A BUSINESS owner fears that Brexit could “devastate” her company unless immigration rules are changed.

Carole Payne, who runs the Nanny & Au Pair Connection in Horwich, has urged the government to consider ditching the new Brexit immigration rules.

She has been told that from January, when the new rules are set to come into force, au pairs will be denied immigration status.

Ms Payne fears that unless this is changed, businesses like hers could be “irrevocably damaged”.

She said: “Some agencies have already closed, most au pairs are from the EU so I am hoping that we can come to some arrangement to bring them in.

“The Government needs to do a u-turn like it did with the fruit pickers.

“UK workers didn’t want to pick fruit and the same applies to being au pairs. British workers don’t want a live-in role like this for £100 a week.”

An au pair is a male or female aged from 18 to 27 who goes to another country to study its language.

As they will often be paid “pocket money”, they are not traditionally considered workers under UK law.

In exchange for food and board, and a small allowance, au pairs will help out with childcare and light household duties, heading to college twice a week to study the local language.

The Nanny & Au Pair Connection ensures all staff are police checked, gives them a list of duties they can and cannot do, and checks on their welfare.

Ms Payne added: “The Government is suggesting that the au pairs must have at least £2,000 when they come into the UK, which they don’t need as they will be getting pocket money.

“They live in with a family and get board and lodgings, plus pocket money between £80 to £100 per week, for 25 hours of childcare and two evenings babysitting.

“Because they live in, they are ideal for shift workers like NHS staff, police and prison officers.

"They are mainly for school-age children and they help before and after school.”

Ms Payne has written to the Prime Minister and to Foreign Secretary Priti Patel, and is working with Chris Green, Bolton West MP, on the matter.

Jamie Shackell, chairman of the British Au Pair Agencies Association, has been calling on Government ministers to change the new rule – both for agencies and the seven per cent of the population currently employing an au pair.

She said: “The majority of au pairs coming to the UK through agencies have taken the equivalent of A levels at home and want to come to the UK for six to 12 months only. They’re not looking to stay here long-term.”