At an informal meeting of Ministers of Labour and Social Affairs on the subject of domestic workers, which I chaired in Geneva last June at the time of the 102nd International Labour Conference, I announced that Ireland would ratify the ILO Convention No. 189 on Decent Work for Domestic Workers.
I intend to ratify the Convention as soon as the European Council Decision which confirms that there are no impediments at EU level to Member States ratifying the Convention enters into force. This is expected to take place shortly.
In relation to au pairs, Ireland’s body of employment rights legislation protects all employees legally employed on an employer-employee basis in Ireland, regardless of what title is given to them. Therefore, once it is clear that a person is working under a contract of employment, on a full-time or part-time basis, that person has the same protection under employment law as other employees.
Where the National Employment Rights Authority (NERA) receives a complaint involving somebody described as an au pair, NERA will investigate with a view to establishing the person’s statutory entitlements under employment law (including whether the term “au pair” is being used to avoid statutory obligations). NERA has encountered individuals, described by their employers as au pairs, who have been found to be domestic employees. My policy is to ensure that those people found to be domestic employees, regardless of what title is given to them, can enforce their rights as provided for in employment rights legislation.
In 2007, my Department published a “Code of Practice for Protecting Persons employed in Other People’s Homes”, which is useful as it outlines the duties and responsibilities of such employers.