The NGO of Congregation of the Mission and Daughters of Charity reports on a victory for domestic workers.

Domestic workers, people who work in other people’s homes in order to support themselves and their families, are extremely vulnerable because they work away from public scrutiny and government oversight. Their employers have total control over all of their work conditions. All too frequently the workers are subjected to inhuman working conditions, no days off, any benefits,
and both physical and sexual abuse. According to the ILO, for over 56% of domestic workers, the law does not establish a limit on how long a working week can be and 45% are not entitled to even one day off per week.For too long governments, trade unions, and employers’ organizations have ignored these workers rather than guaranteeing their ability to work with dignity in a safe environment. These workers have been systematically denied inclusion in labor laws that define the protections extended to workers in the formal sector.

The Convention constitutes an international commitment to work at improving the living and working conditions of a very large segment of the work force employed in the informal sector.  The very first commitment is to recognize domestic workers as employees who are legally entitled to the minimum  protection that all other categories of workers enjoy.
By establishing the principle that like any other workers, domestic workers are entitled to a minimum set of protections under the labor law is an acknowledgment of the crucial social and economic contribution of care workers. Since 90 to 92 percent of the domestic work force is made of women and girls, this principle is also very significant for gender equality.

Specific provisions address the vulnerability of particular groups of domestic workers:  migrant domestic workers, young domestic
workers-those above the minimum age of employment but below 18 years of age-and for live-in domestic workers.

Once ratified, the Convention becomes legally binding, requiring officials worldwide to comply. Before governments can ratify the Convention, they must verify to what extent their current legislation and practices are in conformity with the obligations outlined in the Convention. In the event of non-compliance, they must work to align their legislation with the Convention.
The standards set by the Convention, even before it is ratified, are a frame of reference for member states in reviewing their current labor legislation and practices and for advocacy groups who are working to assure just labor laws for all workers in
both the formal and informal sectors, and especially for domestic workers.

The ILO has been working on behalf of domestic workers since the early 1930s. It was recognized, even then, that domestic workers were a category of workers subject to considerable abuse.  Much research has been done so as to have an accurate picture of the realities of domestic workers around the world and to access the extent of the legal protection they were afforded in different countries. This standard-setting Convention is a result of long years of work and research. Human rights activists, NGOs, domestic workers associations, and women activists who have supported the efforts of the ILO will find this a very powerful instrument in their ongoing efforts to procure justice for domestic workers everywhere.

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