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Federal court says Massachusetts residents have to pay foreign au pairs at least the state minimum wage, rather than the lower federal minimum wage

A federal appeals court today dismissed a lawsuit by a private agency that places au pairs in Massachusetts - and two families that have used its services - against the state Attorney General's office, which had determined their clients should have to pay foreign au pairs at least the state minimum wage of $12 an hour, rather than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.

It is hardly evident that a federal foreign affairs interest in creating a "friendly" and "cooperative" spirit with other nations is advanced by a program of cultural exchange that, by design, would authorize foreign nationals to be paid less than Americans performing similar work.

Culture Care Au Pair of Cambridge and the two families had were challenging AG Maura Healey's effort to get higher wages and even overtime for foreign au pairs, comparable to what domestic servants have to be paid under state employment laws - and which would require sleep and even meal time to be included as hours in many cases. They charged the effort was unconstitutional because it sought to override regulations for a State Department program that refers to the federal minimum wage as part of its conditions for allowing foreign college students to come here and spend a year as an exchange students while living in American couples' homes and caring for their children.

That, they argued, violated the "Supremacy" clause of the Constitution, under which federal laws and regulations normally override any state regulations.

Hogwash, the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Boston ruled today, if in more detailed and legally specific terms, in an 81-page decision.

The court started with a 1976 Supreme Court case involving the hiring of illegal aliens in California, in which the justices unanimously ruled that, among other things, while the federal government does indeed have "supremacy" when it comes to fundamental issues of immigration, regulation of worker standards and pay was "a quintessentially local area of regulation."

The court rejected the argument by the agency and families that another court case, involving workers with jobs the existence of which are "inherently federal in character" trumps that, because the au pairs wouldn't be here without the State Department program.

Nope, the court said, because the Massachusetts employment laws in question:

Are generally applicable to all domestic workers. Thus, they are not predicated on the existence of the federal au pair exchange program regulations.

Also, the court continued, the detailed State Department regulations refer solely to the host agencies that bring au pairs into the country, and are completely silent on the employer/employee relationship between host families and the au pairs - which is the relationship government by state minimum-wage and hours laws.

For, [the California case] makes clear, the mere fact that a state law implicates the interests of persons who are the subject of federal regulation, even with respect to immigration, does not alone provide a basis for inferring that the federal regulatory scheme was intended to preempt a field that encompasses such a state law, at least when it concerns a matter of such quintessentially local concern as employment.

The court next rejected an argument that by setting federal minimum standards for pay and hours, the federal government was attempting to set uniform national standards for au pairs. That may be true, but the regulations nowhere state that au pairs can't be paid more than the federal minimum - or be paid overtime if they work more than 40 hours a week, even in a state like Massachusetts, which in many cases would count hours spent sleeping in a host's home towards those hours.

Only, it isn't true, the court continued: A preface to the State Department au-pair regulations that lists "objectives" of the program "does not refer to a federal governmental interest in setting a uniform national standard for either au pair participant wages or for host family recordkeeping requirements."

From all one can tell from the text of these provisions, in other words, the Au Pair Program operates parallel to, rather than in place of, state employment laws that concern wages and hours and that protect domestic workers generally, at least with respect to the obligations that such state law wage and hour measures impose on host families to do more than what the FLSA itself requires. Thus, the text of au pair exchange program regulations themselves does not supply the affirmative evidence that the state measures at issue will frustrate the federal scheme's objectives that the plaintiffs need to identify if they are to meet their burden to show obstacle preemption.

The plaintiffs - joined in an amicus brief by the Department of State - also warned that if they lost, almost nobody in Massachusetts could afford a foreign au pair, which would damage the international amity the program is supposed to promote. The court, though, said the plaintiffs supplied no proof of this and asked, if this were so, how anybody in Massachusetts could afford a live-in domestic nanny or maid, since they are subject to the state minimum-age and hours laws as well.

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Comments

Nothing more to add other than to say this is a good thing.

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We have an au pair. We do this because while we could put our daughter in our town's free preschool, we truly value the cultural exchange. We are not a rich family that rents an apartment in a blue collar town.

We take our au pair on two vacations a year and she can do as she pleases. She's not working, she's coming with us as part of a cultural exchange if she wants and is not working. She gets her own room.

She's not a maid. We cook and clean for her in our home. She is really a new family mrmbed for a year. She's introducing us to her Brazilian cuisine, language and we speak with her family on WhatsApp video weekly.

The agencies get to charge $10k a year for families to join the program. You must go through an agency and they don't do sh*t for you but it's a requirement. They don't really oversee the aupairs and it's just a money grab. There are so many reports of the agencies not doing what they need to as the visa sponsor. When the few au pairs slip through the cracks and go to Vegas and become hookers, instead of trying to help these women the agency sponsors, they've turned the other way. Many families would not mind paying an extra 10k a year to the au pair rather than to these nine or so lazy agencies that are deep in the pockets with the government.

There's a perception that the aupair program is a cheap way to get childcare but many families can send their kiddos to school and have a relative like a grandmother look after the child after school but they choose cultural exchange. It actually costs us more to have an aupair. She's Brazilian. We could easily get a Brazilian aupair to work under the table for less. There are a bunch willing to work for $8 an hour without housing. It's so sad.

If we didn't have an aupair, we could rent out our room to a traveling nurse and get $700 a month but we choose not to. We could also rent it out on Airbnb.

If we hired a regular nanny, we would not be providing her with:
A cell phone plan
A car
Paid rent
3 meals a day
2 paid vacations a year

To have an aupair

The issue is in a large part how the government has allowed these agencies to charge skyrocketing fees that don't provide the family or aupair with any real benefit and in turn, the families are dumping all this money into privately held companies rather than paying more to the aupair.

Keep in mind there are many many families in the aupair program who are multicultural families - an American father with a mother that is Czech and they choose the au pair program to hire a Czech aupair so their son can experience a bit of the culture they come from and give the aupair an experience in the UzsA during her gap year between high school and college. In the US if you want to take a year off when you are 18 you're considered lost or unmotivated. In Europe, it's celebrated.

I am certain some families do abuse the program and its inappropriate. I think the issue is better policing families, capping the program fee so that the program thrives.

I work as a wedding planner and so often I see Former au pairs in attendance au their host kids weddings 20 years later making toasts. Its wonderful and so many aupairs and families have formed lifelong bonds over the decades.

Perhaps there's a way to improve the program - allowing the aupairs more time, such as doing childcare for 20-30 hours a week as an option, but the program fee being 10,000 a year and not actually going toward anything is nuts. And guess what? The au pair agency was caught double charging families an aupairs for international airfares for YEARS.

I don't think it's stingy families looking for cheap care in all cases.

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even if the agencies are scamming people out of $10k, that's neither here nor there with respect to whether the au pairs are paid a living wage or not.

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I’m all for a living wage but you don’t seem to understand that it’s irrelevant in the case of au pairs.
A minimum or living wage is set to ensure a person can meet basic needs and expenses. Lodging, food, transportation utilities etc. for an au pair these costs are covered by the host family. Their weekly stipend or wages are pure spending money.
This court decision will likely push most MA host families to seek local help such as live out nannies or babysitters as it will now be roughly the same cost to have an AP but without all of the added expenses on top and without having to house a person in your spare bedroom.

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The $10K covers travel fees and health insurance as well as training and having a local coordinator available to both the au pair and the family. Obviously the agencies are making money as well, but a portion of the $10K also goes to the au pair various forms.

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What travel fees? I'm an Au Pair, I had to pay 2k to come to USA and they said the 2k covered my travel fees and insurance fee so...

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Most of the big agencies cover these fees. Its a shame you had to pay your own travel.

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Families are told that we pay the travel in our $9,000 fee. There is an ongoing lawsuit about double charging Au Pairs and families for travel.

It is also interesting how the Au Pair fees vary by agency and country of origin. My two Au Pairs paid about $600 each in total fees.

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I suggest you do some actual research of the facts. The Au Pairs themselves pay for their own insurance and any travel fees are charged on top of the basic agency fees. The local coordinators get paid a tiny amount. Most of the agency fees go to their full time office staff, overheads, lawyers, business insurance and also pretty sizable profits (with the exception of a few NFP agencies).

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Nope, because the Au Pair pays for the travel fees as well. The agency makes money from both sides. I know that because I was an Au Pair and now I have an Au Pair. The local coordinator does NOT help the Au Pair :(

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Agency charges host family 10k, they also charge AP a fee. Medical Insurance is paid by the AuPair. The local corrdinator is paid $25, not a typo, $25 a month to be available to a host family and Au pair. Au Pairs come for the cultural exchange not to be maids. Host families pay for all outings, travels, if AP wishes to join family, car insurance, car, meals, 6 college credits, etc . Total cost to host family is well above 25k a year. But the agency keeps 10k . They also charge AP to participate.

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... for doing almost nothing.

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Very well put. My wife is from Latin American and we are on our third au pair over the past five years. If you add up the cost of food, car, phone and having an extra person living in your house (heat, laundry, electricity, renting a movie on the weekend, etc.), it certainly works out to more than minimum wage for our family. Plus, I don't even know how we would count her hours. Is time spent doing a puzzle with my 5 year old on a Saturday morning "billable" time even though I never asked the au pair to do that? What about when she walks the dog because she likes to go for a walk while the kids are at school? It is a shame that this ruling will probably ruin a program that is very valuable to many au pairs and families in Massachusetts.

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The reality is that these programs are extremely competitive in the home countries from which these au pairs come. I wonder if Healey is protecting special interests here - ie, outrageously expensive, inflexible and impersonal daycares? These au pairs aren’t being taken advantage in virtually all cases. If they are, obviously that should be policed. Room and board in the Boston area is outrageously expensive. Plus the provision of cell phone,car, car insurance and 2 weeks vacation. This program benefited everyone. The only winners now are the corporate daycare centers.
Another misplaced effort by our AG

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While I have your attention check out AuPairConfessions account on Instagram and please report back.

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I just started dating a girl that is an Au Pair and I am stunned by the corruption in this program.
I've met several au pairs now and have heard many horror stories from them (anecdotal, I know, but I proceeded to read up on the program and it's shocking).

This lady is accurate that the 10k fee to the agencies does not go to help the girls. Another comment stated it's for training, etc. and that is not true either. The au pairs have to pay for their own training, their own agency placement (2k USD in the case of my girlfriend) and offer free childcare for a minimum number of hours (she had to work part-time in a daycare for a year - unpaid - to be eligible for the program (and she even has a college degree already!)). And they absolutely pay for their own insurance, and sometimes their own flights as well.

The agencies are self-regulated (which about sums up the situation), and offer little to no protection or assistance to the au pairs. Au pair wages have remained stagnant over the years, despite skyrocketing fees for host families. The program needs an overhauling, but nobody wants to be responsible for it so it's easier for the gov. to just let them operate in this gray area and "self-regulate"

The program has advantages, and does offer some cool opportunities (I wouldn't have met the current girl if not for it), but it desperately needs an overhaul.

The above lady btw sounds like an awesome host family. Thanks for being one of the non-shitty ones out there that just takes advantage of these poor girls.

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In the short term this will drive families to quit the au pair program and force the au pairs to find another family in a different state and still not be paid the state minimum wage. In the long term perhaps the agencies will realize that taking 10,000 from a family and 2000 from the au pair to do basically nothing is not the way to go. The latter point would be the only positive. I think it will be rare to find a family in MA in the program that will continue and pay an extra 1500 per month to their au pair as well as every living expense the au pair has.

We are on our second au pair. We paid 10,000 and the 250 per week stipend on the first year. Plus food, utilities, phone, car, car insurance, gas, hotel rooms on vacations, plane tickets, 500 education credit etc etc etc. Having an au pair is by no means an inexpensive childcare option. The stipend may not seem to be a lot but when the au pair has literally no living expenses and it is only spending money it can give her the ability to do anything she would like in her time here.

The agencies are the ones who should take less money from the families and the girls.

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I have had aupairs for 7 years. Half of mine actually saved the stipend! They do not understand that these girls are taken care of? The stipend is spending money.

The only folks coming out ahead are the greedy law firms that want to make millions on class action litigation. That is the real reason this lawsuit took off.

What a shame!

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Im glad I have an Aupair in NH. All this ruling will do is send Aupairs home or to different states because families won't be able to afford them. The daycares im MA will be happy too!

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The ruling covers the district of this appeals court - Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island.

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Puerto Rico.

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PR is part of our judicial district

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Im glad I have an Aupair in NH. All this ruling will do is send Aupairs home or to different states because families won't be able to afford them. The daycares im MA will be happy too!

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If this would happen in my state, we would have to leave the program. That means the au pairs who we are/would be hosting would/will not be here and their odds of being in the program are greatly decreased just due to the lower demand of american families willing/able to pay. Compared to regular public childcare, this is not cheap labor unless you have 3+ kids.

Yes, we the American family, greatly benefit from the flexibility of the program and the price is reasonable mostly due to quality of life we are afforded (packing up 2 kids for daycare, no preschool due to not transportation, snow days, etc). We also make life-long friends and children's brains grow faster with multiple languages and culture!

Yes, the au pair also greatly benefits as well! Language (makes them more valuable when they go home for employment = $), experience (life-long friends and contacts for a happier life and abilities to make human connections in a world where we are tied to our phones), travel (dont most of us love travel? Especially if it is paid for by someone else?), stability (the bills are always paid, they dont have to worry if they will make the rent or have enough gas to go to work let alone fun time and basic needs).

Every single au pair we have talked to, from skype half way around the world to in our home, state they sought out the program knowing the conditions. They willingly sign up and eagerly await a match. Their entire family helped them achieve this "dream" (their words, not mine). Not all families are good for the program though... not that this ruling will solve that. Of the au pairs we have hosted, they disagree with this ruling. They understand the number of young people, looking to better themselves, will not be allowed to get the experience they did. Its sad to see all the au pairs currently in MA already in rematch and many of whom will have to go home. Do you think THEY are happy about that? Do you think the kids and families who have grown to love them are happy?

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I love the au pair program, and the people it has put in our lives over the years. I describe it more as an exchange student who cares for my children (she takes them to school and picks them up and plays with them in the afternoon or shuttles them around to their activities). I ask that she does their laundry each week and keep their bedrooms relatively tidy.

When we matched, she asked what her bedroom and bathroom would look like, and I gave her a tour. If they were unacceptable, she would have said no and continued to look for another family. They have just as much a choice in matching as we do, and plenty to choose from.

She has Friday at 5 until 8 am Monday off. She was gone on a paid holiday that was not taken out of her vacation time from tues morning - until Monday morning of thanksgiving week. She was given a round trip flight and a free apt in nyc over Christmas while my family is out of town. Again, not taking vacation time. So now you have an 18-26 year old who does an amazing job of watching my kids, who has also had more paid days off in 3 months than many of us have ten years into our jobs.

She has a car with gas and insurance and an iPhone X that is paid monthly. She has friends she sees regularly and goes to class one night a week. She has tons of food in the fridge. Oh, and she makes $200/week to spend on whatever she wants. She can save it and go on a huge trip around the country. She can blow it on clothes at the mall. It’s her business, but she certainly isn’t worrying about any bills that need to be paid, like gas and electric, or her crazy commute to the office.

If we had to, we could make the extra cash work. I’d pull my younger two out of preschool, so instead of having 9-2 free every day, we’d get every penny out of her 45 hour work week. That would cover the extra cost. She would not have gone away for thanksgiving. I was excited for her to see Savannah, but at $500/week couldn’t have afforded to pay that for no work. Those uggs and necklace I got her for Christmas would sadly be traded for a $50 gift card to target.

Perks are perks. I’m sure some families can still afford it, but there are costs to having someone live in that aren’t tied to finances. If I’m paying the same as a nanny, I’d probably do that. Having privacy, having the ability to schedule more than 45 hours each week, not worrying about inexperienced drivers using your vehicles, not paying the extra cell phone bill, etc... I love our au pair, but I’m so glad I don’t live in mass right now.

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I am a mother of 4 and I have had 6 au pairs. I now work for an au pair company. We have an intense 3 day training school with a teacher who has her masters in early childhood development. We pay for everything for the au pairs for those three days. ( We pay for the au pairs travel to the US and to our school. ( FYI: RT from China is over 2k, Bolivia 2k,etc) We pay for her health insurance for the year. ( this is over 1k per year) We pay for her support from the local coordinator for the year. We provide a monthly stipend to the LC to do an activity with the au pairs. Our fee is much less than 10k to the families. Are we making a profit, yes , minimal. Enough to live in the US and pay our team fair wages. All of my au pairs came on vacation with my family, had a private room and bathroom and car. Cell phone, gym membership....I could go on and on. I advise all of our host families to treat their au pairs with love and respect. Could they be given more pocket money, sure. Should they make minimum wage, sure, but then you must have an accurate deduction for room and board. $78 per week! Are you kidding me! Everything for the au pair is paid for. Everything. The weekly stipend is spending money. I would have no problem advocating for a hirer weekly stipend, but linking this to min wage will break this program. MA will never have another au pair if this sticks. I advise you all to truly look at this program for what it is supposed to be, a cultural exchange with a child care component. When this works properly, its amazing for both the host family and the au pair.

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It is unfortunate that Mass AG Healey is pushing this. The apparent desired goal of the AG is to create a small shift from foreign au pairs to domestic low-wage part-time jobs. Unfortunately, as is often the case, the shortsightedness of this law and ruling will have damaging unintended consequences. This move will result in the removal of US workers (predominantly women) from well-paying managerial, executive and other well-paying jobs, as the cost calculus changes and they decide to stay home to raise their children. While there is a lot of merit to staying home and raising children, there is also a lot of merit to promoting women in the workforce and providing opportunity for them - a historic struggle which is very much ongoing. I believe this ruling is a huge step back and will adversely affect working women. Many families are now rethinking the cost / benefit calculus and many people will no longer be able to justify a two wage household in this already expensive and high-tax state.

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Despite a strong economy, wages are flat. Expenses are not flat. Why aren't employers paying enough? It is wrong to push that burden on non-citizen domestic workers. Our high taxes pay for services for people (not aupairs) that don't earn a living wage. Huge publicly traded corporations pay less than a living wage and the taxpayers pick up the slack. Instead blaming the poor, why not ask why large companies take care of stockholders by cutting health care and pensions? We pay high taxes because fake capitalists have tricked us into being the safety net for their workers. It is fake capitalism because corporations prevent competition for services and wages.

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Have grown so fond of our French nanny Geneviève and now they will have to get to know Conseula, she has no pesky papers and we can pay her whatever we like.
Maura won't be getting a Christmas card from us this year.

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Nanny's are career professionals.

AuPairs are foreign teenagers here to avoid making college decisions.

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Aupairs are taking a gap year between high school and college to see the world. This is a celebrated experience in Europe whether you volunteer in your home country, work part time and travel, or become an aupair in US, Australia or another corner of the world.

In the USA if you don't immediately go to college it's considered bad. Why rush making a life decision on what path you want to take for your life if you're not ready?

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... college students. But that’s not the point. It doesn’t matter what they do in their free time. Nor does being a teenager make you somehow second class.

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This is a very interesting view. I'm almost 26 years old and I came here as an au Pair Last year. I didn't come here for a gap year! I know a lot of au pairs who are nurses, teachers or even physicians. When you are looking for an au pair, you have a full database of people, from young teenagers to young adults with excellent graduations! The choice is up to families. If they think they need a teenager, then it's their choice! Unfortunately the main agencies don't require families to pay you more if you're performing special duties.

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APIA agency does have an expert au pair option where families pay a higher agency fee and a higher salary. Please don't share false information.

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Hey, miss or mister, I’m an au pair and I’m an English teacher, I have my college bachelor and I was doing a master. Don’t generalize because I can also say awful things about the host families

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What are you talking about? Au pairs do the same job as a nanny, it’s the same professional thing. Get oriented about it.

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An au pair and nanny are NOT the same. We have hosted many au pairs and have had tk train them on how to look after kids.

Most lie on their applications.

You can teach a girl how to change a diaper but you can't reach attitude and judgement.

thinking families are bad and that they should have a 35k expense on top of covering food and housing tells me you are an entitled brat looking for a rich American family to take care of you.

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If au pairs are teenages who are here to avoid college decisions,why invite them to your home in the first place ?? Doesn't that show that you as an adult are also irresponsible for hiring a person you do not consider to be professional or mature to be dealing with your kids ?.. It's people like you who are in the program for wrong reasons, so you can exploit young foreigners for your own convenience. And au pairs don't only consist of 18 year olders, there are au pairs who are older than that who have already went to university's in their home countries, have degrees and come to America to explore and learn a different culture .

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You are wrong if you think that all the au pairs are like that. And what the baby sitters are? Most of them are teenagers too.

So you are that kind of family who only have an au pair because is cheap than the school or a Nanny.

I'm an au pair. I have my Bachelor's degree, I'm not a teenager. You are completely wrong.

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This is not true. You hf have to stop seeing au pairs like this. There are au pairs who studied first and then decided to go and work like an au pair. You cans find engineer au pair, lawyers, artists, teachers, etc, but you don't see this because you feel au pairs are only teenagers that doesn't know what to do with their life's.
If it's true that is not worthy to increase that much the au pair salary, also is true that au pairs doesn't receive the fair amount of money for the much work the do. Most of the families forget their kids and make the au pair be like a mom for them, taking care of meals, school, activities and even feelings, they work always more than the hf said, and 195.75 per week is a joke for this much work.

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My dear friend,

How many aupairs do you know to make such an offensive and personal comment? Mostly of them has already a college degree, they pay for this program as much as the host families do, they leave their own country and family to take care of someone else's kids to gain experience, improve english abilities which is not their first language. How many teenagers do you know, that were actually "avoiding" making college decisions, have submitted to something like that? Mostly of the americans I know, don't even bother learning another language, not to mention embracing another culture do deeply like the aupair program does. I can't speak for all of them but I do speak for myself, I started working with 16yo, finished school with 17yo, I learned english by myself, I paid for my college degree and I had worked while in college (and I do know some americans who passed their 30's but still have a big student loan to pay for), I paid an expensive cost to be an aupair as well and I never grew up more as a person, as much as I did during the aupair program. So please, if you have nothing good to say about it, just be quiet!

Thank you.

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to enjoy time with their Au Pair because their parents are upper class and rich.

The rest of us in the middle, middle-upper and upper-middle class will be driven permanently out of the Au Pair program until Massachusetts corrects its wholly disproportionate $77/week room and board deduction and the Au Pair agencies lower their cartel-appropriated high fee structure.

Congratulations to corporate daycare (Bright Horizons) and others with significant lobbying dollars to compel most kinds of live-in domestic work entirely unattractive in eastern Massachusetts.

Young people like our nearly 10 au pairs, who we and our kids love and continue to stay in close contact with, will never be able to enjoy Massachusetts as an Au Pair destination again unless they find upper-class families to recruit them.

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Aupairs living in the home benefit the employer. Because of the Visa they cannot negotiate a competitive wage. the going rate is higher than minimum wage. It would be unfair to deduct more than $77.

No one seems to acknowledge that this not capitalism. This is artificially low cost for domestic help. why do all of these families yammer on as if it is an entitlement? Loop holes close.

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Drop the agency fees from $10k annually to $1-2k or less and yes, you finally have a real capitalist program.

Most host families have had their issues with the agencies for years - high costs with virtually no service. The list of host family stories about the agencies is as long as the situations where au pairs were taken advantage of by the handful of neglectful or abusive host families.

Most of us wished we could give all the money to our au pairs, but the State Dept bans it and the agencies extract cartel payments. It is a lopsided system that needs serious reform.

Note - we have also employed four different Massachusetts nannies over the years to cover additional time through part-time work. We have paid 100% over the table, with work contracts, vacation time, benefits and the like plus compliance with workers comp.

If the au pair program did not exist while my children were preschool age and earlier, my spouse or I likely would have had to sacrifice a full-time career for a part-time one or none at all. Unfortunately, the latter is the case for most host families in the middle to upper-middle bracket; and also unfortunately if that were the case broadly, either in MA or across the US, many parents, likely mostly women, would not have been afforded the economic opportunity available in the workplace.

Always tradeoffs, cinnmngrl. Thanks for the healthy engagement over the last week, I appreciate it.

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If you have two kids, minimum wage childcare is a bargain. Probably even a deal with one kid now.

The "can't afford" is nonsense, too. You have to be able to afford a separate space for your au pair to begin with.

Wiping baby ass isn't a cultural exchange, anyway. It is work.

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You make a good point, but I think one thing that isn't being considered is all the additional "payment" the au pairs are getting outside the literal wage. They get free room and board, which is MA would cost a huge sum of money, even with roommates. They get $500 education credit paid by the host family to attend classes each year. Many of them get free access to a vehicle and paid car insurance, or paid public transit. Yes, if you look merely at the weekly wage it seems low, but in reality the entire compensation package is what should be considered. It's comparable to what I made in my first job out of college, not that long ago! I only wish the articles would actually report the entire story, instead of making it all about how everyone is abusive to au pairs, which isn't true. People are certainly entitled to their opinions, but people writing these articles should try to make sure they're providing full information so opinions are based on all the facts.

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The only legal requirement is the weekly pay. Many Au pairs just get the weekly pay and no other compensation in addition. I know an au pair who is in a town that is in the middle of nowhere and she can't even afford the transportation to have a social life and meet people so she spends the entire day (otherwise labeled as her free time) isolated in the house by herself. She has been here for four months and she is so lonely she is choosing to go back home.

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they are "paid" based on 45 hrs per week times the federal minimum wage minus 40% for room and board (regardless of actual cost) - this is how they get at most $4.35 per hour (but only if they work at max 45 hrs, which isn't always the case). The system is set up to make the agencies money and get the families cheap child care with little or no protection for the au pairs - their complaints to the agencies and the state department are ignored and they risk having their visas pulled and their ability to get visas in the future affected. This is mentioned in all the articles I read but then I'm not trying to justify anything.

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You know, if my employer made me live and eat where I worked, conveniently making me available 24-7, I wouldn't see it as a perk.

Counting room and board as part of a wage (can't do it unless the employee freely chooses to live in employer-provided housing and accept food and drink) is also covered by state law regarding domestic workers: https://www.mass.gov/service-details/domestic-workers

So it doesn't matter one bit what the market value of any of that is if the employee must accept them in order to accept the job.

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The first problem with your comment is that au pairs by law can only work up to 10hrs per day, 45 hrs per week, and must have at least 1.5 consecutive days off and at least one weekend off per month.

In their off time, au pairs can do what they want, go where they want, with whom they want.

They aren’t on call, they’re off.

Second, the visa isn’t a domestic worker visa, it’s a student visa. Au pairs pay a fee to work in this role as do the host families.

The ruling completely mischaracterizes the nature of their visa, and host families don’t do anything traditional employers do from an HR perspective...all of that is handled by the agency.

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I said that living in the same home automatically makes you available. even if technically you are not on call, your employer knows when you're in or out and generally what you're doing.

you know, how when someone from work calls you on a saturday and you just make like you didn't see the call? or "oh, man, no signal, didn't get your text". someone who lives in their employer's house can't do that.

since an au pair relies on them for their visa status, even if the employer is super respectful of their privacy and time in the best of cases, it would be hard to say no to off-hours requests and other little things here and there wouldn't it?

while I don't think most au pair employer families are holding indentured servants in their homes, I also do not believe for one second that those families actually keep track of and respect those 45 hours a week.

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We set a schedule at the beginning of every week. You clearly have not spoken with any host families or au pairs, and/or broadly generalize about assumed poor behavior of a handful of negligent families who disrespect their au pairs.

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Please educate yourself on the tenants of the program before sharing an uninformed statement such as the one above. The Department of State requires au pairs to be housed by host families. It is not a requirement of the host family.

Furthermore, au pairs are employees of the agencies who sponsor their visas. Host families are just that—hosts—in exchange for a weekly stipend, room and board, two weeks paid vacation and in most families, very lucrative perks (car, car insurance, free vacations, housing of family members visiting the US, cell phone, annual $500 education stipend, day and a half off every week and mandated full weekend once a month, etc, etc, etc, and everything else that go along with being a member of the family like birthday and holiday gifts, extra spending cash).

Stipend, perks, room and board are all in exchange for a very narrow scope of duties solely related to the children that can be performed by au pairs. Most host families are putting out $35k++ to host annually and that’s before the required agency fees are factored in. Again, the Department of State requires host families engage an agency to participate in the program.

Sadly, what will happen is most will cut the extras to be able to afford the new rate. At the end of the day, the au pairs will lose the most, and that’s before they will be subject to higher federal taxes and now, state. :(

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It's not just the well-off who have au pairs. It's significantly cheaper than day care, especially if you have more than one kid.

At least it was until this ruling.

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exploiting labor laws to avoid paying your childcare provider any more than federal minimum wage (which is now well below poverty level, since it hasn't moved upward in over a decade) is definitely a sustainable way to afford having multiple children. And it's totally within reach of the average lower-to-middle-income family to afford an extra live-in bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen for a woefully-underpaid 19-year-old college student, but woe betide the tax man who makes them pay their live-in nanny more than $290/week

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This doesn't address my point that au pairs are not just for the super-rich. They're cheaper than day care, and all types of people pay for day care these days.

Have you talked to any au pairs? You should ask them if they felt the program drove them into poverty.

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It is not reallly that cheap. The state has standards for minimum wage because the voters want that way. 12$ is 5 less than going rate.

This is the invisible privlege created by laws that favor a small group of people. it's not everyone else's responsibility to keep special rules in place to domesticmake affordable.

This is the same kind of thinking that makes the housing crisis worse. we can't have more density because I won't be able find parking for 2 cars that my children cannot exist without. etc.

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I was au pair in bay area CA and im grateful for this opportunity. I would have never been able to live in a beautiful house in the bay even if i would have been paid the minimum wage. Not even if i got $30per hour.

It was my own choice to be an au pair, nobody forced me to work for this wage. I think it was a great deal for my gap year.
We are part of the families and not "maids"
Its nithing we do as a career. Its an experience.

If the au pair programs would not be here i can tell you soo many more horror stories would happen. So lets not put them out of business. What does everyone have against them?

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I used to work in Newton - from what I've seen, au pairs are really treated like live in nannies and housekeepers at much lower rates with less training. Nannies get paid more because they have more responsibilities and training and also get guaranteed time off. Same with maids/housekeepers. People hire au pairs, who are supposed to supplement the parents, and instead are left in charge of the children all day (as much as 12 hours per day) and are expected to clean and cook and run errands as well. I'd see very young girls with 2-3 kids at the supermarket doing the shopping for a whole household. Hardly a cultural exchange for them. It's not like they get the evenings off either. People would be very judgemental of a 19 year old with 3 kids but are ok with it in this context - and expect them to be completely mature and not lose their patience because the parents are paying her (ends up around less than $4.50 per hour). You want a nanny, hire a nanny.

https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/03/au-pair-program-abuse-st...

https://www.bostonglobe.com/business/2018/08/20/visa-program-exploits-pa...

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Although there are many well qualified experienced live-in child care professionals, there are also 17-24 year old American citizen's working as a Nanny. I was one of them. I passed criminal record check and submitted references from the neighbor's I babysat for. I wasn't more qualified than the aupairs.

citizen's get minimum wage. non-citizen's didn't until this ruling.

If you check online job postings, live-in help gets at least 17 per hour. So you can still use the rigged system to save $5 an hour.

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The au pair agencies cost $10,000 a year. Plus I have to pay the au pair's car insurance, room and furnishings, extra utilizities, board, $500 toward education expenses, gas/travel costs to and from au pair meetings, extra car for their use in personal time, costs of including them in our family activities (as they should be full family members). I did the math with these minimum expenses and it is easily $30K a year. Now increase the fees to "minimum wage" of 12.75 an hour starting in Jan. My fees will be an ADDITIONAL $16K a year.

What does that mean? It means I am done with the au pair program and the lovely lady staying with me will have to go home. It means families will still abuse their au pairs and short change them their hours...because they do that NOW. Au pairs aren't allowed to work 12 hours straight right now but stories are different because people break the law. Changing the law won't affect it. Wealthy people will still treat hired labor badly. But those of us who truly wanted a family member from another country will be out. MUCH cheaper to hire a college student that I don't have to house, provide car or insurance for, etc. Very sad.

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hire a college student already.

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I looked at the law, and I don't see it making any distinction between citizens and non-citizens. It seems to cover any employment of any person within Massachusetts:

It is hereby declared to be against public policy for any employer to employ any person in an occupation in this commonwealth at an oppressive and unreasonable wage as defined in section two, and any contract, agreement or understanding for or in relation to such employment shall be null and void. A wage of less than $12.00 per hour, in any occupation, as defined in this chapter, shall conclusively be presumed to be oppressive and unreasonable...

https://www.mass.gov/info-details/mass-general-laws-c151-ss-1

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Au pairs that complain about long hours, not getting paid, sexual advances, etc can be labeled by the host families as problematic with the criminal agencies that don't do proper oversight and the state department, who treat these situations as not their business. The au pairs visa can be pulled for this reason, even when the host family is at fault, meaning that not only are they kicked out of the country but future attempts to visit or move here are affected. The reason why the don't always speak up. Read the articles - they outline quite a bit. One instance had a mother lie about the au pair shaking the baby because she didn't want the "cultural experience" of dealing with language differences. They can and should be paid the same as the citizens that are affected by this ruling but it goes much deeper than that. With the current administration, do you see it getting better?

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I don't disagree with what you are saying, but I think maybe you misunderstood my point. Sorry if I was not clear:

'cinnamngrl' made the claim that, before this ruling, the minimum wage law only applied to citizens.

I responded to say that the minimum wage law applies to everyone, and has always applied to everyone. That is, citizenship makes no difference when it comes to whether employers have to pay minimum wage.

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This special visa program allowed families to hire an au pair and believed that it was legal to pay them less. I agree that the minimum wage laws applies to everyone, citizen and non citizen. I meant that the visa was the only reason that au pairs agree to be paid less.

You can hire a Nanny in boston that is a legal resident and has permission to work in the US (or a citizen), but they cost at least 17 per hour for live in, and much more for live out. And as far as room and board expense go, MA has rules about that.

Employers may charge for food, drinks, or housing that they provide to the worker, but only if the employee voluntarily accepts these for his or her own benefit and the following conditions are met:

Food and drinks - Deductions are allowed only if the worker can bring, prepare, store, and eat and drink the foods s/he prefers. If the worker cannot do so because of household dietary restrictions, then the employer may not charge for the food or drink provided to the worker. The employer may charge for the actual cost of the food and drink, up to $1.50 for breakfast and $2.25 for lunch or dinner.
The employer may not make deductions unless the worker agrees voluntarily to these deductions in writing in a language the worker easily understands. The agreement must be made before any deductions are made.
Housing - An employer must not deduct the cost of a room or other housing if the employer requires the worker to live in that place. An employer may deduct the cost of housing only if the worker chooses to live there and the housing meets the local and state health code standards for heat, water, and light. The employer must not charge more than: $35 a week for a room with 1 person; $30 a week for a room with 2 people; or $25 a week for a room with 3 or more people. The employer may not make deductions unless the worker agrees voluntarily to these deductions in writing in a language the worker easily understands. The agreement must be made before any deductions are made.

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“The plaintiffs - joined in an amicus brief by the Department of State - also warned that if they lost, almost nobody in Massachusetts could afford a foreign au pair, which would damage the international amity the program is supposed to promote.”

Oh yeah, it’s his Dept of State. The Great International Amigo, promoter of world amity.

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We can't accept immigrants or refugees because they'll take American jobs for less money than Americans will accept. But no problem if people hire European au pairs and pay them under minimum wage - then its valuable cultural benefit.

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When I pay a nanny, I can include as part of her earned wage the food she prepares and eats for only herself, the meals I provide her, the cost of her room, her health insurance, employer perks like an education stipend, and personal travel expenses that I pay. An au pair receives the same deal, except the program bakes all of the extras into it and makes the final wage more transparent.

Last year, the income my au pair earned including all of the personal expenses I was required to pay for her added up as follows:
$1,400/mo room (that is 20% below what we rented the same room for the year prior)
$195.75/wk cash wages
$8,500/yr for training, travel, and insurance
$500/yr education stipend
$160/mo transportation pass
$3,800/yr car insurance
$45/mo cellphone service
$120/wk food
$40/wk personal fuel (she refused to drive the kids but agency required us to provide her with her own car even though we have excellent public transportation)
$4,500 car for her private use (we bought it because we were told it was required and sold it in the end.)

Total: $55,059 for the year

Average hours worked per week, 38 hours/wk over 48 weeks.

Average wage including expenses: $30.18/hr
If we had utilized her maximum of 45 hours per week, the relative wage would have fallen to $25.49/hr.
If she had taken her vacation days the same as us, the relative wage would have fallen to $24.47/hr
If we would have had to pay her cash wages at the minimum wage on top of her other expenses, we would have paid $16,861 more for the year and her effective wage would have been between $32.57 and $38.38 per hour.

She took her two weeks vacation, which our agency said we had to let her choose the dates of ... and she intentionally chose her weeks off to be the week before our family vacations ... so she received a total of four weeks paid vacation. In contrast, I had to pay someone else to cover for the two weeks she was on vacation, receive two weeks unpaid vacation per year, go to work before she starts and return before she ends. She works one Saturday every two months, but otherwise had every weekend off. She was not allowed to work more than 10 hours in a day including breaks and we had to arrange for others to take the kids when she took her breaks.

In comparison, our nanny who doesn’t live with us and doesn’t have any of those expenses earns $22/hr total and works 40 hours per week with two weeks paid vacation. Total annual cost for nanny: $45,760 and we have the use of an extra room or, as starts next month, have rented out the extra room to a college student for $1,650/mo ($19,800 per year).

The only problem with these lawsuits is that the agencies try to argue just the federal law and ignore everything tied into what is a wage. If anything, au pairs get paid more than nannies and other domestic servants and far more than the minimum wage. Min wage is before expenses, not after. That $195.75 per week is entirely discretionary funds.

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Voting closed 9

unless the employee specifically, explicitly and freely chooses to live in your home, it's pretty disingenuous to claim room and board as part of their "wage".

if it's included as a non-optional part of the job - as it is for au pairs - then Massachusetts law would prohibit you from charging the worker for them. So you being so generous as to "give" your live-in domestic worker those things means nothing.

When I pay a nanny, I can include as part of her earned wage the food she prepares and eats for only herself, the meals I provide her, the cost of her room.

so no, you cannot do that unless the nanny has the freedom to make the choice to live and eat with you.

https://www.mass.gov/service-details/domestic-workers

people that have live-in help 24 hours a day and somehow still find a way to make themselves the victims. sure, bro.

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The way the program is set up is simply not sustainable if families are forced to pay minimum wage, mainly because of all additional costs listed in the post above. The program is set up so that the “stIpend” is a fully discretionary income for the Au Pair. They have no costs. One can argue, they are “required” to live with the family, but where else would they live? I do not see them as abused workers here. I have been hosting for three years now and my Au Pairs definitely do not live like someone below poverty line. Quite the contrary. They party in Manhattan every weekend and shop like there is no tomorrow. They travel and probably saw more of the US then I ever did. So I do not feel bad for them. I think they have a blast. Too bad it may end.

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and how you perceive it is not at issue.

at issue is the law. you are required to pay them the state minimum wage, irrespective of whatever other "benefits" you believe them to have.

you wanted an au pair, you deal with what it means to be an employer and follow the law. it's not hard.

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Au Pairs are not employees. They do not have work authorization in the US.

Also, it is not a live-in help 24-hours a day. The program is up to 45h a week. Barely covers the hours for someone working out of the home.

As to the choice where to live - it is federally mandated. So not a choice of the employer, really. I would not mind if my Au Pair went to live somewhere else - I could rent my basement apartment where she lives for $1500/month. I would gladly pay her minimum wage then. But I would also not give her my car on her off hours, or computer, or cable, or Netflix or all the other things she gets when she lives with us.

This new ruling is a mess. It is not compatible with the Au Pair program and will likely end it in MA.

And people who think that Au Pairs should meet some of these girls and see how they fare - ours parties in Manhattan every weekend (oh, I forgot the free transportation to the city paid for us) and travels the US on extra vacation we give her. Check out our nice family photos from her birthday in Japanese steakhouse. How many minimum-wage nannies live like this?

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just because they don't have work authorization doesn't mean they're not doing work.

you expect them to care for your children and the whole point of the "exchange" is that they provide childcare for up to 45 hours a week (just a bit over a full time job, in case you forgot). therefore, it's work and you are the employer.

it doesn't really matter what's federally mandated and what's not and what you would accept in hypothetical circumstances - the point is, by Massachusetts law that au pair has no choice but to stay in your home so you cannot argue that room and board go towards her wage.

you made the choice to hire an au pair. now you deal with what that means.

you want to rent out that extra room? cool, hire a live-out childcare professional and rent the room.

it doesn't make much sense to enter into a work contract that you know ahead of time requires her to occupy that room and then bitch about how you're under so much hardship because you can't AirBnB anymore. you knew what you were getting into. suck it up.

I don't really understand the sense of entitlement here.

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You are misunderstanding what I am trying to say. I am not saying that they are not doing work. But it is not a classic employee-employer relationship. It is different. My boss does not cook me chicken soup when I am sick, does yours?

And this ruling and discussion is about getting them to minimum wage, the "living wage." They are already provided a living. They do not need a living wage. All they get is "extra" and they can spend it on having fun and travelling and not on bills and food. They already live a middle class (or upper middle class in my area) lifestyle. Yes, they have to work. Newsflash: everybody does (except from a select group of very wealthy). I am glad that they party in Manhattan. I love that my Au Pair is having a blast. But if you required me to triple her stipend (by the way, I already pay more than the minimum and bonuses), I would have to look for alternatives. So my Au Pair would have to go home. Or to somebody that can afford it. It would be a lose-lose. Not a win for anyone.

Luckily I am not in Massachusetts.

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two "different" people who happen to have au pairs that "party in Manhattan every weekend"

sure, dude!

also, even if one of these is factual, uh, you all are making the choice to send them to Manhattan to party and travel with extra vacation time, so maybe don't act like you're making a huge sacrifice or that someone is forcing you to do it.

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Have you ever had an Au Pair?

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I love the au pair program, and the people it has put in our lives over the years. I describe it more as an exchange student who cares for my children (she takes them to school and picks them up and plays with them in the afternoon or shuttles them around to their activities). I ask that she does their laundry each week and keep their bedrooms relatively tidy.

When we matched, she asked what her bedroom and bathroom would look like, and I gave her a tour. If they were unacceptable, she would have said no and continued to look for another family. They have just as much a choice in matching as we do, and plenty to choose from.

She has Friday at 5 until 8 am Monday off. She was gone on a paid holiday that was not taken out of her vacation time from tues morning - until Monday morning of thanksgiving week. She was given a round trip flight and a free apt in nyc over Christmas while my family is out of town. Again, not taking vacation time. So now you have an 18-26 year old who does an amazing job of watching my kids, who has also had more paid days off in 3 months than many of us have ten years into our jobs.

She has a car with gas and insurance and an iPhone X that is paid monthly. She has friends she sees regularly and goes to class one night a week. She has tons of food in the fridge. Oh, and she makes $200/week to spend on whatever she wants. She can save it and go on a huge trip around the country. She can blow it on clothes at the mall. It’s her business, but she certainly isn’t worrying about any bills that need to be paid, like gas and electric, or her crazy commute to the office.

If we had to, we could make the extra cash work. I’d pull my younger two out of preschool, so instead of having 9-2 free every day, we’d get every penny out of her 45 hour work week. That would cover the extra cost. She would not have gone away for thanksgiving. I was excited for her to see Savannah, but at $500/week couldn’t have afforded to pay that for no work. Those uggs and necklace I got her for Christmas would sadly be traded for a $50 gift card to target.

Perks are perks. I’m sure some families can still afford it, but there are costs to having someone live in that aren’t tied to finances. If I’m paying the same as a nanny, I’d probably do that. Having privacy, having the ability to schedule more than 45 hours each week, not worrying about inexperienced drivers using your vehicles, not paying the extra cell phone bill, etc... I love our au pair, but I’m so glad I don’t live in mass right now.

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bloohoohoo the struggle is real :,( my heart is breaking for you, your au pair, your nanny, and your massive house with rentable inlaw apartment. a real dickensian tragedy, your family.

this is like the people who have two incomes of 200k+ thinking they're middle class in media polls. jesus christ, get some perspective.

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Many of the au pairs come from Central and South America. My bet is that it's the majority for the Boston region.

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I believe this is a very sensitive issue and do not want anyone to blindly think that Au Pair program is poor only from domestic employee issue.

As a former au pair for 2 years and host mom who welcomed 6 au pairs, I would like to share my perspective on this from both sides:

As an au pair, thought it is true that there are families that violate the integrity of the program.
Without this program, many au pair and I would never be able to afford to come to the US, improve my English, travel and see the world. It allows me to learn the true values of American people first hand. Unlike the media outside the US stereotypes, American people have a big heart, are caring and fair. The experience allows me to be a better mom and provide perspective how I will raise my children in the future.

The au pair program allows me who not in a million year to be able to afford to live in the US.
What we got paid is not much but including room and board, food, 2 week vacation, educations, flights to visit many states, cellphone, car, birthday presents, Christmas presents and a life long friendship. My au pair friends and I would never want to change anything. In addition, The experience allows me to be a better mom and provide perspective how I will raise my children in the future.

As a host mom, Au pair program provide flexibility, affordable and provide the benefits that most Childcare program offers:

Flexibility: as I started a family and have 2 children of my own, it is not easy to find childcare for early morning hours and afternoon hours. it would cost $25 -$30 per hours to get the kids really in the morning for bus pickup while parents have to be at work by 8am.

Affordable: of course we went through that. Please keep in mind that most au pairs do not have extensive childcare experience. We mostly have to train them from scratch. Most of these young adults are here for gap year, to explore life options, Improve their English and traveling. They are here just one to two year, they do not want a retirement plan, unemployment, social security benefits that they are not planning to use. If we categorize the au pairs as a domestic worker, it would cost more that parent wages. MA parents will end up quitting our job and stay home with the kids. There will be no au pair program because most families will not be able to afford it. Please do not think that you have to be rich to host an pair. We are just a middle class family. Au Pair program just fits with what we needs.

I feel it would be a lose-lose solution for everyone

Other aspects: special skills as foreign languages, sports talent, music talents are a plus. For me, each person bring with them different cultures and the kids learn to be respectful and embrace the differences. Each year these young au pairs bring back with them American spirits. If you are curious, please ask any au pairs you know how much they love and thankful for the program.

Let’s find ways to make it work.

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Voting closed 6

I believe this is a very sensitive issue and do not want anyone to blindly think that Au Pair program is poor only from domestic employee issue.

As a former au pair for 2 years and host mom who welcomed 6 au pairs, I would like to share my perspective on this from both sides:

As an au pair, thought it is true that there are families that violate the integrity of the program.
Without this program, many au pair and I would never be able to afford to come to the US, improve my English, travel and see the world. It allows me to learn the true values of American people first hand. Unlike the media outside the US stereotypes, American people have a big heart, are caring and fair. The experience allows me to be a better mom and provide perspective how I will raise my children in the future.

The au pair program allows me who not in a million year to be able to afford to live in the US.
What we got paid is not much but including room and board, food, 2 week vacation, educations, flights to visit many states, cellphone, car, birthday presents, Christmas presents and a life long friendship. My au pair friends and I would never want to change anything. In addition, The experience allows me to be a better mom and provide perspective how I will raise my children in the future.

As a host mom, Au pair program provide flexibility, affordable and provide the benefits that most Childcare program offers:

Flexibility: as I started a family and have 2 children of my own, it is not easy to find childcare for early morning hours and afternoon hours. it would cost $25 -$30 per hours to get the kids really in the morning for bus pickup while parents have to be at work by 8am.

Affordable: of course we went through that. Please keep in mind that most au pairs do not have extensive childcare experience. We mostly have to train them from scratch. Most of these young adults are here for gap year, to explore life options, Improve their English and traveling. They are here just one to two year, they do not want a retirement plan, unemployment, social security benefits that they are not planning to use. If we categorize the au pairs as a domestic worker, it would cost more that parent wages. MA parents will end up quitting our job and stay home with the kids. There will be no au pair program because most families will not be able to afford it. Please do not think that you have to be rich to host an pair. We are just a middle class family. Au Pair program just fits with what we needs.

I feel it would be a lose-lose solution for everyone

Other aspects: special skills as foreign languages, sports talent, music talents are a plus. For me, each person bring with them different cultures and the kids learn to be respectful and embrace the differences. Each year these young au pairs bring back with them American spirits. If you are curious, please ask any au pairs you know how much they love and thankful for the program.

Let’s find ways to make it work.

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that some here are expressing.

I believe there are honest and good people who choose au pairs for legitimate cultural exchange, do not exploit them and generally treat them well.

to that, I would ask: why must a cultural exchange relationship be based on provision of services?

sure, it's one option, but it's not the only one. if you really want a cultural exchange with a longer-term living experience, there are plenty of other ways to get it that don't involve hiring a person as a live-in childcare provider.

that is to say, you can engage in meaningful cultural exchange with other people as just people, not employees (I was an exchange student myself - twice - I know what I'm talking about). also, I mean, maybe meet your neighbors? Especially in Boston, arguing that an au pair is about the only way you can connect with other cultures and languages is pretty weak.

aside from that, you all do know that non-au pair childcare providers across the state have a variety of cultural backgrounds, language skills, etc, right? so even if you require combining your childcare with a foreign exchange, an au pair is not the only way to get it.

it just requires you accepting the fact that yes, sorry, you are an employer and you're going to have to fulfill the obligations that go along with that, even if you believe your intentions to be mostly altruistic.

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Many years in the Au Pair Program as a host family.

Facts:

Free room and in our family, her own bathroom
Free food and food by request
Ability to use any of the facilities in our house at any time
Free car and gas during time off
In our family, nearly every weekend off, and rarely works the full 45 hours/week.
Up to two paid vacations per year with our family

No need for au pair to cover these costs taken on by MA residents making a living wage:

Rent, or home mortgage, interest and property taxes
Cable/Wifi/Mobile Phone
Utilities
Furnishing a home
Car payment, car insurance or gas

Including agency fees, total costs of $30k+/year

We will not hire a live-in nanny with free rent. We tried this first before joining the Au Pair program and received zero applications with the state unemployment rate at 7%.

There is little to no comparability between a nanny and an au pair. This tragic and thoughtless ruling will destroy the Au Pair program in Massachusetts.

Worst of all, no more new big sisters to my young daughter.

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Free room? free food and food by request? Free paid vacations with family?

This is a contract where you provide room and board. The use of the word stipend was intended to evade minimum wage laws. In the US childcare is expensive. The J-1 Visa prevents the Au Pair from negotiating a competitive wage. Even if you pay the $12 hour minimum wage, you are saving money compared to hiring a nanny. The current pay is at least $17 per hour for live in help and much more for someone that lives out.

Several people have mentioned the free car and free cell phone, but that it isn't in any of the "host family requirements" that I have been able to find. I'm sure it helps attract candidates. But if it isn't required than many Au Pairs don't have those perks.

Special rules for special people does not improve Massachusetts. Domestic help is expensive. Did you realize that only US Au Pairs have to work 45 hours per week? In every other country the max hours are 30 hours per week.

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Glad you brought it up. In Germany, Au Pairs make 260 euros a month, which is $66 per week and they work up to 30 hours a week. So it is $2.2 per hour.

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don't forget 4 weeks vacation.

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...rather than Au Pair, so unfortunately in our case no Mass. resident will benefit from a new job. The au pair program is the only way we can make childcare work for us economically without taking more of our own time as working parents.

We are not an affluent family by any stretch. Major misconception here - the affluent families that I know all have one parent, usually the mother, at home and don't want an au pair.

If there is an au pair lobby somewhere or on this board, I am not part of it. We are a real family dealing with the economics of raising three children in Massachusetts.

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If you can't afford to pay minimum wage then, you can't afford domestic help. Massachusetts law must benefit all people, not just a special group.

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...along with free room and board 5 miles from Boston, with the state unemployment rate at 7%, and we received not a single applicant. The rate today is well under 3%.

So no, there are not Massachusetts residents ready and willing to take these jobs. You are under a false impression about the promise of the minimum wage - it doesn't increase earnings for workers in the labor market because very few if any new jobs will be created for residents (and no, I'm not a Republican).

This ruling is illusory and tragic, and effects none of the labor change sought by the ruling except to disincentivize many or all Au Pairs from accepting positions in Massachusetts, and in our case and many others, won't result in any new jobs created by current host families.

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You tried to hire a live in, for more than minimum wage and not a single applicant. Currently, the lowest wage I saw advertised is $17 per hour with "free" room and board. Which one of us is under a false impression about minimum wage, I wonder?

On the facts you presented, you can't afford to hire live in help, but you think it is morally acceptable to import a person that is ineligible to to work in the US and therefore unable to negotiate a competitive wage (which is currently higher). You seem unaware that minimum wage is still significantly less than the wage that legal residents can get for the same work.

Massachusetts does not benefit from creating domestic jobs that pay less than minimum wage.

It is clear that these AuPair agencies need to have some transparency with their customers regarding what those hefty fees pay for. If they collect 10K from each family, and the AuPair pays for all of their travel expenses, Visa applications, etc then what is the agency charging for? Legal expenses for these failed appeals?

Dress it up all you want, it is still a special rule to help special people. Massachusetts doesn't need that.

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I agree fully the agencies are paid for too much for their Dept of State sanctioned monopoly status. Both host families and au pairs are taken advantage of by them.

I don't agree at all that any substantial new/incremental MA resident employment or caregiving capacity will be hired or compensated in Massachusetts.

The host families being punished are those well below the level of affluence the DWBoR is intended to remediate and regulate. The very rich and the lucky handful of domestic workers chosen to be hired by those lucky (and few) very rich are the winners.

The rest of the caregiving labor market will not benefit one bit.

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I have never suggested more people will hire legal residents with permission to work in the US. If you cannot afford to compensate a domestic worker in compliance with state law, then you cannot afford it. They still will make less the competitive rate.

We are a real family dealing with the economics of raising three children in Massachusetts.

Raising kids is hard and expensive. But why would you want to set this example for your kids? How are you rationalizing pay an AuPair less then what a legal resident gets for the same work? If you can afford an AuPair for $200 per week and all of the costs that go with it, you are much better off financially than most families. I am sorry that you don't feel fortunate. Even if none of these au pair jobs are replaced, Massachusetts is still better off.

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It is easy for me to rationalize paying Au Pair less and people outlined all the costs that come with hiring an Au Pair on this forum already. In addition to all these costs, there is also risk involved (you are inviting a stranger to your house, if it does not work out it is very expensive to deal with, the risk of property damage, etc.). Au Pairs have no experience and often very poor language skills. There is a significant time commitment for the families - Au Pair search, training, meetings, monthly check-ins, trips to DMV, trips to SS office, trips to set up Au Pair accounts, random things that you do for them.

Also, for Au Pairs, it is an opportunity. They get to live in the US, travel and improve their English. They do not have any costs, so the discussion about the "living wage" does not really apply, in my opinion.

This ruling is just a ploy to shut down the program by bitter people who dislike foreigners. If they truly cared for the Au Pairs, they would seek changes in the program that make sense and not ones that shut it down.

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I dislike paying foreigners less then others for the same work. I have lost all respect for you selfish ridiculous people.

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The comments up and down this board seem to reflect the culture wars.

I don't think it fair to characterize au pair host families as selfish ridiculous people.

On a practical point - going into this arrangement people had a certain expectation of costs for the year, and for their part the au pairs know the amount of their pay/stipend. To change that abruptly is of course going to cause an unwelcome disruption, as it would for anybody who has the cost of a provided service increase 3x.

But the general tone of a lot of these comments seems to be - "you're rich, you can afford it. If you can't afford if, get out". If I understand those comments correctly, they believe that au pair hosts are taking advantage of a disadvantaged group, to unfairly pay less than market rate.

I don't think the au pairs would see it that way and, ignoring extreme examples, do not feel taken advantage of. Most of them are not intending to make this into their lifelong career, although some may choose a career involving children. It seems to me that for most au pairs this is a fun year, living in another country where you would not be able to stay so long on a tourist visa, and being able to make friends and enjoy a lifestyle that you would not be able to accomplish while traveling as a tourist.

I think the comparison between au pairs and live-in/live-out nannies is misleading. The relationship between a live-out nanny seems a more professional idea, whereas the au pair is more like a member of the family, and receive more support and help accordingly. The nanny agency I just looked at was describing their nannies as all having at least 3 years professional childcare experience. Depending on age, most au pairs have never lived away from home before, and are looking for more of a tight family integration.

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Rationalization is the road to entitlement.

I was a live in nanny in Boston. I was paid minimum wage with room and board. Nannies with professional child experience and degree s made more.

It is hard to find much history, but the current stipend was set 10 years ago. Even inexperienced live in help make more than $12.75. The program prevents the AuPair from negotiating a competitive wage. They will still make less as an AuPair than a legal resident would make for the same work.

These conditions are artificial. I don’t blame anyone for taking advantage of affordable domestic help to raise their kids. But as reality and fairness catch up you need to stop feeling sorry for yourselves. It is not real to pretend that AuPair s agree that they don’t deserve $12.75 hour.

Again, it was a loop hole in employment law, and it was a matter of when not if it would close. You made a choice and you are fortunate enough to make other choices.

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Worst of all, no more new big sisters to my young daughter

look around your neighborhood a little more. there are so many ways to find an older mentor for your daughter, you don't need to import household help to do it.

how sad for your family.

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is reading all these comments from such a "wide variety" of host families and former au pairs that just happen to be written in very similar fashion.

who knew the Au Pair Lobby was watching UHub so closely?

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Real people are commenting because the host families just found out their child care costs tripled overnight. There is no lobby. Glad you are enjoying people's pain though. Merry christmas.

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okay.

but really what you mean is that "the cost of the service to which you are accustomed" has increased, but not your childcare costs. you can find other alternatives. there are plenty of childcare options that are more affordable if this is such a hardship for au pair employing families.

however, I find that difficult to believe given how a large part of the "arguments" they/you are making here are based on (sometimes suspiciously detailed!) lists outlining allllll the cash they supposedly lay out for optional things like au pair "party in Manhattan" weekends and shopping.

seems like they're pretty comfortable.

but yes, I'm terribly sorry for not recognizing your very first-world problems.

and that still doesn't explain how similar all the posts are nor how so many "different" people ended up here so quickly.

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Many years in the Au Pair Program as a host family.

Facts:

Free room and in our family, her own bathroom
Free food and food by request
Ability to use any of the facilities in our house at any time
Free car and gas during time off
In our family, nearly every weekend off, and rarely works the full 45 hours/week.
Up to two paid vacations per year with our family

No need for au pair to cover these costs taken on by MA residents making a living wage:

Rent, or home mortgage, interest and property taxes
Cable/Wifi/Mobile Phone
Utilities
Furnishing a home
Car payment, car insurance or gas

Including agency fees, total costs of $30k+/year

We will not hire a live-in nanny with free rent. We tried this first before joining the Au Pair program and received zero applications with the state unemployment rate at 7%.

There is little to no comparability between a nanny and an au pair. This tragic and thoughtless ruling will destroy the Au Pair program in Massachusetts.

Worst of all, no more new big sisters to my young daughter.

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This creates and unbalanced relationship. I’ve worked with au pairs as an English teacher and seen au pairs in action with my extended family as a child care solution after a tragic death. It was always a give and take relationship.

I was very interested in having my children gain experience with people from another culture. This is financially untenable though. Won’t happen now.

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Because it was balanceEd relationship before? You people are so entitled. It’s like you are deaf to anything but your own needs

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for some types, having an au pair is apparently literally the only way they can possibly substantively interact with someone from a different cultural background or who speaks another language.

that says alot about how they view people culturally different from themselves. useful tools to be temporarily employed in the home only to give their children an advantage, but never as neighbors, friends, and fellow Bostonians.

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Ok, so I'm American, and have done multiple cultural exchanges. That's what these were intentionally supposed to be. You live with a family, and they welcome you into their homes. They feed you, give you a room to sleep in, and a key to their house. Whatever is in their fridge is yours to eat, or meal they create. In return, you keep your room tidy, you help cleanup, take the garbage out etc. You enjoy learning about the culture, and family.

Furthermore, you get a stipend- usually from the program, not from the family. You go to school, participate in programs that are held, learn the language. AND sometimes you also work, mostly as a intern.

The families usually are not required to pay anything, because they are offering their place to live AND they get a stipend from the program to cover costs such as living expenses etc. The students, on the other hand, are the ones coming to stay with these families and are charged to pay for all the fees (that includes airfare, visa, etc.). Of course, some of that is overhead to the programs that organize everything. No problem.

With this exchange, the problem is that here, your place of employment is also your place where you happen to live. AND the families are the ones providing the stipend, not the government or program. AND the families are put upon to deal with all the costs that go along with hosting someone. But in exchange for that- the idea is, you get someone to help with the kids.

So now families are basically where the student/aupair does a 'internship', which, if it were a normal exchange and you're lucky- you get paid. Most often, not. I have never been paid for an internship- and in fact, the exchange program figured out how to get me into a prestigious journalism program for an internship, for free. Huge bonus because otherwise I'd have to pay to get in.

The idea is EXCHANGE not work. Along the way, this concept has gotten lost. Whether a family is rich or poor, doesn't matter. They are seen as equal, and whatever bonuses they want to give to their exchange students is their own choice, and right. Not all families are created equal.

Now, the MA government wants families to pay even more to host aupairs. I think, it's completely misunderstands the idea of what aupairs are supposed to be.

I know these ideas would ultimately cost money for the government because it would require oversight and interest, but:

How about monitoring the agencies to make sure they are not taking in more money than is essentially necessary for their existence. Also government subsidies, or grants to also keep them accountable. Making them a non-profit vs. for-profit entity.

Classifying the 'work' as an internship, and thus declassifying it as work.

THUS, making sure families are in complete understanding and compliance that the aupair is IN TRAINING, not a professional.

AND, how about recognizing and protecting the rights of families who are allowing an exchange to take place in the first place. And subsidizing the cost of the aupairs as they do in other exchange programs.

ALSO, training aupairs to understand they are here to be interns and are part of an exchange- basically they are ambassadors of their own country and we, as their families are ambassadors of the US. So no matter what, they are here as part of an exchange, and they are to respect the families they are a part of.

Nothing is perfect. In fact, many times, I've been bounced around by different families while doing the exchange because they decided last minute they didn't want to do it. Or some students had terrible families and ended up getting new ones. It happens. But OVERALL, it was an incredible experience for most.

I just can't believe that MA, one of the most diverse and inclusive communities in the entire country is coming up with such a ridiculous ruling. It lacks insight and most importantly, will not be beneficial for MA families.

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how you speak from one paragraph like you were an au pair (only you mention just that you did "cultural exchange", which is not the same thing. I did two exchanges myself, I know the difference), and in other paragraphs you speak quite clearly as an au pair employer.

again, au pair programs are not the only way to get cultural exchange, especially - as you yourself say it - in "MA, one of the most diverse and inclusive communities in the entire country".

If people really valued "cultural exchange" they would step outside for a hot minute and meet their neighbors, and along the way maybe teach their kids important lessons about valuing the people around you who are different - and not just because your parents employ them.

that's clearly not what it's about. for the au pairs, maybe, but not the families. this is about having someone in your home from whom you expect a service, also known as an employee. the state of Massachusetts has ruled accordingly and now the interweb army of angry aupair employer families is all riled up because in this state they don't get special privileges anymore.

they just liked that they got to feel better about having a nanny because they could make like it was all just in the name of cultural exchange.

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Host families In MA will now operate with their au pairs in a more transactional way.
Hours will be more closely counted
Deductions and chargebacks will be made

For example an au pair working 30 hours per week will make per week
+ 360 gross (@12 x 30)
- ~80 room and board
- ~15 cell phone costs
- ~10 personal car usage (@30 miles per week @35cents per mile)
- ~ any other extras (family vacation costs etc, I am sure Some host families will be more “liberal” than others on this dimension)
- to be generous let’s say post chargebacks the aupair is netting 260

So the government benefits as the au pair previously would have paid taxes on 200 and now pays on 360

Federal tax at a 10percent rate 36dollars vs 20 previously
MA tax at 5% 18 dollars vs 10 dollars

The au pair pays more in tax
=25dollars Net increase in tax paid by the au pair
Resulting in realized take home of 225 vs 200 (under the old law) per week

The host family pays a slightly more per week ~260

Thankfully it did not cost taxpayers millions of dollars to reach such a genius outcome. Well done Massachusetts!

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Some of the deductions listed are not legal. And I hope you are not filing your own taxes, cause wow your math is not good.

So 30 hours per week at state minimum wage is 19890-12200(standard deduction)= 7690 taxable income at rate of 10% is 769 per year or 14.76 per week. The previous "stipend" adds up to less than standard deduction.

Speaking of taxes, Did you figure in the $6000 child care tax credit when listing all the money paid for the Au Pair program?

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