Low Pay Commission asks the question: Is excluding au pairs from minimum wage requirements still correct?

14 December 2021

The Low Pay Commission (LPC) has released a short blog summarising the investigations undertaken into the use of the minimum wage exemption for live in workers, treated as part of the family.

As part of its 2021 remit, the LPC were asked to ‘gather evidence on the application of the live-in domestic worker exemption to minimum wage entitlement.' More specifically, LPC were asked to investigate how the exemptions impacts equalities and workers who are not in the au pair sector. 

The exemption was initially intended for au pair arrangements, allowing a young person to live abroad and work on a cultural exchange. However, these exemptions resulted in loopholes allowing exploitation of other live in workers. Because the law does not well define the differences between other migrant workers with domestic responsibilities and au pairs, it is hard to investigate if the exemption should apply or not. Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) state that they find it difficult to formally investigate au pair arrangements due to lack of documented hours or duties.

The LPC Report 2021 illustrates its key findings (Chapter 8 of the report), exploring case studies and the equalities impact of the exemption.

The chapter concludes with a recommendation that the exemption for au pair workers is removed, allowing them to be eligible for minimum wage. While the LPC do not have any remit over migration policy, they note that if the government is to introduce a visa route for au pairs and does not wish to repeal the exemptions, that changes should be made to the exemption to close the loopholes available.

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