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Personal and Household Services – the EWL cautions against the risk of developing a parallel labour-market for women

[Brussels, 7 February 2013] As part of its Employment Package adopted in April 2012, the European Commission launched a public consultation on Personal and Household Service (PHS) to explore the employment potential in this sector. In its response to the consultation the EWL stressed that while PHS relate to a broad range of activities (coving domestic tasks to care responsibilities), women are highly represented in this sector carrying out essential tasks that are generally undervalued.

At a follow-up conference to the public consultation, held in Brussels on 30-31 January, the EWL cautioned against the danger of developing a parallel labour-market for women, particularly for low skilled and migrant women who tend to be directed in this sector, relegating them to traditional gender roles and expectations that will continue to perpetuate gender stereotypes and gender inequalities. Outsourcing tasks that are associated with gender roles through privatisation instead of developing services to meet collective needs and equal sharing 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.

In the report published following the consultation - non-desegregated data - reveal that in 2011, 2.6 million workers in the EU were engaged in the PHS. PHS represented between 15% and 30% of jobs created in France in the period 2006-2008; in Germany (2011), 240, million “mini jobs” were created in the sector and 100,000 jobs in Belgium since 2004. However, the actual numbers of full-time jobs are, in reality, much lower, as part-time work and flexible patterns are characteristic of this sector.
The report - which excludes care services - focuses on home-based services such as cleaning, ironing, gardening, maintenance, remedial classes, etc.

Developing a gender equality framework, safeguarding women’s rights, improving working conditions and pay, implementing health and safety regulations, ensuring universal access to quality and affordable care services, developing comprehensive work-life balance policies that target both women and men, ratifying the UN Convention on the Rights of Domestic Workers are just some of the safety nets that must be put in place to avoid PHS from relegating women to jobs that perpetuate traditional gender roles.

ewl contribution to ec consultation on personal and household services final 2

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