Cheap labour that carried a high price: Employing illegal aliens has cost Zoe Baird dearly, but many Washington families turn a blind eye to the immigration laws, writes David Usborne
The chances are, however, that she will also be an illegal alien. The nation's capital is jammed full of Zoe Bairds and examples of the Peruvian couple she employed. More double-income parents live here than in any other American city and the pool of undocumented labour, mostly Hispanic, is deep. Given the chance to hire Isabella, the temptation to turn a blind eye to the layers of federal and state regulations concerning domestic employment can be overwhelming.
Often the applicant will ask for payment under the table to minimise the risk of being detected by the immigration authorities. Such an arrangement can cut the cost of 8-hour-a-day childcare by dollars 100 ( pounds 65) a week.
Couples who have been knowingly transgressing the law may be examining their consciences this weekend. Many others, though, as they contemplate the publicity surrounding the Baird nanny flap, may be discovering for the first time that they have been breaking the law.
A primary legal requirement is that wages paid to a domestic exceeding dollars 50 a quarter must be reported, quarterly, to the Internal Revenue Service (the tax office). According to the IRS, that is fulfilled for about only one quarter of the 2 million home employees in the country. It is permissible to take on an immigrant who does not have the proper papers, on condition that you can find no legal immigrant or US citizen to do the same job and that you apply to the immigration service for the person to be given legitimate residence status. That can take three years, during which time the person in question cannot start the work.
What makes going by the book costly are all the supplements to be paid on top of the wage itself, notably federal Social Security tax, which runs at 15.3 per cent. There is unemployment and accident liability insurance. The most benign employers will also pay for the most basic health care insurance. A typical outlay in Washington for full-time childcare would be pushed up from about dollars 250 a week to dollars 350. Many recoil from all the official paperwork too.
One young Washingtonian father admits he breaks the law and had previously thought little about it. 'We need the help and she needs the work,' he says. 'And I'm not running for Attorney-General.' He admits, though, that he would not take her on as a live-in help because as an alien she has no medical cover and, though healthy now, is 75 years old.
The risk that those illegally in the country might be exploited is obviously considerable. Tales are told of foreign couples, with no English, who work for virtual slave wages because they have been promised help in attaining legal status, only to find nothing is done for them at all.
Some happier cases have been reported however. For instance, one Washington couple paid for their new Peruvian nanny to fly back to Peru to straighten out her immigration papers at the US embassy there before she returned to continue in her position.
- 2 Pope Francis issues top 10 tips for happiness – including don’t try to convert other people
- 3 Arturo Vidal to Manchester United: Midfielder set to force through move to Louis van Gaal's Red Devils - reports
- 4 Disney heiress Abigail disowns her share of family profits in West Bank company
- 5 Israel's propaganda machine is finally starting to misfire
Russell Brand accuses FOX News anchor Sean Hannity of terrorism after aggressive Israel-Gaza debate
Pope Francis issues top 10 tips for happiness – including don’t try to convert other people
Sabina Altynbekova, the girl branded 'too good looking' for volleyball, says social media obsession with her is a 'bit much'
Justin Bieber posts Instagram photo of Orlando Bloom crying after Ibiza fight 'over Miranda Kerr'
Disney heiress Abigail disowns her share of family profits in West Bank company
The secret report that helps Israel hide facts
Land for gas: Merkel and Putin discussed secret deal could end Ukraine crisis
Woman and two children killed by mob in riots over 'blasphemous' Facebook post in Pakistan
A day in the life of Vladimir Putin: The dictator in his labyrinth
Putin is 'thuggish, dishonest and reckless', says British ambassador to US
Richard Dawkins tweets: 'Date rape is bad, stranger rape is worse'
- < Previous
- Next >
£35000 - £40000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: .Mid Level V...
£40000 - £45000 per annum + Competitive Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Dig...
£40000 - £50000 per annum + Car, Medical, Fuel + More!: Progressive Recruitmen...
£50000 - £60000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: An absolutely o...