Despite employing 40% of the world’s 53 million domestic workers, Asia has been slow in enacting reforms for their welfare, according to a report by three organisations.
According to the International Labour Organisation, about 30 % of the world’s domestic workers are employed in countries where they are completely excluded from national labour laws, including weekly rest days, limits to hours of work, minimum wage coverage, and overtime pay.
Even when partially covered, domestic workers are often excluded from key protections such as minimum age requirements, maternity leave, social security, and occupational health measures. Under the Domestic Workers Convention, domestic workers are entitled to the same basic rights as those available to other workers.
The report, Claiming Rights: Domestic Workers’ Movements and Global Advances for Labor Reform, by the International Domestic Workers Network (IDWN), the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), and Human Rights Watch assesses the progress since the 2011 adoption of the Convention.
The strongest reforms have come in Latin America, according to the 33-page report. The Philippines is the only Asian country to have ratified the Convention. India, the report said, has taken a huge leap in reforms by extending a health insurance scheme to domestic workers in May 2012, and included them in a 2013 law prohibiting workplace sexual harassment.
Many domestic workers within Asia and those migrating from Asia to the Middle East experience a range of abuses, including unpaid wages, restrictions on leaving the households where they work, excessive work hours with no rest days, etc.
“Domestic workers from India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Cambodia experience horrific abuses,” said Nisha Varia, senior women’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch. “These governments should pick up the pace of reform to introduce long overdue protections for both domestic workers at home and those migrating abroad.”
The full report is available at: http://www.hrw.org/node/119850