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VISAS

EXPLAINED: How does the au pair program work in Austria?

Every year, thousands of young people connect to families from different countries to work as more than live-in 'nannies' for the au pair program. So how does it work in Austria?

little girl and little boy walking together
Au pairs take care of their host family's children in a cultural exchange for up to a year. (Photo by Kevin Gent on Unsplash)

Typically, an au pair is a young person that helps taking care of the host family’s children while getting to know a different culture. Typically, they will receive accommodation and an allowance in return. 

The main idea is similar for most countries, but they have their specificities. In Austria, for example, citizens that don’t need a visitor visa can come to the country and apply for a residence permit here. 

“This made it so much easier for me to apply. In other countries, I would have to go through the entire process at home; it would be more bureaucratic”, says Rebeca Neves, a 25-year-old Brazilian au pair who arrived in Graz in October 2021.

She is staying with an Austrian family and takes care of their three kids: an eight-month old baby, a five-year old boy, and a two-year old girl. 

By Austrian regulations, au pairs need to be between 18 and 28 years old. However, don’t need to be from a European Union country, meaning that Americans, British, and, in the case of Rebeca, Brazilian citizens can also apply and stay in Austria for up to 12 months. 

EXPLAINED: How to apply for a residency permit in Austria

They are not professional caregivers or cleaners and are entitled to at least €475.86 per month, as per 2021 values (more than that, and they have to pay for social insurance) and free boarding and lodging. 

How can I find an Au Pair or become one?

The “matching” between a family in Austria and an au pair happens online through an au pair agency. 

The candidate and the family post their ads with what they are looking for. Then, the entire matching and selection process takes place online. 

READ ALSO: Reader question: Can Britons living in EU spend more than 90 days in another Schengen country?

Once family and candidate decide that they are a perfect match, the host family must submit a formal notification of employment to the Austrian Employment office (AMS), including a contract of work, the AuPair Mustervertrag.

The contract is concluded between the host family and the au pair. It determines in writing the most important conditions of work. This includes specific working hours, leisure time, leave, tasks, salary, accommodation, language course, and insurance. 

Since one of the reasons au pairs choose this type of program is to learn and better the local language, in Austria, they need to show proof of A1 or A2 certificate (depending on the Austrian region) and attend a German-language course. In addition, host families must pay at least half the school fees.

“I take the course, and it’s so good to now be able to chat with the 5-year old host kid. He always wanted to talk to me, but I couldn’t hold a conversation in German at first. I had to learn quickly, and he is very patient; he is my personal dictionary”, says Rebeca. 

snow in austria

Rebeca, like many of her au pair friends, saw snow for the first time in Austria (Photo: Rebeca Neves)

For EU/EEA citizens, there is no need to go through AMS. Still, after four months of stay in Austria, they need to register with Austrian authorities showing proof of insurance and the au pair contract.

For non-EU citizens, the au pairs need to take out their health insurance valid in Austria, sign the au pair contract, and receive the AMS notification confirmation. 

After that, they must apply for a residence permit with the Austrian representation authority (depending on the country of citizenship, that will be done in Austria or through an Austrian embassy) and collect the permit after arriving in Austria. 

READ MORE: Nine things you need to know when relocating to Vienna

Austrian particularities

Austria is particular in some things but general in others. For example, they make it clear that the au pair must have a separate room in the household of the host family free of charge, and they must be able to lock their room from the outside and the inside. 

At the same time, au pairs are expected to “help with light household chores”, which is not common in other countries. The government doesn’t specify which type of household chores, though it reiterates that the au pair “is not a professional caregiver or cleaner”.

Anmeldebescheinigung: How to get Austria’s crucial residence document

As in other programs, accident insurance is declared and paid for by the host family. Many au pairs are attracted by the high pay (especially those coming from countries with lower-value currencies) and fewer hours as in other countries.

For Rebeca, though, the main appeal was the Austrian culture and its beautiful places. With one in particular.

“I remember seeing a picture of the Austrian National Library years ago and falling in love with the place. So when I heard about the program, I chose to come here and see it, to live here and have this experience with Austrian culture”, she says. 

Useful links and contacts

Arbeitsmarktservice (AMS) – Public Employment Service 

Austrian Chamber of Labour 

phone: +43 1 50165 1201

email: [email protected] (labour law)

email: [email protected] (social security)

Austrian Trade Union Federation (ÖGB) – Trade Union vida 

phone: +43 1 534 44 79

email: [email protected]

Unternehmensservice Portal

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HEALTH

More pay and longer holidays: How Austria hopes to attract 75,000 new nurses

The Federal Government unveiled a package looking to attract more than 75,000 new workers to the nursing and care professions - including people from abroad.

More pay and longer holidays: How Austria hopes to attract 75,000 new nurses

Austria has unveiled a €1 billion reform package to improve working conditions for health sector professionals.

In a press release this Thursday, Health Minister Johannes Rauch (Greens) said that the package would include higher salaries for nurses.

“There will be massive measures to make the nursing profession more attractive”, the minister said.

For 2022 and 2023, the government will offer a total of €520 million as a monthly salary bonus for the professionals, Rauch said. This should last initially for at least two years until other measures start taking effect.

Training for the career will also receive investments, according to the minister. There will be a federal training subsidy of at least €600 per month.

In addition, a nursing scholarship for those switching (or switching back) to the nursing profession of up to €1,400 will be funded by the Austrian Employment Agency AMS.

READ ALSO: Everything foreigners need to know about the Austrian healthcare system

As a measure to protect workers and keep them from turning to other professions, the government explained that all those older than 43 years old will receive an extra week of paid holidays. Additionally, all employees in inpatient long-term care will receive two hours of time credit per night shift.

​​Among the more than 20 measures that the Ministry will detail in the coming days are steps to increase help for those in need of care and of relatives that care for their families, according to the statements given in the press release.

Caring relatives will receive a family bonus of €1,500 per year if they provide most of the care at home and are themselves insured or co-insured. The employment in 24-hour care is also to be “made more attractive” – but details are still pending.

Bringing in international help

The government is also turning outside of Austria and the European Union to attract more professionals.

In the future, nurses who complete vocational training will receive “significantly more” points in the process to access the so-called Rot Weiss Rot (RWR) residence permit. They will also increase the points given for older professionals, facilitating the entry of nurses from 40 to 50 years old.

RWR applicants need to reach a certain threshold of points based on criteria including age and education to get the permit.

READ ALSO: How Austria is making it easier for non-EU workers to get residence permits

The recognition of training acquired abroad will be significantly simplified, accelerated and debureaucratised, the government promises. And nurses will be able to work as nursing assistants until the formal recognition of their foreign qualifications is completed.

Long-needed reform

“People in care work have long deserved these improvements”, Rauch said.

The government expects the package to create more than 75,000 new workers to fill the thousands of open positions in the sector by 2030.

Green Party leader Sigrid Maurer stated that the measures will be an essential step towards gender equality. “After all, it is mainly women who work in the care professions, especially taking care of relatives at home”.

READ ALSO: Austria’s former health minister becomes best-selling author

The government announcement comes as several protests are scheduled to take place throughout Austria this Thursday, which is also Tag der Pflege (Day of Care).

Health and care sector professionals are taking to the streets to demand better hours and pay and protest against staff shortage, overload, and burn-out.

“We have been calling for better conditions and better pay for years. Thousands of beds are now empty because we don’t have enough staff. In Styria, about 3,000 of a total of 13,000 beds in the nursing sector are currently closed,” Beatrix Eiletz, head of the works council of Styrian Volkshilfe told the daily Der Standard.

READ ALSO: How Covid absences are disrupting Austrian hospitals, schools and transport

It is not uncommon that nurses will quit their jobs and move to completely different professions, thereby increasing the gap, the report added.

The problem is an old one in Austria – but it has been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic.

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