District employment services for domestic work, Spain
In the district of Nazaret in València, an employment office along with a range of other services were created several years ago for women working in domestic services. The initiative was supported by a number of institutions, mainly public and religious, and was managed by an association. The office and services have since evolved and are now offered in a more organised way, and to other groups and occupations. The initiative promotes the creation of employment and of formal work contracts.
The district of Nazaret, a traditional fishing village, is located in the municipality of València in eastern Spain. The income and educational levels of Nazaret’s inhabitants are lower than average, but their identification with the district is high.
A large proportion of women in the district work in domestic services, either in the district itself or sometimes elsewhere. In most cases, the work is performed without a formal employment contract, due to a mixture of tradition, lack of information or fear on the part of the workers that they will be rejected if they request a formal contract. Other reasons include the particular characteristics of contracting in domestic services. For example, in many cases, the employer offers a contract with social security contributions, but with a reduction in the net salary. Moreover, the worker may be employed by several families. These characteristics have contributed to a weakening of the domestic services labour market, which has an impact on both workers and their employers. In response to this situation, a number of institutions decided to establish an employment office along with other services.
The main actors involved in this initiative are the domestic service workers themselves. Within this group, Cano and Sanchez Velasco (2005) detected three segments:
- older women who worked in domestic services when they were younger and later returned to work in this area;
- young women with low educational levels who work in domestic services due to the lack of opportunities in other labour fields;
- female immigrants of different backgrounds.
The other actors are the institutions that have created the labour exchange and services.
The main objective of the employment office has been to facilitate the adjustment of supply and demand in domestic services. Prices and conditions of work are identified. An employment contact is then established between the employers and the female workers, allowing for an adjustment in work relationships.
At the same time, through information, guidance and training on professional, social and personal attitudes and skills, access to employment is improved. This also contributes to the employers’ confidence and to the overall quality of work.
The labour office uses different criteria for the evaluation of work, in accordance with the main types of domestic work: services provided on a continuous basis, hourly work or night shift work. These criteria take into account the effort involved in the work, the hourly salary and total compensation, as well as working conditions. In terms of the type of contract, the wishes of the actors are respected, including the desire for an informal employment contract, although formal contracts are strongly promoted.
The employment office also has links with other services, and the professional information and guidance it provides may target other kinds of work besides domestic services. It is centred around a customised programme of reinsertion into the labour market, and often embraces social and personal development issues. In addition, it encompasses training activities which aim to strengthen self-esteem and other professional, social and personal attitudes or skills. Moreover, further education is offered or recommended for people with low levels of education.
Evaluation and outcome
Achievement of objectives
The employment office has contributed to regulating the labour market with respect to domestic services. This has benefited the female workers, but also the employers, as it has created an atmosphere of confidence and improved the quality of work.
Obstacles and problems
The main problems faced by the employment office and services have been the instability of the environment and management, as well as the scarcity of resources. This has led to the contraction and decentralisation of the services.
In certain sectors, the adjustment of supply and demand is difficult, and the existing management of the labour market is inadequate to address the interests and circumstances of the actors. In these circumstances, maintaining close relations with the different actors would contribute to a better organisation of the labour market.
The decentralisation of the services provided has made it difficult to measure and evaluate the integrated impact of the initiative. Overall, the average number of people participating in the initiative at a given moment is 60 persons.
The initiative seems to have a high transferability. Beyond the concrete services, the intention of organising the labour market in direct contact with the actors appears to be significant, as are the efforts to offer professional information and guidance (with an insertion timeframe), training on attitudes and skills, and further education.
Main organisation responsible:
Asociación de Veïns i Veïnes Natzaret, Website: http://avvnatzaret.blogspot.com/
Coordinadora de mujeres de Natzaret (C/ Parque de Nazaret 94-2 46024 València)
Cano, E. and Sánchez Velasco, A., Empleo informal y precariedad laboral: las empleadas de hogar de Nazaret, 2005, available online at: http://www.nodo50.org/ioe/ficheros_externos/Jovenes%20en%20el%20barrio%20de%20Nazaret%20(Valencia)_Jovenes-Nazaret_texto.pdf.
Centro de Estudios Económicos Tomillo, La presencia de las mujeres en el empleo irregular, Madrid, Instituto de la Mujer, 2005.
Pajares, M., Inmigración y mercado de trabajo. Informe 2008, Madrid, Ministerio de Trabajo e Inmigración, 2008.
Esteban Villarejo and Joseph Maria Rojo-Pijoan, CIREM Foundation