meals, bath, play, pick from school and attend activities with them.
– House: Light cleaning, tidying up, laundry, ironing, washing up and assisting in cooking.

We will require:
-A person who enjoys the company of children
-A high degree of flexibility, reliability, independence and responsibility on your behalf;
-excellent cleaning skills- natural ability to organise and attention to detail.

You must have:
– fluent English
– Excellent References
– experience in a similar position (including cleaning)

It will be a great advantage if you speak Czech, Slovak or Hungarian!

We pay £120 per week plus bonuses.
Please reply by email, attaching your CV preferably with a picture. Please do not reply to this ad if you do not fulfill the requirements outlined above.

There are lots of things which are outrageous about this, that most people (but clearly not these hosts) don’t need me to point out.  Living near a lovely park or a tube station does not make it ok to pay people less than minimum wage.  Being a happy family does not make it ok to pay less than minimum wage.  Calling something ‘au pairing’ does not make it something other than real work and, therefore, deserving of less than  minimum wage.  Asking to see photos of someone who is going to do childcare is not ok, it is creepy.  And I should write a whole other post on the idea of ‘natural ability to organise’ as related to cleaning skills.

From the point of view of our study this ad exemplifies two trends that we have identified.  First, without a government definition of au pairing employers are calling all kinds of work ‘au pairing’ and offering wages and conditions outside legal limits (in this case because it is not live in).  Related to this, the deregulation of au pairing has had a downward effect on the pay and conditions of other groups doing childcare.  This ad is really for a part time but highly skilled, multi-lingual nanny/housekeeper but offering much less than a nanny would expect to be paid.  We have noticed a downward trend in the pay and conditions of nannies as much of the work they were previously doing is now being described as ‘au pairing’.

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Filed under Au pairs, Care, Housework, Paid domestic work

New paper on housework

I have a new paper on housework out in the journal Geography Compass. House/work: Home as a space of work and consumption. It’s free to download.

Here’s the abstract:

This paper explores the literatures on home as a place of work and a space of consumption. Geographers have made significant contributions to our understandings of homes as spaces that are (re)made by the work and consumption that goes on within them, as well as being locales of many different forms of work (paid and unpaid) and multifarious consumption activities. The paper focuses on how work and consumption in the home intertwine. That is how consumption at home creates work and is a form of work itself. Few activities in the home are separable from the work that goes on there, and consumption is intimately tied to domestic labour. This paper explores these relationships between work and consumption in the home focusing on housework, paid domestic labour, cooking and eating and sustainable consumption.

 

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