Domestic workers contribute much to the EU’s societies and their economies. Their important work complements public social protection systems in EU Member States where such systems are not well developed, or their scope was reduced during the economic crisis. Their work in private homes also enables more women to participate in upper segments of the labour market. In spite of the economic and societal importance of the 2.5 million domestic workers working in the EU – the vast majority women – their rights too often remain illusory. Upholding labour law standards in domestic work is difficult:... workers may not be aware of their rights, employers may not be committed to labour law standards, and labour inspectorates are usually not allowed to enter the domestic households where work is carried out. Domestic workers are also at heightened risk of experiencing severe labour exploitation – particularly exploitative working conditions that deviate significantly from standard working conditions as defined by legislation or other binding legal regulations. This concerns in particular remuneration, working hours, leave entitlements, health and safety standards and decent treatment. In some cases, domestic workers experience the most severe forms of labour exploitation, equalling slavery, servitude and forced labour.
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