Domestic helpers all over the world have reason to rejoice. This is because the recently held 100th annual Conference of the International Labour Organization (ILO) adopted a new labor standard that would improve the working conditions of millions of domestic workers worldwide.

The ILO has 183 member states and each government has two delegates. One delegate is an employer while the other is a worker. All of the representatives voted yes to the adoption of the international treaty "Convention on Domestic Workers 2011" and the accompanying Recommendation, which provides a detailed guidance on how to apply the Convention.

The introductory text of the 2011 Convention states the following "Domestic work continues to be undervalued and invisible and is mainly carried out by women and girls, many of whom are migrants or members of disadvantaged communities and who are particularly vulnerable to discrimination in respect of conditions of employment and work, and to other abuses of human rights."

To apply humane rules, the new ILO standards specify that domestic workers all over the world whose job is to care for families and households should enjoy the basic labor rights that are granted to other workers:
  • Reasonable hours of work;
  • Weekly rest of at least 24 consecutive hours;
  • A limit on in-kind payment; and
  • Clear information on terms and conditions of employment — as well as respect for fundamental principles and rights at work including freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining.
The ILO also said that although records from national surveys of 117 countries said that there is an estimated 53 million domestic workers worldwide, the real number could be a hundred million because the job of domestic worker is often unregistered or hidden.

The report from ILO also states that domestic workers make up at least four to 12 percent of wage employment in developing countries. And majority of these workers (83%) are migrant women workers.

The office of ILO in the Philippines also reported that the salary of Filipino domestic workers in the National Capital Region (NCR) is only half of the required minimum wage. Those working in areas outside of the NCR even received less than half of the minimum wage set. This is the case even when domestic workers work for longer hours than those who are receiving minimum wage.

The ILO Philippine Office also said that there are pending bills to establish minimum labor standards and legal rights for domestic workers. However same bills that were filed earlier failed to be successfully implemented.

This is the press statement of ILO, "The newly adopted Convention, by establishing a global set of minimum standards is expected to give further impetus to these on-going efforts, and also to provide a platform for more countries to engage in a process of reform to bring domestic workers within the mainstream of the labor and social protection."

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