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Norway: Mgr. Eidsvig (Oslo), “Au pairs are not cheap labour”. Clear rules against exploitation

The Bishop of Oslo Bernt I. Eidsvig spoke out against irregularities in labour relations involving au pairs in Norwegian families. After the recent case involving Norway’s Minister of Justice Jøran Kallmyr, who hired a Filipino woman at home without a regular employment contract, the bishop wrote on the website of the diocese of Oslo, calling on “the political authorities and the immigration department to review the rules and practices applying to foreign au pairs”. Young women “can easily end up in vulnerable situations and many of them – from the Philippines, but also from Ukraine, Brazil, Thailand and other countries – do not always have good support systems around them”. About 1,800 young women have turned to “Caritas Au Pair” centres last year, ten of them with serious cases of exploitation. Clear “rules and practices” are needed, which do not make it hard for an au pair to leave a host family in cases of exploitation”, Mgr. Eidsvig said. The bishop also recalled that these young women “are here to learn and gain experience from Europe. They are neither cheap labour, nor housekeepers for wealthy families”. Since many au pairs are Filipino and Catholic, they can also “enrich local communities. It is my responsibility to give them the pastoral care and support they need”.

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