Spain

Country Profile



Facts & Figures

According to the OECD, there are 356.560 immigrants working in private households in Spain. The largest share are coming from European countries (272.160 immigrants), followed by immigrants from South and Central America and the Caribbean (69.080 immigrants) and Africa (9.560).¹

In general, Spains domestic sector expanded until 2008, when almost 700.000 persons where employed in this sector. Statistics of 2010 show that 20% of the non-EU female migrants in Spain were working in the household sector. In 2010, almost 80% of the Spanish households who hired a domestic worker, did so for less than 10 hours, whereas only around 8% hired full-time workers.²

Before 2008, the common salary for a full-time domestic worker was around 700 to 900 per month.³

According to an ILO report for 2011, 80% of the migrant domestic workers from Asia and 55% of those coming from Latin America work more than 40 hours a week. Most of them are working in live-in situations.

Regarding the education level of migrant domestic workers, there is only information about those coming from Latin America: More than half of them hold at a minimum a secondary degree.

Mostly direct arrangements between the houshold and the worker are concluded. However, there is an increasing presence of intermediary actors, such as domestic work agencies who charge workers for job search.6

Researchers have argued that the familist model of care in Spain was replaced by a 'migrant-in-the-home model'.7

Legal Framework

Until 1985, domestic and care work was not recognized in Spanish law.8

The 2006 Law on Dependency aimed at providing long-term care services to elderly and dependent people which helped to cover existing care needs.9

In 2011, a new law (Real Decreto 1620/2011) obliged anyone who hired a private domestic worker to offer a job contract and to pay the worker's social security costs. However, this law was modified in 2012 (Real Decreto Ley 29/2012), so that workers who work less than 60 hours per month for one employer had to pay their social security costs of 150 euros per month by themselves.10

Complaints

After the Great Recession, the financial crisis that started in 2008, many domestic workers were affected by unemployment and worsened job conditions. Migrant domestic workers suffered more than natives from this crisis because of ethnic discrimination resulting in clients' preferences to choose native domestic workers. As there was an increasing presence of Spanish women in the sector after 2008, competition increased and clients' hierarchies led to an unequal competition. In addition, migrant domestic workers faced reduced salaries, ceasing payment of social-security coverage and increased vulnerabiltiy due to a lack of jobs after 2008.11

Because of the lack of legal protection, migrant domestic workers are often the object of discrimination and verbal, physical and sexual abuse. Many of them are informally employed and as the employers are not companies, they are exempt from Labor Inspectorate controls. Domestic migrant workers do not have unemployment protection, which is particularly dramatic in cases of live-in work and for irregular migrants.12

Migrant domestic workers are also subject to unequal power imbalances as they are dependent on having a contract to maintain their legal residence status, which is why the employers find themselves in a stronger position to dictate conditions.13

In Spain, there is a low level of union density which limits the migrant domestic workers' capabilities to claim for better working conditions.14

Resources

Confederación Sindical de Comisiones Obreras

UGT

SOURCES

  1. OECD Statistics. Demography and Population. Migration Statistics. Immigrants by sector. Accessed on 12th of November 2021 at https://stats.oecd.org/Index.aspx?DataSetCode=ALFS_EMP
  2. Hellgren, Z. & Serrano, I. (2019). Financial Crisis and Migrant Domestic Workers in Spain: Employment Opportunities and Conditions during the Great Recession. International Migration Review, 53(4), 1209-1229. Available at https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/0197918318798341?casa_token=PC-loyu_4K0AAAAA:5eVWv8R4mhY18VykukmNIyCMvLQJnR2giQbqhLsqd4IWXNaiiy9HBeBIYSJyAwdllQMuzLjhYBHiNqgO
  3. ibid.
  4. Galloti, Maria & Mertens, Jesse (2011). Promoting integration for migrant domestic workers in Europe: A synthesis of Belgium, France, Italy and Spain. International Migration Papers No. 118. Available at https://ecommons.cornell.edu/bitstream/handle/1813/87675/ILO_Promoting_integration_for_migrant_domestic_workers_in_Europe.pdf?sequence=1
  5. ibid.
  6. Hellgren, Z. (2015). Markets, Regimes, and the Role of Stakeholders: Explaining Precariousness of Migrant Domestic/Care Workers in Different Institutional Frameworks. Social Politics, 22(2), 220-241.
  7. Bettio, F., Simonazzi, A. & Villa, P. (2006). Change in care regimes and female migration: the ‘care drain’ in the Mediterranean. Journal of European Social Policy, 16(3), 271-285. Available at https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/0958928706065598?casa_token=1IH7UbIr0OYAAAAA%3A1rMY1Y3vkrPlsCD_RcttmAEx1q6wGBaH_ad0cEwFi1oGFQTV5McpVUXYJG4T4ij77kEQ_c5AgxjcVPyy&
  8. Hellgren, Z. (2015). Markets, Regimes, and the Role of Stakeholders: Explaining Precariousness of Migrant Domestic/Care Workers in Different Institutional Frameworks. Social Politics, 22(2), 220-241.
  9. Hellgren, Z. & Serrano, I. (2019). Financial Crisis and Migrant Domestic Workers in Spain: Employment Opportunities and Conditions during the Great Recession. International Migration Review, 53(4), 1209-1229. Available at https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/0197918318798341?casa_token=PC-loyu_4K0AAAAA:5eVWv8R4mhY18VykukmNIyCMvLQJnR2giQbqhLsqd4IWXNaiiy9HBeBIYSJyAwdllQMuzLjhYBHiNqgO
  10. Hellgren, Z. (2015). Markets, Regimes, and the Role of Stakeholders: Explaining Precariousness of Migrant Domestic/Care Workers in Different Institutional Frameworks. Social Politics, 22(2), 220-241.
  11. Hellgren, Z. & Serrano, I. (2019). Financial Crisis and Migrant Domestic Workers in Spain: Employment Opportunities and Conditions during the Great Recession. International Migration Review, 53(4), 1209-1229. Available at https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/0197918318798341?casa_token=PC-loyu_4K0AAAAA:5eVWv8R4mhY18VykukmNIyCMvLQJnR2giQbqhLsqd4IWXNaiiy9HBeBIYSJyAwdllQMuzLjhYBHiNqgO
  12. Aceros, J. C., Duque, T. & Paloma, V. (2021). Psychosocial benefits and costs of activism among female migrant domestic workers in southern Spain. J Community Psychology, 49, 2905-2921. Available at https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1002/jcop.22610?casa_token=cAtAb8ozBR4AAAAA:CHJ3dBwMuXr3BotHsQRov5hHEYJaeopTPDLUkWHKLVdqRvkNUVUIZIP3HM4aFF1GHtNlsoQc0KlejklSEQ
  13. Hobson, B. & Bede, L. (2015). Precariousness and Capabilities: Migrant Care/Domestic Workers in two Institutional Contexts. Teorija in Praksa. let. 52, 3/2015. Available at https://www.fdv.uni-lj.si/docs/default-source/tip/3-15_hobson_bede.pdf
  14. ibid.