Bringing together or drifting apart? Targeting care work as "work like no other"

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This article maps the precarious and unintended consequences that may emerge from the exceptional treatment of domestic work as "work like no other," through an examination of the controversy over overtime pay for live-in care workers in Israel. While the case law from the Israeli labour courts provides a continuum of solutions to the question of overtime pay to live-in care workers, the current legal interpretation of the national law by the Supreme Court of Israel denies overtime pay to this group of workers due to the unique nature of live-in care arrangements. The exclusion of domestic workers from the general national law of overtime pay provides several reasons to be wary of exceptional treatment of domestic work at the international level as well. The ideological roots of the exceptional treatment in the national level-identified in the article as a form of commodification anxiety-coupled with the economic interest in cheap domestic labour have served to entrench substandard working conditions in the domestic work sector rather than counter them. In addition, experience with other protective governmental programs, such as employment accommodation mandates for vulnerable groups of employees and residual benefits in the welfare context, have shown that exceptional treatment and residual regulation tend to backfire and garner unintended and unwanted consequences, including harming the very groups they were set out to protect. Using the Israeli case study, the article suggests that exceptional treatment of domestic workers risks reflecting and further constituting the fundamental expressive, economic, and institutional disadvantage of domestic workers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)289-308
Number of pages20
JournalCanadian journal of women and the law = Revue juridique La femme et le droit
Volume23
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2011

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