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Migrant organisation calls for more protection for Filipino Au Pairs’ | Immigration Matters

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ABSCBN reports from Manila, Philippines that Filipino au pairs in Europe should have their rights and welfare fully protected, according to a migrant rights group official. 

The government’s recent decision to lift the ban on the deployment of au pairs to Europe should be accompanied by efforts to protect them from abuse, said Migrante Europe coordinator Grace Punongbayan.

An au pair is a young man or woman who helps in looking after the children of a host family.  The phrase is French for “on par” or “equal to.”

Au pairs do light housekeeping work and learn the host country’s culture. They are given free board, lodging, and an “allowance.” Au pairs generally stay with their host family for a year. 

They are not supposed to be treated as domestic help, Punongbayan said in a press statement. 

She said poverty and the unemployment in the Philippines force many young women and men to avail of the au pair program 

Many help their families by remitting their small allowances back home. 

Punongbayan, however, said they have recorded cases of Filipino au pairs in Europe who were treated as domestic workers and made to work long hours.

Some who stayed in the Netherlands and Belgium were physically and mentally abused, and even raped, she said. 

Punongbayan said some au pairs were locked inside the house of the host family while their passports and other documents were confiscated from them. 

The Philippine government responded by simply banning the deployment of au pairs to these countries, while doing practically nothing to address the abuses, she claimed.

“The banning was the Philippine government’s way of washing its hands off the abuses suffered by [our] compatriot au pairs. The Aquino government should now start initiating a monitoring system and concrete programs to protect [them],” Punongbayan said.

”It should regulate agencies in the Philippines extorting unjust fees from au pairs, propose a magna carta for Filipino au pairs, and seek bilateral talks with countries… including asking European governments such as the Netherlands to sign the European Convention on the Protection of Au Pairs,” she stressed. Source: ABSCBN.

Filipino cannot work in the UK as Au Pairs, but may qualify in other European countries. There are, however, over 12,000 Domestic Workers working in Britain who are given the same employment rights as resident workers.

The The UK and all EU countries have strict employment and human rights laws, which cover ALL workers, whether on a Domestic Visa tied to an employer, Working Visa under Tier 2 or a student visa.

Filipino Domestic Workers earn £25,000 or Pesos1,700,000 per annum including benefits

Domestic Workers usually enter the UK with their employer having worked for them abroad. As a further right, Domestic Workers are allowed to change employer once in the UK under the ‘Domestic Workers Concession’ brought in the nineties to protect workers from abusive employers.

Whilst there are cases of bad treatment, the vast majority of Filipino Domestic Workers in the UK enjoy higher than average salaries (you will not get a Domestic Worker in London for less than £300/£350 per week NET of taxes – a salary package equivalent to over £25,000 per annum or 1.7 million Pesos) and free board and lodging in the best parts of town.

So good are the benefits that many stay with their employers long after gaining UK residency, or Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR), at which point they are free to do any kind of work for any employer.

I recently met a Filipina Domestic Worker who had been here since the 1980’s who was helping her daughter come to the UK to study.

When looking at her assets she owned two properties in the UK and five in the Philippines! Her daughter got the student visa!

Each year immigration advisers deal with a number of what is commonly known as ‘runaway domestics’. Evelie Padadac, an adviser for Bison UK said:

“It starts around May or June when wealthy Arab employers arrive with their teams of domestic staff.

“Many flee with only the clothes on their back, leaving belongings and passport behind. They seek refuge with other Filipinos’ and usually manage to regularise their stay with a new employer.

“We have had many a tussle with former employers who try and hold on to passports, which are not their property. But even without their passport it is still possible to regularise your stay if you have run away from an abusive employer.” She stressed.

If you need any immigration advice or help with Sponsorship or Work Permits, Visa, ILR/Settlement, Citizenship, dependant visa or an appeal against a refusal please email: 

info@immigrationmatters.co.uk or visit www.immigrationmatters.co.uk

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