COVID-19 spurs calls to boost protections for millions of homeworkers

The dramatic global shift to remote working during COVID-19 quarantine lockdowns has underscored an urgent need for greater protections for homeworkers, many of whom are paid far less than those employed outside the home, according to the United Nations.

Some eight percent of workers or 260 million people were home-based before the pandemic, but this figure has more than doubled, according to the International Labor Organization.

ILO economist Janine Berg said, “Homeworkers have been invisible for too long. But the explosion in homeworking during the pandemic has highlighted the poor working conditions experienced by millions worldwide.”

Berg, the report’s co-author, said a key issue was the classification of many homeworkers as independent contractors, putting them outside the scope of most labor laws. Many earn less than the minimum wage and if their work is rejected they have no independent arbiter.

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