The pandemic blurs the line between work and private life

Employees will need better protection and better knowledge of the rights and risks associated with this new way of life, underlines the International Labor Organization (ILO),

Where does work end and where does private life begin? The pandemic and its cohorts of homeworkers have blurred the line between the two further and deserve more attention, the UN warned on Wednesday.

Working from home will continue, which means that employees will need better protection and better knowledge of the rights and risks associated with this new way of life, underlines the International Labor Organization (ILO), in a report.

«When the world was brutally hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, legions of workers converted overnight to working from home in order to protect their jobs and their lives“, Underlines the UN agency, for whom”there is no doubt that working from home will increase in importance in the years to come».

The organization estimates that in 2019, so before the epidemic that started in China and then spread around the world – some 260 million people worked from their homes, or about 7.9% of the total number of workers. .

The Covid-19 jumped this rate to around 20% during the first months of the pandemic, estimates the agency.

The ILO distinguishes three categories of homeworkers: those who telework permanently as well as a large number of workers who produce goods whose manufacture cannot be automated such as embroidery, artisanal production or electronic assembly and a third category concerning employees of digital platforms (processing of claims, document revision work or even data annotations intended to feed artificial intelligence systems, for example).

Most teleworkers are women

In low- and middle-income countries, most homeworkers are considered to be self-employed, while in rich countries they are predominantly employed. Most are women (147 million in 2019 against 113 million men in 2019).

«Home work regulations are often insufficient and compliance with the regulations in force remains a real challenge“, Notes the ILO, in particular because of this independent status which”Excludes them from the scope of application of labor law».

Thus, in low- and middle-income countries, virtually “all homeworkers (90%) carry out their activity informally».

«For teleworkers, the big risk is the erasure of the difference between working time and time for oneself and for the family», Underlines the report, which insists on the need to take into account the psychological risks associated with working in isolation.

It is also important “introduce a ‘right to disconnect’ to ensure respect for the boundaries between professional and private life».

Flexible working hours but lower wages on average

The agency notes that one of the most important advantages of working from home is the flexibility of schedules and in general it finds that homeworkers work shorter days.

For these workers, the offer of childcare facilities is very important “for increasing productivity and helping work-life balance and for homeworkers in manufacturing, this potentially helps break the cycle of poverty», Emphasizes the ILO.

But generally speaking these workers are “less well off“. They earn on average 13% less in the UK, 22% less in the United States of America, 25% less in South Africa and around 50% in Argentina, India and Mexico ”.

«Governments, in collaboration with workers ‘and employers’ organizations, must work together to ensure that all homeworkers – whether they are weaving rattan in Indonesia, whether they are making shea tree in Ghana, tagging photos in Egypt, whether they make masks in Uruguay or telework in France – can go from invisibility to decent work ”, insists the ILO.


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