ILO Calls Support for Social Dialogue and ILO Convention for Decent Home-Work

The event highlights that home-work is a form of work that is without security low-paid, lacking organisation, unclear working hours, not conducive to work-life balance for most home workers including particularly women, and ILO calls support for ILO Convention.

News | 05 March 2021
The International Labour Organization (ILO) held an online event on 4 March 2021 to address various forms of home-work from decent work and gender equality perspectives, and made a call for cooperation among social partners to support ILO’s Home Work Convention.

Speaking at the event, Mr. Numan Özcan, Director of the ILO Office for Turkey, said: “As proposed by ILO reports, it is time to observe the requirements of ILO’s Home Work Convention, 1996 (No. 177), and guidance by ILO’s Home Work Recommendation, 1996 (No. 184) to take all home workers out of invisibility and enable transition to decent work. We, ILO, call all parties for support.”

“Convention No. 177 promotes equal treatment of home workers and other paid employees, and thereby aims to transform home-work into a source of decent work.”

Home-based work is insecure and low-paying

At the event on the occasion of March 8 International Women’s Day, it was highlighted based on the findings of ILO’s global report and Turkey report that home-based work was a form of work that is without security, low-paid, lacking organisation, involving psychosocial risks, unclear working hours, without social rights such as weekly or annual paid leave, inadequate occupational safety and health, not conducive to work-life balance, and causing isolation for most home workers including particularly women.

Home-based work is a gendered mode of production

Considering the concentration of women in home-based work and sectors of home production, ILO reports revealed that home-based work stands out as a gendered mode of production, pointing to the gendered dimensions of home-based work.

ILO reports reveal that as women shoulder most of unpaid care work in the world and in Turkey, home-based work is a way of combining family care responsibilities with earning an income, which presents certain advantages for homeworking women but also such disadvantages as higher load of care work.

“We call support for ILO Convention”

Director Özcan stated that “Therefore, as most home workers are women, home-based work turns into disproportionate responsibilities for women and men at home, which may exacerbate inequalities both at home and at work” and added: “Such invisible labour at home may also entail informal work on the part of women.”

Director Özcan concluded: “Therefore, urgent action is needed. It is time that governments in cooperation with workers’ and employers’ organisations to observe the requirements of ILO’s Home Work Convention, 1996 (No. 177), and guidance by ILO’s Home Work Recommendation, 1996 (No. 184) to take all home workers including women out of invisibility and enable transition to decent work.

“This webinar demonstrated that first, home-based work must be made visible and incorporated in the legislation. National policies must be formulated. We do hope that home-based work will become a decent form of work.”

Swedish Ambassador: “Change is necessary”

Speaking at the meeting, His Excellency Ambassador Staffan Herrström of Sweden at Ankara, underlined that March 8 International Women’s Day must call attention to appalling gender inequalities, urgency of change and engaging men in the change process, and said: “The principles of home-based work must conform to international standards.”

“Considering that most home workers are women, home-based work definitely has a gendered dimension. Women’s higher propensity to work at home reflects their need to combine unpaid care responsibilities with paid work opportunities.”

“What we address is exactly one of the major inequalities between men and women globally: Women shoulder three fourths of unpaid domestic work and care. This must change.”

“Remote work may offer advantages to women”

Ms. Nurcan Önder, General Director of Labour, Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Services, noted that she would consider home-based work in the context of remote work, and said: “Remote work, despite advantages, may offer advantages to women indeed as it enables women with care responsibilities to join the labour force.”

“Remote workers are equal to other workers pursuant to the principle of equality, regardless of time and space. The Labour Law and other laws must be applied and enforced equally and I believe that our laws conform to the ILO Convention in that sense.”

In the second part of the event, Ms. Özge Berber Agtaş, Senior Programme Officer, ILO Office for Turkey moderated a panel where Sergei Soares, Senior Economist of ILO HQ, presented the highlights from ILO’s Global Report “Working from home: From invisibility to decent work”, and Prof. Dr. Saniye Dedeoğlu, Muğla Sıtkı Koçman University, shared the findings of Turkey Report.

In this part, researchers explained the advantages and disadvantages of home-based work and offered recommendations to ensure decent conditions for home-based work.

“Legislation and social dialogue paramount”

Speakers emphasised the importance of supporting ILO’s Home Work Convention, 1996 (No. 177) and accompanying Home Work Recommendation, 1996 (No. 184), of social dialogue, and of formulating comprehensive policies and legislation on home-based work to enable home workers to work in decent conditions.

The final part of the event was moderated by Dr. Ayşe Emel Akalın, Gender and Social Dialogue Officer, ILO Office for Turkey, where contributors addressed the advantages and disadvantages of home-based work based on the experience of women working from home in various sectors.

In this final part, Ms. Özlem İlyas of Platform of the Officeless, Ms. Nurcan Yalçın of Home-based Workers Union (Ev-Ek-Sen), and Ms. Buket Koral of Abdi Ibrahim (pharmaceutical company), shared their home-based and remote work experience before and during the pandemic.

“We want to be visible”

It was often noted that home-based work had more disadvantages than advantages, and the fundamental issues were listed by panellists as follows: Lack of security, unclear working hours, low pay, lack of work-life balance, lack of legislation, home workers not subject to any legislation, invisibility of home-based work, inadequate occupational safety and health.

Ms. Nurcan Yalçın listed the “invisible” issues involved with home-based work as follows: “We work from home out of necessity. We are not visible. Are we workers or not? Our working hours are not clear. Who will provide meals to us? Who will determine how much and how long we have worked at home? How will unionisation occur? Who will provide shuttle service for children? Who will provide the equipment?” and added: “Nobody asks these questions. We expect solutions.”