Decent work for domestic workers – Convention 189

Convention 189, also known as the Domestic Workers Convention, is to come into effect this September 5th, 2013. It is the first convention of its kind, providing basic global standards to protect domestic workers.

There are millions of women and girls employed in domestic work, hired to clean, cook, take care of the children and elderly, manage the household, grocery shopping and other tasks for their employers. Domestic workers, just like any other type of workers, are entitled to decent work. However, domestic workers have become one of the most exploited and abused workers in the world.

Under Convention 189, domestic workers are entitled to protection, inter alia,  from excessive work without rest, forced confinement, physical and sexual abuse, forced labor and non-payment of wages.

As of few days before the Convention comes into force, there are 8 countries that have ratified this Convention and 48 countries that have submitted the Convention to their national authorities. In the Middle East, Bahrain reformed its labor law this past July and expanded some protection for domestic workers which included annual leave and the UAE approved a bill that provides domestic workers with a weekly day off, paid holidays, annual leave and sick leave (it still waiting to be signed). Saudi Arabia, on September 29th, passed its first domestic abuse law covering women, children as well as domestic workers.

Do hope, as Convention 189 gains further support, governments will become more just, societies will become more fair and domestic maids become aware of the rights that they are entitled to.

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