Vietnamese au pair hopes Norway will not close down its au pair scheme

Photo: Dan P. Neegaard

Ahead of the Parliamentary elections 2021 in September in Norway, the debate about Norway’s au pair scheme has seen the leader of the Fellesforbundet, Jørn Eggum, call it modern slavery that does not belong in Norwegian working life and the two political parties SV and the Labour Party want to close down the scheme. But Vietnamese Hang Nguyen hopes if the country will have a change of government that they will turn around so others like her will get a chance to come to Norway.

Au pairs in Norway are mainly responsible for helping with childcare while doing some light housework around the house. Vietnamese Hang Nguyen has for the past year working as an au pair for a Norwegian family in Oslo. As an au pair, she has followed the family’s little daughter from the age of one and a half, before she could barely speak. Now she rides a bicycle to the kindergarten and to Aftenposten Hang Nguyen says that one of the best things about being an au pair has been watching the child of her host family grow up.

According to Fagforbundet, there are around 3,000 au pairs in Norway at any given time. Most of the au pairs are from the Philippines. During her time in Norway Hang Nguyen made friends for life and she loves the area of Hvervenbukta, because it illustrates the best of Norway’s multiculturalism, she says. As an au pair, she got to both learn about Norwegian culture and teach Norwegians about Vietnamese culture.

Norwegian families are required by law to pay their au pair a monthly fee of NOK 5400 while also covering travel to and from Norway together with accommodation and food costs. In addition, the host family is also required to pay for Norwegian language classes.

Jørn Eggum, however, is not impressed with the scheme and in early July he said in an interview with VG newspaper, ‘’There were certainly reasonable reasons why the scheme was established in its time as a cultural exchange. That time is long gone.’’ 

Jørn Eggum, who leads LO’s largest union in the private sector, said that the Parliament should abolish the scheme when the 3,000 au pairs in the country today have completed their stay.

“The rich on Oslo’s western edge get housekeeping and child care at a cheap price. It’s a gigantic paradox, that those who have more than enough money to pay for this kind of help let it pass. It is quite possible to hire cleaners, cooks, and childminders at a regulated Norwegian salary, he said. He also sent a message to Justice Minister Jøran Kallmyr saying that he and other government leaders should be embarrassed by using this arrangement.

About Mette Larsen

ScandAsia Journalist • Scandinavian Publishing Co., Ltd. • Thailand

View all posts by Mette Larsen

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