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You can put a price on unpaid housework: see how much you’re worth

·3-min read

The burden of unpaid housework - also known as the “second shift” - is something we’re all too familiar with. Our days are shaped by cooking, cleaning and caring duties. They can be dull, tedious, enjoyable or maddening, but they form the rhythm and routine of daily life.

Research from UN Women found that women typically spent around three times as many hours as men on domestic and caring work. That is, until Covid hit. Once schools shut and homes transformed into workspaces, nurseries and classrooms, the gap in unpaid labour only widened, according to research from UN Women.

One example? Women spent roughly 31 hours a week on childcare compared to 24 hours for men, which works out to roughly the same amount of time spent at a full-time job per week, on childcare alone.

This work is essential, arduous, emotional, exhausting, time-consuming and constant, yet there’s typically no monetary value attached to it, despite global estimates that 16 billion hours are spent on unpaid caring daily.So wouldn’t it be interesting to know what all those billions of hours of work added up to?


What’s all that unpaid housework really worth?

Cooking. Cleaning. Laundry. Washing up. Looking after the kids (and those we love). Being a chauffeur for your eight-year-old’s football team. Have you ever tried to add up what the monetary value of any of these activities would be for a week? What about all of them?

Well, you can find out exactly how much you’d earn using Meerkat Your Life’s Unpaid Work Calculator. Simply input how many hours a week you spend on various unpaid housework and caring activities and it will compute the cash value of that work, across a week and a year.

Say you cook for an hour a day. That works out to over £2,777 a year. Start adding up the figures across six categories and you’re approaching £30,000 a year - close to the average UK wage - on domestic work. This isn’t even an extreme figure; those in the sandwich generation looking after kids and elderly parents are easily raking in over £40,000 of unpaid working hours annually.

We should mention there are countless other unpaid tasks, like walking the dog, which also add to the toll of unpaid labour.

Finding out the value of what your unpaid housework is worth might inspire different reactions. Surprise? Frustration? Indignation? It can also be a wake-up call. Knowing what the work you’re doing is worth is essential in case you ever need to outsource it, due to injury or illness.


So, what happens if you can’t do the work?

We don’t want to spend our lives dwelling on what worries us, but illness and injury are part and parcel of the human experience. Preparing for unexpected situations can make a huge difference if you suddenly find you need to stop working for a bit, or are no longer able to do the domestic duties you need to in order to keep the house running. This is where insurance comes in. The right policy could help alleviate any financial pressures placed on family if you fall ill.

For those with a working salary, income protection insurance can cover you for shorter or longer-term periods, whether you’ve broken an arm or are more seriously ill. Compare the Market gives you the option to compare quotes on different types of income protection insurance so you can find the policy and provider suited to your needs.

Meerkat Your Bills, Meerkat Your Life with Compare the Market

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