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Au Pairs in Ireland extremely vulnerable to exploitation due to lack of regulation- Lynn Boylan MEP

2 June, 2015 - by Senator Lynn Boylan

Sinn Féin MEP Lynn Boylan has called for the au pair industry in Ireland to be subject to some form of industry standard as a new report by the Fundamental Rights Agency indicated that working in domestic households was identified as the major area for severe labour exploitation in Ireland.

This covers cleaning ‘ladies’, au pairs, nannies and carers. The report states that:

“The private and small‑scale exploitation of migrant women in the domestic sphere is so common that it is often not conceived of as a human rights violation.”

Ms Boylan said:

“This report makes uncomfortable reading as it echoes previous reports commissioned by the Migrant Rights Centre in Ireland which also indicate a high level of exploitation and abuse.

“There is no official recognition of au pairs in Ireland. The leaves young migrant women vulnerable to exploitation and it could also leave families open to breaking employment regulations.

“There must be something positive to be gained out of the experience for the au-pair; otherwise they are used as cleaners, cooks and babysitters.

“This exploitation is often not addressed due to the isolated nature of a domestic workers workplace.

“The Migrant Rights Centre has been at the forefront of protecting the rights of migrant workers in Ireland. The NGO runs a Domestic Workers Action Group, which facilitates the coming together of domestic workers employed in the private home in order to tackle isolation.

“Despite this initiative NGOs alone cannot tackle this problem. 

“The government should take the lead on this and seek to provide some clarity on the employment status of au pairs and how to prevent the growing exploitation of migrant women taking up these roles.”

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