LEGAL PRINCIPLES APPLIED TO CAREGIVING
The laws and covenants outline the following rights. Their application to caregiving and current deficits in applying them are described.
1. Every individual is equal before the law and has the right to equal protection of the law without discrimination
* caregivers in the home have been excluded from lists of professions,
excluded from tallies of labor force, work and economic productivity.
This exclusion has denied them equality of recognition as vital
members of society and contributors to its well-being.
2. All human beings are born free and equal in dignity. Human dignity is inviolable. It must be respected and protected.
* caregivers in the home have been excluded from categories even
in the professions that are listed as providing care – daycare workers,
nannies, eldercare workers, home care workers. This exclusion
denies them the dignity of noticing that the tasks performed are
the same as those done by those who are paid for the role.
* caregivers in the home have been stigmatized as not working,
taking time ‘off’ work, even though their roles involve vital tasks in the household
and that domestic work is time consuming labor that ensures
well-being of others. Denying it the official status of work deprives
those caregivers of dignity.
* mothers in the home have been excluded from the category of ‘working
mothers’ even though their role is both work and mothering. This exclusion
deprives them of dignity.
*-in many countries paid workers are given pensions based on their years of paid work, while caregivers in the home are not given such pensions, either from employers or from state pensions. The poverty of the caregiver at the time of caregiving, given that the role is unpaid, is therefore extended to a lifetime of lower income, proportional to how much time was spent at home not earning. This double burden of poverty now and poverty later, because of unpaid work, deprives the caregiver of dignity
*-in countries where pensions were eventually given also to those who had been caregivers, they were often permitted only as s sharing of the single pension the earner spouse had, so not a personal pension, denying the caregiver dignity and recognition for her role and also requiring both parties to make financial sacrifice in perpetuity for the years one of them was a caregiver.
*-in countries where a pension for homemakers was given, it was given only based on the age of the citizen as a universal benefit for the elderly and did not itself recognize the work done by the caregiver in addition to the fact she had simply gotten older. This allotment of pension therefore denied her dignity for her service.
*-in some countries like Canada where a pension formula was created to recognize the caregiver role for a few years as unpaid, the formula for pension amount was still based on paid work of the person, but excluded from the calculation up to seven years of time at unpaid work. This exclusion therefore slightly increased the average amount of earnings on which pension was based and increased the pension slightly. However because it did not count the caregiving years as useful contributions but only forgave them, it deprived
the caregiver of dignity for having done the care role.
3. Men and women are equal in rights and dignity and are of equal value in society. . Equality between women and men must be ensured.
*-equality is not superiority – women who want equal rights
with men pose no threat to men and are not trying to take over.
The misperception that women were against men, rejecting
men or devaluing men, that they were assuming men were oppressive
and trying to keep women down was a tone of some women’s rights
activists but was a regrettable and unnecessary approach that is inapprorpriate
to equality. More recent statements of women’s groups have enlisted the
-*equality is not sameness –
* the goal of equality does not require identical choices in equal numbers.
Just as people of various hair colors all have equal rights, so too the goal is
equality of value for the unpaid care roles with paid roles, equality of respect
for whoever does them and how much they do them. The choice of how
much time a man spends changing diapers or a woman spends cooking
can be left to individual households to decide and should not be dictated
by the state with benefits conditional on lifestyle. The equality is in
respect for however the couple decides to share the roles. Paternity leave therefore that requires a man to be home with a child
and is not transferable so the woman can be home if that is the couple’s
preference, violates the dignity of choice. Not all households will
choose equal time division of care roles but they all have equal rights
to decide as they wish. Time use surveys that examine how much time men or women do on domestic tasks are of interest to show the total time spent on care roles but a goal of equal division between the genders, so they are spending the same amount of time each on a role, is a violation of dignity of choice.
* a goal of equal numbers of men and women in any given profession,
at any level of government, in corporate offices, may seem to be equality
and yet with free choice, it is possible that more women than men would choose
certain careers in a given year and that men would prefer some roles over others.
To aim at only women being able to represent the needs of women in a legislature
does not recognize that both genders can be fair and attuned to fairness. To
aim at equal numbers of men and women in government can become its own
discrimination based on gender.
-*equality is not of outcome but of opportunity for success
* in democracies there is reward for effort, for study, for hard work
and the rewards of this work are often personal satisfaction, happiness,
sometimes income and sometimes social status. People have the right to
make lifestyle choices but that does not mean the state ensures that all choices
they make will lead to personal fulfilment. The state does not in the US
for instance guarantee happiness, only the pursuit of happiness, with the state
setting up rights to set up equal means to try to succeed.
* some may fear that if women at home got status and respect and their own
financial recognition for the care role, that this would be a reward for some sort
of self-indulgence or laziness. There is fear that they would attain happiness
and reward for ‘doing nothing;’. Such a fear reveals the depth of
misunderstanding of the nature of the care role and its hours and intense
demands. But such a fear also reveals a perception that people’s happiness
is always found only one way, in the home. Happiness is also attained
in paid careers for many people, and in using skills and pursuing interests
that end up with remuneration as well as benefiting others. Equality then
is letting people have the range of legal ways they wish to contribute to
society. Letting women at home be valued does not mean all women will
then go back to the home.
*equality in state treatment
* the role of the state is to not take sides, not to show preference between
legal choices. If it funds care of children it legally should not preferentially
fund care by a daycare over care by a nanny, babysitter ,grandparent or parent.
The best way to ensure equality is to have funding ‘flow with’ or ‘follow
* when government allow tax deductions for some costs of raising a child
but only count receipted costs paid to third parties, they ignore costs
incurred in the home for the exact same tasks performed by a family member.
This ends up unequal benefit and fails to ensure equality and choice.
*equality is not directive to prefer some actions over others
*a government that sought to enable freedom from hunger and to enable
adequate nutrition might choose to provide free hamburgers for every
one at noon daily at specific restaurants. The intent of the policy may
be nutrition but the policy would ignore the many other ways the goal
of freedom from hunger and the goal of adequate nutrition could be met.
Those who do not eat beef, those who do not like hamburger, those
who do not live near that restaurant or those who prefer another
restaurant or to eat at home would be excluded by such a policy and
unfairly. A plan to ensure that children in 3rd party daycare get fee
or low cost care there, subsidized by the state, similarly may have as goal
the well-being of children but unless it equaly funds care of children in other
locations, care by parent, sitter, nanny, grandparent, it fails to provide equal
benefit under the law or choice.
* a policy that claims equality for children in that all children have ‘access’
to the 3rd party daycare and its state funding, also does not actually provide
equality in practice for it is conditional on using daycare to get the benefit.
As such it dictates a lifestyle and is a violation of rights of choice.
equality also needed between women and women .
* the goal of equality has focused on equality between men and
women. However over time a growing inequality has developed
between women and women. The goal of equality at paid work
with equal pay was between men and women. The goal of the domestic
sphere that focused on equal sharing of a perceived burden of roles
there was also between men and women. However the dignity and value
of the care role at home was still treated as lesser and those women
who had paid work often also felt they had risen, had escaped a lower
status, a sentiment that also then perpetuated the devaluing of the
care role. The ‘mommy wars’ between women with paid work and
those doing unpaid care roles were portrayed in media as genuine hostility
with each side claiming some moral or practical higher ground than
the other. The goal of gender equality however must ensure that the
various ways to interpret roles of women are also all respected equally.
Women who work in the home and women with paid work outside
the home can celebrate each others’ competence, skills and choices,
and the last hurdle of this is to value the unpaid care role.
*One misunderstanding of what it would mean to give women or men
at home status, was that this would threaten advances women had made
in the paid work field. This separation of women into camps amongst
themselves does not attain the shared goal of recognition of value of
work done. There is no threat to women with paid work if women
with unpaid work also have dignity.
*equality is not attained if forced by its own discrimination
*one attempt to change hiring policy that excluded women was to
allow women but also to nudge employers to preferentially hire
women for a time. This affirmative action policy that did see more
women in higher levels of business and industry has changed the
climate of some offices and made them realize considerations they may
not have thought of earlier. However such a policy long term to favor
women over men is not wise, and has a risk of hiring and promoting not
based on competence and skill but on the basis of gender. That would
be in essence a policy of gender discrimination to fight gender discrimination
and as such is not only unfair but inconsistent. Ideally men and women
would be valued for their roles, for the work they do, for their skills
regardless of gender and that would apply for paid roles but also for
unpaid care roles. As such, men who chose to be caregivers
would not suffer stigma either.
3. Men and women are equal in rights and dignity
The issue of gender discrimination is complex because it has become so ingrained in society that it often has been melded into other discriminations. These links must also be examined and addressed.
*complexity of gender discrimination to be linked to profession
-in many countries women were excluded from some careers such as
law enforcement, firefighter, soldier. Any roles done by men
were seen as stronger, more powerful, more heroic than roles
done by women
*the one at home was less visible to lawmakers so their work was less noticed in
business and government so did not even seem to be in a profession
*the one at home dealt with mundane tasks like cleaning and changing diapers
which had less glamor than paid work, less travel, fewer titles, less status /
The effect was that whoever did that mundane role,
even if male, was deemed lesser. The discrimination was so entrenched
that it became about any role women had historically done. Male daycare workers and male children’s camp instructors
were paid equally with women in that role,but the role itself was underpaid
because of its gender association. Fathers at home discovered that they
too were treated as less useful in society than men with paid work, as
women at home had always been treated, and though there was therefore
no discrimination based on gender for doing the care role at home,, there was
discrimination analogous to gender because of the role..
* the expertise of women in their traditional fields of cooking and care
of children was also for a time devalued so much that the person deemed
expert in those fields was often a male pediatrician, a male doctor telling
women how to breastfeed, a male chef telling women how to cook.
The bias of only considering expert a person who was paid for what
they said or did, created a historic imbalance to be blind to expertise
of lived experience. This blindness became so intense that a person
applying for a job as a nanny was not considered to have any experience
if she had taken care of her own children but only if she had previously
been paid to provide care of children of others. The bias was so intense
that a ‘childcare ‘ expert deemed so by government or media was
someone who was paid to provide care such as a daycare worker
but not a parent or grandparent even if they had many years taking
care of children and many children.
*complexity of gender discrimination to be linked to age – based discrimination
*in many countries girls were expected to mature more quickly
than boys and were treated as adult offenders younger than
were males of the same age (boys will be boys laws)
*in many countries women were required to appear youthful
to be valued while males were allowed to visibly age.
In the entertainment industry middle aged women had trouble finding acting jobs while middle aged men were still easily employable. In the fashion
industry and on screen TV employment, women were
required to look young while men were permitted to be
*in many countries elderly men and men both suffer social stigma
but wisdom is often assumed from elderly men while the
insights of elderly women are often mocked as ‘old wives’
-*complexity of gender discrimination to be linked also to marital status
*in many countries women on marriage had to leave careers of nursing
or school teaching.
*in many countries for married couples, it was assumed that the
man not the woman owned the home, was listed in the telephone
directory, was ‘head of the house’ and made all key financial
decisions. Single women were given more latitude. Single women got the vote and property rights before married women did. Married women were more restricted in how much money they could have in their own name in a bank, while single women had fewer restrictions.
-*complexity of gender discrimination to also be based on poverty and wealth
*Unpaid roles were put into position of forced dependency on men
and by this status were facing precarious financial stability and risk
of poverty. The role got associated with poverty and led to the
assumption that women are only worth less money, or have less
need of money so pay of women was kept low. The assumption of poverty being evidence of lower status became its own barrier so that a mother in poverty was also deemed a poor mother, in skills and competence. Mothers in poverty have had their children taken from them at birth on the assumption that the
poverty itself put the child at risk and that the state’s role was not
to alleviate the poverty but to remove the mother from the child.
Mothers have given up babies for adoption or even sold them
illegally simply due to poverty. So poverty has been a key
factor in the gender discrimination.
Wealth has also been used as a factor to discriminate against women
Married women with property were given the right to vote sooner
than were married women without property.
-*complexity of gender discrimination to also be based on child-bearing
*When in paid work many women were able to get job promotions the
same as men until they gave birth at which point they were assumed
to not want them or be able to handle them and were put on a lower
earning, less advancing ‘mommy track’.
*Social recognition of the needs of children for parental presence
changed slowly from respect for the role, to pressure to do the
role, from accommodation to expectation but without financial
support for it. This shift made it so that once women had a child
they were expected to not run for political office and were deemed
unavailable for the more prestigious roles of paid work. This further
stigmatized the care role as if it were a step back, out of useful service.
In expectation of this change in attitude to paid work once a woman had
a child, some employers adopted policies officially or not, to not
hire women who were pregnant or even who were likely to become
pregnant because they were of child-bearing age and legally married.
Adjustments of the women’s movement to insist that the employer
remove such biases based on gender and pregnancy, enabled mothers
to still have paid jobs and to also advance in caree. Howevr such efforts
to prove children were not an obstacle paid work were not parallled with
efforts to value care of children as equivalent to paid work. The push to
get women who have children equality in the paid work arena, tended
to also further stigmatize women who did consider having a child a reason
to changer career fofcus and to spend time raising the child. The
liberation of women to full equality with men at the paid job, was
slowly morphed into a misconception that the liberation was also from
having children and taking care of them, as if children were an obstacle
that must be overcome. This half way point of women’s rights had not
yet argued that to have paid work is good and to be home with
a child is also good.
*complexity of gender discrimination to also be deprivation of full personhood
* in come countries the married woman took the last name of the man and forfeited her own last name on marriage
*when family traditions were celebrated, or family ancestry was traced
it was often done through mostly the male line
* when a woman wanted to write a cheque or use a creidt card from
a shared bank account, she was sometimes required to get permission
from her husband to do so
* when women at home were recognized on a tax form they were designated
dependants not fully functioning partners in the household. The amount
of the deduction was in some countries lower than for the earner, therefore
less than the deduction of any adult person, as if the caregiver spouse
was lesser than full adult and more like a child.
*complexity of gender discrimination to linked to discrimination in power, decision making and formulation of laws
*women excluded from consultation, from votes, from eligibility to
be in government were not part of the discussion.
*Even when eligible to be consulted, government often did not know
how to find the unpaid caregivers. The invisibility of the role and the lack of free time or money to organize made it so caregivers in the home were not in identifiable registered organizations listed in directories with elected representatives that government could easily consult as stakeholders
5. Every one has the right to recognition as a person before the law and this includes the care receiver
*the child is a person, a full individual and though not given the same rights
as adults, is entitled to the right to life, to security and other protections
the same as adults, from birth.
* in decisions about the care of the child, the preference of the
child to who will be the caregiver should be part of the discussion
and the opinion of the child is to be respected and sought, commensurate
with the age and maturity of the child. Children tend to prefer care where
they feel loved, where they feel personally noticed and valued for their
uniqueness, and where there is stability and the same caregiver over many
years. Children enjoy playing with siblings and friends, and like to play
but a key focus for them even for babies is often first priority that they
-The handicapped, frail elderly and dying also are fully human
and have all of the rights of other citizens as much as they are
able to enjoy them.
* The handicapped, frail elderly and dying also have the right to dgnity
and to agency, to make decisions about things that concern them and
to wherever possible choose the type of care they need and want, the
religion and language and dietary provisions they need and the identify
of the caregiver and the care location they prefer. They as full
persons in society must be respected for those preferences and states
must do what they can to ensure the options are equally funded so there
is genuine choice.
5.The family is the fundamental unit of society and the State must afford it the necessary legal, economic and social protection to assume its responsibilities.
* It is a violation to have policies that count being family member against
a person and yet several policies currently do so. When deductions for care
of a child cannot be claimed if the caregiver is a family member of the
child, this exclusion violates the principle to assist the family.
*-governments that create tax systems to recognize there are costs to caregiving, may permit income splitting, horizontal taxation, declaration of household based not individual based tax, may set up birth bonuses, family allowance, child dependent deductions, child tax credits to ensure that raising a child is affordable and children are not in poverty. Nations that do not adopt any
of these measures are not recognizing the legal principle about the family.
*Governments that fund care away from family more generously than
they fund care within the family also violate this legal principle. Those that
preferentially fund daycare over care at home are not preventing families from
existing or functioning but if they discourage time together and preferentially
fund time apart, they tilt the balance and violate principles of choice
and equal benefit. Unless funding for daycare is matched by funding for other
care styles it violates the tax principle.
* in some countries though a family is no longer seen as an entity
deserving special tax status, governments still permit a family business
newly to claim that those who work within it who are family members
can each be paid. This recognition that family members are independent
and full persons in their own right and that their labor has value regardless
of their identity and relationship to each other is a useful concept
It would be logical to apply it more widely to note that all families
are composed of full people and their relationships often are interdependent
not just one way dependant. These insights may help remove the bias
against the family that violates the legal principle and that has led in the
past to not letting families deduct costs of children’s care if the care
is provided by a family member.
* in some nations a family trust can be set up in wealthy families only,
where income can be distributed between members, to reduce or defer
tax. The fact this is possible recognizes that many households do share
income and to be consistent that any family that shares income should logically
be permitted to declare itself as doing so and to be taxed as a household
at lower rates per person than as individuals with vastly unequal income.
* the existence of an option for a wealthy family to invest in savings
for children and get matching funds to do so from the state , the option
of wealthy earners to declare themselves a professional corporation and
the legally pay spouses to serve as their secretaries from the home, and
the option of wealthy households to set up family trusts and redistribute income among family members does follow through on the legal principle of respecting
the family. However since it is a tax option only for the wealthy, the operation
of it is a discrimination based on income and harms the poor. The inequality
could be addressed by ensuring the poor could also claim and enjoy
such tax status.
6. People have the right to privacy, to being considered innocent until proven guilty and to freedom from arbitrary or unlawful interference from the state.
*Financial support for caregiving by non-family members is sometimes argued
to be the only fair type of support because it is at arm’s length, free of blood
relation prejudice, and can be regulated, and inspected by the state. The case
is made that the family, being entitled to privacy, therefore cannot be adequately
inspected so there is on proof it would spend funding wisely. However this
argument fails to recognize that when salary is given to workers, the employer
does not dictate how much they spend of it on food or housing They are trusted
to make legal financial decisions on their own. In a similar way, family members
providing care should be trusted to spend any government funding for care wisely
and not be required to produce receipts to prove they deserved the funding for
some purchases approved by the state .
* the idea that family members are not under scrutiny is also inaccurate since
they already are subject to all the laws of the nation protecting the rights of
children. Parents already have many legal obligations to provide the necessities
of life and they also risk huge penalties for failure to do so, including loss of
custody of the child, loss of access to the child, and even imprisonment if
they violate some laws. The proposal to fund care of children wherever the
child is, even if at home, is logical since in all locations there is already
scrutiny and legal liability.
9.No one shall be held in slavery or servitude;
*historically the role of caregiver in the home may have started as one of
sharing the hearth and partners but over time quickly evolved into one of
recognizing only paid work and forcing the caregiver to be financially dependent
on the earner. This forced dependency not only deprived the caregiver, usually
a woman, from recognition of her own role, and of her own financial security
but also tended to be seen in political policy as a role of obligation to serve
in order to get that financial support. When women objected to being
treated as lesser for the care role, the misconception emerged that the
problem was the care role – and some women then chose to escape it
and get paid work. What actually was the hurdle was however the forced
dependency and perception of required servitude – the role itself was
stil vital to provide care of others. The problem was not that the role was
useless but in its status as forced, and a cage preventing freedom.
The solution for full equality of women is not to escape the role in society of taking care of those who need care, but to escape seeing this role as a useless role or a lesser role or an obstacle to doing other things more useful.
*when governments pressure women to have paid work outside the home
this enabling by removing benefits like family allowance or child
dependent deductions or household based tax actually have made things
worse for caregivers and have tilted the discussion so that being a
caregiver in the home is seen even more strongly as a less noble
choice, made less affordable and forcing those who still want to do it
to be even more dependent on an earner. The policy that was to
reduce dependency and give women more independence has
had as consequence to force some women into greater dependency
on a spouse because the state had removed most supports
that would have given dignity.
6. Maternity is a social function. Motherhood is entitled to special care and assistance.
*This special care and assistance implies not only accommodation at the
paid job, for time away from the tasks during pregnancy and labor
and for breastfeeding. It also implies special care and assistance from
society for the role of motherhood. To ensure the full application of
this principle, funding should flow to motherhood itself, and be
available to mothers in the home, and not conditional on paid labor force
7. Every individual is equal before the law and has the right to equal benefit of the law without discrimination.
* states that fund daycares for children directly, and give extra deductions to
parents for out of pocket expenses for fees there also, get more funding
than do parents who use care by sitters and nannies. The state is funding
directly on behalf of all taxpayers, one care style- daycare. Only those
who use the daycare get the benefit but all have to pay for it.
* states that reduce taxes for parents who pay nannies or sitters ot
daycare workers give a financial benefit to them for their care choices
that is not matched when government does not equally fund care
at home by a family member. Its blindness to costs in the home and
to salary sacrifice there results in unequal funding and unequal benefit
under the law, both of which violate the legal principle.
8.Children are vital to the well-being of society and deserve the support of the state the child shall enjoy the benefits of social security, special care and protection.
*Every society needs children to perpetuate itself
* Governments need adequate revenue to meet expenses and this
revenue comes for taxpayers, citizens who grow up , age and
retire and die. Nations need children to perpetuate the tax base
and a birth rate of 2.1 has been estimated as necessary to ensure
that each generation produces eventually enough taxpayers to balance
* when governments devalue careigivng and defund it, people tend
to have fewer children and this threatens the tax base
*when governments devalue caregiving and defund it, when people
have fewer children than they would like, and when they are only
rewarded for and nudged to do paid work full time, the level of stress
and unhappiness people have increases. This can lead to drop in
job productivity, to job absenteeism, to workaholism and burnout,
and to stress, anxiety and depression. These downsides of only
valuing paid work can create new costs to individuals and ultimately
to government in health care, unemployment, mental health treatment,
and in social services. People need a sense of agency in their lives and in freedom
to choose how much of their lives they devote to paid work
and how much time they have for family and leisure. An economy
that only values paid work may cause itself huge expenses.
* care of children has been treated in much legislation as a burden,
an obstacle that families have to escape in order to perform paid work
Seeing the role as a hardship, and government as rescuer to provide
state funded care in formal group settings so that earners can earn,
may seem to value care of children but actually sees it only as
a stepping stone to a great goal – earning. Such a policy does
not meet the legal principles of valuing family, of respecting
children or of assuring decisions consider the best interests
of the child. Some children thrive in large group care. Others
do not. To allow the diversity and fund the child wherever
the child is is the way to treat children and their care
10. Parents and legal guardians have the primary responsibility to secure the conditions of living necessary for the child’s development. The state shall take appropriate measures to assist parents in achieving these responsibilities.
* often recently governments have moved to take over parenting from parents
and to not only preferentially fund care by 3rd parties not family but to also
give advice and counselling rather than funding to parents. This approach of
the state assuming it has the expertise and that parents do not, is a violation
of the legal principle.