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19th Jan 2017

Could This Be The Beginning Of The End For Informal Au Pair Arrangements?

Amanda Cassidy

There are over 20,000 au pairs working in Irish homes.

Using young students from abroad to babysit your children is often seen as a cheaper childcare arrangement for many families.

The idea is that the student gets to learn English and experience Irish family life while the parents get flexible child-care and an extra pair of hands.

It is supposed to be a win-win situation. But many young people say that they often feel exploited, disrespected and underpaid.

Last year, a landmark decision brought the issue to the forefront after an Irish family were ordered to pay their Spanish au pair €9,000 euro.

The au pair had been paid €100 a week by the family. The family was found to have breached aspects of the National Minimum Wage Act, the Organisation of Working Time Act, and the Terms of Employment (Information) Act.

This week, Fianna Fáil children’s affairs spokeswoman, Anne Rabbitte, slammed the Government over their delay reporting back on clear payment guidelines for au pairs.

She told the Dail that young childminders from abroad were being forced to work in the “black market” because of the lack of Government review.

Some groups have been calling for au pairs to receive the minimum wage, however, others just want better informal rules on au pair conditions.

The Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald says that an overview of childcare is underway and that it would include guidelines for au pairs.

What do you think ladies, are au pairs the last refuge for childcare for financially battered parents? Is it time to provide a formal code of conduct for families and offer the minimum wage or is the whole basis of the mutual arrangement informal?