No More Danish Abuse of Philippine Au Pair Girls

Working from 7 AM to 6 PM, cleaning and cooking and looking after several children at the same time – seven days a week. That is the scenario which a growing number of Eastern European and Asian au pair (nanny) girls face in Denmark, recent government studies have revealed. Consequently, the Danish Minister of Integration Rikke Hvilshoej is now planning to take active measures to end such abuse of underpaid girls – half of whom come from the Philippines and Ukraine.
     Rikke Hvilshoej’s decision to act comes shortly after the Danish authorities have discovered several cases, where Danish host families have abused the current au pair laws. One example which has recently been made public is from last year, when the so-called Trade and Work Union in the Danish town of Varde came into contact with a Ukrainian girl who had been thrown out from her host family because she had asked to get Saturday off work on a certain Ukrainian holiday. But since her daily duties were to clean and cook for 12 people – some of them workers on the family’s farm – as well as to look after the family’s sick grandmother, the family denied her the one day off and subsequently threw her out of their home.

Au Pairs are Popular in Denmark
The number of au pair girls coming to work in Denmark has exploded since 1994, where 116 girls were granted work permits as au pairs. In 2004, the number had gone up to almost 1400. To receive a work permit as an au pair you need to be between 17 and 29 year’s old, and under the current rules you are only allowed to work between three and five hours per day. The current law also gives each au pair the right to at least one weekly day off as well as the right to a minimum allowance of 2,500 DKK each month. In addition, the au pair must receive free room and board.
     Minister of Integration Rikke Hvilshoej (from the governing party Venstre) has not yet revealed specifically what she expects to do in order to solve the problem, but according to the Danish daily Jyllands-Posten she has promised to adjust the current law to remove any potential loop-holes, and she may consider increasing the penalty for families who break the current contract demands.

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