“Domestic help, a suffering profession”: a profession at an impasse

2023-06-08 05:00:14

It’s a job where the days “Often start at 7 a.m. – or earlier – and don’t stop until 7 p.m., 8 p.m., or even beyond”. However, the average working time for home helps is only 25 hours per week, and part-time work is widespread (it concerns 64% of employees). But the fragmentation of the missions carried out with people with a loss of autonomy considerably widens the working hours.

This almost exclusively female profession (99%), with multiple employment methods (with a private employer, a public or private structure), is also marked by significant hardship, both physical and psychological. “It’s a job that wears out, in which you don’t last. » This for particularly low remuneration: on average, 874 euros per month in 2019.

The picture painted by economists François-Xavier Devetter and Emmanuelle Puissant and sociologist Annie Dussuet is one of the darkest. In their work Home help, an overdue professionthe three academics take the pulse of a profession plunged into a worrying situation, with the ambition of understanding the blockages at work and identifying the changes necessary to “breaking the deadlock”.

While they point out that significant changes have been made over the past thirty years (structuring of the profession, development of funding, etc.), the authors believe that working and employment conditions are particularly hard to improve. This is particularly the fact, in their eyes, of a lack of recognition of the profession within society. Knowledge and know-how are made invisible, the complexities of the profession denied.

Nearly 600,000 employees

“The belief that home care work mobilizes above all feminine and “natural” skills invalidates the need for qualifications and, therefore, the legitimacy of defining salary levels above the minimum wage”, they point out. A weight of representations that mixes with financial arbitrations unfavorable to the profession. “The denial of the value and complexity of the necessary work (…) results from the choice of public policies, as well as personnel management and work organization practices that are part of a logic of reducing the cost of labour. »

Everything therefore contributes to a « industrialisation » of the services provided, which is detrimental to home helpers as well as to the people being helped. The interventions are timed, shortened, and the times considered as “unproductive” (exchanges with the people helped…), although necessary, tend not to be remunerated.

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