Earlier this week, it was reported that a Spanish au pair was awarded approximately €10,000 by the Workplace Relations Commission in back pay and compensation after a five month stint in an Irish host family’s home, as it was found that an au pair is an employee and is therefore entitled to the same employment law rights as other employees. This is not a unique case, as it was reported further that there are forty similar cases pending, including a case where an au pair is claiming €35,000 after a two year placement with a host family.

While this is a welcome development in terms of enforcing employment law rights in Ireland, it is worrying news for many families in Ireland who avail of au pair services, which is often seen as a cheaper alternative to other childcare options.

So what is your au pair legally entitled to?

Your au pair is entitled to be paid the national minimum wage, which is €9.15 an hour, although there are exceptions for employees under the age of 18. However, if you are providing full board and lodging to your au pair then you may deduct €54.13 a week from their wages for this. You are also obliged to deduct tax, PRSI and USC from your au pair’s wages, as well as paying employer’s PRSI contributions on your au pair’s behalf.

Furthermore, you are also obliged to provide your au pair with a contract of employment and payslips, as well as ensuring that your au pair works no more than 48 hours a week, gets rest breaks, gets the appropriate annual leave, receives the appropriate amount of pay or a day’s leave for public holidays, as well as keeping employment records relating to your au pair – daunting tasks indeed!

It is unlikely that most families who avail of au pair services are minimally compliant with Irish Employment Law, which could cost families in the long run if their au pair brings a complaint to the Workplace Relations Commission. If you are not sure if your current childcare arrangements are in compliance with Employment Law, or alternatively, if you are facing legal action regarding your failure to comply with the above legal entitlements then please do not hesitate to contact me.