Au pairs must be paid minimum wage, Ictu says

Union body says employers must make workers aware of rights and entitlements

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions backed the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI) which this week called for those employing au pairs in their home to abide by employment legislation. Photograph: Thinkstock/Getty Images

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions backed the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI) which this week called for those employing au pairs in their home to abide by employment legislation. Photograph: Thinkstock/Getty Images

 

Employers of au pairs must comply with the law and make them aware of their rights and entitlements, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions has said.

The union body backed the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI) which this week called for those employing au pairs in their home to abide by employment legislation, including payment of the minimum wage.

This followed a ruling from the Workplace Relations Commission in which a family employing an au pair was found to be in breach of the National Minimum Wage Act and other labour laws.

The Spanish woman was awarded €9,229, including back pay and compensation.

Shadow economy

Ictu equality officer David Joyce said the body had been instrumental in drawing up a code of practice covering au pairs in Ireland. This code sought to ensure they were removed from the shadow economy and recognise that they had rights like any other workers.

“The code of practice led in 2014 to the Irish government formally ratifying the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) Domestic Workers Convention which clearly stipulates that ILO member states should take measures to ensure that domestic workers enjoy minimum wage coverage, where such coverage exists,” Mr Joyce said.

“There is no grey area here and those recruiting au pairs to work here must comply with the law and make them fully aware of their rights and entitlements.”

MRCI said on Friday it had 42 cases on hand involving au pairs. They were at various stages, including some with the Workplace Relations Commission.

The organisation also said it was “not unusual” for someone working as an au pair to encounter more than one employer.

A rights commissioner found the Spanish woman’s complaint that she had not been paid the minimum wage of €8.65 an hour was “well founded”. The commissioner awarded the woman €3,829 in arrears of wages, being the difference between the wages paid and the wages she should have been paid.

She was also awarded €400 under the Terms of Employment Act as she had not been provided with a written statement of her terms and conditions.

The rights commissioner also found the employers had breached the law in relation to annual leave and ordered that they pay the woman €5,000 in compensation.