Massachusetts’ Domestic Workers Rights Bill. Time to write letters?

by cv harquail on May 12, 2015

Massachusetts Host Families with Cultural Care Au Pair received the email, below, from their agency.

As with so many forms of ‘official’ government communication, it’s hard to understand exactly how this bill might affect Au Pair Host Families and what any Host Family ought to do about it.

Here’s the letter, please share your thoughts in the comments.  Thanks to the readers who shared this email with AuPairMom.

The letter reads:
Dear xxxxx Family,
Recently, the Massachusetts legislature passed a Domestic Workers’ Rights bill. The Massachusetts Attorney General is now charged with developing regulations to implement the bill. 

It’s uncertain whether the bill applies to the J-1 Exchange Visitor au pair program. If the Massachusetts Attorney General applies the bill and its provisions to au pairs and host families, the au pair program as we know it in Massachusetts will be fundamentally changed for the worse. Some of the most concerning changes would include:

• The provisions of the Massachusetts law would transform this vibrant cultural exchange into a work program.
• Au pair families would be faced with the difficult task of complying with conflicting state and federal requirements.
• Because the Massachusetts law ignores the current federally-mandated stipend, costs to host families will increase.

As you are aware, the federal regulations which govern the au pair program provide clear guidance and protections for all program participants. As a sponsor, we believe the J-1 Exchange Visitor au pair program and its host families and participants will be best served if the Attorney General excludes the program from the provisions of the Massachusetts Domestic Workers’ Rights bill.

You can find the text of the proposed regulations here:

It’s critical that the Attorney General’s office hear from Massachusetts host families affected by this legislation. Additional details and talking points which you may wish to utilize when drafting a submission on the legislation can be downloaded here. We encourage host families who wish to comment on this bill to e-mail the Attorney General at no later than Friday, May 15. Please be sure to include the phrase “Domestic Workers” in your subject line.

Thank you for your support and for your continued commitment to cultural exchange.


Cultural Care Au Pair

{ 1 comment }

Lia May 13, 2015 at 6:34 am

FYI here is the letter APIA sent, slightly different:

Dear Massachusetts Host Family,

We want to inform you about the Massachusetts Domestic Workers Bill of Rights (940 C.M.R. 32.00) that recently went into effect. While this bill is a comprehensive law for improving conditions in the domestic work industry, we are concerned it will have significant impact on host families who host au pairs in Massachusetts.

The Domestic Workers Bill of Rights lays out written contract requirements, hours, wages, benefits, and termination requirements. Many of the bill requirements are in direct conflict with federal regulations governing au pair programs.

We have summarized what those areas of conflict in the attached documents, ‘Potential Impact of Massachusetts Domestic Worker Rights Bill to the Department of State Federally Regulated Au Pair Program’. The Bill is also attached for your reference.

The Office of the Attorney General has released a notice requesting comment of the bill be submitted via email to by Friday, May 15th. The subject line of the email must reference – ‘Domestic Workers’.

Au Pair in America will be submitting comment to the Attorney General. We believe the Massachusetts Domestic Workers Bill of Rights does not apply to J-visa au pair program participants and their host families and we seek clarification and agreement with our position.

We encourage you to consider how this Bill, if applicable to au pairs, may impact your family and write to the Attorney General by May 15th to express your opposition to the Bill as it relates to au pairs on the Department of State’s J-visa program.

We suggest the following talking points for your communication:

1. State that you are a Massachusetts resident and host family with a J-visa au pair program participant and urge the Attorney General’s office to exclude the au pair program from its enforcement of the Domestic Workers Rights law.

2. Describe your experience with au pairs:
a. The benefits and monetary expenses you incur on behalf of your au pair beyond the weekly stipend and how that may change and/or would impact your family’s budget if the weekly amount jumped from $195.75 to $364.50, with no allowed deductions beyond room/meal allowance..
b. The goals and aspirations of your au pairs—whether to improve their English, take a gap year before entering University, improving their chances for better employment opportunities back in their home country, and/or experience American culture.

3. Any other aspects of the bill that may be of concern to you.

We urge you to respond to by Friday, May 15th. Be sure to reference ‘Domestic Workers’ in the subject line.

I thank you for your attention to this critical matter.


Ruth Ferry

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