Employment Rights of Au Pairs and Other Domestic Workers

Since the landmark case last year where a Spanish Au Pair was deemed an employee by the Workplace Relations Commission and awarded €9,229, there has been an influx of similar claims taken which has led to a lot of publicity in the media around the topic.

Concerns have been raised that foreign nationals working in Au Pair’s positions are not being given the rights and protections they are entitled to under Employment Legislation.

It is vital that Au Pairs are treated the same as other legally employed workers in Ireland. The WRC published a document that sets out clear guidelines on Employment Rights of Domestic Workers in Ireland.

The Code of Practice for Protecting Persons Employed in Others People’s Homes 2007 also sets out employees’ rights.

The following is what Au Pairs and other domestic workers are entitled to:

  • To receive a written statement of terms and conditions of employment or a written contract of employment;
  • To receive a written statement of pay (payslip);
  • To be paid at least the National Minimum Wage;
  • To avail of annual leave and public holidays;
  • To work on average no more than a 48 hour working week;To receive a premium for work performed on a Sunday;
  • To receive a premium for work performed on a Sunday;
  • To be given breaks/rest periods;
  • To receive minimum notice before dismissal;
  • To work in a safe and healthy working environment;
  • A right to privacy and to pursue personal leisure activities;
  • To be registered as an employee with Revenue and the Department of Social Protection;
  • Not to be discriminated against because of gender, family or civil status, age, disability, race, sexual orientation, religion or membership of the travelling community;
  • Not to have personal documents (such as passports, id, drivers licence, etc.) retained by employers;
  • Equal rights for part-time, fixed term and agency workers;
  • Special protections for young persons in employment;
  • Maternity entitlements.

While under legislation employers are obliged to provide all of the above, in order to be legally compliant, they are also required to keep the following records on file:

  • Employer’s registration number with the Revenue Commissioners;
  • Employees’ names, address and PPS numbers;
  • Dates of commencement/termination of employment;
  • Written terms of employment/contract;
  • Records of annual leave and public holidays taken;
  • Hours of work (including start and finish times);
  • Payroll details and payslips;
  • A register of any employees under 18 years of age;
  • Details of any board and lodgings provided;
  • Employment permits or evidence of specific immigration permission permitting non-EEA nationals to work.

 

As Au Pairs are to be treated as employees, employers have the right to deduct board and lodgings from their Au Pairs wages. If an employer provides board (food) and/or lodgings (accommodation) then deductions can be made from the National minimum wage.

The employee must be made aware that the deduction is being made. This should be outlined in their contract of employment and also on their payslip.

A maximum of €54.13 can be deducted for full board and lodgings per week. €32.14 per week can be deducted for full board only and the sum of €21.84 per week can be deducted for lodgings.

At the moment, the amount that employers are entitled to deduct is considerably lower than the cost of meals and accommodation on the private market, so it is clear that a revision of these rates is necessary.

For more information in relation to Au Pairs or employment status, you can contact our expert advice team on 01 886 0350.

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