Following the screening of RTÉ Investigates: Ireland’s Au Pairs on RTÉ One (Monday 21.12.15), MRCI has warned that the shocking exploitation exposed in the programme is widespread in Ireland.
Migrant Rights Centre Ireland has worked with migrant domestic workers for over ten years and has seen an alarming increase in the exploitation of au pairs over the past four years. A new survey of au pairs conducted by the MRCI has shown that exploitation is now the norm.
MRCI spokesperson Aoife Smith stated, “Au pairs are covered by employment law just like any other workers – that includes minimum wage legislation, overtime and time off. The government needs to get real about this and urgently address the issue of au pair agencies advertising exploitative positions. We’re seeing this kind of exploitation up and down the country, and families believe it’s legal because agencies tell them it is. Minister Bruton needs to enforce the law and shut down non-compliant agencies. It’s time we brought an end to this exploitation.”
Ms Smith continued, “As a mother, I’m well aware of the childcare crisis in Ireland. However, exploitation is never the solution. This is important work and the very least we can do is ensure that au pairs are given minimum wage, fair working conditions and adequate time off – all of which they are entitled to under Irish law.”
Jane Xavier, a former au pair and member of the Au Pair Rights Association Ireland said, “Every day, yet another au pair contacts me about the exploitation she’s experiencing somewhere in Ireland. As RTÉ Investigates made clear, au pairs are expected to provide full-time, flexible childcare for a fraction of the minimum wage. Au pairs need to know they have rights under the law just like any other worker in Ireland, and families need to know that they have responsibilities as employers.”
MRCI also paid tribute to the makers of the programme. Ms Smith said, “This investigation was long and complex, and it is to the credit of the RTÉ Investigates team that they were able to approach this subject with such commitment and understanding. The programme was a powerful and comprehensive look at the exploitation tolerated in Irish homes.”