Excluded workers and exempted employers: Aqualitative study on domestic workers' access tosocial protection in the Netherlands

In the Netherlands, many part-time domestic workers fall within the scope of a particular type of labour law, that gives them fewer social protection rights and that renders private actors (households and workers) responsible for exercising those rights. Over the years, this policy has been criticised for institutionalising the differential treatment of domestic workers, which goes against ideas propagated in international initiatives, like the European Pillar of Social Rights. This contribution explores Dutch domestic workers' access to social protection in greater detail. Drawing on semi-structured interviews with 30 domestic workers, we show that the actual access to social protection greatly varies over different workers and over different employment relationships of individual workers, but generally falls below par. Our findings indicate that this is partly due to the fact that the Dutch policy option underestimates domestic workers' wariness of placing demands on the households they work for, which raises questions over the desirability of non-mediated employment relationships in the sector. We conclude with a brief discussion and suggestions for future policy directions.