Ad-PHS project’s workshop in Hungary

Hungary, like many other EU countries, is seeing the need for PHS workers increasing, but a system that lacks the ability to meet the needs of workers or end-users. A stakeholder workshop was held on June 24th which brought together academics, employers, workers, and other leaders to discuss ways of improving the industry. Similar to other countries in Europe, Hungary is seeing the effects of decades of underfunding the current pandemic has only exasperated that. Many PHS workers are finally getting recognized, but a lack of definition of this workforce, coupled with low pay, a lack of professionalization, and low safety standards (if at all) are making it difficult to retain and attract workers to the industry. There is also a problem for users in rural areas where services are not offered as readily.

The introduction of the ‘simplified employment’ scheme has been one way that the government is attempting to tackle high levels of undeclared work in this sector. However, it has widely been seen as not supportive of workers, and the outcomes of the program are unclear. High numbers of undeclared workers and lack of professionalization are both menaces to improving the industry. Family caregivers and the attitudes towards family responsibility have also played a role in how this industry has been left unregulated for so long.

Training is also seen as a weakness. Workers don’t have a clear training pathway, nor are appropriate training opportunities available in all areas. Improving training offerings, as well as continued education opportunities, would help workers and perhaps improve career retention.

The need for unionization was a significant component of the discussion. The ability to establish sectoral bargaining rights for these workers would enable them to have access to higher pay, safety standards, and better working conditions. Directly connected to the workers’ needs are the needs of the end-users. It is impossible to disconnect these groups, making things better for workers means improving care for end-users.

Participants committed to setting up a local PHS stakeholders working group, which was a direct result of the workshop.