Research Findings and Outcomes
Trafficking in Human Beings (THB) in domestic work takes place within the broader context of the widespread ‘employment’ of domestic workers in Europe. Private households’ growing demand for outsourcing domestic and care work is driven by multiple factors such as increased female labour market participation and changing demographics. The majority of domestic workers are women and migrants. Despite its economic and social importance, domestic work remains undervalued and domestic workers are often underpaid, overworked and face protection gaps compared with other labour sectors.
The phenomenon of trafficking in this labour sector is an area neglected by policy makers and law enforcement. Monitoring of labour standards is also extremely difficult given that the work takes place within private households.
The project suggests that most cases of trafficking in domestic work:
- take place within informal and undeclared arrangements
- involve mostly (but not always) migrants without work or residence permits/permission to stay
- involve a growing number of EU citizens
Nearly all cases of trafficking in domestic work concern situations of live-in domestic workers — situations in which the worker lives in the employer’s home.
Four types of situations in which trafficking was reported were identified:
1) Domestic worker employed by private households
2) Domestic worker hired by diplomatic personnel
3) Misuse of the au pair programme (using this programme for a full-time care ‘worker’)
4) Family-based arrangements, such as child fostering
Key Messages for Policy Makers
The findings of the DemandAT project’s studies suggest that addressing demand cannot be separated from tackling the supply side, notably the vulnerabilities faced by domestic workers.
Key messages for policy makers coming out of the research:
- We must enhance detection mechanism and break the cycle of invisibility. Targeted trainings for police officers, prosecutors, and labour inspectors can increase their knowledge and understanding of trafficking and labour exploitation in the domestic work sector. It is also necessary to increase the support for trade unions and other civil society organisations that can identify and report cases of trafficking in this sector. Finally, support must be provided to self-organised groups of domestic workers
- We need to raise awareness and ensure better knowledge on all sides. Potential employers, private households, domestic workers trade unions and the general public must be informed
- We must strengthen domestic workers’ rights. Better regulations setting fair working conditions with incentives to comply for both employers and workers will definitely improve the framework
- We must enforce the law and monitoring mechanisms. Labour inspectorates have a central role to play to monitor working and living conditions of domestic workers
- We must ensure that recruitment agencies are better regulated and monitored
- We must promote the protection principle called ‘firewall’: which waives the obligation to report irregular migrants to authorities
Trafficking for Severe Labour Exploitation in Europe: Addressing, Dissemination Workshop, 12-13 October 2016, Florence, Italy
The workshop brought together researchers, international organisations and key stakeholders from different sectors such as trade unions and labour inspection and international NGOs to discuss the challenges in responding to trafficking in different labour sectors, in particular in addressing demand.