Au Pair Rights, Rules and Regulations in Ireland

As an au pair in Ireland, it’s important to understand your rights, as well as the rules and regulations that apply to your employment. Being informed will support you to make the best decisions and will help you to have the most positive experience, knowing that you’re treated fairly and in compliance with the law. Ireland has various laws and legislation in place that govern au pair employment, including the National Minimum Wage Act, the Organisation of Working Time Act and the Terms of Employment (Information) Act, while also being governed by the International Labour Organization’s Domestic Workers Convention. As with any employment, it’s crucial to know the types of tasks you are expected to perform, the hours you are expected to work, the wages and the benefits you are entitled to receive. Knowing your rights and obligations as an au pair will ensure that you are protected and that the important role of an au pair is respected. In this article, we highlight some of the key areas that apply to au pairs in Ireland. 

An employee. Not a voluntary worker

In 2016 several legal cases were taken with the outcome confirming the legal view that anyone employed as an au pair in Ireland is deemed to be an employee under the law, therefore entitled to the same rights and entitlement as any other employee. This means that the host family is the employer and must adhere to the same rights, protections, and regulations as any other employer in Ireland. As an au pair, and to obtain legal employment status, you will need to register with the Garda National Immigration Bureau to change your visa into a residence permit and secure a Personal Public Service (PPS) number which enables you to access public services and information in Ireland.

Studying and working as a part-time au pair

Students who work as part-time au pairs in Ireland are entitled to all the same rights as full-time au pairs. This includes the right to be paid at least the national minimum wage, the right to not work more than 48 hours per week, and the right to receive written evidence of their employment outlining their duties, hours of work and wages. Additionally, part-time au pairs are also entitled to health and travel insurance and may be entitled to a travel allowance or reimbursement for any additional costs incurred. Therefore, it is important for students who work as part-time au pairs to be aware of their rights and obligations under the law.

What are your rights as an Au Pair?

Au pairs, as employees are entitled to full employment protection under the International Labour Organization’s Domestic Workers Convention. Under this convention, an au pair will:

  • receive a written statement of terms and conditions of employment or a written contract, 
  • be provided with payslips, and is entitled to annual leave (of at least 4 working weeks per year) and public holidays, 
  • not be expected to work more than a 48-hour working week, or an average of 48 hours per week calculated over a four-month period,
  • receive a premium to work on a Sunday, 
  • have breaks/rest periods (15 minutes rest period for every 4.5 hours worked, or 30 minutes for every 6 hours worked), and a safe and healthy work environment, 
  • receive minimum notice before dismissal, 
  • not have personal documents retained by employers.

The host family hiring an au pair will pay the national minimum wage in Ireland, which as of January 2023 is €11.30 per hour for those 20 years old and over. If aged under 20 years old, a sub-minimum rate is applied – €10.17 p/hour if aged 19 years, €9.04 p/hour for those aged 18 years, and €7.91 p/hour for anyone under 18 years. In general, and not exceeding the working hour limit of 48 hours, an au pair will generally work between 25 to 35 hours per week. An au pair should expect to receive at least one full day off per week. Where there is more than one child, they are entitled to receive one additional day off per week. The host family will need to register as an employer and make all necessary contributions, for example, Pay Related Social Insurance (PRSI), on behalf of the employee (the au pair).

Minimum wage rates for Au Pairs in Ireland 2023

  Minimum hourly rate €
Minimum wage (Aged 20 or over) 11.30
Aged 19 10.17
Aged 18 9.04
Aged under 18 7.91 

Can a host family make any deductions?

An au pair will usually lodge and board with the host family which aligns with the goal of the international au pair programme as primarily a cultural exchange programme. This means that the au pair will have their own room in the family home with access to a suitable bathroom and will be provided with meals. In some cases, if a host family is providing full board and lodging, a charge of €0.90 per hour worked (for board), and €23.86 a week or €3.24 per day (for lodging) can be deducted from the monies paid to the au pair. Employers are also legally obliged to keep records of hours worked, with the responsibility to comply with laws and regulations being that of the employer, which in this case is the host family.

Who pays for the flight and other expenses of an au pair?

When it comes to flights and insurance for au pairs in Ireland there are a few things to consider. Generally, the host family will cover the cost of the au pair’s flight to Ireland. Additionally, an au pair may be entitled to a travel allowance or reimbursement for any additional costs incurred such as for drop-off/pick-up for school runs or from accompanying children to activities. An au pair will usually cover the cost of insurance when travelling to Ireland, though a host family can be asked if they would consider contributing to this. For health insurance, it’s important to note that an EU citizen can avail of a European Health Insurance Card (EIHC) which enables access to the public healthcare system in Ireland. As there are variations in what is covered in the public health care system from country to country in the EU, there may be a need to secure additional private health insurance cover if needed. All non-EU citizens will be required to secure private health insurance which is a requirement to secure a visa.

We hope you found this overview of the rights, rules and regulations in Ireland to be a useful guide. Au pairing has been a pivotal and positive life experience for so many, and we look forward to supporting you to find the best experience here in Ireland. 

You can register for free with SureSitter. If you are already working in Ireland and have any questions about your specific situation, you can connect with the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI) or Citizens Information which are best placed to advise on legal matters.