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Families with au pairs sue state, saying they should be excluded from our minimum-wage laws for domestic workers

Two Boston-area families with foreign au pairs and the agency that brought them over say they shouldn't have to pay them the $10 an hour the state requires for maids and other servants because au pairs are really here for cultural enrichment, not to work, and that taking care of their host families' kids is part of learning what America is all about.

In a lawsuit filed in US District Court in Boston this week against Attorney General Maura Healey, the families and Cultural Care Au Pair of Cambridge argue the state's insistence that foreign students be paid the same violates the federal laws and regulations that established an au pair program as a way to give foreign students a better appreciation of America by having them live with a host family while they're here:

The MA Act and MA Regulations relate exclusively to the labor code and “domestic workers” and have nothing to do with cultural exchanges or exchange visitors. Host Families, including the Host Family Plaintiffs, invest time and effort in treating their au pairs like family members who are guests in their home. They do so in order to enhance the cultural aspect of the exchange for both the families and the au pairs, but little incentive exists for investing such emotional capital if the au pairs hold the status and involve the cost of laborers.

Also, the suit alleges:

Because many, and probably most, Host Families will be unable or unwilling to pay a fee to the Sponsor in addition to the wage and education requirements and substantially higher State-imposed payments under state labor codes, CCAP and other State Department designated Sponsors will suffer material economic injury and in some instances will not be able to survive as on-going commercial enterprises.

The plaintiffs ask a judge to tell the state to leave them alone because Congress is the higher authority here:

Congress intended in enacting the permanent authorization act for the Au Pair Cultural Exchange Program to occupy the field with regard to the terms and conditions of that Program. The federal interest embodied in the Fulbright-Hays Act and the programs enacted pursuant to it, i.e., in fostering “a peaceful world in which freedom and justice under law will be the lot of all mankind,” precludes enforcement of state labor laws that defeat Congressional intent. Hence, field preemption separately and additionally precludes application of the MA Act and the MA Regulations to CCAP and to the Host Family Plaintiffs.

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Especially on the eve of Labor Day.

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So. If it is such low skill and cheap work, why all the background checks, etc.?

I'm sure they would all be the first to tell all of us that raising kids is a really hard job and such a big responsibility blah blah blah ... and then they don't want to do it themselves AND they don't want to pay a responsible person even minimum wage to do such a big, responsible job.

OHHH THE ENTITLEMENT!

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By this logic, if their sole purpose here is for cultural enrichment, then why pay them at all?

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What if the family just paid the au pair's way over here, and in exchange, s/he would have to work for the family for a while to pay off the travel expenses. It would like a form of servitude, but indentured! I wonder if anyone has ever thought of this before, and whether there's any existing law about its legality.

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Finally someone gets it. This is just an estimate, but between plane tickets, visas, and the hourly rate of someone who can actually afford an au pair taking the time to do this, I think 4-7 years sounds about right for a term of service.

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but it is an "exchange." I don't have an au pair so no dog in this fight. But if the families I know who've had them, it's seemed like a very different thing from having a nanny or a sitter. Much less formal, more of a homey arrangement, more free time and kind of blurred stuff, like the au pair is hanging out in the back yard with her friend from Germany but the kids are playing soccer next to them. And of course they're eating meals other the family and taking the car to do stuff...Idk--it just seems harder to quantify than a regular job.

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It should still pay the minimum $10 an hour for hours worked.

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I think you missed the point. When exactly is the au pair on the clock and then off? The blurring of work and everything else in an informal arrangement contradicts the accepted notion of on and off the clock in a normal job. While there definitely should be standards, exempting au pairs from the minimum wage laws makes sense.

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This so-called blurring of the lines is your total amounts to being available for more than 40 hours a week. A normal employee with rights is compensated for that

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If the hourly is hard to quantify, then they should be salaried.

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Long-time American business practice:

Pay them the $10 an hour and then charge them for room & board & utilities & phone usage.
Before you know it, you are making a profit!

/s

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The costs a host family have to pay are upfront $8000 a year so it would be less expensive to hire an American at $10per hour already here then to pay for an aupair who can only be here in the country for 2 years, which would destroy the aupair program. These aupairs that have sued most not realize they are pricing themselves out of a job.

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It isn't hard to quantify. It is a job. And people in this country are paid for their jobs. Slavery is no longer an option.

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You're really equating being an au pair with...slavery? Like...leg irons, beatings, forced labor and captivity? I'm suspecting that you've never actually met an au pair--I'll say it again--it's generally a pretty relaxed, mutually beneficial arrangement and I've never heard of one going terribly sour or unhappy. Unlike er...slavery.

My college student did consider an unpaid internship recently--would you call that slavery?

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If they take away your passport, and expect you to on-call 24 hours per day without compensation, a person's rights are being violated.

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But that's not what we're talking about here. This is a reputable agency and I'm assuming that if they have an au pair (or a family) in an unhappy situation, they deal with it directly. This is not like Filipina maids in Saudi Arabia--no one's passport is getting taken away.

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As reported on this very website, this very year, in the city in question:
Qataris in Cambridge get off with $3,000 fine for refusing to pay Filipino maid and taking away her passport

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minimum wage is pretty reasonable. Treating them like an employee that gets overtime after 40 hours is reasonable. If you can't afford this then you can't afford a nanny.

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Should waiters at The Capital Grille get minimum wage?

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yes

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And that's the law.

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They get a tipped wage. If they don't make the tips, they are supposed to be given minimum wage.

That restaurants get away with cheating employees does not make subminimum wage the law ... it is means that enforcement of the law is poor.

Non enforcement of the law IS NOT THE SAME THING as the law.

Under current state law, tipped employees (those who receive more than $20 a month in tips) must be paid a minimum of $3 per hour, provided that, with tips, they make $9 per hour – the standard minimum wage in the state. If the total hourly rate for the employee, including tips, does not equal $9, then the employer must make up the difference.

http://www.boston.com/jobs/jobs-news/2015/03/13/new-bill-could-change-ho...

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And Au Pairs get free room and board!!! The whole reason I am even getting into this conversation is the fact that although it looks like the Au Pairs are getting paid less than minimum wage (even federal wage which would be illegal by my calculations) but get something free to offbalance the wage with something else.

It doesn't change the fact that cinnamngrl thought waiters should get minimum wage. It shows how people don't know the exemptions to the minimum wage rules. That was my point.

Au Pairs per federal law are not exempt from federal min wage, although they are not entitled to overtime.

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I realize that the capital Grille complies with existing law. However I think that law takes advantage of waiters and bartenders. The restaurant doesn't hand them the tips, customers do. In exchange for the opportunity to earn those tips the owner of the restaurant gets his restaurant cleaned for three dollars an hour. I have worked as a waitress is well and I can tell you that it will be fine to pay me two dollars an hour if I just showed up and wait tables and left. But the owner expected to you show up two hours early and roll silverware and stay two hours late and collect recycling, clean the whole restaurant and other menial work for less than minimum-wage.

I'm sure you believe that the whole system and go to hell if restaurant stop collecting tips and paid all of their staff a wage appropriate to their experience and the success of the restaurant but frankly that's the way the rest of the world does it.

Free room in board means that the employee is around on tap. That's why it's done. It's not as much of a gift as you presume.

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aren't talking about "slaves". And yes, there are people and agencies (especially overseas) who hire workers for various reasons and basically enslave them. It is actually more common than you think actually.

But his case doesn't involve them. This involves the standard practice in the United States with Au Pair services and their contracts with reputable companies who rarely get complaints for human trafficking.

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"Rarely get charged with mass murder."
"Rarely drive drunk."
"Rarely fire a crossbow into a crowd."

I think if a company _ever_ got a complaint about trafficking, that's bad; it's not like having a "low rate" of slavery complaints is somehow a good thing.

Taking it a step further, I wouldn't think a low rate of complaints, or a lack thereof, is a reliable indicator that everything is all cultural and exchangey: How many au pairs with a complaint would actually make a complaint? "Hi, I'm not satisifed with my wages and/or treatment. Send me home please, and make sure I get blacklisted from other agencies." The stakes can be on the high side, which tends to raise the bar for complaints.

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Um...these girls aren't career au pairs. They're pretty much Swedish college students looking for a nice year abroad, which I'm pretty certain is mostly what they get. No one is getting "blacklisted."

I honestly have no idea why so many posters here are getting in a twist--and tossing around teens like slavery and trafficking--over something they clearly know nothing about.

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And see the other post about being backwards at best. "Pretty much Swedish college students"? Gee, do they attend college while they're here? No? Then they're not college students. Glad I could clear that up for you.

As for you: I honestly have no idea why YOU are getting in a twist--and tossing around teens ("Teens"?) over something YOU clearly know nothing about.

Are you an expert in wage laws? Are you/were you an au pair? People are getting in a twist because they believe in labor laws and general wage fairness. But I'm sure they're very, very sorry, and appreciate deeply your pointing out their flawed reasoning.

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Taking college courses for credit is a requirement of the visa.

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Since I actually investigate Human Trafficking crimes. I have never seen one of these standard Au Pair agencies be charged with any sort of human trafficking complaint. I said rarely because there are always exceptions to everything right? Like that black guy in the KKK or the Catholic Priest who has a wife?

Jeeze.

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My college student did consider an unpaid internship recently--would you call that slavery?
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Many states now do consider it slavery. At the very least, it is exploitation and unacceptable for full-time plus work. That, and a means of propagating entitlement.

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If your college student's experience actually 100% met the below criteria, I'd be stunned. Number 4 in particular is flagrantly violated to use interns as coerced free labor. Unpaid interns are basically disallowed from doing work that the organization could pay someone to do.

Six-Part Test for Unpaid Internships

The vast majority of interns working at for-profit organizations must be paid at least the minimum wage and any applicable overtime. Technically, paid interns are temporary employees and treated virtually the same as regular employees with respect to labor law. But you may legally hire an unpaid intern if the following six criteria are met:

  1. The internship, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to training which would be given in an educational environment.
  2. The experience is for the benefit of the intern.
  3. The intern does not displace regular employees but works under close supervision of existing staff.
  4. The employer providing the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern and on occasion its operations may actually be impeded.
  5. There is no guarantee of a job at the conclusion of the internship.
  6. Both parties understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the internship.
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I was an Au Pair for 2 years. I got $200 a week, room and board, use of a car, private phone line, and 50% health insurance. I worked regular hours (8 to 5 split shift during school) first year and 11 to 5 next year and got 2 weeks vacation and holidays. I also babysat 4 nights month for free, but they rarely used those. This was 1989, and i came from out of state not out of the country. I was placed by an excellent agency that still exists in Newton, and my employers were good people.

I chose it because I some credit card debt after college, and I thought i made sense to work without bills. Back then, minimum wage was $3.35, so I was making more than minimum wage. I eventually went to grad school and still work with children.

I had a good situation, but this is not true for many aupairs from other countries. Limits should be set. For fair compensation, a family get flexible consistent safe child care. Even non-slaver employers have very entitled expectations. Later when I was looking for my own apartment and I saw and ad for a studio that was willing to exchange some child care. They wanted $650 plus 20 hours per week child care. Now that would be an amazing deal, but back then I was pretty incredulous at his nerve.

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logic used by todays Southern apologists in defending slavery by attempting to convince us that the black people owned by their forefathers benefitted from the arrangement.

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And what America is all about is exploiting people.

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is one if the most successful, if not #1, countries on earth. It has the 3rd largest population of any country on Earth, and geographically the 3rd largest country on earth. It's fabulously wealthy in natural resources. It takes in more immigrants yearly than all other countries combined.

Just saying.

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to very reasonable laws.

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I certainly would be... can you imagine how blistering the smackdown of these schmucks is going to be?

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They would, of course, have to be free of any and all "nanny" scandals, such as paying undocumented immigrant workers shit wages to mind their kids,etc.

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You sure you didn’t get this from The Onion?

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When Republicans complain about people on welfare show them this as an evidence of why one percenters are worse. They want to go back to indentured servitude. This is some 1700's shit from some vile people who are too lazy to take care of their own kids and too greedy to pay a decent wage to the hard working people who do.

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Where in the article does this refer to Republicans? What if the families suing the state are registered Democrats??? (I'm an independent voter by the way).

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Do you have kids? Because I'm pretty sure that not everyone with child care gets it because they're "too lazy" to take care of their own kids.

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the fuck do you know they are Republicans? Are there not wealthy Democrats? Do Democrats not use child care?

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No, we do not. Our children are either raised by our Priusessesses or are grown free range without the use of hormones in a bucolic pasture near a glacier -fed stream.

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You left out the Skinner box.

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Wouldn't that settle everything?

Right now Au Pair gets $4 an hour for 40 hours and a free room. Give them $10 an hour and charge them $200 a week for the room.

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Is way too high, considering that they are required to live in.

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They get 2 days off, sometimes more. A room in Back Bay will run you 3K a month. Some in Allston sometimes even go for 1.5K.

I think the issue may be that they don't even get federal minimum wage, which even domestic workers are required to get. (Not sure how they factor in room and board).

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Not their employers. Do they really see themselves as part of some type of cultural exchange with some child care thrown in, or do they feel like servants? I hope their voices aren't silenced in this case. In order to judge fairly, the court needs to listen, and listen well, to the au pairs' experiences and not let privileged, cheap, rich people speak for them.

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And Au Pairs are a wide range of people from good to bad, like most human workers are. From my understanding, Au Pairs work a specific amount of hours a day, and the rest of the day they can do whatever they want. Some continue to help the family (for free essentially), while others simply leave the house to see friends (I guess there is a large Au Pair network) or go their room to do whatever they want, it's their free time.

If the Au Pair doesn't like the family or wants to go back home, they can leave and the company provides the family with another Au Pair. This isn't uncommon either. The companies don't force the Au Pairs to stay.

I actually had a pretty in depth conversation with a friend who has had 3 Au Pairs throughout his families life, and this is what he told me.

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I'm so glad that so many people on this thread have solved the dilemma of paying for child care--who knew it was all that simple? Oh--and that anyone who hires an agency and through them arranges for a student to live in their home and provide child care is automatically a "privileged, cheap, rich person." Again--this was not me or my personal experience but I find it mind blowing that people are so critical--very curious to hear what your family child care arrangements are and what you pay your caregivers.

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You figure it out before you have kids, and you don't demand that other's efforts on behalf of your children be poorly compensated because you didn't think it out ahead of time.

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The majority of people who post on a board like this have no interest in having a legitimate conversation about the subject, they just want to bitch and moan, and try and take the most extreme position possible.

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I don't know who you think you're arguing with, but the plaintiffs in this case are two families who think that because they're providing Magical Enriching Cultural Experiences, they should be exempt from minimum wage laws that literally every other employer in the state has to follow. They're already paying their childcare workers abysmally (comparable babysitting would cost between $15 and $25 an hour), but they think they should be allowed to pay even less. That makes them cheap dickbags, in my book.

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Some families get nannies, and nannies get paid more. But nannies don't get "free" room or board. Au Pairs do. So there is a trade off and the wage differences reflect that.

There are federal standards for minimum wage work and there are dozens of exemptions, and domestic work is one of them. Are American farm owners cheap dirtbags because they pay less than minimum wage but get us cheaper food (with subsides!) and allows us to by American food products?

There are surely conversations to be had about US wage labor, but I think people are missing the point about the Au Pair system here.

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for setting up an arrangement which, in my limited experience and understanding, is very different from paying an hourly sitter or a nanny. The au pairs I've met had a LOT of free time and relaxed time at home--lots of road trips and excursions with their friends (often in their employer's car). These are willing, happy European college students, not miserable, exploited 3rd world immigrants (who generally get paid much less to look after kids, especially the kids of OTHER 3rd world immigrants) and they're getting free room and board and perks. And again--I don't have a vested interest here. I was blessedly lucky with child care back when I needed it and relied on family and a wonderful nanny who had a baby the same age--since she could watch both of them, I could pay her a rate that I could afford. But even then it took up more than half my take-home. It just gets my hackles up to see people--and sorry, but men in particular--who have never wrestled with the challenges of being a working parent getting all faux-outraged about suburbanites and their au pairs.

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They are exchanging childcare for money.

They are not exempt from wage and hour laws just because they set up a system and call it different.

Your defense of these people is ridiculous.

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money (above the federal standard) plus room and board..

Now the agencies/families can just charge the Au Pair for that room right?

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If they are required to live on the premises and cannot shop for cheaper lodging, room and board isn't in the equation. Look up the labor laws.

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They aren't required to live anywhere. They can come as a Nanny and earn more than minimum wage if they want to. And there is no cheaper lodging in the Boston area, that is why Au Pairs come here in the first place. Do you think they come here because some slave catcher is rounding them up in the European Hinterlands?

The labor laws are all fine and good until the Au Pair companies put actual prices on rooms. Then Au Pairs will get $11 and hour and also pay $50 a day to rent the room. In the end the market will dictate the price and labor exemptions will need to happen the same way Farm labor does it.

There is no way around this for Au Pairs.

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It's not certain they could come as a nanny. That's a different visa, a B-1, and it's harder to get than the J-1 Au Pair visa. It takes months or years to get the B-1. Someone Au Pair age might be in a different stage of life by the time it's granted. It also requires a year of experience in the profession of household domestic worker for eligibility, prior to application. With Au Pairs, we're talking overwhelmingly about kids taking a gap year between high school and college, not professional domestic workers.

You can come on a tourist visa and then work illegally under the table as a nanny, but that's a very different thing. Actually getting here legally to work with a B-1 visa is not as easy as all that.

One of the things happening in this whole conversation is conflation of different groups of people. The Au Pair program is a specific visa category established by the federal government. We should use Au Pair only to refer to actual J-1 Au Pair visa holders, not to any kind of domestic help we wish to flatter.

It's just sloppy reasoning to bring Jamaican nannies or American hillbillies into the argument; they are not Au Pairs and they are not relevant.

Conditions of the Au Pair J-1 program include a comprehensive range of stipulations that would be impermissible were it merely an employment program:
-The Au Pair must complete at least six hours of academic credit or equivalent in formal educational settings at an accredited U.S. post-secondary educational institution.
-Au Pairs cannot be required to provide more than 10 hours a day or 45 hours a week of childcare, and cannot be docked in pay for working less than that.
-Hosts are required to pay up to $500.00 for the course work (up to 1000 for "EduCare Au Pairs," who only do before and after care, and who must complete 12 credit hours).
-Au Pairs must be between 18 and 26 years old.
-Au Pairs cannot be placed in houses with tiny babies (<3 months).
If all of these conditions do not apply, and the J-1 Au Pair visa is not involved, we are not talking about Au Pairs.

The lawsuit is about the primacy of federal law over state law, and is entirely correct. Mass AG doesn't have standing to change the relevant federal law, which also abrogates numerous other labor regulations, by requiring a state minimum wage. What's next? Will the AG next want to say it's discriminatory not to include people older than 26 in the Au Pair program? Where would it end?

It would make a mockery of our legal system were the plaintiffs not to win this case. I, for one, would not like to see the Supremacy Clause or the Commerce Clause weakened.

If people want to find an area where J-1 visas are really being abused, just go out to P-Town and ask the person pouring your drink at which Eastern European university they are pursuing Tourism Studies. Every one of those "students" is displacing an American worker.

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The B-1 is not the visa for most cases, unless the US citizen employer normally resides overseas. They can bring the nanny in for 6 month periods.

I would assume most would qualify for H2B. There may be some other visas available depending on the citizenship of the nanny, but most visa programs aren't really designed for nannies and the list.

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You're right about the B-1; it's for repatriation. However, the H2B is for temporary unskilled workers, six months or less, cannot lead to immigration, and you need a USDOL certification that no citizens want the job. It's intended for temporary, seasonal, or intermittent use. Nannies are a longer-term need, and use of the H2B for a nanny would be inherently fraudulent. The hurdles are very high, to prevent such fraud, and of course even if you got away with it you have to send them back in less than a year.

The best way to bring over a nanny is with PERM labor certification, leading to a green card, permanent residence, and finally naturalization.

The overall point is that bringing a nanny in from abroad is so difficult it's almost impossible. Bringing in an Au Pair is a fundamentally different process, as well as a fundamentally different situation.

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Not be all PC, but please-- you can drop that annnnytime and join us in the 21st century.

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Haitian or Caribbean or South American-born home health care aide and ask if she can stay overnight in Friday or come in early on Saturday, just ask yourself who's taking care of HER kids while she's taking care of the bedpans and changing the linens. Chances are they're being cared for by a friend/neighbor who's looking after a bunch of other kids for unimaginably low pay or they're back home with the grandparents while mom and dad work and send money home. What's your 21st century solution to that again? Oh yeah, sorry--so much easier to fret about a bunch of Austrian college students in Lincoln. Carry on.

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We're talking about au pairs and wage fairness, not nannies, not home health aides, nor the elderly. Do I have a "21st century solution"? No, but wage fairness is part of a good, solid foundation for a society that works; allowing people of means to subvert the law-- that law, or any law-- based on some nebulous logic is not. By your logic, Starbuck's could offer lower wages based on the "cultural immersion"-- which is part of the argument above-- they would get by serving people at Downtown Crossing.

Also: Have I cured you of "third world" yet?

Also also: spare me anything about elder care until you've taken care of a disabled parent for ten years. (I did for nine, so unless you've done it for ten or more you've got nothing to say on that topic)

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What the hell have you been doing about all this? Other than claiming a divine right to reclassify child care work as play if it suits your budget?

I've been supporting my legislator's efforts to devise a more fair system, including arranging interviews with my SIL who is a childcare worker in a very conservative area of Canada which still seems to make it affordable for parents

I'd be interested to know about your efforts to remediate the situation.

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NT

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Just calling a racist a racist. You racist.

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http://www.dictionary.com/browse/third-world

Third World
noun
1.

the less economically advanced countries of Africa, Asia, and Latin America collectively, esp when viewed as underdeveloped and as neutral in the East-West alignment Also called developing world

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition

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Give that a go. See if you can listen, and maybe learn. Or at least just listen and shut up for that length of time.

By the way, it wasn't like I didn't know what she was referring to, or wouldn't understand if she'd used some other kind of racial/ethnic code-- "urban", "Goldman Sachs", "drunken Mick"-- just that her use of such words is unfortunate in someone who is attempting to be so high and mighty.

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agree with Sally's posts. A colleague of mine and his wife had an au pair every year when their two children were young. They built a bedroom suite in their home, with private bath, for the young women, the women had exclusive use of a car, and free room and board. My friends actually took their responsibilities seriously, and would often spend Saturdays traveling to local New England historical sites and places of interest to show their au pair more about the area.

The au pairs varied in their interests, of course, but when one was homesick, the agency allowed her to return home immediately. The others were friends with other au pairs in the area and spend most of their free time socializing and going out.

It seems any salary agreement has to take into account the free room and board and use of a car during times when it didn't involve child care.

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Before "free room and board" gets factored in, you have to answer this for me: If they didn't have an au pair, then would they be renting that room out to strangers? Because if not, if that room is specifically an au pair room that they built knowing they were going to hire an au pair, then that's the cost of doing business, not something you get to factor into the employee's wages. You're not "out" anything that the au pair owes you if you have an au pair living in that room because you weren't renting it anyways. It was your choice to house your babysitter and do any other thing you went out of your way to give them like access to the car. My bet is they don't get priority on the car, so they only get to use it when you're not using it which again means the most they're doing is putting additional usage on it which you could conceivably be "out". Then again, you don't have to give them personal use of the car if you don't want to. Maybe with a reasonable wage they'd be able to afford ZipCar or buying a used one and not be beholden to your whims when they're not on the clock.

And that's the thing really, isn't it? They're never truly "not on the clock" because if you need them, even in a moment's notice, then what are they going to do? Tell you no? You hold all the cards...their house, car access, paycheck, food, work visa...everything. So, when we tell you to pay them a fair wage, do it. Society holds that card, bitch. They need to get used to how that feels.

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Like I said above, you can get a nanny, but you have to pay them more. The nanny doesn't live with you either. The nanny comes and goes when you want them to. The Au Pair has the right to that room when they aren't working in your home. This is outlined in the contract you sign with the agency. If someone from Sweden wants to come to Boston to get nanny pay but pay Boston rents, they are free to do that (international workers come to Cape Cod all the time under similar visas). Many of them like having free room and board and working X hours a week for $Y an hour instead They agree to their prices and sign a contract before they do it. In places like Boston, this is sometimes the cheapest way to come to this country.

From what I'm told, the Au Pair by contract has time off and you can't make them work during that time. If they are abused, I assume the Au Pair can contact the company and file a complaint, and I've heard many of them quit or leave on their own because they are homesick or for some other reason. Some help out and might help prepare dinner with or for the family, or others might go their room or go out with friends. Some families have cars that the Au Pair has total control over, some don't.

I also don't see how not renting that room before someone moves in has anything to do with the value of that room. That room has a value whether you collect income on it or not.

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her own car. The parents bought a car for the use of the Au Pair. I'm sure the women would help out beyond their working hours in case of a real emergency (who wouldn't?) but she had specific times off, and days off.

The point about the ensuite room was that she had her own private space. She wasn't inconvenienced by sharing a bath, and had her privacy and alone time when not working. My friends were very serious about providing a good living arrangement for the woman who was taking care of their children.

This is my knowledge of Au Pairs from Europe. I'm sure some parents may not be as conscientious as my friends and I'm sure not every Au Pair works out. But this isn't comparable to hiring a full-time nanny or housecleaner or landscaper.

No one takes their passports, and they are free to leave if the arrangements don't work out for them.

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Glad you can have a laugh over people not getting paid what they deserve as determined by minimum wage laws.

I decided not to have children because I can't afford them. We need to do a lot more as a society to help parents so they can have adequate child care that is affordable. This should not be at the expense of child care workers who deserve a livable wage for their work just like everyone else.

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Your personal choices are your own, obv, but saying that people--poor people, middle class people--shouldn't have kids unless they can "afford to" is pretty laughable. We agree on the idea that the govt should do more but yes--I still find the notion that the au pair system is fundamentally cruel, unfair, or exploitative laughable. #savetheswedes #germannanniesunite

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Do a lot more "as a society" to provide affordable
Child care? Should've just not had kids instead of looking for welfare.

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You need to develop some.

Should've just not had kids instead of looking for welfare

Read her comment - she isn't having any because she can't afford it.

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Are utter (expletive) garbage.

As for the passport point raised above, I need to go hand out flyers in Terminal E in Spanish, Portuguese, and whatever other languages these prospective domestic employees speak that reads "The only people who should ever have your passport in their hands are a customs agent or somebody from whom you want to buy alcohol. Don't hand your passport to anyone else."

I mean, how do you "take" somebody's passport? At gunpoint? I doubt these rich suburbanites became rich suburbanites by playing stupid games like pulling guns on people. So I have to believe that foreign workers are either handing their passport over, or it's straight up getting stolen in their sleep. What can we do to better protect them?

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uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck you.

Sincerely,

The rest of us

------

Can someone please help me file this as an amicus brief?

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...au pairs are really here for cultural enrichment, not to work, and that working shit jobs for shit money is part of learning what America is all about for immigrants.

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A share of rent around Boston with room-mates is probably at least $500/month, plus utilities, etc. More in a nice neighborhood/house, so let's call it $700/month. Food at say $10/day is $300/month, so room and board is worth at least $1000/month.

Min wage is around $10. Assume 50hrs/week (which may be high based on others comments here, but I'm sure it varies a ton), so that's $650/week with time and a half, or around $2600/month.

So room & board in a nice place is worth roughly 40% of min wage. Before we keep accusing people who hire nannies as being slave-drivers, what do Au Pairs make now? Seems like if they make even $6/hr plus room and board, they're being paid very fairly.

And claim outrage all you want, but they are also getting to see at least a bit of the world for a year in a way that a lot of people might value. That's not BS; look at how many kids take gap years, or go backpacking, etc. I'm sure more 20-somethings would do that if they could.

Seems people here are being very harsh on the families who hire au-pairs. I think it's an interesting discussion, but au-pairs certainly are not slaves or serfs.

Disclaimer: I work very tangentially with some people involved in au-pair agencies, but not closely enough to know much about the business.

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Wait, so min wage is more than enough to afford food and shelter in a decent neigborhood? That's cool. No need to raise it to $15 then.

Also I love how Swirls and Kaz and Scratchie are all states rights about minimum wage laws, even though states rights are something invented by racists or whatever.

Don't change uhub.

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Human rights.

And, also calling total bullshit on claiming that it is okay to exploit others because "OMG childcare is soooo expensive". If you want a better system, work for it or create a cooperative or other arrangement. Otherwise, check out the costs of childcare and plan accordingly before you have kids.

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Missing:
- T-pass and Uber for when you work earlier/later than the T operates
- Taxes - subtract 30-35% of those gross wages
- Health insurance
- If you are working a minimum wage job, it is highly unlikely you will get 40-50 hours/week from one employer, who would then classify you as full-time and have to pay benefits. You will fight for 20-25 hours/week at each crappy job you have to work, and good luck getting managers to work around the schedule at your other job.
- First, last, and security deposit, which in the rosy "cheap living" scenario above, would be $1,500, or 150 hours of working the $10 minimum wage you describe
- You should be perfectly healthy and not have ongoing health issues and not need medical care, prescriptions, dental care
- You should have an acceptable working wardrobe and comfortable, durable shoes to deal with your physical, demanding labor
- Eating - good luck finding time to prep cheap meals to bring to all your jobs

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these days, doesn't one?

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Interesting timing on this given Baker just sold land belonging to the people of the Commonwealth at a cut-rate that to 1% 'ers living next to the Massachsuetts State House so the millionaires could expand their luxe homes to include private rooms for their au pairs.

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He wanted to, but after word got out and made him look kind of stupid, he canceled the deal.

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Poor Maura Healey. She's becoming a lightning rod.

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These people ought to be ashamed of themselves. Is there any possible way a parent thinks taking care of a young child is not hard work? Are they naive enough to think that so called "hanging around" with a baby or toddler in a yard or park is the equivalent to a break? I have worked in the early childhood field for 30 years and have also raised my own children and know fully that working with young children requires commitment, stamina, patience, a sense of humor and eyes in the back of the head. Teachers of young children--and this includes the au pairs--deserve respect and decent pay, period.

Often au pairs are asked to do "light house-keeping" and other tasks that render them so busy that it makes it hard for them to work successfully with the child or children. I would like to see these host parents be required to submit an agenda of all the cultural information they will impart to these (typically) young women. They should be asked to document field trips, concerts, museums, discussions, literature and anything else that will contribute positively to the person's experience in our country. Parents should not be thinking they're getting cheap labor just because these people are young and want to be in this country, however briefly.

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So the posters here don't seem to understand that the families have absolutely no say in what they pay Au Pairs. This is a State Department Visa program with a mandated wage set by the federal government and a strict 1 year visa (option to extend for max 1 year) with 1 month to travel before heading home. In addition to room & board (they need to have their own bedroom) families also pay tuition for the au pairs to take college classes while they are here. There are also strict limits on the hours an au pair can work, and the type of duties they can perform. This is the case regardless of which agency you use.
My fifth au pair just left after her year-long stay here and recently emailed us, saying "it was the best year of my life". Our other au pairs have come back to visit us. For the au pairs, it's a way to spend a year in America, living with an American family, as part of the family and then spend a month traveling with friends they've made in their year here.
The reality is a large part of their pay is in the form of room & board and tuition. All in, it amounts to more than $10/hour, especially in Boston where living & tuition expenses are so high.

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... by injecting facts into the discussion.

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N/T

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tuition is mandated as part of the visa program:
http://j1visa.state.gov/programs/au-pair#hostsemployers

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Because I have tried to research this and I can't find it anywhere. When I did this work it was $175 to $225 with room and board. $350 to $400 without. what are they paid now?

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Au pairs are compensated for their work according to the Fair Labor Standards Act as interpreted and implemented by the U.S. Department of Labor.

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I meant a number.

According to the 2012 INA Nanny Salary and Benefits Survey: The national average hourly rate for babysitting or short-term assignments is $16 per hour. The national average gross weekly salary for full-time live-out nannies is $705. The national average gross weekly salary for full-time live-in nannies is $652.

the live out salary of $705 is 17.62 per hour which is the same on several websites. What I cannot find out, is verification that live-in nannies are getting $652.

That being said, minimum wage seems to be much less than the average nanny is getting. This means that these parents are basically selling the visa.

It does seem morally wrong to pay these people less than minimum wage. The tuition reimbursement number is outdated. Where can you get 12 credits for $1000?

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CulturalCare AuPair:

Agency gets 8K a year.
AuPair gets $200 a week (with the benefits listed in link: 3 meals a day, up to $500 education credits, free room, 2 paid weeks off, max hours a week.)

https://culturalcare.com/pricing/

After looking at the minimum wage site, it looks like the argument from Massachusetts is going to be that FSLA states that workers must be paid the higher min wage if the states is higher (which it is here). The Agency is going to argue that it is a federal plan which outlines the costs in the actual law (but does reference FSLA pay standards which would mean the Au Pairs may be entitled to the higher rate).

That's my amateur look at it anyway.

Also, it would be unfair if the AuPair gets $200 a week in Boston but also gets $200 a week in Topeka with COLA, but then again, the room and board are free so there is no COLA for AuPairs.

I dunno.

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the family pays the au pair $375 a week but she only gets $195 a week and she is supposed pay the difference between $500 and the price of 6 credits at an accredited college.

What family would want to do this? minimum wage is only $25 more a week. Why would you choose this kind of arrangement? No wonder they want the court to give them an out. I don't know how this agency stays in business. What happens when the au pair arrives in boston and find out that nannies make 3 times as much basically because they are citizens.

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It's as if some craft beer drinking yuppie parked in a bike lane outside of the new Southie Starbucks awaiting his au pair picking up an order for Boston Latin teachers.

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This isn't about whether the two host families in the lawsuit are doing right, or whether Sally got paid well/fairly, or whether BostonMom's Au Pairs all have a reunion specials at her house every month.

This is about setting a standard which any Au Pair agency and family will be allowed to get away with. The restaurant that pays its waiters a full wage and lets them keep their tips is the exception, not the rule. We allow tipped wages and to remain cost-competitive when everyone is paying their waiters less because the rules allow for it, everyone races for the bottom. And by everyone, I obviously mean lots or most, not literally everyone since you'll find the prime example restaurants paying so much more than minimum wage and paternity benefits for the busboy, etc.

So, I'm sure the primo agencies force families to treat their Au Pairs right and empower their Au Pairs to say things like "no, that would be more than we agreed to" and pay for them to go to college or drive a car around, etc. Great. I'm glad those families exist and get mutually beneficial and all with their Au Pairs.

But if we allow them to shirk the minimum wage laws, then the next family along that puts out an ad on Craiglist, isn't decent to their Au Pair that they sucker into coming over from Honduras, or whatever will be taking their lack of pay and compensations and overworking their hours and everything else because it's cheap and easy to use and abuse some foreign worker that they can just ditch as needed for a few bucks an hour. Let's raise the bar high enough that legal exploitation would come at too high of a price for this type of dickhead to get involved. (And, sure, you can exploit someone as your Au Pair without paying attention to a single law and hope to get away with it, but that comes with a set of risks from the IRS, FBI, local authorities, etc. too that hopefully dissuades all but the worst from that too. The point is not to allow people to "follow the law" and exploit anyone completely above the board and a below minimum wage where none of the alternative compensations are provided legally allows for that.)

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