Stricter Arrangement For Au Pairs in Norway
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The Labour Party is following up on The Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions (LO) fight against the current au pair system.
“After so many years of trying to prevent abuse of au pairs, The Labour Party has acknowledged that the current system must be replaced. I can confirm that the program committee of The Labour Party proposes to close down the current au pair system because it no longer works as intended,” says Vice President of the Labour Party Hadi Tajik to VG.
Stricter Rules For Host Families
Tajik goes on to explain that the Labour Party is interested in creating stricter rules with regards payment, culture exchange, and Norwegian lessons.
“There will be a requirement for host families to attend a culture course. We want to create a new system that is different from today’s, where many au pairs have ended up as poorly paid housekeepers.”
The Christian Democratic party and the Left Party are both in agreement that the element of cultural exchange as well as au pairs’ rights should be in focus.
The Au Pair Center Gets Shut Down
On April 1st, the Au Pair Center will be shut down. Fagforbundet (The Norwegian Union of Municipal and General Employees) along with the Norwegian People’s Aid opened the Au Pair Center in Oslo in 2013 in order to help and advise au pairs and host families. The center’s responsibilities will be passed on to The Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI).
The leaders of Fagforbundet fear that au pairs will be incredibly vulnerable without the center and that UDI will not be able to handle them properly.
“Now the government is cutting financial support. They’re saying that UDI is going to take over our responsibilities. It is completely unrealistic to believe that the government agency will be able to do the same job as us. Au pairs don’t even dare to call UDI, and then they don’t even get the help that they need,” explains Åsa S. Hebnes, the legal advisor for the center in a press release.
Focusing On Cultural Exchange
According to Fagforbundet, there are around 3,000 au pairs in Norway at any given time. Most of the au pairs are from the Philippines, are in their 20s and come to experience Norwegian culture by living with a family and learning the language.
They are expected to do light chores and take care of children. Au pairs are not supposed to work more than 30 hours a week. They are supposed to earn at least 5,600 Norwegian Crowns (about 675 US dollars) .
Fagforbundet encounters all sorts of cases ranging from culture crashes, poor working conditions, lack of payment, or serious cases of human trafficking.
The new system is aimed at protecting au pair’s rights and making sure that host families are interested in a cultural exchange and are not taking advantage of au pairs.
“The current system has little to do with cultural exchange. If people want housekeepers, they should pay a normal salary, not take advantage of Filipina women,” says Gerd Kristiansen, President of The Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions to VG.