Virginija Petrauskaite, a Spanish au pair, obtained almost €10,000 from the Workplace Relation Commission because her host family didn’t respect the employment law.
“I want to say to all au pairs: you deserve to be respected, because you have in your care the most precious part of their family, the children. And that is a huge responsibility- Virginija continued- I felt as though the children were my family, and it is very hard to leave a situation of exploitation when you feel such an enormous love for them. But at last I had to start this process.”
Virginija sued her host family because they didn’t respect the National Minimum Wage Act, the Organisation of Working Time Act, and the Terms of Employment (Information) Act. She obtained €9,299 from the family.
The family have accepted to pay the award in full and this is a sign that au pairs are workers like everyone, and any family that decide to employ an au pair must abide by employment laws (including the National Minimum Wage Act).
The Migrant Right Centre Ireland (MRCI) made a survey of 554 au pairs and they found that 37.2% of them had no contract at all, 40% had only a verbal contract. So almost 80% had no written contract. The MRCI use to support the community of au pairs in Ireland and they were welcomed the court decision about the Petrauskiene’s case.
The 98% of the Au pair are female. Virginija said: “We are currently supporting other au pairs to speak to their employers and to take cases if necessary, and we encourage all au pairs to come to us if they need information or advice. International Women’s Day, we’re determined to stamp out the exploitation of these women who do such essential work.”