Many Brazilians, just like other nationalities, end up working as
au pairs when they come to Ireland, a role which involves looking after
and taking care of children from families based in Ireland, most
commonly Irish natives.
Working as an au pair provides an Irish family life experience, with tasks usually related directly to childcare such as taking the kids to their school, playing games, babysitting, providing food and undertaking domestic choirs.
On average au pairs are scheduled to
work between 20 and 30 hours per week, usually during weekdays when busy
parents are at work. Many student au pairs schedule their English
classes around their role as an au pair, with many English schools
catering for such workers by providing evening classes.
While au pairs have their own employment classification in many countries in Ireland they are considered legally as ‘domestic workers’, meaning they are entitled to the Irish minimum wages and ‘should’, in practice enjoy the same rights as other workers in other sectors. While this may be the official classification in reality daily life for au pairs remains very different, with the vast majority of au pairs earning a modest “pocket money” salary while also taking up residence with their host families in what can be considered a cultural exchange programme.
There has been much debate over the role of au pairs in recent times, with official recognition and concise guidelines frequently discussed after various cases of abuse of such workers in Ireland and beyond, with hectic and increasing workloads, underpayment, inadequate lodging and improper conduct being reported.
Depending mainly on host family situations the daily routine of an au pair can be relatively straightforward and enjoyable, to being an unpleasant and overworked environment with unruly children. Even so it remains an attractive option for many Brazilians. With that being said we have put together some questions and answers in relation to au pairing in Ireland below:
Why are there so many Brazilian au pairs in Ireland?
Becoming an au pair can sometimes mean free lodging, making it an attractive proposition during a time when it’s very difficult to obtain affordable accommodation. As with other women across the world many Brazilians simply love to work with children and decide take up the responsibilities normally reserved for the busy parents. They see it as a great way to spend their time in Ireland while also working around their normal study hours – where possible.
What are the advantages of becoming an au pair?
- Accommodation: Free or cheap rent for those living with their host families
- Learn English: It provides a great opportunity to learn basic English (Learning from the kids in everyday life scenarios!)
- Cultural Experience: Opportunity to experience life in a typical Irish family
- Transportation: Many host families provide transport means such as a car, bike or bus pass.
What are the disadvantages of becoming an au pair?
- Generally low pay: if broken down into hours worked
- Lack of guidelines / representation: While officially categorized as ‘Domestic Workers’ who should enjoy the most basic rights this is often ignored.
- Increasing workload: Sometimes new work requests creep in (cooking meals, weekend work etc).
How much do au pairs get paid?
The remuneration for au pairs typically varies between €120 and €250 per week, that is despite a legal requirement for a minimum wage (€9.80 per hour at time of writing).
How do I get a position as an au pair?
To get a role as an au pair there are various ways. Many use an agency while many search various message boards or job postings. You can view some various resources listed below if you are considering becoming an au pair in Ireland.
Tips and advice for Brazilians considering Au Pairing?
- Consider the location: Many au pairs live in commuter towns or in the countryside, do you have the means of transport to commute to school regularly or is the location too quiet?
- Check au pair jobs postings: Check if the contact posting the role is the current au pair. This usually indicates a positive experience and a favourable host family. The au pair might be returning home to Brazil or have a valid reason for leaving the position, there is a good chance they are simply assisting the family find a suitable replacement as a favour, to care for children which they have very likely became attached to. Ask the au pair questions about their experience, you will get invaluable first hand advice.
- If getting a job through an agency ask questions: How many au pairs have worked for the family in the last year? How many in the last 2 years? Why did they leave? Can I speak with past au pairs? Is there anything else I should know etc? These are all valid and acceptable questions to ask an agency before taking up an offer.
- Ask questions directly to the host family: Know the boundaries, don’t be shy – this could be your home for the next 6 months or longer. Am I expected to work during weekends? Do I need to cook meals for the kids only? Am I guaranteed a fixed wage weekly? Can I have guests visit the home? Do I get my own room?
- Connect with other au pairs: There are various au pair Facebook groups where you can discuss various topics and you can also ask questions to existing or previous au pairs about the role in general. It’s also an opportunity to make friends with other au pairs from across the world and increase your social circle in Ireland.
Links and resources for au pairs in Ireland