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With the ratification of ILO Convention 189 on “Decent Work for Domestic Workers” by the Philippines, approximately 100 million domestic workers across the globe will see their basic labour rights extended and protected one year from now – when the Convention enters into force.
On the occasion, Juan Somavia, Director-General of the International Labour Organization (ILO), said “Today’s ratification by the Philippines sends a powerful signal to the millions of domestic workers who will be protected when the Convention comes into force. I hope it will also send a signal to other Member States and that we will soon see more and more countries committing to protect the rights of domestic workers.”
The Philippines has become the second country to ratify the Convention; Uruguay was the first country (in June 2012). Read One year on, Uruguay is first to ratify ILO domestic work Convention.
ILO Convention 189 constitutes an international commitment to improve the living and working conditions of domestic workers. For example, it demands reasonable working hours for domestic workers, including a weekly rest of at least 24 consecutive hours; better rights in terms of remuneration; clear information on terms and conditions of employment; occupational safety and health; social security; and respect for fundamental principles and rights at work, including freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining. It also recognizes that domestic work actually takes place at “home” and, as such, tries to strike a better balance between their labour rights and the right to privacy of household members.
Domestic work is defined as work performed in or for a household or households, and includes cleaning, cooking, washing, taking care of children, elderly or sick members of a family, and gardening. A domestic worker is “any person engaged in domestic work within an employment relationship.”
The Convention’s adoption in June 2011 was seen as a historical moment in the history of international labour rights, as it lays down basic labour rights and principles for a large group of workers that historically has been denied such rights. As more than 90% of today’s domestic work force comprises women and girls, it is expected that the Convention’s entering into force will have a tremendous impact on gender equality.
In addition, it is expected to benefit children that perform domestic tasks in the home of a third party or employer as it complements two other key ILO Conventions on child labour: Convention No. 138 on Minimum Age and Convention No. 182 on the Worst Forms of Child Labour. Children in domestic service often face various risks, such as long and tiring working days; use of toxic chemicals; carrying heavy loads; handling dangerous items such as knives, axes and hot pans; insufficient or inadequate food and accommodation; and humiliating or degrading treatment including physical and verbal violence, and sexual abuse. Moreover, they are denied some of their basic human rights, such as their right to education.
By ratifying the Convention, Member States commit themselves to taking measures that will ensure that work performed by domestic workers under the age of 18 and above the minimum age of employment does not deprive them of compulsory education or interfere with opportunities to participate in further education or vocational training.
For more information, see ILO’s Domestic Workers Portal.Archive of this section