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Domestic work has come to the fore of international attention with the adoption of ILO Convention 189 and Recommendation 201 concerning Decent work for domestic workers by the International Labour Conference in 2011. It has also been the topic of a 2012 European training program of the Programme for Workers Activities of the International Training Centre of the ILO, organised in cooperation with the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) and the European Federation of Food, Agriculture and Tourism Trade Unions (EFFAT) and funded by the EU.

As part of this program, this report investigates the patterns of regulation of domestic work as well as trade unions' activities to promote decent work in this sector across 18 EU Member States (Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany,Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden and the UK). In the Central and Southern Western EU countries in the sample, domestic work is most frequently regulated by specific laws and/or collective bargaining. In the observed Central Eastern Member States, in contrast, regulation by means of general labour law prevails.  Further important areas of regulation for this sector are the regularisation of informal employment as well as migration policies.

Domestic workers across Europe experience important discrimination with regard to labour rights and social protection. Apart from the generally very low wages, they are often only covered to a limited extent by social security (if at all), they are frequently excluded from dismissal protections and regulations of working times are more flexible in this sector. The main problem, however, is the lacking effective enforcement of existing rules. Given the high share of informal work, including that of undocumented migrant domestic workers, there is a particularly high vulnerability which makes it difficult for workers to claim their rights, but also for trade unions to act in this sector.


Source: IDWN website

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