Employers’ experiences of having a live-in domestic worker: Insights into the relationship between privilege and occupational justice

Roshan Galvaan, Liesl Peters, Tanita Smith, Megan Brittain, Amy Menegaldo, Nicole Rautenbach, Alexandra Wilson-Poe


Background: Domestic work is a common form of work in South Africa that is known to place teh workers' health at risk. Research has focused on this form of work from the worker's perspective and emphasising the changes needed in employment conditions in South Africa.

Purpose: This paper explored teh phenomenon of domestic work from the employer's perspective by describing their lived experiences of employing live-in domestic workers.

Method:A qualitative phenomenological study was conducted with six participants purposively selected to participate in two in-depth interviews. A thematic data nalysis was initiated between and after interviews and resulted in the first level of analysis. The second level of analysis ensured that the essence of the experience was presented with clarity.

Findings: A single theme, that is "you need them, but theya re working on your nerves" and two categories - "Caught in a conundrum" and "Compelled to be benevolent" emerged. A significant aspect emphasised in the theme and categories was the way that the relationship bewteen the employers and domestic workers participation in occupations left the employer feeling weighed down.

Discussion: The relationship between the occupational engagement afforded to the employers in relation to that of the domestic workers is discussed. The way that this perpetuates hegemony and thus social inequality through occupational injustice is identified. 

Key words: Employers experiences, Domestic workers, Microagression, Occupational justice

The South African Journal of Occupational Therapy


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ISSN 0038-2337 (print), ISSN 2310-3833 (online)

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