First ILO global report on domestic workers | National Union of Public and General Employees

First ILO global report on domestic workers

Report shows that millions of domestic workers are deprived of their most fundamental rights resulting in exploitation, violence, and abuses. Millions are excluded from labour laws and are not allowed to join a union.

Geneva (15 Jan. 2013) — The International Labor Organisation (ILO) has published its first global report on domestic work providing evidence that domestic work accounts for 7.5 per cent of women’s wage employment worldwide.

The ILO sets the official number of domestic workers at 52.6 million while recognizing that the real figure stands most probably at 100 million.

The report shows that millions of domestic workers are deprived of their most fundamental rights resulting in exploitation, violence, and abuses. Millions are excluded from labour laws and are not allowed to join a union.

The ILO further found that while domestic workers are among the lowest-paid workers in the world, they barely earn the minimum wage and have no access to social protection, let alone maternity protection. Live-in domestic workers face substantial deductions from their already poor salaries for the costs of housing and food. The report provides evidence that domestic workers are frequently expected to work longer hours than other workers and do not have the same rights to weekly rest.

During 2012, the ITUC  has actively promoted the 12 by 12 Campaign to get at least 12 countries to ratify ILO Convention No.189 on domestic workers. The 12 by 12 teams comprised of trade unions, domestic workers, migrants, women and human rights organisations took actions to demand more and better rights for domestic workers in 85 countries. They contributed to the following results:

  • seven countries ratified the Convention namely Uruguay, the Philippines, Mauritius, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Paraguay and Italy;
  • several governments around the world improved their laws to better protect domestic workers. Some examples include Chile, where the working time of domestic workers was regulated by law; Spain, which granted them access to social protection; Brazil, where the constitution was amended in order to facilitate the adoption of the Convention; Singapore, which granted a day off a week to domestic workers; Vietnam, where a new Labour Code was adopted recognizing for the first time domestic work; and Malawi, where the minimum wage for domestic workers was increased; and
  • more than 12.000 domestic workers became trade union members, and unions for domestic workers were established in Paraguay, the Dominican Republic, Egypt, Angola and Sri Lanka.

More information:

Domestic Workers Across the World: Global and regional statistics and the extent of legal protection

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