IAPA and ECAPS support Irish au pair programme
The International Au Pair Association (IAPA) and the European Committee for Au Pair Standards (ECAPS) are closely following the developments in the Irish au pair industry and very concerned to learn of the latest developments following a Spanish au pair’s law suit against her host family.
We agree with the court that this young Spanish woman was not treated properly by her hosts and certainly not like an Au Pair, which literally means on par.
However, our overriding concern is the lack of differentiation between a domestic worker and an Au Pair. We believe that by categorising Au Pairs as domestic workers, the Au Pair programme which our entire community stands for and promotes, is being misrepresented.
The essence of the Au Pair programme is cultural exchange; young adults from around the world live with a host family in their family environment for up to one year. They support the family with childcare duties in exchange for full board and pocket money. Whilst the Au Pair role is to support the host family for an agreed time each day, they are also encouraged to attend language classes, make new foreign and local friends and explore their surroundings in order to fully immerse themselves in the local community and surrounding culture.
The Au Pair applicants our members place in Ireland travel for the cultural experience and they should be treated like family members with respect and understanding – definitely not as employees! Their pocket money is spent in the host country while travelling, taking language classes and participating in local cultural activities. They are neither experienced child minders nor domestic workers and nor should they be.
IAPA and ECAPS have now addressed this issue with the Irish Government and are hoping to be able to meet with the responsible Ministers in the near future for further discussion.