Tuesday, 18 April 2017

The Role of Domestic Employment Policies in Shaping Precarious Work

an article by Merita Jokela (Department of Social Research, University of Turku, Finland) published in Social Policy & Administration Volume 51 Issue 2 (March 2017)


This article compares policy approaches regarding domestic employment in affluent countries and examines their impact on precarious work. Drawing on secondary literature and policy documents, this study identifies five policy approaches commonly applied in affluent countries to regulate and develop domestic employment:
  1. affordable services;
  2. simplifying use;
  3. regulating employment;
  4. regulating labour migration; and
  5. no policy. 
The comparative analysis of different policy types shows that policy design is crucial in regulating employment conditions and the level of precariousness in paid domestic labour.

Based on a literature review, three dimensions of precarious work are studied:
  1. the nature of employment (formal/informal);
  2. the employment relationship; and
  3. the form of employment (temporary or permanent, part time or full time).
I argue that the current policy measures in place may increase precariousness either directly by promoting, for example, informal and irregular work, or indirectly through households (offering incentives for households that weaken workers’ positions).

The analysis also identifies positive measures that contribute to creating more secure employment conditions in domestic work through formalizing the sector. While there are differences in the outcomes of the different policy types, the findings suggest that across welfare states, domestic employment policies are still mostly demand driven and sustain the traditional, special nature of domestic work – often at the workers’ expense.

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