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Families protest new au pair regulations at State House rally

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    Boston (WBZ) — Families from around Massachusetts rallied at the State House Wednesday morning to protest new regulations for au pairs.

A federal court ruled last month that au pairs in Massachusetts were covered by the state’s Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights and, therefore, they are entitled to earn state minimum wage and overtime.

The ruling will cost host families about $300 more a week.

“What are we going to do? Panic mode set in, are we cutting hours, suddenly everything went haywire,” said Shawn McNamee, who has twin one-year-old girls and a two and half-year-old son. “In addition to ruining the cultural nature of the program it’s been to the tune of $15,000 more a year.”

The families at the rally were pushing for lawmakers to pass two bills to help host families adjust to those changes.

Some people say their au pairs are like big sisters to their children and they’re trying to make it work, despite the sudden financial burden and change in rules.

“We love this program but this is going to ultimately destroy the program in Mass.,” said Casey Stanley of Norwell, a father of two daughters. He and his wife have hired three au pairs in the past. “These girls have become part of our families.”

“This has definitely thrown us for a loop,” his wife said. “There are families who have had to leave the program because they can’t make it work.”

Before the ruling, families paid $196 a week, but they also paid for their au pair’s food, housing, car insurance and classes.

“I’m not here for the money but to spend time with family and get involved in their daily lifestyle,” said Bella Kegee, an au pair from Germany. “There are some au pairs who have to go home now because parents can’t afford them anymore.”

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