BABAYLAN ABAKADA AU PAIR SPECIAL EDITION, January 2015 ‘
DENMARK: Agreement on an improved Au Pair Scheme
by Filomenita Mongaya Høgsholm, Founding Chair & Intl. Liaison
As of 19 December 2014, an agreement has taken place between the Danish Coalition Government (Socialdemocrats and the Social Liberals (de radikale venstre) and 3 smaller parties, the rightwing Danish People’s Party, the leftwing Socialistic People’s Party and the ultra leftwing Unity Party. This agreement, which eventually will become Law when passed later in the year, is designed to give Au Pairs in Denmark better condtions which the agreeing parties want to effectuate by raising the monthly allowance, more leisure time in order for the au pairs to have time to enjoy Denmark, and therefore have more cultural gains from their stay . Additionally, the agreement should establish a clearer framework and a sharper delineation between household chores and leisure time so both host family and au pair can stick to rules.
Finally, the parties to the Agreement agree on the Au Pair scheme being primarily for young people who live with a host family, and therefore is not compatible with au pairs having their own families. But for au pairs who get pregnant, or eventually give birth while they are in Denmark, they will get the necessary help while being made aware of their rights. Better conditions
1. More off days – an additional half day so in all, the au pair has 1 1/2 days off per week. Plus all official holidays. Holidays should be negotiated between au pair and host family such that au pairs can accummulate more paid holidays.
2. Au Pair Allowances will be raised to 4000 DKK per month.
3. The Host family must shoulder fully the two-way airticket.
4. Unlike before, au pairs shall now have possibility of voluntary work so long as this harmonizes with the au pair’s hours with the host family.
5. Better possibility to find new host family as the au pair is given a full month to do this.
6. Host families on the other hand who want to terminate the contract with the au pair must give one month’s notice and must be obliged to give the au pair allowance for this period even when the au pair has already left the family during this period. On the part of the au pair who wants to terminate the contract, he or she is still required to give 15 day’s notice but both host family and au pair can terminate the contract if there are serious conditions that require immediate action. Both shal sign this intent to terminate contract mutually.
7. There is a 2 year quarantine for host families who do not pay two-way airfares nor provide insurance. This is in addition to the old requirement of own room for the au pair, and the normative allowance. Families who require more hours of the au pair than the stipulated 25 hours a week will also be subjected to this quarantine.
1. Lower age limit is now 18 years being the “majority ” age, vs. the 17 years from before.
2. There should be Work schedules signed by host family during the application period, with the desired hours indicated so as to provide a balance between work and leisure hours.
3. Better information for the Au pairs and the host families. The au pair receives a brochure together with his/her residence permit while the guidance letter to host families should be updated and improved. A follow-up letter is sent to both host family and au pair ca. 3 months after the start of the scheme.
4. The agreed parties wish private au pair agencies to be able to give correct and sufficient instruction to both host family and au pair. Such agencies now have the possibility to have a contact person from the Labour market and Recruitment Authority,with a yearly meeting. Pregnancy
The agreed parties have noted that the Danish government within the scope of CEDAW, the UN Convention on Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, allows au pairs who have gotten pregnant to continue their stay if both the host family and the au pair wish to do so. But au pairing is not compatible with having a family. However, the au pair who gets pregnant, and wish evt. to give birth here, will be given the necessary help, and be informed of her rights and responsibilities. The aim is to have fewer au pairs ending in this difficult situation. Rejection awaits the au pair who are in the family way before going home. An au pair who does, will forfeit her permit to stay, but may stay up to 2 months after birthing.
Danish lessons 22.5 mill kr.a year is budgetted by the Danish govenrment for Danish language courses aimed at accessing the labour market, which host families are not expected to co-finance at the moment. Au pairs are expected to be more proficient in Danish because this enables them to have a better stay, know their rights and gives them a coherent perspective on au pairing. By expecting host families to co-finance this -thru a 5000 dkk contribution- will motivate them to encourage their au pairs to learn Danish. This amount will help the government to finance labout market-targetted Danish lessons and administration costs. This amount is obligatory for host families whether their au pair goes to Danish lessons or not.
On the PHILIPPINE SIDE:
A BACKGROUNDER NB: As the biggest deployer of AU Pairs to the Nordic countries Denmark and Norway, the Philippines has its own relevant agency on Au Pair matters, the Commission on Filipinos Overseas which has obligatory PreDeparture Seminars to underscore its intent that Au Pair Scheme is strictly a Cultural Project as intended from the 1969 Convention under the Council of Europe. At the same time, the Phil. govt. thru CFO strictly prohibits the use of agencies in procuring au pairs, which is in direct contrast to the new wish of the Danish government to favour agencies in the proposed new law. Departing au pairs with agency connections are normally denied approval by the government, BABAYLAN, the Philippine Women’s Network has been working on Au Pair matters since 2004 when it tabled Au Pair issues during the first Pulong ng Bayan (Filipino Community meeting, Helsingborg, Sweden). It established the Au Pair Network in May 2008 together with KULU, the International Women and Development Organization and FOA, a labour union, which has since been recruiting au pairs as labour union members, inspite of the scheme being a cultural exchange program officially, also in Denmark. In view of Babaylan being the official partner of CFO in Denmark, having signed in March 2013 an MOA (Memorandum of Agreement) to help Au Pairs to a better life in Denmark and Norden, it has been carrying out information modules, delivering services, capacity building, monitoring, formulating innovation to improve au pair policies. Inspite of it being entirely WITHOUT FUNDS from the Danish or the Philippine government. It also organized the first Au Pair conference in Norden -in Oslo- in 2009, has published our own Au Pair Handbook in 2013 and countless articles focused on au pairs in our quarterly ABAKADA magazine. Our Board members are often invited to input into the Au Pair issue In 2014, we hosted a Workshop on AU Pairs during the Nordic Forum in Malmø, June 2014. In November 2014, Babaylan DK anchored the visit of CFO staff to carry out UGNAYAN, an attempt to connect with Filipino overseas communities in selected countries, among them Denmark. Au pairs were among those targetted by CFO with financial literacy modules as well as orientations on development issues and voting rights in Philippine elections in 2016. From the start of 2015, BABAYLAN DK , in continuing its partnership with the Philippine government on the Au Pair issue, will initiate WELCOME AFTERNOONs for newly arrived Au PAIRS where they are introduced to Danish culture and society as well as Rights and Responsibilities as Au Pair being on Equal Footing with their host Danish families in the everyday. Babaylan has a number of projects planned for 2015 that will improve the welfare of Filipino women in general and FIlipino au pairs in particular.