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ILO report says domestic workers around the world have no legal protection

Date: (10 January 2013)    |    

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The International Labour Organization (ILO) has said that at least 52 million domestic helps world-wide were experiencing poor working conditions and insufficient legal protection.

‘Domestic workers across the world’ is the report first of its kind from the ILO and is aimed at capturing the size of the domestic work sector, working conditions and the extent of legal protection enjoyed by domestic workers worldwide.

The report says that these workforce which constitute 83% of women constitute 7.5% of women’s wage employment worldwide and greater share in some parts of the world like Asia, Pacific region, Latin America and the Caribbean.

But it states, despite the size of the sector, many domestic workers experience poor working conditions and insufficient legal protection.

Sandra Polaski, ILO deputy director-general, said domestic workers were frequently expected to work longer hours than other workers and in many countries do not have the same rights to weekly rest that was enjoyed by other workers.

The problem was more acute when the lack of rights was combined with the extreme dependency on an employer and the isolated and unprotected nature of domestic work which led to them being exploited and abused.

The ILO report showed that only 10% of all domestic workers were covered by general labour legislation to the same extent as other workers. More than one quarter were completely excluded from national labour legislation.

Lack of legal protection increases domestic workers' vulnerability and makes it difficult for them to seek remedies. As a result, they are often paid less than workers in comparable occupations and work longer hours.

The report showed that live-in domestic workers are particularly vulnerable to exploitation since they are often paid a flat weekly or monthly rate irrespective of hours worked. In practice it means that a domestic worker is available whenever needed.

Polaski added the inequality of wages and working conditions of domestic workers compared to other workers in the same country required action at the national level by governments, employers and workers to improve the working lives of these vulnerable but hard-working individuals.

The figures have excluded child domestic workers below the age of 15 that are not included in the surveys used by the report. Their number was estimated by the ILO at 7.4 million in 2008.

The report by the ILO was published yesterday and covered 117 countries and had an employment coverage of 88.7% within those countries

 

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