KATHMANDU, JANUARY 13
Those working from home, whose number has greatly increased due to the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, need better protection, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) has said in a new report.
Since home-working occurs in the private sphere it is often ‘invisible’. In low- and middle-income countries for instance, almost all home-based workers (90 per cent) work informally.
They are usually worse off than those who work outside the home, even in higher-skilled professions.
Home-workers earn on average 13 per cent less in the United Kingdom; 22 per cent less in the United States of America; 25 per cent less in South Africa and about 50 per cent in Argentina, India and Mexico, as per the report.
Home-workers also face greater safety and health risks and have less access to training than non-home-based workers, which can affect their career prospects.
The report, ‘Working from home. From invisibility to decent work’, also reveals that home-workers do not have the same level of social protection as other workers. They are also less likely to be part of a trade union or to be covered by a collective bargaining agreement.
According to ILO estimates, prior to the COVID-19 crisis , there were approximately 260 million home-based workers worldwide, representing 7.9 per cent of global employment; 56 per cent of them (147 million) were women.
They include tele-workers who work remotely on a continual basis, and a vast number of workers who are involved in the production of goods that cannot be automated, such as embroidery, handicrafts, electronic assembly.
A third category, digital platform workers, provide services, such as processing insurance claims, copy-editing, or data annotation for the training of artificial intelligence systems.
In the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 an estimated one-in-five workers found themselves working from home. Data for the whole of 2020, once it is available, is expected to show a substantial increase on the previous year.
The growth of home-working is likely to continue in the coming years, the report says, bringing renewed urgency to the need to address the issues facing home-workers and their employers. Home-working is often poorly regulated and compliance with existing laws remains a challenge. In many instance