Statement for International Domestic Workers’ Day News Statement for International Domestic Workers’ Day

Statement for International Domestic Workers’ Day

16 June 2024

On this International Domestic Workers’ Day, we turn our attention to a sector that is often overlooked but vitally important: the Personal and Household Services (PHS) sector. Celebrated on June 16th, this day commemorates the 2011 passage of the International Labor Organization Convention 189 for Decent Work for Domestic Workers. This landmark convention acknowledges that domestic work is real work deserving of the same labor protections as any other occupation.

The 2024 PHS Employment Monitor Report, the largest ever survey of PHS sectors across Europe, has shed light on the critical issues facing these essential workers. With over 6,500 responses collected from workers, employers, and service users, the findings highlight a sector in crisis, grappling with labor shortages, high turnover rates, and a lack of formal recognition and support.

PHS workers, who provide indispensable care and support in our homes, are the backbone of many households, allowing millions to balance work and family life. They care for our children, our elderly, and our disabled, and perform essential household tasks. Yet, their voices are often unheard, and their contributions undervalued. Over half of the workers surveyed expressed doubts about the sustainability of their jobs until retirement, with nearly 60% contemplating leaving within the next three years due to low pay.

Despite their invaluable contributions, domestic workers—including nannies, housecleaners, and home care workers—are three times more likely to live in poverty and face employment insecurity and retaliation. These workers deserve to be valued, protected, and honored for their vital role. This is why we raise the conclusions of the largest-ever survey of the PHS sector in Europe, involving over 6,500 participants from 26 countries, which has highlighted serious issues facing the sector:

1. Sustainability Concerns: 57% of PHS workers expressed doubts about their ability to continue in their roles until retirement.

2. Turnover Intentions: Nearly 60% of workers are contemplating leaving the sector within the next three years due to low pay and poor working conditions.

3. Pay and Conditions: 61% of employers have raised wages to try to reduce turnover, but the systemic issues require broader, sectoral solutions.

4. Youth and Migrants: Younger workers and migrants are particularly vulnerable, facing significant overwork and instability.

5. Health and Safety: Only around 40% of workers have received relevant health and safety training, highlighting inconsistencies in standards.

6. Undeclared Work: Undeclared work remains a significant issue, affecting the ability to ensure fair treatment and proper working conditions.

The survey underscores the urgent need for strengthened social dialogue and collective bargaining at the European level. Improved working conditions and fair compensation are essential for the well-being of workers and for ensuring quality care and domestic services for society. Furthermore, the survey highlights the crucial role of users-employers in the PHS sectors. Their input emphasizes the importance of representation and collective agreements in establishing minimum standards and fostering a supportive environment for both workers and employers.

In light of these findings, it is imperative for stakeholders—including trade unions, employers’ organizations, and policymakers—to address the systemic issues plaguing the sector. From enhancing public recognition and investment to implementing measures for better work-life balance and combating undeclared work, concerted efforts are needed to build a sustainable future for Europe’s domestic and home care sector.

The European Federation for Family Employment & Homecare (EFFE) recognizes and honors the critical contributions of domestic workers who assist users-employers in their daily lives. These workers play an indispensable role in our communities, and their efforts must be protected through sustainable working relationships and constructive dialogue. The relationship between domestic workers and user-employers is foundational to the quality and effectiveness of the care provided. It’s a unique relationship that must be preserved. A strong, respectful, and supportive partnership ensures that both parties can achieve a harmonious and productive working relationship, leading to better outcomes for all involved.

Today, we stand in solidarity with the 10.5 million domestic workers in the EU and millions more worldwide. Let us take action to ensure that these essential workers are given the recognition, protection, and support they deserve. By doing so, we can create a fair and just environment where the vital work of domestic workers is valued and their rights are upheld.

On this International Domestic Workers’ Day, let us commit to addressing the challenges facing the PHS sector and ensuring that the voices of its workers are heard and respected. Together, we can build a more just and supportive environment for PHS workers, ensuring their dignity, safety, and well-being.


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