A real job? Regulating household work: The case of Spain

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This article is contextualized within the recent evolution of household employment in Spain. In the context of the strong demand for personal care services - due to rapid population ageing, mass incorporation of women into the labour market and insufficient collective provision of care services - the growth of domestic work is closely related to the overall social organization of care and specific migration policies that have eased, both implicitly and explicitly, the labour supply of foreign women into Spanish households. In line with ongoing debates in the academic literature as well as in the political sphere, this article seeks to explain the extent to which domestic work can or should be considered as any other job in terms of social and employment rights and obligations. To that end, it evaluates changes in the regulation of household employment in Spain since the creation of the Special Regime for Household Employees (SRHE) in 1969 until the most recent 2011 reform. Following the recommendations of the ILO Convention for Domestic Workers (2011), this latest reform puts domestic workers on equal footing with other dependent employees. It thus implies a sea change in relation to the discriminatory treatment embedded in previous legal frameworks. The main hindrance to the effective transposition of the norm however remains the strong presence of the informal economy and a dubious political commitment to ensure its application. © The Author(s) 2013.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)170-188
JournalEuropean Journal of Women's Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2013


  • Household work
  • ILO Convention on Domestic Work
  • migration
  • regulation
  • Spain
  • women


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