Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Children Robert Troy has called on the Government to put in place stronger protection for au pairs working in the home. Deputy Troy made the comments following the airing of an RTÉ Prime Time Investigates documentary which highlights the growing exploitation of migrant workers.

Deputy Troy commented, “Au pairs are currently working in up to 20,000 Irish homes, with many being subjected to exploitation and abuses of labour law. This situation has arisen because more and more parents are relying on au pairs as primary child minders due to the soaring costs of childcare.

“Au pairs often work in excess of 60 hours a week while being paid as little as €100. They provide an on call service, work over the weekends and consistently miss out on public holidays. The Labour Court has consistently highlighted serious concerns in the manner in which au pairs are being treated.

“The Government needs to move to introduce a legal definition of the job and responsibilities associated with an au pair. This will help prevent exploitation by improving the working conditions and remuneration for people employed as au pairs.

“However the Government must recognise that the massive increase in childcare costs that we have seen in recent years has clearly led to an expansion in the informal childcare sector. This includes the inappropriate use of au pairs as primary child-minders. The Government needs to take urgent action to reduce the costs of childcare in order to reverse the over-reliance on informal childcare arrangements.

“Fianna Fáil wants to ensure that parents who wish to return to work can do so without being confronted with extortionate childcare fees. Along with a tax credit, we are proposing a childcare subsidy for families who are above the threshold for the Family Income Supplement. We are committed to making childcare affordable so people are not forced to rely on au pairs,” concluded Deputy Troy.