Should the nanny also walk the dog?
An ad seeking a A$350 ($386)-a-week after-school au pair posted on a Woolworths community message board in the inner-west Sydney suburb of Balmain has raised eyebrows for its extensive list of duties — and relatively low rate of pay.
"We're a Balmain family looking for an after-school caregiver for 14 hours per week (A$25 per hour) starting early 2018," it reads.
"Hours will be 2:45-6:15pm Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and you will be caring for our two children aged eight and four. The role involves school pick-ups in the Balmain/Birchgrove area so the successful applicant will need his/her own car as well as a clean driver's license.
"As well as a kind and generous nature, excellent English is essential as you will be helping our Year 3 child with spelling and other homework.
"Other duties include preparing kids' dinner, making school lunches, walking our dog as well as light housework such as folding washing.
"Would suit a university student or an au pair who has some free hours. Minimum six-month commitment. Must have Working with Children check and First Aid certificate. Looking forward to hearing from you!"
Underneath the ad, a handwritten message reads, "Don't want much for $25/hr do you?".
An apple sticker has also been stuck on the notice.
Employees working as nannies and au pairs are not covered by an award, according to the Fair Work Ombudsman. They are entitled to the national minimum wage — A$22.86 ($25.21) an hour for casual workers — and national employment standards.
Whether nannies and au pairs working in private homes are actually employees will depend on the individual relationship.
According to the University of Technology Sydney, there are an estimated 10,000 people who work as au pairs in Australia in any given year, but the industry is one of the least regulated in the world.
The UTS Faculty of Law last year launched a first-of-its-kind survey to gather more data on the hours of work, duties and pay rates for au pairs, who are often young foreign backpackers. "We know very little about au pairs in Australia," Dr Laurie Berg said at the time.
"We have no idea what benefits they get out of their au pair experience or what problems they encounter. This survey will provide a strong evidence basis for regulatory reforms in the area.
"There is no official definition of au pairs, no regulation of au pairing, and no legal rules or even guidelines. Not surprisingly, the living and working conditions of au pairs [in Australia] appear to be highly variable. One au pair interviewed in a pilot study earned nothing at all for 40 hours work each week.
"We clearly need regulation that better safeguards the interests of both au pairs and families. Currently, au pairs have very little recourse if seriously injured in the host family's home or refused promised payments by families. Equally, if an au pair leaves without notice, a family can be left in the lurch without adequate childcare."