All au pairs arriving in Flanders are to receive a brochure informing them of their rights and explaining where and how to address questions and complaints.
The brochure, published in Dutch, French, English and Spanish, was announced by the region’s labour minister Hilde Crevits (CD&V).
“Young people from all over the world can get to know our country and their host family for a while thanks to the au pair arrangement,” Crevits said.
“That is an enrichment in their development and often an unforgettable memory. But there are also abuses and we take action against them.”
In 2019, 351 young people between the ages of 18 and 25 arrived in Flanders to stay with a local family. In most cases the stay goes smoothly, but the Flemish social inspection services sometimes discover problems.
In the last five years, irregularities were found in one-third of the case files inspected, with 364 offences against the rules, of which 63 were passed on to the local prosecutor’s office. Inspectors also issued 102 warnings to host families to bring the circumstances of the au pair into line.
“It is unacceptable that in practice a young au pair is sometimes used as a cheap alternative to live-in household help, while the cultural aspect as the main objective is completely ignored,” Crevits said.
“From now on, the au pair will receive a folder before their departure to inform them better. That way they know their rights and obligations better and they know who to turn to if their rights are being abused.”
When a prospective host family applies for a work permit for the au pair they intend to take on, the application asks for the email address of the young person, which the service will now use to send a copy of the brochure (pdf).
The document lays out the au pair’s rights, including the right to their own room in the family home, a minimum of €450 per month pocket money, a maximum of four hours a day and 20 hours a week of required housework including baby-sitting, and one full day off a week.
It also includes the au pair’s responsibilities: no other paid work, a basic knowledge of the host family’s language, and a compulsory course in one of the three national languages(NL, FR and DE).
Finally, the document also lists the email address, street address and telephone number of the Flemish social inspection service in Brussels.
The Brussels Times