Au Pairs & Home Care

The Domestic Workers Action Group (DWAG), set up in 2003, is made up of migrant women working as childminders, au pairs, cleaners, housekeepers and carers in Ireland. DWAG campaigns to improve rights and working conditions in this sector, making sure domestic work is recognised as work, and has won significant victories over the years. More recently MRCI has focused on the widespread exploitation of au pairs in Ireland and the essential, difficult and undervalued work of home care workers.

  • My Fair Home

    My Fair Home logoThe global My Fair Home campaign is a collaboration between the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Domestic Workers Federation (IDWF). It focuses on the employers of domestic workers – encouraging them to personally take the My Fair Home pledge to commit to upholding the rights of domestic workers in their own homes.

    Here in Ireland, our My Fair Home campaign is led by migrant homecare workers who are calling for quality jobs in quality care. Members care about care standards in Ireland, and how older people and people of all ages with care needs feel and experience care. My Fair Home is also working to improve rights, terms and conditions for all homecare workers.

    The campaign is in its early stages - recruiting new members, agreeing demands and actions. Right now, the majority of our members are caring for older people in the private home, with some in nursing homes, and we're getting organised for the first national consultation on regulation of homecare in Ireland this summer.

    Members welcome! To get involved join our My Fair Home Face Book group. Request to become friends with 'Helen MRCI' who helps administer the group with members. Find out about our next meeting, upcoming actions and outreach around the country.

  • Short film: Quality Care. Quality Jobs.

    Quality Care. Quality Jobs. from Migrant Rights Centre Ireland on Vimeo.

    Carers and people receiving care in Ireland speak about about their daily lives, the bonds between them, and the importance of home care in allowing people to live with dignity and independence.

  • Au pair awarded almost €10k by Irish employment courts in ‘landmark’ decision

    Part of the Family cover

    On International Women's Day, a Spanish au pair has been awarded €9,229 by the Workplace Relations Commission after the family she worked for was found to have breached employment laws. MRCI, which supported the au pair to take the case, has welcomed the landmark decision.

    Here are the inspiring words of the au pair:

    “When I arrived at the Migrant Rights Centre I was exhausted, depressed and weak. It has been a long process, and many people there worked on my case; finally I have found the reward and respect that I needed. Without all those people, this would be impossible.

    And that is why I want to say to all au pairs: you deserve to be respected, because you have in your care the most precious part of a family, the children. And that is a huge responsibility. I felt as though the children were my family, and it is very hard to leave a situation of exploitation when you feel such an enormous love for them. But at last I had to start this process.

    With this judgment I feel respected for my work at last. That’s what through the Migrant Rights Centre and the decision of the Workplace Commission I have been able to obtain: respect and credibility. And it is proof of the important work being done by au pairs and domestic workers to get our rights.

    I would say that it is very important for everyone to become aware of this situation, and I hope that au pairs will no longer be exploited as cheap labour.”

    For more information click here.

  • Migrant Workers in the Home Care Sector: Preparing for the Elder Boom in Ireland

    Care is an issue that affect us all. Our report on the home care sector tracks the ageing of Ireland's population and the sub-par conditions of home care workers, many of whom are migrants. Ireland is facing into an elder boom; it's time to build a quality care system that ensures dignity for workers and service users alike. Click here to read more. View our film here which is a powerful call for quality care and quality jobs in the home care sector.




  • Childcare in the Domestic Work Sector: Who’s Minding the Children?

    A new paper from the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI) indicates that urgent action is needed to ensure that Ireland guarantees the safety and welfare of the thousands of migrant women caring for Ireland’s children. Click here to read more.

  • Au Pairs

    Au pairing in Ireland is a thriving industry. Despite the growing numbers of families using au pairs, accurate data on au pairing is extremely limited and little is understood or documented about the experiences of au pairs. The findings of an MRCI report point to the systemic abuse of the concept of au pairing. Au pairs are being used as a cheap form of childcare, which also highlights the lack of regulation of the industry. If you are working as an an au pair and are in need of advice or support, please contact us.

    Home Care

    Home care is one of the fastest-growing sectors in Ireland, and a high proportion of home care workers are migrants. The sector is largely unregulated, with poor terms and conditions. Many migrant workers are employed directly in private homes to take care of older people and these workers are often unheard in home care debates. Migrant carers in private homes are some of the most vulnerable and poorly-paid workers in this sector.

    The MRCI is working with migrant home care workers to highlight the experiences of migrants employed in this sector. We are working with our partners SIPTU and the Carers' Association to develop employment guidelines for all home care workers.

    We held a series of national workshops with home care workers. The workers highlighted many issues such as underpayment, long hours, lack of time off, isolation, and undervaluing of care work.

    The resulting employment guidelines will be published in September 2015 and the MRCI will continue to work with partners to build a strong campaign for decent work for home care workers across Ireland.

  • Anele

    Anele DWAG Action Group MemberI arrived to Ireland in 2004 as a live in child minder. I suffered at the hands of my employer. I became an advocate for rights for migrant women in the private home. I am now taking a lead in campaigning for rights for migrant workers in the care sector since taking up a job as a carer.



  • Fauziah Shaari

    Fauziah Shaari, Domestic Workers Action Group (DWAG)

    I came from Malaysia to work as a live in domestic worker. I suffered severe exploitation with that family. My employers used their power to exploit me but I overcame this and joined the group. We use our collective power to campaign for fair and equal treatment for all women employed in private homes in Ireland and around the world.


  • Mariaam Bhatti

    Mariaam Bhatti, Domestic Workers Action Group (DWAG)

    Domestic workers deserve respect.  We need to be organising and mobilising for our rights and recognition of work. This is when our voice is the loudest.  Women need to be supported to come together and tackle all types of oppression if real change is to happen.


  • Morning Ireland, 8th March 2016 'Crystal clear' ruling determines au pairs have to be treated as employees: Edel McGinley, Director of the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland, discusses a landmark WRC ruling on the payment of au pairs.

  • Press

    The Journal 17th February 2015  "Few au pairs earn anything near minimum wage, and annual leave and public holiday pay are unheard of."

    Irish Independent 22nd February 2015 "We don't have much of an option but to work for that. I am a student, I have to be able to go to school and I won't be able to live in Ireland and study if I don't have a job."

    Irish Examiner 26th February 2015 "The people we work with have the same struggles, hopes and dreams as undocumented in the United States.”

    Irish Examiner 16th March 2015 “Undocumented people in Ireland share the struggles and fears of the Irish undocumented in America, and we share their hopes and dreams too."

    Irish Independent 15th March 2015 "Regularising undocumented migrants in Ireland would bring them out from the shadows and into the system. It's good for society, it's good for the economy, and it would strengthen the Government's advocacy in the US. It's the right thing to do, and it's the smart thing to do."

    Irish Independent 26th February 2015 "My goal is to ensure a social, as well as an economic recovery, led by real growth in people's wages."

    Irish Times 15th March 2015 “Regularising undocumented migrants in Ireland would bring them out from the shadows and into the system.’’

    The Journal 11th March 2015 "It is imperative that their cases are properly assessed for indicators of trafficking to ensure that Ireland is not jailing victims of trafficking and forced labour.

  • ILO Campaign

    ITUC 12by12 Global Campaign for Domestic Workers RightsDWAG actively campaigns for rights for domestic workers both nationally and internationally, collaborating with trade unions and international domestic worker networks. Members travelled to the ILO to participate in discussions leading to the adoption of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention C.189 on Decent Work for Domestic Workers. On June 16, 2012, marking the first anniversary of the convention, DWAG joined the ITUC global campaign ‘12 by 12’ calling for governments to ratify C189. On July 9th, 2014, DWAG members joined Minister Bruton to celebrate Ireland ratifying the Convention.

  • Diplomatic Immunity

    Diplomatic Immunity: Campaign for justice for domestic workers MRCI is currently assisting several cases involving domestic workers employed by foreign diplomats. Seeking justice in these cases is difficult. If workers experience exploitation, diplomatic immunity - a privilege provided to diplomats under the Vienna Convention - can be used to deny the worker’s access to legal remedies. DWAG is calling on the Department of Foreign Affairs to introduce mechanisms to protect the rights of domestic workers employed in diplomatic households. Since 2009 DWAG has supported women to publicly ‘name and shame’ exploitative diplomat employers who abuse diplomatic immunity to exploit domestic workers and to seek legal redress and compensation for workers.