January 15: The International Labour Organisation has called for better protection of workers who have been working from home due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The ILO noted that the number of such workers has greatly increased due to the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Since homeworking occurs in the private sphere it is often "invisible", ILO said in a statement. According to the ILO, almost all home-based workers (90 per cent) work informally in low and middle-income countries for instance.
The statement added that homeworkers 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.
Homeworkers 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 shows that homeworkers 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 teleworkers 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 statement added
The growth of homeworking is likely to continue in the coming years, the report says, bringing renewed urgency to the need to address the issues facing homeworkers and their employers.
Poorly Regulated with Lack of Compliance
According to ILO, homeworking is often poorly regulated and compliance with existing laws remains a challenge. In many instances, homeworkers are classified as independent contractors and therefore excluded from the scope of labour legislation.
"Only 10 ILO Member States have ratified Convention No 177, that promotes equality of treatment between homeworkers and other wage earners, and few have a comprehensive policy on homework," added the statement