The Migrants Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI) carried out research that drew attention to the widespread underpayment, exploitation and abuse of au pairs. In devising its campaign strategy, MRCI sought clarification of the employment status of au pairs in Ireland.
PILA facilitated legal advice on the applicable legal framework in relation to au pair employment and au pair employment agencies. In looking at the issue, pro bono barrister Cathy Smith BL, was of the opinion that while au pairs were protected by minimum wage legislation, few were aware of their employment rights.
MRCI launched the ‘Labour of Love’ campaign calling for the recognition of the employment rights of au pairs, including the right to minimum wage. This advice also allowed MRCI support a case before the Workplace Relations Commission, which led to a positive ‘landmark’ decision.
Aoife Smith co-ordinator of the MRCI’s Domestic Workers Action Group explained that, ‘the legal opinion gave us credible evidence which supported MRCI’s casework and grassroots campaign work with migrant women employed in the private home sector as childminders and au pairs. PILA’s services in this regard are invaluable to community groups and NGOs such as MRCI who can access expert legal counsel on issues central to progressing social justice work’.