Lack of regulation found in au pair industry

Credit: RTE.ie

A lack of regulation in the au pair industry has stirred concerns abroad, according to a recent article in the Daily Telegraph.

University of Technology Sydney researchers are interviewing the 10,000 au pairs currently working in Australia with the aim of recommending a “best practice” model for the growing sector.

With spending a summer abroad as an au pair fast becoming as popular for Irish students as a J1 visa, there is no such equivalent to the endless structures in place to control the J1 process.

In Ireland, commonly used websites such as aupairworld.com do exist in which families can source an au pair. However, most are hired on a handshake arrangement involving board, food and an allowance in return for childcare and light housekeeping duties making regulation of the industry incredibly difficult and arguably impossible

Rebecca Wynne-Walsh, a student from Trinity College Dublin spent two months working as an au pair in Northern Spain in 2015 and described how she met her family through “a friend of a friend”

“It was a really great experience, I was lucky to find a family that I got along with from the start.”

Wynne-Walsh, who established her agreement through messaging site Whatsapp, felt that regulating would be of no benefit.

“I think regulations would be incredibly hard to implement because there are already official avenues such as aupairworld that exist, yet, I became an au pair through a friend of a friend who was looking for an aupair and actually had a better experience than some of those I met who had gone through the official website,” said Wynne-Walsh. “I don’t know how you can regulate it because there is only so much you can do to know how the au pair will get on with the family.”

In contrast, DCU student Fionnuala Walsh went through the aupairworld website and said she was able to review family applications before committing. She felt that the organisation was a good idea but it depended on each individual.

“An organisation would be a good idea if you were worried about safety or maybe if it was your first time working abroad. If they had a proper vetting service it would make au pairs feel more secure.”

Rachael Kellegher

Image Credit: RTE.ie

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