[Brussels, 16 July 2012] The EWL welcomes the European Commission’s proposal to address the issue of personal and household services, a sector where employment is predominantly female. However, the EWL is deeply concerned that the way in which the issue is framed relates merely to cost effectiveness and the reduction of undeclared work.
The EWL last week sent its Contribution responding the EC Public Consultation on the staff working document “Exploiting the employment potential of the personal and household services”. The EWL contribution called for framing a real gender equality perspective when addressing personal and household services, a sector where female migrant workers are highly represented, and stressed the need to recognise that care policies are pillars for the equal economic independence of women and are intrinsically related to the achievement of equality between women and men.
The EWL also called for the recognition of care policies and the provision of care services as pillars to the equal economic independence of women and as intrinsically related to the achievement of equality between women and men. Women experience inequalities in all areas of life, including in employment as a direct result of insufficient collective care responsibility and infrastructures and of inequalities between women and men in the sharing of unpaid household and domestic tasks due to entrenched gender stereotypes, expectations and roles.
The EWL is particularly concerned by the externalisation of care services to individuals, often overqualified migrant women who are being channelled into a sector, which is one of the few possibilities for migrants to work and where their rights as workers are very often not guaranteed or respected.
Delegating tasks that are associated with gender roles through privatisation instead of promoting a collective responsibility and equal sharing of care between women and men has repercussions for society as a whole as inequalities between women and men and among women become more entrenched and institutionalised.
To draft its contribution, the EWL received inputs from several of its national members and from different academic experts and NGO with high level of expertise regarding women workers in the sector.
EWL’s General Recommendations:
- Develop a comprehensive strategy regarding care and work-life balance policies including the provision of affordable care and job creation in care.
- Ensure universal access to quality and affordable care services
- Foster reconciliation policies that promote an equal sharing of care and household tasks between women and men. Ensure fully paid maternity, paternity, parental, carers’ leave for both women and men to avoid economic sanctions later in life and to enable men to take their share of care and household work.
- Adopt measures that target men and that remove barriers that prevent men taking up care leave are needed. These include a European target related to men’s share of parental leave and measures to sensitise employers on the importance of care related leave for both women and men.
- In order to ensure better working conditions and the quality of the services, personal and household services should be developed with public support in a regulated manner.
- Ensure that social and health and safety legislation and measures are extended to personal and household services.
- Regulate Private employment agencies, who plays an important role in the supply and demand of personal and household services, to ensure strict compliance with labour laws, working conditions, pay and health and safety.
- Provide pathways to a job that fits their qualification to avoid deskilling of migrant women who are channelled into domestic, personal and household services.
- Take measures to eliminate trafficking in relation to personal and household services and address the violation of women’s human rights in the framework of anti-trafficking policies, strategies and actions plans.