Domestic work must be decent work around the world - June/July 2011

All about Domestic Workers and Their Rights, Historic Convention adopted at 100th ILO Conference in Geneva 2011, Rights for Domestic Workers and more on Mywage South Africa.

At the 100th International Labour Organisation (ILO) annual conference in Geneva in June, government, worker and employer delegates adopted a historic set of international standards aimed at improving the working conditions of millions of domestic workers worldwide.

Juan Somavia, ILO Director-General, said that in concentrating on the domestic work sector, the ILO was moving its standards system into the informal economy for the first time, and this was "a breakthrough of great significance".

Conference delagates adopted the Convention on Domestic Workers (2011) and accompaning Recommendations. The Convention is an international treaty that is binding on Member States that ratify it, while the Recommendation provides more detailed guidance on how to apply the Convention.

Decent work for Domestic Workers

The new ILO standards set out that domestic workers who care for families and households, must have the same basic labour rights as those available to other workers: reasonable hours of work, weekly rest of at least 24 consecutive hours, a limit on in-kind payment, clear information on terms and conditions of employment, as well as respect for fundamental principles and rights at work including freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining. 

Recent research puts the number of domestic workers around the world at 53 million, but this figure could actually be as high as 100 million due to the informal and unregistered nature of the sector, say experts.

Domestic Workers are Vulnerable

The new Convention says that “domestic work continues to be undervalued and invisible and is mainly carried out by women and girls, many of whom are migrants or members of disadvantaged communities and who are particularly vulnerable to discrimination in respect of conditions of employment and work, and to other abuses of human rights.”

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Find out more about Domestic Workers' Rights in South Africa and Minimum Wages for Domestic Workers in South Africa.