Vice President Jejomar C. Binay today said the reinstatement of the “au pair” program in other European countries would bring employment opportunities to Filipinos, especially in view of the tight labor situation arising from the political unrest in the Middle East.

“I believe this would facilitate the establishment of education and employment opportunities in Europe for Filipinos, particularly those who have been affected by the political situation in the Middle East,” he said.

“Au pair” is a French term that translates to “on par” or “equal to”. Filipinos under the au pair program “live on an equal basis in a reciprocal, caring relationship” with their host families, according to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE). The intent is for the foreigner to be at par or equal to locals, by being treated as a member of the family instead of a domestic servant.

Au pairs normally perform house work and child care. While not receiving a formal salary, they receive monetary allowance from their host families.

The Philippines stopped sending au pairs to Europe in 1997 after the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) received reports of maltreatment including unfair compensation, excessive working hours, discrimination and sexual assault.

In October 2010, the Philippine Overseas and Employment Administration (POEA) lifted the ban in Switzerland, Norway and Denmark after these countries guaranteed to protect the au pairs and follow the conditions set by the Philippine government for their deployment.

The Vice President, who is also presidential adviser on Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) affairs, met with officials from the DOLE, POEA, DFA, Department of Education (DepEd) and the Bureau of Immigration to identify other countries where the ban could be lifted.

“We are in the process of reviewing the au pair program in order to facilitate proper guidelines and policies on departure and monitoring,” Binay said.