It is not known how many people perform domestic service in Portugal, warned today the president of the Union of Workers of Concierge, Surveillance, Cleaning, Domestic and Miscellaneous Activities (STAD), Vivalda Silva.

STAD has therefore initiated the "Dignified Domestic Service" project to try to resolve the lack of information.

The researchers are going to survey the number of domestic workers, crossing various data, including the "few that exist at the National Institute of Statistics and Social Security services", union leader Carlos Trindade told Lusa, during the presentation of the project.

“Currently, we are only aware of the situations when they come to us and, at that time, we manage to accompany them, but we are unable to go to their workplaces since they work in private homes”, said Vivalda Silva. “When they arrive at the union, it is a sign that they have already been fired”, she said.

The union claims that most of the workers are women and are also often immigrants, who do not make due discounts for social security and end up being harmed in the future.

But STAD also receives reports of female workers being victims of aggression by employers. “They denounce cases of moral harassment, physical violence, being bumped into, but also being fired from one day to the next, not being entitled to subsidies”, she told Lusa.

Labour rights

Currently, “most workers already know that they are entitled to Christmas and holiday subsidies”, added Carlos Trindade, admitting, however, that knowing labour rights is not always synonymous with having them.

Therefore, the project will also analyse working conditions, access to social security, and knowledge of their rights and duties added Filipa Seiceira, who is part of the team that is preparing the studies and diagnoses.

A study will also be carried out on the legal regime of paid domestic work, with researchers looking for good practices and presenting proposals for improvements that can be introduced in the legal framework.

One of the ideas presented was that employers could declare in their taxes the cost they incur with domestic workers because this way social security discounts are guaranteed.

The idea came from Sandra Ribeiro, president of the Commission for Citizenship and Gender Equality (CIG), who was also present.

The project, in which the CIG, the Ruben Rolo Institute, and the Norwegian Union for General Workers also participate, will end with the preparation of the White Paper on paid work.