How new measures for au pairs are affecting families

New legislation requires au pairs to be paid the minimum wage

How new measures for au pairs are affecting families

File photo: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Laws which were amended last month mean au pairs can work no more than 30 hours a week and requires they are paid at least €9.15 an hour.

The legislation was brought in after several cases of childminders taking families to court for paying far below the minimum wage.

Previously, au pairs received an agreed lump sum payment and were only allowed do light housekeeping. Au pairs also had to be allowed to pursue a college course as well as work.

The new regime has been met with a mixed response. 

Laura Erskine of Mummypages.ie said the regime does not benefit au pairs working more intensive hours.

"There are so many other families who might require up to 30 hours a week that it doesn't make financial sense to have sacrificed their privacy and only being able to discount €50 a week for bed and board", she told Newstalk.

Under the new legislation, families can take off €54 per week off an au pair's wage for bed and board. 

Ms Erskine said the figure should be higher, quoting €100 as a more reasonable discount. 

"It's not just bed and board - they're part of your family. They're using all the facilities in your home and often you're paying for bus fare as well.

Ms Erskine said the new legislation had made mothers "nervous", and that it raised queries surrounding health insurance, pay slips and Garda vetting.

"There are blurred lines"

Edel McGinley Director of the Migrants Rights Centre Ireland clarified that it's not a new law, but rather an application of existing laws, including that of the raised minimum wage.

"We still get a huge amount of cases of people who are coming in who are under-employed or who are under-paid", she said on The Pat Kenny Show. "There are blurred lines when you're working in someone else's home.

"We work with a lot of people from outside of the European Union who can only work 20 hours a week", Ms McGinley continued, explaining that these au pairs often end up working more than this.

"Exploiting people for your own benefit is not right."

Ms McGinley explains new legislation should require a contract to be drawn up between the family and the au pair as it is now recognised as a "working relationship".

"You have to uphold the law. You have to understand your responsibility as an employer," she said.

However, Ms Erskine argued that au pairs are often inexperienced in the area of childcare and questioned paying the minimum wage because of this.

Listen to the full segment below.