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Rules in Denmark

The Danish rules and regulations for au pairs can be found in the website of the Danish Immigration Service where there is a section for au pairs.   We have translated the basic information to Filipino / Tagalog.  Several aspects of the rules are highlighted below.

The purpose of an au pair stay

The term au pair means ‘on equal terms’. The idea of an au pair stay is for a young person to stay with a host family with children under the age of 18 ‘on equal terms’ with the other members of the family. The purpose is for the au pair to improve language and/or professional skills as well as broaden his/her cultural horizon by becoming more acquainted with Denmark. In return, the au pair participates in the host family’s domestic chores (e.g. cleaning, washing clothes, cooking, babysitting) for a maximum of five hours a day, and no more than six days a week.

It must be emphasized that an au pair is not a maid.  Being an au pair can be an opportunity for a young woman to travel abroad, experience living in another country, acquire new knowledge about another culture, and learn skills that may be useful in a future career.  The au pair lives with a host family who has a need for an extra person to help deal with practical household tasks.  Most often, this involves helping children get ready for day care/school, babysitting/child minding, and household chores.  Danish families who have au pairs need them primarily to help with child minding.  There might be problems with work schedules that prevent one or both parents from bringing children to and from daycare/school, or they may need a person to be with the children if a parent has to work late hours or a night shift.

An au pair carries out domestic chores just like any other member of the family – for example, preparing food, washing clothes, cleaning.  A general rule is that an au pair can only be expected to carry out a chore that any other adult member of the family would do.  Carrying out work other than domestic chores, or carrying out chores for someone other than the host family, is illegal.

Conditions to be met by the au pair

Normally, you must be between the ages of 17 and 29 (both years included) at the time of application

Normally, you may not be married, have been married in the past, or currently be living with a partner

Normally, you may not have any children

Our interpretation of these conditions is that the au pair system favors young persons who are ‘starting out’, and who do not yet have a stable family life.  It discourages young women with children from becoming an au pair abroad and leaving their own children.

Your au pair stay must have a natural connection to your life so far, including your educational background and employment history. You must have completed the equivalent of nine years of schooling. In special cases, and if you come from a country where the general school programme is normally completed after eight years, having completed eight years of schooling may be sufficient. Based on an individual evaluation of your case, the Danish Agency for Labour Retention and International Recruitment may decide that an au pair stay would not have a natural connection to your life so far, if you have completed further education and have worked for several years.

This condition looks at possible motivations for leaving one’s home country to become an au pair.  It encourages a prospective au pair to ask: ‘Why would a person with my educational and work background, want to take two years off from a career track to live with a host family as an au pair abroad?’  This is a question that we also discuss with au pairs who are already in Denmark, so that they can think about how their experience as an au pair fits into their overall life- and career plans.  Almost all the au pairs we encounter have college level education in different fields.

Normally, you may not previously have had two or more au pair stays in other Western countries

Normally, you may not previously have held a Danish residence permit

Normally, you may not previously have stayed in Denmark as an au pair with different host families for more than one year

Au pairing is not a career.  That is why the residence permit is given for only a maximum of 24 months, with no extension under the same terms.  This is also why au pairs are not considered workers with salaries.  In Babaylan Denmark’s information meetings with au pairs, we emphasize that being an au pair should be a stepping stone, and not an end in itself.

Conditions to be met by the host family

The host family is composed of at least one parent and at least one child under 18 living at home. The au pair has a contract with only one family. An au pair cannot work part time with one family, then part time with another.

In cases where the parents are divorced and their child lives with both parents in turns, the au pair should have a contract with each parent if she will also be living in two different residences. Otherwise, there are no other exceptions to the single family rule.

At least one parent must be a Danish citizen, an EU citizen, or a foreign national who has lived in Denmark for a long time. The purpose of this arrangement is for the au pair to have someone who can help attain the goal of the two-year stay, which is ‘to improve language and/or professional skills as well as broaden his/her cultural horizon by becoming more acquainted with Denmark.’

Your host family may not have been given a penalty period as a result of previous abuse of the au pair scheme. All adult members of your host family must declare that they have not been convicted of violence or similar against an au pair in the last ten years, and that they have not been convicted of illegal employment of an au pair in the last five years. Your host family declares this by signing a statement in the application form. Furthermore, your host family may not have been registered by the Immigration Service in a special ‘Au pair register’ as a result of other abuse of the au pair scheme (disregarding the limitations regarding an au pair’s tasks and duties, maximum work hours, accommodation, minimum allowance etc.).

A host family who is registered as having abused the au pair scheme is not allowed to have another au pair in their home over a penalty period: a ten year penalty period for violence or similar against an au pair; a five year penalty period for illegal employment of an au pair; or a two year penalty period for other abuse of the au pair scheme (e.g. disregarding the limitations regarding an au pair’s tasks and duties, maximum work hours, accomodation, and minimum allowance).

Working conditions and terms

You must carry out daily chores for three to five hours per day, six days per week, i.e. 18 to 30 hours per week. This means that if your host family states in the au pair contract that you are to carry out chores for six hours every day, with the weekend off, you will not be granted a residence permit

You are entitled to one full day off every week

You are entitled to sufficient time off to follow language courses and pursue cultural and professional interests, including participation in religious events

Au pairs work for 3 to 5 hours each day, with at least one whole free day.  An au pair cannot work more than 5 hours a day.   The total number of work hours is 18 to 30 a week.  Here are examples of violations of the rules on working schedules:

  • 8 hours of work each day for 3 days then off for the rest of the week.  Wrong because even though the total number of work hours (8 x 3 = 24 hours) is within the limit, an au pair cannot work more than 5 hours in a day.
  • 2.5 hours a day every day.  Wrong because even though it seems that there are very few working hours (2.5 x 7 = 17.5 hours), an au pair must have at least one whole day free.
  • 3 hours in the morning and 3 hours in the afternoon with Sundays free.  Wrong because the total number of hours exceeds the limit per day (6 hours), and the limit per week (36 hours), even if there is one whole day off.
  • 3 hours in the morning and 3 hours in the afternoon with Saturdays and Sundays free.  Wrong because even though the total hours is within the allowed number per week (6 x 5 = 30 hours), the total number of hours exceeds the limit per day (6 hours).

The hours and days of work, as well as the tasks/chores to be done are clearly stated in the au pair contract.  These should be agreed upon by the prospective au pair and the host family before travel to Denmark.


You are entitled to a minimum monthly allowance of DKK 3,150 from your host family as well as free food and lodging. The Danish Agency for Labour Retention and International Recruitment recommends that you establish a bank account in your own name at a Danish financial institution, into which your allowance can be transferred each month.

Even though the amount seems like a significant sum when converted to Philippine pesos, the au pair must look at the cost of living in Denmark where transportation and food expenses during non-working days can be very high.  Consider also the cost of buying clothing and shoes appropriate to the weather, and expenses related to experiencing the culture of another country, for example, travel to well-known sites, entrance fees to parks and museums, tickets to movies and concerts.  The host family is not obliged to pay for an au pair’s educational expenses, including language courses.  This means that the cost of books and other learning materials, as well as the cost of attending seminars or short-courses, is paid by the au pair.

For many Filipino families, foreign travel as an au pair is seen as overseas employment with the possibility of receiving a remittance from abroad.  On the other hand, au pairing in its traditional sense, developed out of the need for young people to travel out on their own, without needing any financial support from their families back home.  There may be a mismatch of expectations: should the Filipina au pair use this allowance for her own personal development, or should she send the bulk of it to the Philippines?

As an organization, Babaylan Denmark counsels young Filipinas to be mindful of their long-term financial planning: to consider their own needs even as they think about their responsibilities to their families.  Au pairing in Denmark is not set up to be a career – it is temporary (24 months non-renewable), and not covered under regular labour/wage laws.  Even if the decision to become an au pair is driven by an economic need, it must be stressed to au pairs and their families, that it is not set up to be long-term employment.

Residence permit

An au pair is  granted a residence permit but not a work permit, as daily chores with a host family are considered as a family member’s or house guest’s contribution to the usual tasks in the home.  An au pair is not allowed to carry out chores outside the defined time limits, nor carry out tasks other than household chores outside of the host family’s home, whether paid or unpaid.

The only aspect of au pairing that is considered as an employer/employee relationship is in relation to Danish laws regarding vacation and taxation.  Read more about holidays here.   The tax authority in the municipality of the host family can answer questions regarding taxation.  Tax is paid by the au pair, as a percentage of the allowance received.

Health and insurance

It is the responsibility of your host family to provide you with appropriate care as well as free food and lodging if you should fall ill

Your host family must take out three types of insurance covering you: insurance for work-related injuries, insurance covering leisure time and accidents, and insurance covering the costs of you returning to your homeland in case of death or serious illness or accident

You must be registered as a resident at your host family’s address no later than five days after arriving in Denmark. This is done at the local Citizen’s Service Centre (Borgerservice), where you will be issued a so-called CPR number and ‘health card’ as proof that you are covered by the Danish National Health Insurance. 

It is the responsibility of the host family to help the au pair register at the Central Office of Civil Registration, so that she is covered by the Danish national health insurance.  This entitles the au pair to free medical care, just like any resident of Denmark.  This gives free access to a family doctor, and if necessary, free specialist care and admission to hospital.

The host family is responsible for paying for insurance that covers injuries, and return to the homeland in case of death or serious illness.  The au pair must make sure that she is covered by the appropriate policies since these are paid for privately upon arrival, and there is no government agency that would otherwise check that all papers are in order.  We urge au pairs and host families to take this responsibility seriously.  In 2011, there were unfortunately two deaths among Filipina au pairs (a traffic accident, and a previously unrecognised severe illness).  They were not covered by repatriation insurance, so the host families had to shoulder all the costs, and the Filipino community gave some donations.

Read more about the conditions for au pairs in the website of the Danish Agency for Labour Retention and International Recruitment here.