A professional who works from home in the United Kingdom can earn, on average, up to 13% less than a worker in identical functions who works in person at the company. In the United States the negative impact on wages is around 22%, in South Africa 25% and in countries such as Argentina, the Index or Mexico a remote worker may even earn 50% less at the end of the month than his peers who daily move to the company. The picture of inequality is traced by the International Labor Organization in the report “Working from home – from invisibility to decent work”, released this Wednesday, where it defends better regulation for remote work.
The ILO does not provide data for Portugal to estimate how much less a worker who works at home earns compared to another who works in person. But, according to the organization, the perception of the existence of inequalities is transversal to the various countries. “Generally, these people’s working conditions are worse than those who work outside the home, even in the most qualified professions,” the report said. And it is not just working conditions that are uneven. “People who work at home also face greater health and safety risks and have less access to training than other people, which can affect their career prospects”, signals the ILO.
Inequalities that concern the organization in a scenario of exponential increase in telework, which was leveraged by the pandemic, but which should continue in the future. Before the crisis generated by the covid-19 pandemic, the ILO accounted for approximately 260 million people working from home worldwide, equivalent to 7.9% of global employment. 56% (147 million) were women. This account includes professionals in teleworking, who perform functions at a distance on a continuous basis, but also workers involved in the production of goods that cannot be automated (such as embroidery, handicrafts or electronic assembly) and, a third category, workers digital platforms that provide services in areas such as customer support, text editing, or data annotation for the formation of artificial intelligence systems.
Strengthening regulation is urgent
“In the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, about one in five people found work from home. The data for the whole year 2020, once available, should show a substantial increase over the previous year ”, emphasizes the ILO in the report which highlights that“ the dramatic increase in work from home due to the pandemic of COVID- 19 highlighted the poor working conditions experienced by many male and female workers who work from home, even before the crisis ”. An increase in the number of remote workers that for the organization makes it urgent to reinforce the regulation of this model of work in the various countries. “The growth of work at home is likely to continue in the coming years, according to the report, bringing renewed urgency to the need to address the issues that people working from home and employers grapple with, emphasizes the ILO.
According to the organization, remote work “is often poorly regulated and compliance with existing laws remains a challenge”. In many cases, he points out, these workers are classified as self-employed and, therefore, excluded from the scope of labor legislation. “Many countries around the world have legislation, sometimes supplemented by collective agreements that address various deficits in decent work associated with work from home. However, only ten ILO member states have ratified the Convention that promotes equal treatment. between work at home and other forms of work for others. Portugal does not appear on this list. “Few countries have a comprehensive policy on work at home”, says Janine Berg, senior ILO economist and one of the authors of the report.
The report released today by the ILO includes a set of recommendations to strengthen the protection of remote workers. In industry, the ILO stresses the importance of “facilitating your transition to the formal economy by extending legal protections, improving compliance, generalizing written contracts, giving access to social security and making people who work at home aware of the Your rights”.
For the thousands of platform workers, “whose activities pose particular challenges to being compliant as they cross multiple boundaries”, the report advocates using data generated by their work to monitor working conditions and instruments to establish fair wages . The report also calls on policy makers to take specific actions to mitigate the psychosocial risks of teleworking and to introduce a “right to disconnect”, to ensure respect for the boundaries between professional and personal life.
The ILO recalls that work from home is likely to become more important in the coming years. To that extent, “governments, in cooperation with workers ‘and employers’ organizations, should work together to ensure that all people who work from home – whether they are weaving rattan in Indonesia, make butter from charity in Ghana, tagging photos in Egypt, making masks in Uruguay, or teleworking in France – they can move from invisibility to decent work, ”he says.
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