UN report shows domestic workers lack adequate legal protections

[JURIST] The UN International Labour Organization (ILO) [official webiste] released a report [text, PDF] Wednesday highlighting the lack of protections provided to domestic workers worldwide. The report details the ways in which domestic workers are more vulnerable than other workers and what that means for the domestic worker population. More than 52 million people world wide are domestic workers, and only 10 percent of that population is afforded the same protections as other workers. Some are even completely excluded from normal protections such as minimum wages, limitation on working hours and maternity protections. The report claims that "29.9 per cent, or some 15.7 million domestic workers - work in countries where they are completely excluded from the scope of national labour legislation." Further, the report summarizes the challenges faced by domestic works well in saying:

Very low wages, excessively long hours, the absence of a weekly rest day, risks of physical, mental and sexual abuse and restrictions on freedom of movement are some of the problems that have frequently characterized the working conditions of domestic workers worldwide. These can partly be attributed to gaps in national labour and employment legislation and often reflect discrimination along the lines of sex, race and caste.
The population of domestic workers is growing and largely made up of female workers. To address these challenges, the ILO stressed the need to implement the The Domestic Workers Convention [text] and its recommendations to provide a framework for improvement.

Rights of domestic workers has been a controversial issue for years. Last September the Domestic Workers Convention was ratified [JURIST report] by enough countries to qualify to go into force in September 2013. In October 2011 the UN warned Lebanon [JURIST report] specifically that it needed to create more laws to protect rights of domestic workers. In 2010 Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] expressed the same opinion [JURIST report], stating that Lebanon needed to do more to protect domestic workers in its country and prosecute those who violate their rights. HRW also released a statement [JURIST report] in 2008 saying that migrant and domestic workers were facing human rights abuses throughout the Middle East and Asia.

 

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