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Notes on contributors p. All Rights Reserved. International and Comparative Employment Relations National regulation, global changes. In Stock. Employment Relations Theory and practice.

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For some, telecommuting is a job-related benefit providing flexibility. For others, however, home-based work may be associated with lower quality conditions of employment and possibly a different employment arrangement, for example own account self-employment.


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  5. Statistics for the United States USA report on the total population of telecommuters and defines a home-based worker as anyone who works even one day a week from home. According to U. Census Bureau data, the proportion of workers fitting that definition was 9. About one half of these home-based workers were self-employed. About one quarter worked in business, management and finance occupations.

    Chen, Martha and G. Vanek, Joann, Martha A. Chen and G. Several factors, including financial need, drive home-based workers to do this work. In the IEMS sample, over three-quarters said their households rely entirely on earnings from informal work. However, home-based workers earn, on average, little — particularly sub-contracted homeworkers, who are paid by the piece and depend on contractors or middlemen for work orders and payments.

    Homeworkers who produce for global value chains receive a very marginal percentage of final profits. In India, for every rupees paid by a customer, gold thread zardozi embroiderers earn 15 rupees, home-made cigarette bidi rollers each 17 rupees, and incense stick agarbati rollers earn only 2. A multi-country study found that home-based work can involve long days — the average varied from 5. In the IEMS sample, many reported that they suffered body aches and pains due to their long working hours. Productivity is negatively affected by the low levels of technology used by home-based workers.

    Irregular and low pay mean they lack the ability to save. Most lack capital to build their businesses, invest in new machinery or in training. Basic infrastructure deficiencies such as electricity shortages further hinder productivity, while utility costs eat into available income. Home-based workers must travel to markets or to pick up raw materials and drop off finished products. Many must walk long distances, or rely on public transportation or other forms of transport such as rickshaws.

    The costs of transport reduce earnings. Among the IEMS sample, around one-third of business costs was on transport; among those who spent on transport, one-quarter operated at a loss. The global economic crisis that began in made it harder for home-based workers to make a living. In and , WIEGO and its Inclusive Cities partners conducted studies on how informal workers were affected by the economic crisis. Home-based workers who produced for global value chains experienced a sharp decline in their work orders. The self-employed home-based workers reported increased competition; many reduced their prices to remain competitive.

    Expansion of retail chains has also created serious competition for local enterprises. Multinational firms based in an industrialized country will outsource production to homeworkers scattered across countries. Links between the homeworker and the lead firm can be obscure. This can make it difficult to negotiate rates or receive payment for completed work. This case offers an illustration:. When a trade union organizer in Canada tried to help one immigrant Chinese garment worker get her back wages, she found that the garment worker did not know whom she worked for … the man who dropped off raw materials and picked up finished garments drove an unmarked van.

    The manufacturer in Hong Kong who sub-contracted production to me has not paid me in months. The theme of the International Labour Conference was global supply chains. For home-based workers whose homes double as their workplaces, inadequate housing is a major challenge. Taking bulk work orders is not possible when there is no storage space. Work is frequently interrupted by the competing needs of other household activities. Many home-based workers meet other household demands during the day and work long hours at night, leading to exhaustion and eye strain.

    Some home-based work generates dust or uses hazardous chemicals. However, there is often no separation between the work space and living space.


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    This can endanger both the home-based worker and other family members, including children. Poor quality housing leads to damaged goods and raw materials.