• Paul Peter Nicolai

Federal Au Pair Program Workers Get Full Protection

An agency that sponsors au pairs under a federal program sued Massachusetts claiming the federal program that brings au pairs to the United States on special visas preempts Massachusetts employment laws. Effectively, they argued that au pair sponsors could pay $4.35 an hour for a 45 hour workweek with no overtime pay. The court rejected that position and ruled that Massachusetts wage and hour and other laws apply to participants this program like all other employees.

WHY THIS IS IMPORTANT…The court ruled that the federal provisions were a floor, not a ceiling for compensation and workplace protections. The national application of this ruling will completely change the au pair program. In Massachusetts, for instance, pay for a 45 hour week will be required to be $570.00, not $195.75. The Domestic Workers Bill of Rights Act and implementing regulations will also apply restricting deductions an employer may take from a domestic worker’s wages to offset the costs of the worker’s food and lodging.

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