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South African Journal of Occupational Therapy

On-line version ISSN 2310-3833
Print version ISSN 0038-2337


GALVAAN, Roshan et al. Employers' experiences of having a live-in domestic worker: Insights into the relationship between privilege and occupational justice. S. Afr. j. occup. ther. [online]. 2015, vol.45, n.1, pp.41-46. ISSN 2310-3833.

BACKGROUND: Domestic work is a common form of work in South Africa that is known to place the workers' health at risk. Subsequently, research has focused on this form of work from the workers' perspectives, emphasising the changes needed in employment conditions in South Africa. PURPOSE: This paper draws on a research study that explored the lived experiences of employing a live-in domestic worker. The data from this research is used to consider the role that employers' experiences might play in creating particular work conditions for domestic workers. METHODS: The research applied a qualitative, phenomenological design and six participants were purposively selected. Each participant participated in two interviews. A thematic data analysis was initiated between and following the interviews. Subsequently a second level analysis was conducted which stayed close to the first level of analysis but ensured that the essence of the findings were presented with more clarity. FINDINGS: A single theme "You need them, but they are 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 between the employers and domestic workers left the employers feeling weighed down, which led to tensions that shaped their actions in this work context. DISCUSSION: Understanding the experiences of employers calls attention to the relationship between the occupational engagement afforded to the employers in relation to their domestic workers. The lived experiences of employers, who are from a privileged part of society, and the possible bearing this has on domestic workers who continue to serve from a marginalised position is highlighted and discussed.

Keywords : Employers experiences; Domestic workers; Microagression; Occupational justice.

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