The poverty rate of domestic workers doubles that of other workers

The poverty rate of domestic workers doubles that of other workers

The crisis brought to light and a sign of precariousness of the Spanish labor market flared up: having work does not always prevent falling into poverty. Some professions are especially doomed to exclusion. One in three domestic workers in Spain live in households at risk of poverty, 34.3% of the total. A study by Oxfam Intermón and the Social Law Laboratory of the University Institute of Gender of the Carlos III University denounces the great precariousness that this group faces. Its poverty rate more than doubled the average of salaried workers (16.3%).

Jessica Guzmán, 50 years old and born in Chile, arrived in Spain ten years ago, where she has worked since then in the care of elderly people in homes. The woman, president of the organization Malen Etxea, told Oxfam that although she now has a work contract and is a Social Security contributor, she has worked for 500 gross euros a month without a contract at times of great vulnerability in her life. "The desperation that we live in means that we usually accept very precarious jobs, you end up taking the job you find, as long as you have something to eat and have a roof," explained to this medium Edith Espinola, who arrived from Paraguay in 2009 and has also dedicated herself to domestic work.

The economic vulnerability of these workers is reflected in all the indicators of living conditions analyzed by those responsible for the study, which is based on the microdata from the Active Population Survey (EPA), the Living Conditions Survey and the affiliation data of Social Security One in three domestic workers lives in homes where they arrive at the end of the month with "difficulty or much difficulty", while that situation is lived by 23.7% of the salaried population, and 12.6% has suffered delays in the payment of the rent or the mortgage in the previous 12 months (almost the double that the rest of workers).

The profile of Jessica and Edith, as women and migrants, is one of the most frequent in the profession, in which 631,700 people worked, according to the EPA's annual data for 2017. Despite being part of a very invisible population, due to its work environment inside the houses and the low social value of their tasks, represent a very large group. They are 3.4% of the total of workers in Spain, while those employed in the construction of buildings account for 2.3% and those who are engaged in the sector of financial activities and insurance, 2.4%, for example .

And the statistics are not all that they are, claims Rafaela Pimentel, domestic worker and activist for labor rights of the collective in the organization Territorio Doméstico. "There are many migrant workers who are invisible, women without papers to work for three years that the Law of Aliens is going through and that are employed informally, these women are there," says Pimentel.

Women are usually referred to as domestic employees because the vast majority (almost 90%) are women. The group also highlights the presence of people of foreign origin, 56.4% according to the study. Its percentage has decreased in recent years, as many national women opted for this profession during the economic crisis, explains Liliana Marcos, labor policy specialist at Oxfam Intermón. Household domestic workers in households are overwhelmingly female migrants, 81.8%.

25% without social protection

One of the reasons that push women to precariousness and poverty is the high incidence of the shadow economy in this sector, in which employers are families in their homes and have workers without a contract. "It is still common to consider the informality of a job performed within the home normal," the study denounces. The number of workers who are not registered in the Social Security – and therefore not listed or have any social protection – has decreased in recent years, but still account for 25% of all workers. One in four.

Since 2015, the reduction of domestic workers who are not registered has been slowed -calculated as the difference between those who affirm in the EPA that are dedicated to this sector and those affiliated average as such in the Social Security- and in 2017 their number increased to 163,925.

In addition, Oxfam stresses that among women who have a work contract, there is a lot of submerged work: those responsible for the study carried out a survey of 205 domestic workers, of whom only 18 (8.8%) were quoted for all their hours "We know cases of women who have been working with contracts for 30 or 40 hours a week and when they were looking for work, they were discharged for only two hours, it is an irregularity that is there and the bleeding is that many women they were discounting the salary that money "that supposedly quoted, explains Rafaela Pimentel.

A domestic employee ironing in a home in Spain.

A domestic employee ironing in a home in Spain.

Pablo Tosco / Oxfam Intermón

Leaders in labor precariousness

The cocktail that feeds the high poverty rate of these workers goes through a high precariousness in all its forms: one out of every three domestic employees (excluding the internal ones) have temporary contracts, while among the set of salaried employees the temporality affects one of every four; the proportion of these workers with part-time workdays quadruples that of other workers, and also far exceeds (80% versus 55%) involuntary bias, according to the study data.

Internal workers stand out for their exposure to long days: 16.5% declare that they work more than 70 hours a week and 4.5% say that their days exceed 90 hours a week, which for Oxfam is a clear sign of the illegality of these conditions regarding the breaks recognized in labor regulations.

Oxfam Intermón stress that part of the precarious conditions of these workers is due to the current regulations, in which workers are not paid for their real remuneration, nor have the right to unemployment and face a dismissal formula almost without cause, called of "withdrawal".

Therefore, the NGO calls the Government of Pedro Sanchez to improve the conditions of this group, "is a problem of political will," says Liliana Marcos. The NGO suggests two first lines of action: on the one hand, the effective fight against informality, speeding up procedures for discharging female workers and increasing state subsidies to Social Security contributions, following the model of France. And on the other hand, with the ratification of ILO Convention 189 to equalize the rights of domestic workers to other workers, which the Executive has already committed to subscribe in 2019.


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