Hesperian Health Guides

Chapter 20: Doing factory work at home

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HealthWiki > Workers' Guide to Health and Safety > Chapter 20: Doing factory work at home

a woman at a sewing machine near boxes labeled "Ready Made Clothing Co."; children play nearby.

Some women do factory work at home because they or their husbands do not want them to leave home, or so they can care for their families while still earning money. Some workers bring work home for extra pay. Others are forced to work at home because factory owners cut costs or close the factories.

Workers work more hours and face different dangers at home than in the factory. Homeworkers are often paid less and absorb many of the costs of production that should be the boss’s responsibility, such as:

  • fans and protective equipment (if they have them at all)
  • light and electricity
  • tables, chairs, and work furniture
  • waste disposal
  • storage of parts, supplies, and finished goods
  • transporting the work between the home and factory

Homeworkers are usually paid less than factory workers, even after taking into account that they may not pay for childcare, meals away from the home, daily transportation to the factory, or other things factory workers must spend money on.

Calculate your real pay

illustration of the below: calculating real pay.
60 hoods at 20 cents
60 x 0.20 = $12
$12 pay, minus
- $2.00 for materials
- $1.50 to Mary for    helping
- $1.00 for electricity
- $0.50 for water
= $7.00 total
January $8.50
March $7.50
June $7.50
October $7.00

To find out how much you really earn after paying all your costs of doing the work:

  • Multiply the pay per piece by the number of pieces you made. Do this for different pieces, if they are paid differently.
  • Subtract the cost of materials, how much you pay family or neighbors who help you, and costs for electricity, water, and other things used while working. If you do not get your bills every month, make an estimate from previous months. (Subtract corrections you have to make if your boss does not pay for them.)
  • Calculate and compare this amount every month or every few months to see how much your pay changes. When you know how much you are really paid, you can make a better argument that your boss pay more of the production costs and pay you more money.
a woman speaking to a man as she holds a box labeled "Ready Made Garments"; the man replies.
You are paying less for this batch than the last one! This is not fair!
If your husband earned more, you wouldn’t need this extra money! Don’t blame me!
Working for "extra money" or to "make a living"?