It is very important that you discuss the rules for the telephone with your au pair when she/he first arrives otherwise it can cause disagreements later.
It does vary from family to family, but many au pairs are allowed to make short local calls but will have to pay for long calls home.
Tell your au pair that telephoning before 08.00hrs and after18.00hrs and at weekends is usually cheaper and that telephone calls to mobile phones are expensive.
Many families have itemised bills so they can see how much the au pair has been using the phone. Some even have a separate telephone line for the au pair.
It is a good idea to tell the au pair that her friends and family should phone before a certain time at night otherwise you may be woken by late night phone calls.
Phoning home cheaply
Many au pairs buy international calling cards from their local newsagents. The au pair can buy a card for £5 or £10 and then she/he can phone overseas from your telephone but she/he will pay with the card.
There are cheaper international calls companies such as Alphatelecom www.alphatelecom.co.uk (0800 279 0000), Breathe www.breathetalk.com (0845 366 1639). These offer cheap calls abroad, often at the same price as a local call. Check their prices by telephone or on the website. You can help set up a prepaid account with a credit card for your au pair so she/he can phone abroad cheaply from the family telephone but she/he can pay for the calls.
Some families will provide their au pair with a mobile phone so they can contact them at any time. However if the au pair is using the mobile phone for his or her own calls he/she can buy a 'pay as you go' sim card. This needs to be discussed at the beginning of your au pair's stay.
BAPAA agencies can provide an excellent free sim card for your au pair to use in the UK.
Some au pairs bring mobile phones with them from abroad for their personal use only. Remind your au pair that phoning friends' mobile phones is expensive.