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Tuesday 25 July 2017

New minimum wage is leaving working parents 'struggling' for childcare

Laura Erskine, with her children John and Lucy, is opposed to the new legislation which she says has put parents in a ‘very difficult situation’. Photo: Alex Oliveira
Laura Erskine, with her children John and Lucy, is opposed to the new legislation which she says has put parents in a ‘very difficult situation’. Photo: Alex Oliveira

Ian Begley

New legislation that requires au pairs to be paid minimum wage is dissuading families from employing them at all, a parenting spokeswoman has claimed.

The legislation introduced on January 1 means that au pairs can work no more than 30 hours a week. It also requires them to be paid at least €9.15 an hour.

Laura Erskine, mum-in-residence of Mummypages.ie, told the Irish Independent that she was very much against the legislation.

"It puts an awful lot of our mums in a very difficult position," she said.

"The new legislation was introduced simply because a few people exploited the system. There are some that expect au pairs to work 12 hours a day without suitable accommodation or sleeping arrangements. This is definitely exploitation.

"Having said this, an au pair is not a worker in the same way as a maid or a cleaner. They're living with the family and benefiting from learning English. They're also seeing places of cultural interest and getting their bus fare, room, meals, internet etc all paid for."

Ms Erskine said that many parents won't be able to afford childcare since the legislation.

"Our mums are struggling, especially those who have to work shifts. Having an au pair that lives with them is really their only option," she said.

"The legislation has not been thought through at all and the au pairs themselves aren't in favour of it. They don't want to be thought of as a worker coming to Ireland. I have an au pair at the moment and she lives with me. She's very happy and the way I have gotten around this legislation is by having two contracts.

"We have a contract for employment where she works 20 hours a week and paid minimum wage. Then I have another one that puts a charge on her room and food. This way, my au pair is paid in the same way as the traditional method."

Irish Independent

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