Au pairs have reported working way over 45 hours per week, and being berated by host mother and father; some have seen their meals restricted, or their actions monitored by surveillance cameras. Afraid of being despatched residence early, many undergo in silence.
A Brazilian au pair in New Jersey who mentioned she was verbally abused each day by her host’s youngsters and was “basically a maid,” was afraid to ask for a change. “There’s a lot of stories about girls getting kicked out of the house when they ask for a rematch,” she mentioned.
When she reported the state of affairs to her native company counselor, she was informed in an electronic mail to work issues out or she would possible be despatched residence. Only after the host mother accepted the rematch a month later, the au pair mentioned, did the company comply with facilitate a change.
These experiences are removed from unusual. A 2018 investigation by a number of labor-rights teams argued that the J-1 au pair program is a piece program with little actual alternative for cultural change, and that au pairs ought to be protected as home staff.
“This is an employment relationship. The law has upheld that to be the case,” mentioned Rocío Ávila, a senior lawyer with the National Domestic Workers Alliance, one of many co-authors of the report. In December 2019, a Massachusetts courtroom dominated that minimum-wage legal guidelines utilized to au pairs in that state. As a end result, in Massachusetts, the weekly value of a full-time au pair rose from the roughly $200 minimal stipend ($four.35 per hour for 45 hours) to greater than $500 in weekly wages, after deductions for meals and lodging.
“I think it’s the sponsor’s role to set the expectations of both the au pair and the host family,” mentioned Jean Quinn, the director of Au Pair in America, an company. “What we want are both families and au pairs to come with the right expectations. It doesn’t do anybody any good if that’s not the case,” she added. “I think we do a very good job at making it clear that this has to work for both sides in order for it to be a successful placement.”
Also key to au pair protections, labor advocates argue, is extra authorities regulation: know-your-rights training for incoming au pairs, and a extra streamlined system for complaints, unbiased of personal businesses.