The European Parliament is concerned about working conditions in the social care sector. In the context of discussions about Work-Life Balance, the European Parliament (EP) adopted a resolution on “Care services in the EU for improved gender equality” at its 2018 November plenary. The text, to which the EPSU Secretariat contributed with a written contribution and in direct exchanges with the rapporteur, MEP Sirpa Pietikäinen, EPP, Finland, highlighted some points that EPSU and EPSU affiliates have been raising regarding working conditions and pay of care workers, as well as investment in such services.
It is positive that the resolution adopted by the EP expresses concern over long working hours, low pay and inadequate health and safety policies for care workers. It insofar addresses issues and challenges also highlighted in the EPSU Report “She works hard for the money - tackling low pay in sectors dominated by women”. The EP resolution also calls on EU Member States to increase public investment in care services, and points to the need to better monitor private long-term care provision. Nevertheless, the resolution does call for assessing the potential of public-private partnerships (PPPs) in the sector, an instrument which EPSU and affiliates have warned against.
Although it is welcome that issues like public investment and poor working conditions are addressed by the European Parliament, care services are still mainly talked about in the context of fostering women’s labour market participation by helping them reconcile work and care responsibilities, and thus closing the gender employment and pay gap. EPSU reminds that tackling the undervaluation of the feminised workforce in the childcare, elderly care and other social services sectors is indispensable to closing the gender pay gap and to, indeed, achieving improved gender equality.