the invisible discrimination of homeworkers

In his 15th barometer on the perception of discrimination in employment, the Defender of Rights looked into personal services, of which the 1.3 million employees (5.5% of French employees) appear to be particularly exposed because of their work at residence.

“An almost exclusively female, precarious population, with a large proportion of employees of foreign origin and an overrepresentation of people affected by health problems or with disabilities”summarizes the study by the Defender of Rights, according to which 61% of women workers in the sector are victims of discrimination, well above the average for the population (53%).

Physical appearance, origin or skin color, being a woman are the main factors of discrimination, right from recruitment: 33% of those who have experienced discrimination were the object of time of hiring, often by individual employers unfamiliar with labor law and who ask prohibited questions or select their employees on prohibited criteria.

“I was criticized for being too thin”

“Research has shown that the recruitment of nannies is based more on illegal criteria related to gender, family status and physical appearance than on the assessment of their professional skills”explains the study, which thus cites the fact of not having children in France as a criterion for complete availability.

Discrimination can also hide in more unusual questions: “I was criticized for being too thin, thus testifies, anonymously, a former candidate for a post of nanny. On thought that I would not do well to eat the children because I am thin. »

Racist criteria are also very present, which can go as far as the naturalization of certain behaviors: “The North Africans perceived as severe but responsible, the nonchalant but maternal Africans, the docile but sneaky Colombians…”says the report.

“The “little maid” at the service of her masters”

This “racialization of skills” should not be neglected, insists the Defender of Rights, who underlines the devaluation at work in these behaviors. “When I came to work in France, because I am Filipina, I was asked to speak English to the children I was looking after, but I was not paid as an English teacher”sums up Zita Cabais-Obra, a former domestic slave who became a CFDT union official.

Sexual harassment is also a behavior to which homeworkers are particularly exposed: 16% of them say they have been victims of fondling and 5% of forced sexual intercourse.

“The home as a place of work increases the risk of reproducing patterns of social and patriarchal domination”, underlines the barometer. The survey cites the“imaginary of the “little maid” in the service of her masters and forced to have sexual relations with the “bourgeois of the building””.

A “sub-labour law”

A threat aggravated by the fact that, as Émilie Bourgeat, researcher at the Defender of Rights, explains, “As the home is not considered a usual place of work, it cannot be subject to inspection”. Hence the establishment of a “sub-labour law”she warns.

Rights defender Claire Hédon warns of the disastrous effects for employees. Firstly because, in most cases, conflicts are resolved by the end of the employment contract, in a context where the victims make very little recourse to the courts, to the Labor Inspectorate, to the trade unions or even, because of an often isolated work, to colleagues.

Then because the difficulties have serious repercussions on their health: “After experiencing discrimination, nearly 70% of professionals in the sector admit to having gone through a period when their mental health deteriorated. »


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