Publish date 24-04-2023

by suor Dalmazia Colombo

The world of domestic workers and the absence of adequate social policies

They are maids and carers, nannies and baby-sitters, but also waiters, cooks, gardeners, janitors, doormen and drivers, when their work is carried out in the exclusive or mainly service of a family. Women and men who all together make up the audience of domestic workers, or family collaborators: in Italy there are about 2 million people. Of these, even today less than half are in good standing, that is, they have entered into a real employment contract.

A number that has indeed increased in recent years (according to INPS data, there were over 960,000 regular workers in the sector in 2021, +12% compared to two years earlier), but which still leaves this working area with the sad record for the rate of irregularity higher, estimated at 52.3% versus a national average of 12%. Therefore, although the irregular component has decreased since 2020, the phenomenon of undeclared work remains widespread.

The Report produced by Domina (National Association of Domestic Employer Families) photographs a sector characterized by a strong foreign presence (70% of the total), above all from Eastern Europe, and by a female prevalence (85%), even if in recent years there has been an increase in both men and the Italian component. Foreign female workers are the largest group (57.5%); however, Italian women are over a quarter of the total (27.4%); 12.4% of domestic servants are foreign men, while 2.6% are Italian men. On the other side there are the employers, which in this particular case are the families: overall over one million.

With the arrival of 2023, a significant portion of domestic workers has received a salary increase, envisaged by the national collective agreement as an adjustment to inflation: it is a jump of 9.2%, which in fact concerns not so much the personnel paid "by the hour" but essentially those employed full-time, cohabiting or not: for example the caregiver who lives permanently with a non self-sufficient elderly person or the babysitter who works 40 hours a week with a child under 6 years old. The simulations speak, for these figures, of increases of around 80-120 euros per month.

And here there is a problem: «If on the one hand - argue the ACLI, an organization very attentive to domestic work - salary increases for those involved in care work are legitimate and absolutely right, on the other hand it has not been no countermeasure has been taken to help families who often find themselves in already very heavy and complicated situations, not only economically. The question cannot be transformed into a war between the poor, but it is necessary to call into question the great absentee, the State, because a large part of domestic work covers the absence of welfare policies, in particular on non-self-sufficiency and on family services and in childhood. Domestic work is, in other words, a public good which cannot be entirely unloaded on the family-worker relationship». A typical example of how adequate social policies are increasingly indispensable today.

As the ACLI recall, a large part of domestic work covers the absence of welfare policies, in particular on non-self-sufficiency and on services for families and children

Stefano Caredda

NP Febbraio 2023

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