New ILO Report: Domestic workers across the world

wcms 1733649 January 2013 – At least 52 million people around the world – mainly women – are employed as domestic workers, according to the first research of its kind conducted by the International Labour Organization (ILO).  They account for 7.5 per cent of women’s wage employment worldwide and a far greater share in some regions, particularly Asia and the Pacific and Latin America and the Caribbean.

The report, Domestic workers across the world: Global and regional statistics and the extent of legal protection, attempts to capture the size of the domestic work sector, working conditions and the extent of legal protection enjoyed by domestic workers worldwide. It includes global and regional statistics, and is intended to support the efforts of governments, employers and workers to secure social justice and decent work for domestic workers across the world.

Martin Oelz, ILO Legal Specialist on Working Conditions, presents the key findings of a new ILO report in the video below.  He also discusses how the report sheds light on the working conditions of domestic workers who have been absent from policy debates and labor reforms.

Martin Oelz:  “What is important is a broad based social dialogue on the value and importance of domestic work for society.  This is a good starting point to discuss legal reforms.”

Between the mid-1990s and 2010, there was an increase of more than 19 million domestic workers worldwide. Many migrate to other countries to find work. It is likely that the figures contained in the report underestimate the true numbers of domestic workers worldwide, which may in reality be tens of millions more.

Despite the size of the sector, many domestic workers experience poor working conditions and insufficient legal protection.

“Domestic workers are frequently expected to work longer hours than other workers and in many countries do not have the same rights to weekly rest that are enjoyed by other workers. Combined with the lack of rights, the extreme dependency on an employer and the isolated and unprotected nature of domestic work can render them vulnerable to exploitation and abuse,” said Sandra Polaski, ILO Deputy Director-General.

The report follows the adoption, in June 2011, of a new ILO Convention and Recommendation on domestic work.  These new international standards aim to ensure decent working conditions and pay for domestic workers worldwide.

The findings of the research will act as a benchmark against which progress in extending legal protection will be measured.

Domestic workers across the world: Global and regional statistics and the extent of legal protection (PDF Report)
Press release on Report
ILO Portal on Domestic Workers