Survey: Au pairs earn less than €3 an hour

Over half of au pairs earn less than €3 a hour, according to a survey which says Ireland "has become inextricably linked with cheap childcare and domestic work in the private house."

The pay is so low that an increasing number of au pairs have to rely on free English classes as they can’t afford private tuition, states the “Disposable Workers” report due to be launched in Navan, Co Meath, today.

The study by the Cultúr Migrants Centre found the majority of the young women work more than 50 hours a week for just €100 and has led to calls for more safeguards to stop the exploitation.

The survey of 31 au pairs living in five parts of Meath found:

- 84% were recruited via websites and internet contact meaning “the majority came to Meath with no professional recruitment supports or safeguards in place”.

- 87% had no written formal contract and learned about their work roles through Skype, emails and verbal discussions.

- 74% of those surveyed living in Navan, Kells, Trim, Summerhill and Dunshaughlin were under 25 and most (87%) stayed in Ireland for six months or less.

- The majority of au pairs earned under €3 an hour regardless of the number of children they had to mind or the number of hours worked, according to the study which added 90% had domestic duties to carry out.

- 90% worked for between €90-€120 a week. Some 59% of these earned between €2 and €2.85 for toiling between 36 and 50 hours each week.

Cultúr’s project manager Sinead Smith said au pairing in Ireland has become linked inextricably with cheap childcare and domestic work in the private house.

“The findings in the report clearly identify the unacceptable employment conditions vulnerable au pairs have imposed on them by unscrupulous employers.”

The report was commended by John Regan. He said: “To say one group of workers should be treated differently when they meet the legal definition of worker under Irish statute is tantamount to saying that it is alright to treat migrant workers differently to other workers.

“The question to the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation and the National Employment Rights Agency is ‘why this is the case?’”

Yemi Adenuga, chairperson of Cultúr, said au pairs are vulnerable young, mainly female workers subject to unscrupulous and dangerous recruitment services, in particular online recruitment with no safeguards, checks and balances or supports when they arrive in Ireland.

“They are discriminated against as workers. We are calling on the department to state clearly to NERA and employers that this situation will not continue and to take the relevant policy steps to ensure that au pairs as workers will be protected under Irish law.”


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