Project Background

The study of the grounds of both undeclared work and domestic work concepts concludes that turning around the undeclared domestic work is one of the major concerns in Europe. Its consequences to public finances, working conditions, vulnerable collectives as well as the growing foresights of this sector and its complex features to tackle it; claims to solve urgently this challenge in the European Union.

The estimated size of undeclared work varies between 1,5% and 19% of GPD between different member states, and the household sector leads the ranking with higher rates. The magnitude of the domestic sector is also quite important in the overall labour market and the presence of women and migrant is crucial to be taken into account.

Elements such as levels of tax and social contributions, administrative burdens, changes in families’ composition and its model of organisation, specificities of work inside households, cultural acceptance and the role of migrant and gender inequalities, are considered main reasons of the existence of an important undeclared domestic sector around Europe.

This phenomenon implies both individual and collective negative consequences. On one hand, deterioration on working conditions, on social protection, increase of vulnerability amongst others; and on the other hand social fraud, economic setbacks, and lack of union representation, for example.

 Analysing main public policies against undeclared work, we have detected specific policies which could have greater impact against undeclared domestic work. The key elements to tackle are administrative simplification, reducing the financial advantage of undeclared work, introducing incentives for regulated workers, professionalization of the sector, and promoting benefits of the declared economy. As a conclusion it has been pointed out that the complexity of the problem makes it necessary to implement not single policies but integrated models. Furthermore it is also necessary to ensure participation of a wide range of relevant actors.

(...read more in the Project Transnational Report)

Project outcomes: the Policy Guide and the Barcelona Conference

This guide is the end result of a research project conducted by the “Turning Undeclared Domestic Work Around” team, an international group formed by the Public Employment Services of Catalonia (SOC), Lombardy (ARIFL) and La Marche (MR), the University of South Brittany (UBS), the UGT and CCOO trade unions and the European Regions Foundation for the Research on Education and Formation (FREREF). The team’s first step was the publication of the report “Turning Undeclared Domestic Work Around” (June 2012). It analyses the concept of undeclared domestic work, its extent, causes, consequences and contains a first attempt to analyse possible public policies. In fact, it analyses of all kinds of policies used against undeclared work in general. The purpose was to test whether these policies are appropriate for the domestic field. We highly recommend reading the report before studying the policy guide, as it contains explanations about the advantages and disadvantages of each policy, while the policy guide is focused on describing what can be done and how it can be done1.

The TUDWA project also organised an international meeting in Barcelona with the participation of different experts in undeclared domestic work and different stakeholders (trade union members, women’s organisations, public sector managers, etc.). As a result, there were productive debates about the causes behind undeclared domestic work and which methods are best to tackle it. This policy guide is by and large influenced by the final ideas from said meeting.

(...read more in the Policy Guide)

Transnational dimension

The project directly involved three southern countries of the European Union: Spain, Italy, and France, though the scope is European. For Spain, Italy and Portugal the leadership organisations will be Regional Employment Services, for France it will be the university of South Britain; and also an European agent as FREREF is involved.

Although the study range reaches all the European Union, policies towards undeclared work should take specific national situations into account, understanding that each country has its own economic, social, institutional and cultural factors, that influence in different manner the informal economy.

This fact has been taken into account, and this is why in all the main processes it is expected to obtain not only a European vision but also a specific one for each country; this will affect the reports, the conference and the policy guides.

The transnational profile is a requirement of the call for proposals that will facilitate the access to a broad available information, will allow to deep in best practices driven by each country, and will enrich the points of view tackling our goals.

Targeted groups

The household work has a very particular target. Referring to the gender some European studies pointed out that in childcare services, in eldercare  and  in domestic cleaning, the percentage of women never dips below 90% and often reaches 98-100% (European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions, 2001).

In Spain the statistical shows that more than 90% are women and more than a half of these women (52,2%) are immigrants, the activity sector with the highest rate. Referring to the age: 24% are younger than 30 years old and 21% are older than 50 (older than averages in others sectors). 30% have primary studies (Consejo Económico y Social, 2006).



TUDWA is funded by the European Commission (General Direction of Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion)