“I worked 15-hour days, 7 days a week” Why caring about domestic and care workers is vital for us all

Domestic and care work are key sectors of labour markets across Europe but among the least recognised, whether childcare, cleaning or caring for the elderly. Domestic workers, particularly those who are undocumented migrants, often carry out these vital jobs without proper pay, holidays or any possibility to report exploitation and abuse. Their status leaves them unable to access the same rights as other workers and leaves them at greater risk of exploitation, violence and abuse.

Figures from across Europe show the prevalence of migrants, largely women, in the domestic work and care work sectors, and their particular vulnerability to exploitation. In Ireland, for example, a survey of 500 undocumented migrant workers revealed that 30% of them were employed in private homes as domestic workers, the majority caring for elderly people*. In a survey of 400 female migrants carrying out domestic work in the Czech Republic, 53% said they did not have any employment contract**.

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