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Domestic work and care: MEPs call for common rules in EU

Domestic work graphic
Domestic work graphic

EU recognition of the profession and value of domestic work and care as real work, as well as the introduction of common rules, should eliminate discrimination and tackle precarious and undeclared work, said MEPs from the Women’s Rights and Gender Equality Committee in a non-legislative resolution voted on Thursday. MEPs also called for the protection of migrant women which represent the majority of domestic workers and carers.

The text, adopted by 16 votes to 1, with 14 abstentions, focuses on women since this sector is characterised by considerable feminisation. According to the text, 83% of the global domestic workforce in 2010 was women; 2.2 million of them were in the EU. There are also over 20 million European carers, two-thirds of whom are women.

"Today we achieved the first victory. Yet, we have another battle to win which will take place in the European Parliament Plenary, where the report will be voted. And there, it is our duty to ensure that we will not allow for the millions of domestic workers to remain invisible and unprotected," said rapporteur Kostadinka Kuneva (GUE, EL).

The text calls on the Commission to draw up legislative and non-legislative documents on domestic workers and carers and to conduct a study on how Member States regularise domestic work.

National labour laws and discrimination

To better protect domestic workers and carers’ rights, MEPs call for an EU framework for domestic work and care and urge Member States to support a professionalization of this sector, recognizing the relevant professions and skills, including domestic work and care in national labour legislations which should contribute to prevent and tackle undeclared work, cause of discrimination, abusive treatments and harassments, they add.

MEPs also push to regularise the precarious situation within the framework of the European Platform against undeclared work.

Launching campaigns to raise awareness of domestic and care workers' rights, having a clear legislation for legal employment, foreseeing incentives are among the measures suggested to regularize domestic workers and carers' position.

Migrant women workers

Specific rules should also be taken to protect migrant women who represent the majority of domestic workers and carers. According to the text, they often work under irregular conditions and have difficulties in accessing legal support. Therefore, MEPs ask the Commission and member states to "reassure the availability of legal avenues to migrate to the EU and to introduce targeted legal migration programmes". Member States should also ratify the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of all Migrant Workers and Member of their Families, they say.

Website of Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality
Rapporteur Kostadinka Kuneva
European Council's website on Fighting against undeclared work
ILO's study: Domestic workers across the word: global and regional statistics and the extent of legal protection