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Empowering Domestic Workers: A Critical Analysis of the Belgian Service Voucher System


  • Sarah Mousaid

    () (Department of Sociology, Interface Demography, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, 1050 Brussels, Belgium)

  • Kim Bosmans

    () (Department of Sociology, Interface Demography, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, 1050 Brussels, Belgium)

  • Christophe Vanroelen

    () (Department of Sociology, Interface Demography, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, 1050 Brussels, Belgium
    Health Inequalities Research Group, Employment Conditions Knowledge Network (GREDS\Emconet), Universitat Pompeu Fabra, 08002 Barcelona, Spain)


Domestic cleaners lack bargaining power, which can prevent them from being in control of their work quality. The ‘service voucher system’ is expected to change the power position of domestics. This is expected because the system is formalized by the Belgian government and organized through a triangular employment relationship between the domestic, the service voucher company (the employer), and the customers. This study draws on 42 interviews with immigrant and native service voucher cleaners. It probes into how the employment relationship with the company affects the domestics’ perceived power to bargain with customers about determinants of the work quality. Based on the results, policy recommendations are made to further empower domestic cleaners in the relationship with their customers and to help them safeguard their work quality.

Suggested Citation

  • Sarah Mousaid & Kim Bosmans & Christophe Vanroelen, 2017. "Empowering Domestic Workers: A Critical Analysis of the Belgian Service Voucher System," Societies, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 7(4), pages 1-12, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:gam:jsoctx:v:7:y:2017:i:4:p:36-:d:123686

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Sébastien Jean & Orsetta Causa & Miguel Jimenez & Isabelle Wanner, 2007. "Migration in OECD countries: Labour Market Impact and Integration Issues," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 562, OECD Publishing.
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    More about this item


    Belgium; domestic work; immigration; formalization; service voucher system; the employment relations; the quality of work;

    JEL classification:

    • A13 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Social Values
    • A14 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Sociology of Economics
    • P - Economic Systems
    • P0 - Economic Systems - - General
    • P1 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems
    • P2 - Economic Systems - - Socialist Systems and Transition Economies
    • P3 - Economic Systems - - Socialist Institutions and Their Transitions
    • P4 - Economic Systems - - Other Economic Systems
    • P5 - Economic Systems - - Comparative Economic Systems
    • Z1 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics


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