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EFSI e-Newsletter
July 2020
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Issue 13 - July 2020
News
EFSI in Zagreb to discuss women's participation in the labour market
On January 30-31, the Croatian presidency of the Council of the EU held in Zagreb a High-Level Conference on gender equality, entitled “Participation of Women in the Labour Market – Benefit for the Society!”. Gender equality has been identified as one of the Croatian Presidency’s key priorities.

The two-days event was organised in four panels dealing with broad future employment trends in a gender perspective, women in atypical employment, long-term care's impact on women employment and, violence and harrassement. It gathered public authorities, both national and European, researchers and academics, social partners and civil society representatives.

Overall, speakers acknowledged that informal care services are mostly provided by women and that there is a strong need to ensure access and affordability on the one hand, and quality employment on the other hand. Speakers also agreed on the need to increase public awareness as well as public funding targeting the care sector. Finally, panelists suggested to set long-term care indicators. EFSI intervened and pointed out that a broader approach including domestic services is needed in order to increase work-life balance, decrease the disproportion in the take-up of family-related duties and foster women’s employment. This would mean also extending the scope of the WLB Package to domestic services. More info.
PHS among the sectors most affected by undeclared work
According to a new Special Eurobarometer survey, one in ten Europeans have purchased in the past year goods or services that might include undeclared work. A third of Europeans know somebody who works undeclared and 3% say they themselves have carried out undeclared activities in the last twelve months. Respondents who report purchasing undeclared goods or services are more likely to do so for:
  • home repairs or renovation (30%), 
  • hairdressing and beauty treatments (27%),
  • repair services (19%),
  • cleaning or ironing; buying food (16%),
  • gardening (13%),
  • babysitting; healthcare services (7%),
  • tutoring; helping move house; passenger transport (5%),
  • assistance for a dependent or elderly person; administrative and clerical tasks or IT assistance (3%).
At country level, it is worth stressing that cleaning or ironing services are mentioned by three in ten or more of those surveyed in the Netherlands (37%), Italy (31%) and Luxembourg (30%). Gardening products or services are more likely to be bought in Denmark (28%), France (27%), the United-Kingdom (23%) and Ireland (22%).

On the supply side, the sector most frequently mentioned by those who have carried out undeclared work is PHS (27%) followed by construction and hospitality. The survey revealed that a continuous focus on prevention and awareness-raising remains key. Further emphasis can also be put in the future on education and awareness-raising with citizens, workers and employers about their rights, responsibilities and obligations.
Conclusions of the PHS Quality project
Last June, the European project entitled PHS Quality presented its results during two webinars. Coordinated by the Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Labour Studies (AIAS-HSI) at the University of Amsterdam, this comparative research project analyses the existing public policies and social partners' strategies towards personal and household services in ten countries (Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Finland, France, the Netherlands, Slovakia, Spain and the United-Kingdom) from a comparative and multidisciplinary perspective. The project identified four major gaps: employment protection gap, social protection gap, enforcement gap and representation gap. It also discusses how legal regulation, public policy, and social partners’ actions should be adjusted to improve job quality and reduce informality in the PHS sector.

Invited to share her views on the project results during one webinar, EFSI's Director Aurélie Decker stressed that the national reports capture legal framework fragmentation and complexity prevailing in the sector. The current COVID-19 crisis has highlighted the precariousness of PHS workers, even the ones formally employed. In this regard, the project rightly examines how PHS workers are often exempted from regular labour standards and analyses the drivers and barriers behind the ILO Convention 189 ratification process. On this occasion, EFSI called for more investigation on the right balance between quality of work and affordability of PHS as the only way to adequately fight informality.
The impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic in PHS 
The Coronavirus crisis has dominated EFSI's activities for the past four months. With approximately 50% of domestic workers in Northern, Southern and Western Europe significantly impacted by the pandemic (ILO estimates), EFSI has made considerable efforts to monitor the measures taken at national level in order to mitigate the effect of the crisis on PHS workers and users.

On April 1st, we issued a joint statement with EFFAT, EFFE and UNI-Europa highlighting the dedication of PHS provider organisations, private employers and workers in addressing the challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic and raising two main concerns. Firstly, given the nature of PHS which is to provide care and support to people, including to people who can be far more at risk to COVID-19 than the general population, PHS providers had to ensure the continuity of services while facing great challenges in guaranteeing the safety of their workers and users.

On the other hand, due to self-isolation and containment measures, many PHS workers are going unpaid and the sector face an unprecedent fall in its activity. Consequently, EFFAT, EFFE, EFSI and UNI-Europa underline the necessity to guarantee the economic safeguard of both the domestic and home care sector and its workers and urge public authorities to take actions. 

Whereas lockdown measures have been lifted in a wide majority of Member States and recovery measures are now being discussed, EFSI is thus working towards an adequate recognition and inclusion of PHS within recovery plans' priority investments areas. 
Updates from Ad-PHS project

In the course of February, the Ad-PHS project kicked off the second phase of national events in 10 EU Member States with less advanced PHS policies. The aims of these workshops are to assess the project’s research on PHS national frameworks and the drafted guidelines, collect good practices and accordingly facilitate pan-European exchange and mutual learnings. So far, workshops were held in Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovenia.

The current COVID-19 pandemic compelled the Ad-PHS project to reorganised some of its activities. To this end, the project has been extended until the end of the year and the final event will take place in Brussels in December. In the meantime, the project has issued several country reports, now covering 10 EU Member States.

The COVID-19 pandemic represents a major and unprecedented challenge with unexpected social and economic consequences and the PHS sector has not been spared. Therefore, the project's partners have started to work on a survey that aims to measure the impact of the coronavirus crisis on the personal and household services sector.

Make sure to regularly check the project's website to receive the latest information and follow its results.

New Gender Equality Strategy
On the 5th of March 2020, the European Commission issued its Gender Equality Strategy 2020-2025 which sets out key actions for the next 5 years, a number of which being of interest for the PHS sector.

Thus, when it comes to addressing gender care gaps and achieving a gender equal participation across different sectors of the economy, the document stresses – inter alia - that improving work-life balance of workers is one of the ways of addressing the gender gaps in the labour market. It calls on Member States to ensure quality solutions for childcare and reiterates its commitment to support gender equality thanks to structural reforms in the labour market implemented with the support of the Structural Reform Support Programme (SRSP) and to close monitoring of Member States’ policies within the European Semester process.

Likewise, the undervaluation of women’s work (including invisible and unpaid work) is an important factor contributing to unequal participation of women across economic sector. Among the actions listed, the Commission foresees a proposal for a Council recommendation on vocational education and training addressing gender stereotypes and focusing on traditionally male or female dominated sectors. Finally, the need for available childcare, social care and household services to ensure an equal sharing of care responsibilities is underlined. The Commission plans a revision of the Barcelona childcare targets, a proposal for a Child Guarantee in 2021, and an enhanced mobilization of EU funds for the availability and affordability of quality care services. More info.
Flash news
  • Belgium: as from May 2020, minimum hourly wage in the Service voucher sector is set at  €11,35 per hour.  
  • France: 850 millions of paid hours were registered in the formal PHS sector for 2018.
  • Germany: the German Trade Union Confederation (DGB) has put forward its own model of social voucher scheme which would lead to the creation of 260.000 jobs in the sector.
  • Ireland: the first ever workers owned cooperative in homecare has launched its activities in February 2020 in suburbs of Dublin.
  • Italy: following the COVID-19 crisis, the government has awarded a €500 monthly bonus for April and May to care workers working at least 10 hours per week. It has also adopted a regularisation measure of undeclared migrant workers in the agricultural, care and domestic sector.
  • Luxembourg: as from 1st of April, the income tax deduction for PHS related expenses has been temporarily increased to €6.750 for 2020.
  • The Netherlands: the trade union FNV has launched a crowdfunding to help domestic workers who are in a dire situation because of COVID-19.
  • Spain: in February 2020 the Sindicato de Cuidadoras Sin Papeles (Union of undocumented care workers) was created in Barcelona.
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EFSI is the voice of the Personal and Household Services industry at European level, representing national associations, employers’ organisations, PHS providers and companies involved in the development of personal and household services (PHS), and currently operating in 21 EU Member States.
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