Why MEPs want to give domestic workers official EU status

Domestic worker

Domestic workers and carers, most of whom are migrant women, should be given an official status in the EU, MEPs say in a resolution.

Domestic workerThe resolution says that recognizing their work as “real” jobs would discourage exploitation, forced labour and human trafficking.

It also recommends establishing easy-to-manage models for legal employer-worker relationships, citing examples in Belgium and France, to end precariousness and undeclared domestic work.

“Domestic workers and carers enable us to follow our careers, and enjoy our social lives. We entrust them with our homes, our children, our parents. But, they are invisible, undeclared, victims of insecurity and social exclusion. Also, most are women, working long hours with no days off, without medical cover or pension plans,” says rapporteur Kostadinka Kuneva.

“Our ageing population and the fact that women are entering the labour market means that we have an ever greater need for them. Yet EU member states continue to allow them to work in the grey economy”, she adds.

The text of the resolution suggests including domestic workers and carers in all national labour, healthcare, social care and anti-discrimination laws, adding that they should also be enabled to join trade unions.

It further urges EU member states to ensure wider access to affordable quality care, e.g. for children or elderly, so as to reduce incentives to hire carers illegally, but also provide viable and legal career options for these domestic workers in social care services.

The MEPs call for a “professionalization” of domestic work to turn precarious and undeclared female work into recognized jobs, which would give domestic workers and carers social protection rights. They also urge the EU Commission to propose a framework for recognition of the status of non-professional carers, which offers them remuneration and social protection during the time they perform the care tasks.

The text notes that the majority of domestic workers and carers are migrant women, most of whom are in an irregular situation. It points out that their social and cultural inclusion is facilitated by integrating them into the labour market.

Only adequate inspection methods and penalties can stop human trafficking and financial exploitation of domestic workers, MEPs say.

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