Employers As Actors in Care and Household Service Markets: Mapping Employment Relations in the Case of Germany

Wednesday, July 12, 2017
Forehall (University of Glasgow)
Karen Shire , Sociology, University Duisburg-Essen
This paper draws on a new module of data from the German socio-economic panel about the use of market-based care and household services to chart the myriad ways in which employers as actors in these markets are shaping employment relations and the quality of services provided. The data covers household practices in child-care, elderly care, cleaning and gardening services. The results show very different sets of employers active in these different markets with effects on the quality of employment relations, the gendering and ethnizing of work in these sectors. The overall picture of employment practices suggests an institutionalization of informal employment in domestic labor and elderly care and an increasing dualization of child care services. Further analysis of the employment practices in these markets show that informalization is most pronounced where care and household service markets position households as employers, and where recruitment agencies mediate the employment of migrant workers by households. These constellations are closely aligned with a decoupling of employment in care and household services from labor standards and labor representation. Vis a vis household as employers, the state and labor unions are strangely silent and fail to utilize mechanisms such as the ILO Convention on Domestic Labor or monitoring cross-border recruitment practices to improve employment relations.