Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Dara Calleary has said that the ruling by the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) regarding an au pair worker needs to be carefully examined by the Government.

Deputy Calleary commented, “Au pairs are currently working in up to 20,000 Irish homes. 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.

“A recent WRC ruling has far reaching implications for the current provision of au pairs. More work needs to be done to ensure all families are aware of any ramifications arising from this ruling.

“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 on public holidays. The Labour Court has consistently highlighted serious concerns with the manner in which au pairs are being treated in some households.

“The authorities should examine the idea of introducing a definition of the job and responsibilities associated with au pair work. This will help prevent any exploitation for people employed in such a role.

“It must be recognised that the massive increase in childcare costs that we have seen in recent years has clearly led to an expansion of the informal childcare sector. This includes any inappropriate use of au pairs as primary child-minders. Urgent action needs to be taken 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,” said Deputy Calleary.