Being an au pair in Norway is over

Norway ends the country’s au pair program.

“The system that does not work as intended. It is no longer about cultural exchange as it once was,” Minister of Labor and Inclusion Marte Mjøs Persen says.

The minister says that there must be decent working conditions for everyone, even when the work is done at home.

“Although many au pairs are fine with the families they live with, the program has also become a loophole for some to get cheap labour,” she says.

According to VG, there are 1100 people working as au pairs in Norway at the moment. Most of them are from the Philippines.

The program was set to give young people between the ages of 17 and 30 the opportunity to go on cultural exchange in other countries. They are covered for board and lodging and receive at least NOK 5,900 in pocket money per month. Instead, they must work a maximum of 30 hours per week.

The current leader of LO, called the program “Western slavery” already six years ago.

“Ending the au pair program is a great victory for the efforts towards a decent work life,” Persen says.

Last year, 467 current and former au pairs wrote in an article in Aftenposten, that the program was one of the few opportunities for them to experience life in a European country.


About Miabell Mallikka

Miabell Mallikka is a journalist working with ScandAsia at the headquarters in Bangkok.

View all posts by Miabell Mallikka

One Comment on “Being an au pair in Norway is over”

  1. Many of us have taken the opportunity to work and live overseas during our youth and many of us it has benefitted lifelong. E.g. many young people work in farm exchange programs around the world and often work and live under simple conditions, often involving hard work, responsibility etc. All real life stuff but not necessarily like sweet home. And that is fine because it is real. And it often results in rewarding lifelong cross border friendships.

    Au pair job opportunities likewise has been a great opportunity for countless young people to experience living in another country and culture. Most Asians not from wealthy homes NEVER will get an opportunity to experience living in e.g. a Nordic country and au pair jobs have been one of the few opportunities they had. At the same time, families they work for most often benefit for the cultural exchange – and what is wrong with providing a job for somebody? Of course decent conditions has to be observed and some kind of monitoring even could be part of it. To ban such good programs and thus deprive all involved of a potentially very rewarding experience is plain backward, counterproductive, selfish and silly, to say the least.

    What could indeed be questioned is how e.g. the Danish Foreign Ministry “employes” interns at missions around the world, with no salary and on own lodging & travelling expenses, while at the same time charging DKK800 an hour to external parties for work often performed by the interns. That is shameful.

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