Homeworking employees or sub-contractors often experience the conditions of sweated labour including very low payment, long hours (frequently including the night), no paid absences or other benefits, and poor working conditions. In addition, tools, equipment or materials may provide hazards for which there is inadequate protection. Especially for women there is the strain of combining employment and housework in the same place. The circumstances of outwork cannot readily be improved by collective action, as the workers are too dispersed. A great number of homeworkers may find the conditions isolating and depressing. Outwork may be a device to return women to the home, and this will reverse progress made towards equal pay and opportunities for women.
Outwork is intended for both men and women. It offers workers flexible hours; no travel time, travel inconveniences or travel fatigue; healthier work environments than congested offices or factories; and opportunities for more contact between the homeworker and his or her family. When desired, decentralized neighbourhood work centres, or other small groupings of workers in homes can be provided.