Analyst Insight by Rob Walker - Contributing Analyst
There are nearly 20 million domestic workers in Latin America, according to the International Labour Organisation, which is five times more than in the whole of Western Europe and North America combined. Mostly they are women. In fact, one in every four women earning a wage in Latin America is a domestic worker. But, what is their impact on the region’s home care market? After all, at the core of their remit is cleaning houses.
Increased demand for convenience products
Unsurprisingly, their influence on home care sales is huge and far-reaching. It is felt not only in the work they do, but also, increasingly, in the work they do not do, or have stopped doing. Indeed, although the number of domestic workers is still very high in Latin America, the big change over recent years has been the drop in the number of domestic workers employed on a full-time basis.
Consider, for example, that salaries paid to domestic workers in Brazil have risen faster than any other profession over the last decade, reflecting hikes in the minimum wage coupled with new and more enforceable legal rights to benefits such as overtime and severance pay. One of the side-effects is that fewer middle-class Brazilians can afford to employ domestic workers (empregadas) on a full-time basis. For example, an empregada who works 12 hours a day for five days a week now has the legal right to claim 20 hours of overtime (four hours per day). This has pushed up wages dramatically.