The rights of domestic workers have been officially recognised in an International Labour Organisation convention. Domestic workers around the world are frequently subjected to abuse and exploitation and this convention marks a major step forward in their campaign for better legal protection.
Domestic workers, like homeworkers, are often invisible because their work goes on behind closed doors. Domestic workers are particularly vulnerable because they work in their employer’s home. They often work extremely long hours for poor pay. Some are forbidden to leave the house they work in. Some are ill-treated, beaten or sexually abused. Many domestic workers are migrants and it is common for their employer to hold onto their passports so they cannot escape if they are being badly treated.
Until now, domestic workers have rarely been mentioned in national labour laws – but the official recognition the ILO Convention gives them should lead to greater legal protection. The next step is for individual countries to adapt their laws to give domestic workers the necessary rights, and to ratify the Convention.