Definition of Home-Based Workers

Statistical Definition

The following statistical definition of home-based workers was developed by the Independent Group on Home-Based Workers in India, set up in 2007 by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation of the Government of India.

Home-based workers are defined as a) own-account workers and contributing family workers helping the own-account workers, involved in the production of goods and services, in their homes, for the market and b) workers carrying out work in their homes for remuneration, resulting in a product or service as specified by the employer(s), irrespective of who provides the equipment, materials or other inputs used, and those contributing family workers helping such workers.

Note: the Independent Group decided not to include “employers” as a third employment status category of home-based workers as most employers, whose businesses tend to be larger because they hire others, carry out their businesses at fixed places other than their homes. However, the WIEGO network feels it is important to collect data on and distinguish between three categories of self-employed home-based workers – employers, own account workers, and contributing family workers – as well as the category of dependent home-based workers specified under “b” above.

Operational Guide

The following operational guide was developed by the WIEGO network for implementing the statistical definition in survey questionnaires and in tabulations of data on home-based workers:

Step # 1 – distinguish all workers between agricultural vs. non-agricultural and rural vs. urban

Step # 2 - identify all home-based workers within all workers or desired group of workers (agricultural vs. non-agricultural, rural vs. urban) by using a “place of work” question, specifically the response “own residence”

Step # 3 - distinguish different categories of home-based workers: by using the “employment status” questions and, if possible, questions for “type of contract/work arrangement” and “mode of payment”

  • employment status: i.e., whether employer, employee, own account, or unpaid contributing family worker
  • type of contract/work arrangement: i.e., whether the home-based worker or an employer/contractor specifies the product or service to be produced/provided
  • mode of payment: i.e., whether payment is from the sale of goods, from the time worked, or by units produced (piece-rate)

Note: questions for “type of contract/work arrangement” and “mode of payment” will help identify whether a home-based worker is self-employed or dependent and, if dependent, whether paid on a time or piece rate basis.

Step # 4 – determine whether home-based workers of different types are formally or informally employed, by using the indicator for informal employment

  • informal employment (workers without social protection through their work)