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The first employment experiences of Live-in Caregivers: Does it get better from here? November 2, 2012 Jah-Hon Koo (PhD candidate) & Jill Hanley (Associate.

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Presentation on theme: "The first employment experiences of Live-in Caregivers: Does it get better from here? November 2, 2012 Jah-Hon Koo (PhD candidate) & Jill Hanley (Associate."— Presentation transcript:

1 The first employment experiences of Live-in Caregivers: Does it get better from here? November 2, 2012 Jah-Hon Koo (PhD candidate) & Jill Hanley (Associate Professor) McGill School of Social Work

2 Overview Background – The LCP; power and labor process; workplace Workplace issues and situations involving implicit tensions as well as explicit conflicts – Wage, hours, duties, relations, living conditions and unemployment/transition Power dynamics at workplace – Control, resistance and consensus – Patterns of complex power dynamics Employment trajectories – Multiple and divergent employments – The first employment-related experiences Conclusion 2Koo & Hanley (McGill University)

3 Background: The Live-in Caregiver Program LCP: Joint federal program (HRSDC & CIC) under Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) Numbers in 2011 (CIC, 2012): – 5,882 entries (peaked in 2007) – 24,604 present on Dec. 1 st in 2011 (peaked in 2009) Requirement – Care for child, senior or the disabled – Single employer whose name is specified on visa – live-in private household – 24-month or 9,000 hrs in 4 years to be eligible for PR application Criticisms: Unequal power relations – Gendered and racialized nature of the program – Precarious status of LCP workers and their excessive dependency on employers due to due to mobility restrictions – The creation of docile as well as cheap labor; open to various abuses 3 Koo & Hanley (McGill University)

4 Background: Areas of research interests Power relations in the workplaces of LCP workers Power Empowerment Participation Live-in caregivers Migrant workers Labor process Worker participation Koo & Hanley (McGill University)4

5 Power – A fundamental concept in association with contentious theoretical debates (conflict vs. order/consensus; structure vs. agency/subjectivity) – Conflict-based structural view of power: Actual control over one’s social conditions; manifested in the participation or nonparticipation of decision-making processes; rather than psychological sense of efficacy (empowerment/participation rhetoric) or Foucauldian discursive networks (i.e., either infinite agency or inescapable prison) – Lack of attention to work contexts in related studies on empowerment and participation (e.g., grand/political-economic vs. ordinary/service issues) Labor process perspective – Analysis of class conflict and labor-capital power inequality based on the observation of workplaces – Focus change: control (work degradation) -> control-resistance -> control- resistance-consent power dynamics – Less knowledge in the contexts of distinct LCP’s work settings (neither traditional industrial nor newer IT-based) as well as marginalized immigrant labor at the intersections of gender and ethnic as well as class inequalities Koo & Hanley (McGill University)5 Background: Power & labor process

6 Distinctive work settings – Private, individualized and unstructured workplace within service industry (living with employers and/or care recipients in their household): can be more independent from wider labor-capital structure Ambiguities and complexities leading to implicit tensions as well as explicit conflicts – Work hours (work hours vs. free time); work types (duties); working/living spaces (eating & sleeping); workplace relationships What are less known (in the LCP/TFWP literature) – Detailed worker/employer interactions (i.e., labor processes and power dynamics) around these issues and situations at LCP workplace – Differences in LCP workplaces and their patterns and trajectories Koo & Hanley (McGill University)6 Background: LCP Workplace

7 Purpose To understand the power relations in the workplace of live-in caregivers and the extent to which they improve their working conditions – To identify daily routines of live-in caregivers and the workplace issues and situations leading to tensions and conflicts – To examine how live-in caregivers and their employers interact in these situations and how live-in caregivers’ workplace decisions are made – To illuminate the issues, processes and relations at a particular live-in caregiver’s workplace and link them with a broader framework of the LCP employment structure and trajectories 7Koo & Hanley (McGill University)

8 Methods Semi-structured in-depth interviews with 10 LCP workers in Montreal – Access to health and social services for TFWs projects in Text analysis of previously unanalyzed interview scripts with 18 previous LCP workers in Montreal – The land of milk and honey? After the live-in caregiver program in Canada project in 2006 Interview participants and recruitment – All participants were women from the Philippines – Mostly through community organizations (interviewees recruited through street advertisement had an affiliation with a C.O.) and the referral from previous interviewees (snowball sampling) – Sampling bias: more active LCP workers with existing ties to COs. (difficulties in approaching more marginalized live-in caregivers) Preliminary analysis – Qualitative analysis inspired by the Extended Case Method: begin by a micro observation of concrete and detailed experiences of research participants but link it to macro analysis of broader societal forces and contexts 8Koo & Hanley (McGill University)

9 Workplace issues and situations involving implicit tensions and/or explicit conflicts Wages – Minimum wage; no overtime payment (usually not negotiable) – Arbitrary deduction when laid-off Working hours, breaks, and holidays – Excessive working hours (e.g., 8 ~ 10, 15, 20 or virtually 24 hrs a day) and intensive work & hectic schedule (no time to eat); employers on vacation (while leaving children); 36-hour straight work (in nursing home) – Schedule change/time shift (less hours on weekdays and more hours on weekend; night work 2-10pm); employer arriving 30-min late everyday – Holiday (Sunday) denied; sick leave denied; not allowed take break when sick 9Koo & Hanley (McGill University)

10 Types of duties – Housekeeping vs. caring: supposed to be caregivers, but did all house chores whether or not written in the contract (e.g., written as “caring kids and do errands” in the contract) – Specialized caring: Care recipients with disability (e.g., Dementia, down syndrome, RETT syndrome, autism) (while the majority cared for children) – Weekly (charity) party with excessive # (40~60) of guests; two-setting due to divorced employers (working for the both); working for a friend of employer – Other duties not specified on contract: Business help; tutoring; walk a dog in winter Relationships not only with the employers but also care recipients and/or their family members – Suspicion (i.e., accused of stealing) by employer or their family member – Verbal abuse by care recipients (children); sexual harassment (verbal) by a sibling of employer 10Koo & Hanley (McGill University) Workplace issues and situations (cont.)

11 Living conditions – Eating No time to eat properly (eating and working at the same time) Hide and eat separately (e.g., eating in laundry room) No choice in terms of food selection (e.g., non-Kosher food not allowed); not enough food is given – Sleeping Sleeping with a care recipient (child) without own room; sleeping between care recipients (including elderly with dementia frequently falling from bed; baby monitor was placed next to beds); sleeping next to the room of a handicapped child (screaming in the night) in the basement Basement room with no window, without being allowed to use heater even in winter Staying in a nursing home Lay-off, unemployment and transition period – Unemployed upon arrival (usually when came through recruitment agencies); laid-off due to various (either acceptable or unacceptable) reasons – Long waiting/transition (job search + trial + processing) period between employments (4~8 months) and for OWP or PR – Undocumented (working under the table); new employer did not or unsuccessfully process work permit application Koo & Hanley (McGill University)11 Workplace issues and situations (cont.)

12 Power dynamics: Control Silence and endurance – Minimal workers’ control; despite dissatisfaction with their working conditions (“We are modern slaves!”, “You’re living-in, you’re like a prisoner!”) – Responsible hard workers not wanting to make troubles (“We’re here to work”); regarding the LCP as “stepping stone” and wishing for better opportunities after required period (“Endure just 24-month and then I’m out”) State bureaucratic control (immigration & human resources policy) – Barriers to resistance: 24-month requirement (both as stick & carrot) & long transition period – Restrictive state regulations (job choice; residence): employers did not necessarily need to control Employers’ arbitrary control – Generally, employers had control over the details of wage, working hours, types of duties, etc. – Various types of control: persuasion; prohibitions (e.g., food, holidays, not allowed to use heater or dishwasher); threat (e.g., threat to accuse of stealing); lay-off; delay or refusal in paper works (application processing, trial period, release paper) 12Koo & Hanley (McGill University)

13 Power dynamics: Resistance Sporadic grievances, voice-raising and resistances (including passive resistances: e.g., asking to release and looking for another employer at the expense of delays in immigration) Issues leading to explicit conflicts and resistance – No one seriously attempted to improve existing conditions (e.g., wages, hours) written on the contract – Resisted when their contract was violated (e.g., schedule change/time shift) or experienced excessive control over their living conditions (e.g., holiday denied; food restriction) – Not usually monetary issues (e.g., community involvement on weekend is more important than overtime payment) Strategies, networks and resources – Individual: more formal request (e.g., written release request); records keeping (e.g., daily schedule; journals; written duty orders) using as legal proof – Community involvement with organizations (i.e., AAFQ; PINAY; DWC); legal challenge (e.g., filing a lawsuit) in Labor standard board (CNT) or Human rights commission against previous employer – Friends/family help to escape vs. COs help to fight – The role of the government: providing NGO information on immigration document (CAQ) – Recruitment agencies negatively impacted (e.g., unemployment upon arrival; NGO information removed from CAQ package) 13Koo & Hanley (McGill University)

14 Power dynamics: Consensus Workplace consensus and negotiations often involve in the decisions of living spaces between workers and employers (e.g., live-out (on weekend) despite state regulations) Exceptional satisfactions with their current labor process and the family-like relationships within some workplaces “… I am kind of their older sister and the boss of the house … We have a very good relationship. They helped me file a complaint against my former boss, to help me get my money” “I have nothing to do much, it’s just like a companion.” “ It’s up to me just to maintain the house. … when you are living there and the house is not clean, you will feel bad, not only for them and for yourself.” Harmonious family-like relations tend to go hand-in-hand with: – Favorable working conditions: measurable (e.g., overtime is paid; more free hours), not only based on subjective perceptions or feelings – Fair treatment; more privacy; less ambiguous situations – Autonomy (more worker control): Can determine what to do (duties) and when to have break (e.g., no problem taking a day-off for hospital appointments); – Collaborative process (e.g., current employer fought together against unjust treatment of former employer) – Strong mutual attachment with care-recipients (esp. when employer = care recipient = elderly as companion) Koo & Hanley (McGill University)14

15 Power dynamics: discussion Control: subordination (structured inequality) vs. strategic/rational choice – Complexities in interpreting “shyness”: choosing to eat separately and hide in the laundry room though asked to join in; due to the concern about potential tensions I feel shy. … They are very, you know, sometimes, “Oh, [interviewee’s name] take food. Take food and eat”. But sometimes you know you can’t predict what’s in their mind. It’s not actually about shyness. Your employer always wants to be superior, so at the end, it’s only about shyness.... So you end up, I eat on another table at the same time, because I experienced with my one boss, because they keep on saying, even though my boss offered me to eat with them, but I ended up choosing it. Because at the end of the day they’re the higher. Why do they eat with their servant? … They’re not saying it right to you, but if you had a feeling, you will feel uncomfortable. So you’d rather eat yourself rather than joining them. Resistance: some victories, yet limited consequences – Usually resulted in only minor changes in existing working conditions (e.g., got permission to use heater; baby monitor removed; “random money” given): not enough to change power inequality – Retrospective resistance: some significant legal case victories assisted by COs but the challenges were delayed after the termination of employment – Absence of collective strategies or union involvement : importance of community unionism (e.g., offering French language course) Consensus: exceptional only in particular work settings – Complexities in the analysis of consensus: Coincidence? Different subjective responses to the same control? Effects of emergent/omnipresent nature of power ? hegemony? Brainwashed? – Segmented experiences of consensus within LCP workplaces – Selective and limited entry into these better workplaces among those without existing Canadian social ties and/or those at earlier stages of LCP employments (e.g., not 3 out of 10 interviewees but 4 of 26 employments): virtual exclusion of more isolated and/or new-comer LCP workers Koo & Hanley (McGill University) 15

16 Entry Undesirable condition (arbitrary/ambiguities) Control: tensions & conflicts Desirable condition (family- like) Resistance Leave or laid-off Transition/processing period (Unemployment) Social networks /COs (e.g., AAFQ, PINAY, DWC) No employer upon arrival ( Recruitment) Agency 16Koo & Hanley (McGill University) Silence & endurance Consent Power dynamics: Patterns Family/ friend ( direct- hire) Permanent Residency

17 Employment trajectories Koo & Hanley (McGill University)17 Multiple and fragmented employments during the LCP (usually more than 2 years) First employment-related experiences – A variety of the “first” (difficulties in defining the first employment ) Unemployed upon arrival (particularly when referred by recruitment agencies) Minor or informal part-time employments (under the table) Trial period work (2-week) – Typical work experiences at the earlier stages: Poor working conditions, lack of control over working conditions (silence and endurance), and unequal relations Workers are likely to remain in, escape from or kicked out of the undesirable workplace instead of improving the existing condition Divergent workplaces in a multi-layered labor market – LCP workers are located in segmented (put it simply, good vs. bad) labor markets within the already peripheral Canadian labor market – Power relations in respective workplaces and labor markets are relatively stable: working in a good condition does not necessarily mean the increase of LCP workers’ ability (agency) to negotiate and improve the existing conditions or their adaptation over periods – Power relations are partly affected by the connections between a LCP worker and rooted members of Canadian society but much depend on the characteristics of the workplaces and employers (as LCP workers lack means to act collectively or join in labor unions)

18 Employment trajectories: Snapshot (misassumption) Koo & Hanley (McGill University)18

19 Employment trajectories: Snapshot (Reality) Koo & Hanley (McGill University)19

20 Employment trajectories: Snapshot (exceptional) Koo & Hanley (McGill University)20

21 Employment trajectories: multi-layered labor market Most peripheral More peripheral Peripheral Secondary Core For newcomer and/or more isolated LCP (immigrant) workers Typically higher employer’s control and poor working conditions For general LCP (TFW) workers Possibility of consensus and more favorable working conditions For immigrant workers with PR Live-out condition in case of caregivers For average Canadians For privileged Canadians Koo & Hanley (McGill University)21 Multi-layered barriers (limited entry)

22 Conclusion Live-in caregivers under unequal power structure  Minimal workers’ control over their working conditions in comparison with the control of the state and employers  Complex power dynamics and worker responses: control (subordination), resistance, and consensus all exist in LCP workplaces but only in a limited sense respectively  The extent to which they exercise power at work tends to dependent on their locations in the divergent workplaces/labor markets and employment trajectories  Needs for further attentions to newcomer and more isolated LCP workers Implications for research and further research  Importance of identifying the entire employment histories using qualitative approach Limitations of asking either “How is (current) your …” or “Have you ever…” questions  Care vs. housekeeping: Experiences diverge depending on the primary duties; needs for the clarification the nature of care, domestic, reproductive labor and their effects  Stakeholders: needs for the specification of power dynamics among various stakeholders (Care-recipient vs. employer, agencies, C.O., unions, etc.)  Further investigation into and interpretation of hidden/invisible exercise of power (e.g., the roots of “shyness” and Filipino workers’ exceptional work ethics, responsibilities etc.) 22Koo & Hanley (McGill University)

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