The impact of the WRC ruling on Au Pairs

[The following is a guest posting from Karen Conway from Graphite HRM]

A Recent landmark case was heard in the WRC regarding the hiring of Au Pairs. The decision found that the host family should have treated the Au Pair as an employee, therefore finding that they have breached many employee statutory rights. Namely being paid money owed for work, rest breaks, annual leave and public holidays. As it stands the WRC case has not changed any legislation, so the risk to families who hire Au Pairs at the moment is that an individual case could be taken against them personally.

This particular case is anonymous however the details showed that the employee was paid €100 per week plus board for working between 30 and 60 hours per week. If the legislation does change so that the relationship is to be seen as an employer/employee relationship, below are some of the mandatory changes that can be expected in a typical employer relationship.

  • Minimum wage must be paid and the current rate for an experienced adult is €9.55 per hour. If the Au Pair is living with you and receiving food they can get the amount taken from the minimum rate which is referred to as board and lodgings. This means a maximum of €7.73 can be included in the calculation of minimum wage per day for board and lodgings.
  • The Organisation of Working Time Act, 1997 stipulates that employees must get rest breaks during the working day, section 12 states employees must get a 15 minute break after 4.5 hours of work and at least a 30 minute break after 6 hours. The onus is on the employer to ensure that employees get their breaks and must keep a record of these breaks. An employer should introduce into the contract of employment a procedure to follow if they do not get a break during the day. A monthly timesheet can be signed which would include a sign off that the employee received their rest break. There must also be a minimum break of 11 hours between the end of one shift and the beginning of the next shift and at least 24 hours of continuous rest per week. This weekly rest break must be preceded by the 11 hour daily rest break.
  • An employer must not require an employee to work more than an average of 48 hours in each 7 days. The reference period can be calculated over a 4 month reference period.
  • Any employee that works at least 1365 hours per year is entitled to receive at least 4 normal working weeks per year of annual leave. The leave year according to the organisation of working time act is April to March. Anyone who works less than 1365 hours in a leave year is entitled to receive 8% of total hours work capped at a maximum of 4 normal working weeks.
  • There are 9 public holidays per year which employees are entitled to be compensated for as long as they have worked at least 40 hours in previous 5 weeks ending before the public holiday.
  •  It is also important that all employees are provided with a contract of employment. The Terms of Employment and Information Act, 1994 stipulates that all employees must be provided with a contract of employment within 2 months of commencing employment. According to the LRC code of practice SI146, 1996 for procedures dealing with Disciplinary and Grievances, employees must receive a copy of the disciplinary and grievance procedures within one month of commencing employment.

There has been a lot of media attention in relation to the hiring of Au Pairs and the Migrant Rights Centre who brought this case to the WRC has said there are currently between 30 – 40 cases pending in the WRC where they are supporting almost 1000 au pairs. The award for this particular case was nearly €10,000 that this family had to pay as ordered by the Adjudications officer.

If any of the above effects your organisation you can call Graphite HRM the advice line on 01 886 0350 for advice.

Recent Changes to Au Pair’s Wages

Given the recent court case which recognises that au pairs are employees entitled to be paid a minimum wage, currently (January 2018) between €7.64 and €9.55 per hour, we have updated our blog posting on au pair wages, you can view the posting at

Our opinion on this ruling is that, it is only fair that au pairs are paid the minimum wage, however it is unfair to host families, given the cost of living in Ireland, that the maximum deduction a host family can make for hosting the au pair, is €54.13 for full board and lodgings per week.

It’s a complex and emotive issue for most people involved, both host families and au pairs, and it will take some time to see the full effects of the ruling.

While there has been a notable increase in the salaries being offered on the site, in the two weeks since the ruling, we have also noticed a worrying (approximately) 30% decrease in jobs being posted. So, for the moment, it looks like it is a significantly reduced number of au pairs who are going to benefit from this ruling.

Further Reading

“Already applied for job” notification

We’ve added some new functionality for jobseekers. If a logged-in jobseeker has already applied for a position, they will be notified of that under the job title on the job description page. Previously the jobseeker was only notified when they went to submit their application, but now they will be warned on the job description page itself. This functionality only works for logged in job seekers, who apply for jobs using the inline job application form.

County and Country links on job descriptions and job search results pages

We’ve added cross-linking to the Locations on our job descriptions, and to our job search results pages.

This new functionality allows a jobseeker who’s looking at either a job description, or looking at a job search results page, to click the job’s location and view all jobs listed for that location. This functionality has existed on the Au Pair Ireland homepage for some time – job seekers can click the View Jobs by County links, to see all jobs in that county – however we’ve now made that functionality available throughout the site as a navigation aid to users.

Home Page Job Listings

We’ve changed the way jobs are listed on our homepage. Previously jobs were listed by the date they were posted, with the most recent job posted being listed first. We now list jobs according to the most recently logged in host family – so each time you log in your job appears at the top of the list on the homepage. We did this to encourage more applicants for jobs, with host families, that are most actively looking for jobseekers. The most recently posted jobs are, however, still listed by post date on the side panel of the jobs listing page.

New Homepage design

We’ve just launched a new homepage design, The new responsive homepage replaces the older one, which has existed in one format or another for about three years or so. The new, cleaner, design cuts down on visual clutter and prioritises the functionality based on feedback we got from heatmap of visitors’ interaction of the page. This new page retains all the functionality of the old page, so there’s nothing missing in the new version.

Added SSL to site

Yesterday the site was down for about two hours, while we switched over to SSL (Secure Sockets Layer), SSL transmits all data transferred between your browser and this site in an encrypted format. You can tell the site has SSL enabled now, due to the https:// (instead of http://) in the address bar.

Besides the trust element of seeing “https://”, and the fact that Google now uses it as a ranking signal for its search results, I’m not sure what the benefit of having it on the site is. There seems to be a slight increase in load times for certain pages, so we’ll keep an eye on that and decide, based on that, if we want to continue using SSL in the future.