Project Information

Job Quality and Industrial Relations in the Personal and Household Services Sector

Background and Objectives

The aim of the PHS-QUALITY project was to study, from a comparative and multidisciplinary perspective, the existing public policies and social partners’ strategies towards personal and household services in ten EU countries, namely, Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, Spain, Germany, France, Finland, Czech Republic, Slovakia and the UK. Personal and household services (PHS) cover a range of activities that contribute to the well-being at home of families and individuals, including child care, care for the elderly and persons with disabilities, housework services (such as cleaning, ironing, and gardening), remedial classes, home repairs, etcetera. PHS are provided within the household, mostly by women, mainly working part time, with relatively low skills and often from a migrant background. It is a rapidly-growing sector where a large share of the work is done informally, which often negatively affects both the quality of work and the quality of the services. Improving the quality of work in PHS is high on the policy agenda of the EU and the ILO. The aim of the project was to analyse legislation, public policies, and social partners’ actions/campaigns specifically oriented towards protecting PHS providers.


The overall objective of this project was to identify good practices capable of both improving the quality of services and jobs in the sector and ensuring greater professionalization of domestic workers. The main research question was how legal regulation, public policy, and social partners’ actions can improve job quality and fight informality in the personal and household services sector. Mainly based on expert interviews and desktop research, a national report was prepared for each country. The report included

  • An overview on the structure of the PHS sector, including statistical information on employment and current market trends (e.g. new role of platforms)
  • an analysis of the national legal framework, taking as a reference the minimum labour and social rights established in the ILO Conventions on domestic work
  • an analysis of the current national debate, public policies and social partners’ actions aimed at improving job quality for domestic workers
  • an evaluation of working conditions, labour rights and social security coverage of domestic workers

An overview report summarizing the 10 country reports and highlighting best practices was prepared. Results were presented in two webinars (instead of the originally scheduled final conference in Brussels) where the challenges faced by the sector were discussed with the stakeholders in the PHS sector.


Dr. Karen Jaehrling: The role of intermediaries in formalizing and ‘normalizing’ work: the case of domestic and care services. After Covid? Critical Conjunctures and Contingent Pathways of Contemporary Capitalism. SASE's 33rd Annual Conference, 2-5 July 2021 (Virtual Conference), 05.07.2021  Weitere Informationen

Dr. Karen Jaehrling: De l'emploi informel à l'emploi formel ‘léger’: Variétés d'emplois atypiques dans le travail domestique en Allemagne. 3e congrès mondial cielo laboral 2020 - le travail mondialisé. Virtuelle Tagung, 24./25. September 2020. Veranstalter: CIELO Laboral / Universite de Nantes, Frankreich , 24.09.2020  Weitere Informationen

Project data

Term of the project:
01.03.2018 - 30.06.2020

Reseach department:
Flexibility and Security

Project management:
Dr. Karen Jaehrling,Dr. Claudia Weinkopf

EU DG Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion