Over 60 million domestic workers lack access to social protection, says ILO



There are over 60 million out of the 67 million global domestic workers that are not under the coverage of any kind of social security, a new report of the International Labour Organization (ILO) has stated.

The report, entitled ‘Social protection for domestic workers: “Key policy trends and statistics” said the vast majority of the domestic workers are women who account for 80 per cent of the domestic sector globally.

In her response to the findings of the report, the Director of the ILO Social Protection department, Isabel Ortiz said: “The vast majority of domestic workers are women, accounting for 80 per cent of all workers in the sector globally. Most of their work is undervalued and unprotected, when domestic workers become old or injured, they are fired, without a pension or adequate income support. This can and must be redressed.”

The ILO report further stated that domestic work is considered as a sector that is difficult to cover, partly because work is performed in private households and frequently for more than one employer, adding that the occupation is also characterized by high job turnover, frequent in-kind payments, irregular wages and a lack of formal work contracts.

The Chief of the ILO’s Inclusive Labour Markets, Labour Relations and Working Conditions Branch, Philippe Marcadent stated: “Given that it is predominantly a female workforce highly subject to discrimination as well as social and economic vulnerability, policies to extend social protection to domestic workers are key elements in the fight against poverty and the promotion of gender equality.”

The report found that the largest gaps in social security coverage for domestic work are concentrated in developing countries, with Asia and Latin America representing 68 per cent of domestic workers worldwide.However, the study found that social protection deficits for domestic workers also persist in some industrialized countries.

The study also warned that migrant domestic workers – currently estimated at 11.5 million worldwide – often face even greater discrimination.

Around 14 per cent of countries whose social security systems provide some type of coverage for domestic workers do not extend the same rights to migrant domestic workers.

Senior ILO Economist, Fabio Duran-Valverde said: “There is no justification for domestic workers to remain excluded from social security which is a human right for all. Looking at ways to improve the current coverage. There is no single protection model that works best for domestic workers everywhere. But mandatory coverage (instead of voluntary coverage) is a crucial element for achieving adequate and effective coverage under any system.”

However, because of the uniquely vulnerable situation of domestic workers, mandatory coverage will not be effective alone. According to the report, strategies should include – among other measures − fiscal incentives, registration plans, awareness-raising campaigns targeting domestic workers and their employers as well as service voucher mechanisms.Domestic work should also be integrated into broader policies aimed at reducing informal work.

The report also demonstrated that coverage of domestic workers by social security schemes is feasible and affordable, including in lower middle and low-income countries, as evidence from Mali, Senegal and Viet Nam clearly demonstrates.
The study showed that there is a clear trend toward increased coverage, especially in developing countries.

However, resolving the worldwide deficit of social security coverage for domestic workers still remains a major challenge.
In an effort to improve national domestic work laws and practises – including for social protection – in 2011 the ILO adopted the Domestic Workers Convention (No. 189) and Domestic workers Recommendation (No. 201).

The two have become the most important instruments in terms of basic principles and minimum labour standards for the sector.
ILO Convention No 189 has also been ratified by 22 countries as at February 2016.

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