BOSTON (CBS) – Families from around Massachusetts rallied at the State House Wednesday morning to protest new regulations for au pairs.

A federal court ruled last month that au pairs in Massachusetts were covered by the state’s Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights and, therefore, they are entitled to earn state minimum wage and overtime.

The ruling will cost host families about $300 more a week.

“What are we going to do? Panic mode set in, are we cutting hours, suddenly everything went haywire,” said Shawn McNamee, who has twin one-year-old girls and a two and half-year-old son. “In addition to ruining the cultural nature of the program it’s been to the tune of $15,000 more a year.”

The families at the rally were pushing for lawmakers to pass two bills to help host families adjust to those changes.

Some people say their au pairs are like big sisters to their children and they’re trying to make it work, despite the sudden financial burden and change in rules.

“We love this program but this is going to ultimately destroy the program in Mass.,” said Casey Stanley of Norwell, a father of two daughters. He and his wife have hired three au pairs in the past. “These girls have become part of our families.”

“This has definitely thrown us for a loop,” his wife said. “There are families who have had to leave the program because they can’t make it work.”

Before the ruling, families paid $196 a week, but they also paid for their au pair’s food, housing, car insurance and classes.

“I’m not here for the money but to spend time with family and get involved in their daily lifestyle,” said Bella Kegee, an au pair from Germany. “There are some au pairs who have to go home now because parents can’t afford them anymore.”

Comments (5)
  1. Mark says:

    It’s less about the money and more about foreign au pairs and the host families receiving no guidance or information from the au pair administrative agencies or the state on how the differences are reconciled between Mass. labor/tax laws and the requirements under this US State Department visa program. A sledgehammer was used instead of a scalpel and everything is falling on the heads of these Massachusetts parents that are trying to care for their children, be in full compliance with the laws, and eager to see solid regulations to ensure au pairs have adequate protections from abuse. Not as simple as “families don’t want to pay nannies”.

  2. Sean says:

    This was not a Protest. Largely families are okay with the Domestic Employee Bill of Rights. The gathering at the State House was a Lobby Day to talk to our Senators and Representatives to educate them and ask for their support on the two House bills that have been introduced. We need guidance which the US Court of Appeals ruling provides none. The Federal Au Pair program (which operates under the Federal State Department and the DEBR often contradict each other. Additionally, we as host families are seeking a fair meals and lodging deduction. This deduction (from the au pair pay) is currently $77.00/Week. That is $11.00/Day. It is absurd to think anyone can feed and find shelter for themselves for $11.00/Day.

  3. Nicholas Altenberg says:

    An au pair is a young person, usually a woman from a foreign country, who helps with housework and child care in exchange for room and board. Plenty of parents today manage to do do housework and care for their kids without au pairs. Having an au pair isn’t a “right”. When the Irish came to Massachusetts over 100 years ago, they too took jobs as cooks, nannies, and house cleaners and got room and board in exchange. This smacks of opportunism and a pig called servitude, gussied up with lipstick to make it appear to be something else.

  4. Jon Shore says:

    These Au Pair Host Families are educated, professional people who are still trying to game they system. I don’t believe for 1 minute that they didn’t know this was coming, they don’t need extra time for the record keeping to comply with Massachusetts Law, it isn’t that deep. Rep. Michelle Ciccolo of Lexington, embarrassingly a Democrat, filed a bill to extend the payroll record-keeping requirements for Au Pair host families until July 1, 2020, exploiting these Au Pairs for the next 7 months.

    I’m a Boston high school teacher and I asked my students how much they were getting to babysit. Their first question to me was, “how many kids?” High school babysitting rates started at $15 an hour, cash, for 1 child! If a high school babysitter worked the 45 hours expected of an Au Pair, they would earn $675.00! And they wouldn’t be cleaning up and doing the children’s laundry!

    Au Pair’s currently receives $195.75 a week, $4. an hour for 45 hours work, no matter how many children are in the “host” family, this is chump change and usury! Under the current Massachusetts Domestic Workers Bill of Rights legislation, voted on by our wise Legislators, Au Pairs will receive $12.75 an hour minimum wage, plus overtime, giving Au Pair’s wage equity with Massachusetts citizens doing the same work.

    Now “host” families are lobbying the state house and are still trying to game the system! Reps. Paul McMurtry and Paul Donato, again embarrassingly Democrats, are supporting them and have filed legislation that would allow host families to deduct 40% of an Au Pair’s wages for lodging, food and beverage costs. It is mandatory that the Au Pair lives with the host family who benefits from the luxury of onsite child care, but taking 40% of an Au Pair’s wages, gives a whole new meaning to the term “host” family! The Au Pair exchange is touted as a “cultural program” to benefit the Au Pair, it’s not supposed to be a money making venture for the host family to exploiting them!

    1. CT says:

      I just need to correct the slight misconception you have here about how exploited au pairs really are. First, the non-optional agency fee is 9000 for 2020, education stipend is 500, car insurance is 2000, cell phone is 60/mo, food/essentials is 900/mo with the occasional eating out & snacks/needs, utilities 100/mo, 2 weeks paid vacation 400, cost of flight to arrive/send home 800, birthday/gifts/entertainment 2000, weekly stipend 200/wk, cost of room? Total annual cost of our au pair before factoring in cost of the room was $37,020. Throw in rent of about 400, and you’re at $41,820 for the au pair. Seems like a pretty bad deal for au pairs huh? Sure, you can make their life even more miserable by shafting them even harder, not an issue since they’re only watching your child, living in your home, and can invoke the rematch process leaving you without childcare without notice, leaving you to scramble to make new arrangements on the spot. Total gaming of the system going on here by these so called host families!

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