Saturday 3 December 2016

Au pairs in Ireland 'working up to 70 hours a week for less than €1.50 an hour'

Published 21/12/2015 | 22:40

Mariaam Bhatti from South Africa came to Ireland as an au pair (RTE Investigates - Ireland's Au Pairs)
Mariaam Bhatti from South Africa came to Ireland as an au pair (RTE Investigates - Ireland's Au Pairs)

Some au pairs are working up to 70 hours a week in Irish homes doing full-time childcare for an average wage of €100, RTE Investigates has revealed.

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The 'Ireland's Au Pairs' programme aired this evening after an investigation lasting several months.

One au pair told the programme how she worked with a family six days a week, an average of 12-14 hours per day and was paid €100 a week.

Her wage works out at less than €1.50 an hour.

A spokesperson for the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland described extreme cases whereby women are working 40, 50, 60, and up to 70 hours a week in private homes.

They are employed doing full-time childcare, working on call at night, working weekends, working public holidays, all for an average of €100.

The RTÉ Investigations Unit posed as a Dublin family with two children looking for an au pair.

The unit also had a researcher also pose as a potential au pair.

Despite claims of vetting both au pairs and host families by a number of au pair agencies,  no checks were made on either the potential au pair or the potential host family. 

The investigations team also monitored websites advertising vacancies for au pair positions. In some cases families were offering just bed and board to au pairs with no wages or pocket money.

There are an estimated 20,000 au pairs working in Ireland.

The Department of Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation said in a statement that once “a person is working under a contract of employment (written or verbal), on a full-time or part-time basis, that person has the same protection under employment law as other employees.”

Au pairs are workers are therefore entitled at the very least to the national minimum wage of €8.65 per hour.

Director General of the Workplace Relations Commission Kieran Mulvey said that au pairs are not in Ireland to be exploited but are in fact domestic workers.

He advised host families that should they bring an au pair into their home, they will be considered employers and au pairs will be considered employees.

New research from the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland details the working conditions of many au pairs living here.

  • Just over a third of respondents said they work in excess of 40 hours every week.
  • Almost 80pc never got a contract.
  • Nearly a third of those surveyed had to work while they were sick.
  • And 12pc did not have a bedroom of their own.

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