Exploring Domestic Workers’ Risk Work During the COVID-19 Pandemic

While many occupations turned to remote work during the COVID-19 pandemic, domestic work by definition requires workers to enter other people’s households, and they often work in close proximity to their employers. With domestic workers proactively handling COVID19 risks as part of their already precarious jobs, there is a need for a conceptual understanding of risk management to aid this occupational group during a public health crisis. Our findings emerge from a preliminary qualitative study interviewing occupational groups who adopted risk work practices during the pandemic, providing insight into their risk perceptions and practices. In this paper, we focus on the 6 paid domestic worker participants recruited to investigate how they engaged in situated ‘risk calculations’ to assess the COVID-19 risk presented at work and weigh against other different risks present. This paper invites an initial discussion on risk practices, communication, and policy to support domestic workers during crises.

iConference 2024 Proceedings. April 22-26. Changchun, China.
Hiba Siraj
Samantha Whitman
Kathleen Pine
Myeong Lee