The campaign aims to combat the widespread underpayment, exploitation and abuse of workers providing essential care and housekeeping services. Labour of Love calls for; recognition of the employment rights of au pairs, including the right to a minimum wage, and the introduction of a work permit for the domestic work sector, to recognise increased labour market demand for migrant workers in the provision of care and domestic labour in private homes across Ireland.
Jane Xavier, domestic worker spokesperson and former au pair, said: “Contrary to popular belief, au pairs in Ireland are workers, not cultural exchange participants. In law, au pairs have the same rights as any other workers. In practice, however, we are being used for full-time flexible childcare and domestic labour for a fraction of minimum wage. This is unacceptable in 2015. We need to ensure that au pairs know their rights as workers and families know their obligations as employers.”
Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI) Director, Aoife Smith, stated, “In recent years we have seen a dramatic increase in the number of exploited au pairs coming to our centre. These young women are working in excess of 40, 50, 60 and even 70 hours weekly for very little pay, and they are afraid to leave even the most exploitative situations because they risk being left homeless.”