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  • Jon Purizhansky

Global Migration of Domestic Workers

Jon Purizhansky from Buffalo, NY says that relocation of domestic assistants is rapidly expanding. Domestic assistants is a category of foreign migrant workers who perform a variety of household services for an individual or a family, from providing care for children and elderly dependents to housekeeping, including cleaning and household maintenance. Other responsibilities may include cooking, laundry and ironing, shopping for food and other household errands. Particular niche, however, is taking care of the elderly.

The world population is ageing, and the number of older adults who need assistance in activities of daily living has been increasing. At the same time, the ability to provide informal care to frail older adults within the family is declining, among other things due to drop in fertility, women joining the workforce and increasing divorce rates in the West. Consequently, in most western countries the home care services are provided by paid care workers - either locals or foreign migrants. This solution is a win-win situation for both care recipients and governments. For the older adult, it allows them to stay in their homes as long as possible, as most of them hope and aspire. For governments, every day at home means a day less in public funded expensive long-term placement. For the foreign migrant workers, it creates an opportunity to relocate globally to take advantage of better economic opportunities.

However, Jon Purizhansky of Buffalo, New York says that while this arrangement is financially cost-effective, it entails other costs. Migrant domestic workers are particularly vulnerable to both violations of workers’ rights and work-related abuse. Violations of workers’ rights refer to disregarding rights that relate specifically to being a worker, whereas work-related abuse refers to any violent acts against a person at work or on duty. Migrant domestic workers are subjected to greater risk for exploitation and work-related abuse compared with local home care workers, as they are not as familiar with the laws of their host counties that protect employees against abuse. While their duties and rights are different from that of citizens of their host countries, they are typically still afforded the same protection as local workers.

It’s important to note that migrant care workers pay thousands of dollars to obtain a work permit in the host country. The process of global employment based relocation is full of fraud, non-transparency and inefficiencies. It’s because of these problems that migrant workers end up paying recruiters in their countries who sell them opportunities that may not reflect reality. Consequently, upon arrival, many migrant domestic workers have expectations of salaries and conditions that stem from what their recruiters sold them and not from their actual employment agreements. Additionally, in their first years of employment, most of their salaries are used towards settling the enormous debts that the workers obtained to migrate. Under these circumstances, not only tensions are created between employers and employees, but also leaving an abusive or disrespectful employer becomes more difficult.

Therefore, points Jon Purizhansky from Buffalo, NY, in light of the above-described problems and inefficiencies, a systemic technological solution is required in the global market place - a solution that will protect the employees and will provide employers with better service by connecting employees and employers on the same technological platform, while cutting out the middlemen who create the inefficiencies today. As a result, human rights abuse will be substantially mitigated globally.

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