Home care and digital platforms in Spain


Spain’s Ley de Promoción de la Autonomía Personal y Atención a las Personas en Situación de Dependencia, LAPAD (Promotion of the Autonomy and Care of People in a Situation of Dependency Law, LAPAD), introduced in 2006, recognises the universal right to care. However, cuts in funding in subsequent years have severely limited the law’s potential, and the gap between demand and services offered continues to widen.

Historically in Spain, the care of infants, the elderly and dependent has been an unpaid job done by women in the family. Over the last three decades, the mass influx of women into paid employment, the limited uptake by men of domestic and care responsibilities, and insufficient public social and care services have largely contributed to what is known today as the social care crisis. The care of the elderly and dependent continues to be a responsibility largely borne by women in the family. They either have to employ someone else (another woman, often foreign) to do the job or do it themselves.

The home care sector is a lucrative, growing industry in Spain with a variety of intermediaries. Recently, mostly in the last five years, new intermediaries have entered the sector both in Spain and abroad. Developments in digital technologies and high penetration rates of communication and information technologies have been fuelling the expansion of digital labour platforms across sectors, and home care is no exception.

Yet the growing body of literature on the platform economy has so far paid little attention to home care and the overlapping field of domestic work. They are segments of the economy characterised for having an overwhelmingly female workforce and being highly precarious and socially undervalued.

This report is a first step towards addressing this literature gap on the home care sector.
“The risk of invisibility that goes with platform work can be magnified if it is added to the invisibility-risk accompanying domestic work – the shortage of studies and initiatives focusing on the intersection of these phenomena shows how urgent it is for scholars, social partners and policymakers to tackle this issue.”
Valerio De Stefano – KU Leuven, Institute for Labor Law