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Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Norway ends its ‘au pair’ program

The Norwegian government is following through with plans to phase out Norway’s au pair program, after years of complaints that it was exploited by Norwegians who used it as means of obtaining low-cost domestic help at home. No further au pair applications from residents of countries outside the European Economic Area will be accepted after March 15.

Au pair programs were initially set up as a means of cultural exchange. Participants, also from Norway, were mostly young women who traveled abroad to live with families in other countries and learn foreign languages, in return for child-minding and light housework. Au pair coming to Norway were routinely granted residence permission for up to two years.

Today few Norwegians take part and the vast majority of au pair in Norway have been young women from the Philippines, many of whom have been exploited by host families to work long hours as household servants. Several cases of such exploitation have gone to court, especially those involving abuse, and ended with jail terms for Norwegian au pair “hosts.” After years of complaints, especially from leading labour organizations, the controversial au pair program was politically scrapped last year.

Au pair currently in Norway can carry out existing contracts and continue to be protected against abuse and exploitation, said Justice Minister Emilie Enger Mehl. From March 15, any need for household help “shall be covered from within the European area,” or within Norway. staff



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