Exclusion from national labour laws and high levels of informality continue to take a heavy toll on the working conditions of domestic workers in the Asia and the Pacific region, says the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in a report, titled “Making decent work a reality for domestic workers” released on Tuesday. The report was prepared to observe the tenth anniversary of the Domestic Workers Convention, 2011 and International Domestic Workers Day, June 16.
The ILO has recommended inclusion of domestic work as a form of work in relevant legislations and polices that regulate working time and wages as a necessary first step. They also asked member countries to ensure a minimum wage that takes into account actual working time, daily and weekly rest, and whether domestic workers have overtime protection or compensation, as well as the needs of workers and their families, and household capacity to pay. “Since live-in domestic workers tend to work some of the longest hours, separate minimum wages for live-in and live-out domestic workers can also be considered,” the report said.
Asia and the Pacific region
The Asia and the Pacific region employs 38.3 million domestic workers or 50.6 per cent of domestic workers worldwide and remains the world’s largest employer of domestic workers, the report said adding that Philippines is the only country in the region that ratified the Domestic Workers Convention of the ILO.
The report said China accounts for a large portion of the total 22 million domestic workers, while India has 4.8 million domestic workers followed by the Philippines (2 million), Bangladesh (1.5 million) and Indonesia (1.2 million). “Domestic work in the Asia and the Pacific region is performed largely by women (78.4 per cent) however, the region is also the largest employer of male domestic workers, accounting for 46.1 per cent of male domestic workers across the world,” it said.
It added that in Asia and the Pacific, 61.5 per cent of domestic workers remain fully excluded from labour law. “84.3 per cent of domestic workers in the region are in informal employment compared to 52.8 per cent for other employees. 64 per cent of domestic workers remain excluded from the right to weekly rest in Asia and the Pacific,” the report said.
Only 19 per cent of domestic workers in the region have the same entitlements to paid annual leave as other workers. Most domestic workers in the region (71 per cent) remain without any limits on their normal weekly hours. Half of all domestic workers in Asia and the Pacific work more than 48 hours per week.
Compared to domestic workers globally, wages of domestic workers appear to be highest in Asia and the Pacific, the report noted. Only 11 per cent of domestic workers in the region enjoy the minimum wage to the same extent as other workers. “Regionally, evidence from the Philippines and Vietnam indicates that domestic workers were 2-3 times more likely than other workers to lose their jobs during the pandemic,” it said.