Care-givers. Cashiers. Food workers. Early childhood educators. Maids.
These are some of the forgotten workers we’re heavily relying on in the midst of COVID-19. They hold female-dominated jobs and their experience of the pandemic is grounded in gender inequalities.
They were always indispensable. They were never low-skilled, just systematically underpaid and undervalued.
This crisis is throwing light on the importance of these workers’ contribution to society—and their vulnerability. Not only are they low paid, but often they have no paid sick leave.
So what can we do to make sure our economy places greater value on their work?
We should make sure that they get pay equity—equal pay for work of equal value. Their wages should be equal to the wages of employees in male-dominated jobs of comparable value based on the skills, effort, responsibilities and working conditions required. We should also make sure they have access to paid sick leave.
So, we call on our legislators to support pay equity legislation for the private sector so this female-dominated workforce is paid at its fair value and to include paid sick leave in employment standards.
Time to care for these important workers as they care for us throughout this crisis.
Johanne Perron is the Executive Director of the New Brunswick Coalition for Pay Equity.